Star Trek director JJ Abrams is to direct the latest Star Wars film, Episode VII, which begins production in the coming months.
Announcing the news, Star Wars creator George Lucas said: "I've consistently been impressed with JJ as a filmmaker and a storyteller. He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."
The film will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy through Disney Lucasfilm, after the Walt Disney Company brokered a deal to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd in October 2012.
"It's very exciting to have JJ aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie," said Kennedy.
"JJ is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of the Star Wars franchise.
"He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture."
Through his production company, Bad Robot, 46-year-old Abrams previously directed blockbusters Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek (2009) and Super 8. He also directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost.
"To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honour," said Abrams.
"I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid," he added.
Fans of the Star Trek and Star Wars films had earlier taken to Twitter to give their reaction to rumours Abrams would have a hand in directing films from both franchises.
@leenewtonsays J.J. Abrams taking on Star Wars!! Lets hope he doesn't put crappy effects, bad writing and horrible actors in it... wait.
@TeamCoco JJ Abrams directing #StarWars is acceptable, IF it's an alternate timeline where Jar-Jar is incinerated 30 seconds into Phantom Menace.
@DeathStarPR Now that J.J. Abrams is directing Star Wars, people will finally learn why Stormtroopers always miss: too much lens flare.
@dorothysnarker Putting the Star Trek guy in charge of Star Wars means the lines for his autograph at conventions will extend beyond a galaxy far far away.
The film is targeted for release in 2015 and is expected to be followed by Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX.