Sci-fi and action filmmaker JJ Abrams has been tapped to direct a seventh "Star Wars" movie expected to be released by Disney in 2015, a Hollywood trade publication reported on Thursday.
After purchasing "Star Wars" creator George Lucas's Lucasfilm for $4 billion in October, Disney announced it was planning a new trilogy in the wildly popular sci-fi saga, which has raked in an estimated $4.4 billion since 1977.
Variety magazine said Disney is close to finalizing the deal with the 46-year-old Abrams, the co-creator of the popular television series "Lost," who is currently finishing work on "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Abrams, who also writes and produces, directed "Mission: Impossible III" (2006), "Star Trek" (2009) and "Super 8" (2011).
Lucas -- who created the saga and directed four of the six films to date -- will serve as a creative consultant for the three new films, which are expected to come out every two to three years.
Lucas's original "Star Wars" movie in 1977, which marked the birth of a new era of blockbuster cinema, launched the career of a young Harrison Ford.
It was soon followed by the equally popular "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983).
In the late 1990s, Lucas drew mixed reviews when he resurrected the blockbuster series with a prequel trilogy: "The Phantom Menace" (1999), "The Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "The Revenge of the Sith" (2005).
The newer trilogy featured Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen.