How Disney and LucasFilm went from Spielberg to Abrams to Affleck to Vaughn and back to Abrams for Star Wars: Episode VII
Now that we have had about 24 hours to let the news that JJ Abrams is directing STAR WARS: EPISODE VII sink in, we can now go back and retrace how we got to this point. Since the Disney purchase of LucasFilm was announced, speculation has been rempant about who will direct the new films. With an announced 2015 release for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, there was no time to lose. So, first thing was someone had to turn George Lucas' outline for the next trilogy into a screenplay, hence the hiring of Michael Arndt. But, director is just as important to make sure these movies do not turn out like the prequels.
So, every name possible was linked from Quentin Tarantino to Colin Trevorrow to David Fincher and beyond. Those who were long shots quickly removed themselves from the rumor mill as did those who fans were dreaming would take the job, like Brad Bird. The names that kept coming back up were JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Jon Favreau, Ben Affleck, Matthew Vaughn and Zack Snyder.
While Zack Snyder's rumored stand-alone movie could still happen, it was not until yesterday we finally learned who would be getting the job. But, was he the first choice?
According to Slash Film, the first choice was Steven Spielberg. Spielberg was likely never going to do it out of respect to his close friend, George Lucas. But, who did Spielberg see as the man for the job? JJ Abrams. Abrams has long been a protege of Spielberg and the two collaborated on SUPER 8, which solidified them both as Amblin men.
We all know about Abrams public bow out of contention citing his involvement with STAR TREK and not thinking he could handle both franchises. So, for those of you who think Abrams was lying back then, it looks like he truly didn't think he could make it work. This also seems like he may not be ready to give up on his STAR TREK involvement, either.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. Check out this quote from Slash Film: Our sources have been telling us for a while now that Steven Spielberg was really pushing Kennedy to hire Abrams. The story goes that Abrams was the first filmmaker approached after Spielberg, but was very hesitant. Kennedy talked to other directors including Ben Affleck and also Matthew Vaughn who may have pitched to have Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role. Our sources say that Spielberg was instrumental in convincing Abrams and Kennedy to make it happen.
So, Vaughn and Affleck looked like they were very close to taking the job when Spielberg jumped in and voiced his two cents. Spielberg and Lucas share a lot in common in terms of their approach to story and filmmaking, so I would find it hard to believe that Lucas had no say in this final decision. However the case, it looks like despite the long lists we fans put together, there really were only four names on the list for the job. Nothing says Vaughn or Affleck will not tackle EPISODE VIII or IX or a stand alone project, but now we know how JJ Abrams got the job.