It has been announced that Jeffrey Jacob, aka “JJ”, Abrams, director of Star Trek and Mission Impossible III, will direct Star Wars Episode VII, the first film in the sequel trilogy. The news has been greeted with relief and delight by fans of the franchise, who expressed concern last year when it was announced that Disney – nicknamed the House of Mouse by disgruntled fans – had bought the Lucasfilm production company for $4.05bn and intended to work on a new trilogy.

Star Wars creator George Lucas said Adams was the ideal choice to direct the film, adding “the legacy couldn’t be in better hands”. Oscar-winning scriptwriter Michael Arndt, who wrote Toy Story 3, has been developing the film since October.

The seventh film in the series has been given a 2015 release date, although Abrams has not committed to the date. Hints have been dropped that the new film could feature original Star Wars actors, including Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.