The Force is strong with Gareth Edwards. The "Godzilla" director has been hired to helm a "Star Wars" spinoff, the first of multiple standalone movies planned in addition to the core saga, Disney and Lucasfilm announced Thursday.
Gary Whitta ("The Book of Eli," "After Earth") will write the screenplay for the film, which is set for release Dec. 16, 2016.
"Ever since I saw 'Star Wars,' I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life — join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm," Edwards said in a statement posted on starwars.com.
The British director has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, breaking out with his low-budget feature debut "Monsters" in 2010 and following it up with the Warner Bros. blockbuster "Godzilla," which opened to $93.2 million last weekend.
[Updated May 22 at 5:19 p.m.: Legendary Pictures, the film finance and production company that partnered with Warner Bros. on "Godzilla," posted a congratulatory message on its official Twitter account that reads "Congrats Gareth!" in a "Star Wars" font.]
J.J. Abrams, meanwhile, is shepherding the central storyline with "Star Wars: Episode VII," the first installment of a planned trilogy set 30 years after the original films. Production for the film, which hits theaters Dec. 18, 2015, is currently underway in Abu Dhabi.