LOS ANGELES — Another universe of sci-fi fans has been put in the hands of J.J. Abrams.
According to multiple trade reports, Abrams is set to direct the next installment of "Star Wars," which Disney has said will be "Episode 7" and due out in 2015. Disney bought "Star Wars" maker Lucasfilm last month for $4.06 billion.
The Emmy-award-winning director of the TV show "Lost" also captained the reboot of "Star Trek" for rival studio Paramount Pictures, with the next installment in that series, "Star Trek: Into Darkness," set to hit theaters May 17.
Citing unnamed sources, the news was reported earlier by Hollywood trade outlets The Wrap, The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety.
Messages left by The Associated Press for Abrams' representatives as well as Disney and Lucasfilm were not immediately returned.
Soon after the news broke Thursday afternoon, websites were flush with chatter. On Twitter, "J.J. Abrams," ''Star Wars" and "Star Trek" were all trending topics.
Despite denying his interest in directing the next "Star Wars" following The Walt Disney Co.'s October announcement it was buying Lucasfilm, many people pegged Abrams as the most obvious choice.
Abrams even spoke about the plot of the original "Star Wars" in the lecture series "TED Talks" in March 2007.
"He took the 'Star Trek' franchise, which was just drowning in misery, and he was able to bring that back to life," said Adam Frazier a staff writer for the entertainment website GeeksofDoom.com. "If there's anyone that can do it with 'Star Wars' I think it's him."