Yesterday, word broke that J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII just a few months after Disney purchased the franchise from George Lucas and put the film sequel on the fast track for a 2015 release.
While the long-in-development “Star Wars” live action TV series wasn’t even mentioned in the reports, Abrams’ television experience could make him the ideal choice to finally get that project to take flight.
It’s been clear for some time now that the Star Wars franchise needs someone with a creative vision behind it… and it was equally clear that Lucas was no longer that person. Abrams’ detractors within the “Star Trek” fan community may insist that “he doesn’t get Trek;” but it’s important to note how far the franchise had fallen before Abrams came onboard. Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis were commercial and critical disappointments while “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Enterprise” became the last gasp of the franchise on TV. By the time that Abrams’ Star Trek reboot reached theatres in 2009, there hadn’t been a Star Trek movie since 2002 or a television series since 2005.
Abrams’ Star Trek isn’t a perfect movie, but a large audience responded to it and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the most anticipated movies of 2013. It’s that level of success that makes Abrams the “logical” choice to try his hand at Star Wars as well.
Unquestionably, Abrams’ focus will be on making Episode VII, as it should be. However, Abrams’ experience in television also makes him the right choice to bring “Star Wars” to live action TV. Prior to becoming a feature film director, Abrams was the creator of “Alias” and co-creator of “Lost;” two TV series that demonstrated an understanding of how to tell an exciting story on a week-to-week basis.
There are plenty of “Lost” detractors now, especially after the ending. But keep in mind, Abrams’ creative partners at Bad Robot helped make “Lost” one of network television’s biggest hits for six seasons with an addictive storyline that invited multiple viewings. If given the chance, they might be able to do the same thing for the “Star Wars” live action TV series.
Everything that Lucasfilm released about “Star Wars: Underworld” — the working title of the live action series — seemed to be in terms of what they couldn’t do. Lucasfilm’s Rick McCallum said that there were 50 scripts of the “Star Wars” TV series already finished, but the company couldn’t afford to produce a TV series with a $5 million dollar per episode budget.
The Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm changed that equation and brought ABC to the table. Now the parent company can not only afford to make the “Star Wars” TV series, there’s already a potential home for it.
Abrams and Bad Robot already have a pre-existing relationship with ABC; which also makes them the ideal people to take over this project. The success of The Avengers and the probably pickup of Joss Whedon’s “S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series can serve as a roadmap for “Star Wars.” The new Star Wars movie should come out first, to reintroduce the public at large to that world. And then, the network should get the same popular director behind the movie to spearhead the transition to TV.
It was recently reported that the upcoming Star Wars: 1313 video game cannibalized a lot of the work originally developed for “Star Wars: Underworld;” which was said to be centered on the lower levels of Coruscant as two major families battle it out for control of “the seedy underside of the Star Wars universe.”
That’s still a good premise for a “Star Wars” TV series. But if Abrams and Bad Robot take on the TV project as well, it’s just as likely that they would start again from scratch or find some way to tie the TV series into the new movies.
At this point, this is all speculation and opinion. But I’m interested in hearing what you have to say about Abrams directing Episode VII and if you feel that he’s the right choice to bring the franchise to television. So let us know in the comment section below!