“It’s very exciting to have JJ aboard, leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.

“JJ is the perfect director to helm this … He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”

George Lucas added: “I’ve consistently been impressed with JJ as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

Abrams himself said the collaboration was “an absolute honour”.

“I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid,” he said.