In Las Vegas on Wednesday, producer and director J.J. Abrams, a longtime darling of the science fiction crowd, gave few hints about the new "Star Wars" film.
The reference was a throw-away joke from his last franchise reboot.
Talking about the importance of embroidering films with subtle detail, the science fiction director played a scene from his 2009 "Star Trek" film and freeze-framed to reveal a familiar "Star Wars" robot peeking out from amid the space junk.
"So they're looking at all the debris that's out there, and curiously, it's R2D2," he said, drawing a roar of laughter.
Gabe Newell, president of video game developer Valve, shared a stage with Abrams at the Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain Summit at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
"So now I have to go back through your movies looking at all the debris to figure out what movie you're going to direct next?" Newell asked.
Abrams has given die-hard fans few clues about his vision for the seventh live-action "Star Wars" film since he was announced as its director in January.
He has become a trusted steward of beloved fantasy universes after directing well-received additions to the "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible" franchises.
"Star Wars" creator George Lucas opened the door to the latest round of spinoffs when he sold his Lucasfilm empire to The Walt Disney Co. for $4.05 billion last fall. The company is planning three sequels and two peripheral movies focusing on characters.
"Episode VII" is tentatively scheduled for release in the summer of 2015.
Last month, Abrams told a group of reporters that he wanted to make sure the sequel was "something that touches people."
On Wednesday, he did give his audience of nerds and gamers one revelation when he announced his intention to collaborate on movies and videos with Newell — the man behind the gaming hits "Portal," "Half-Life" and "Counter-Strike."
"There's an idea that we had for a game that we'd like to develop," he said.
Abrams' development company Bad Robot Interactive has released several apps related to his movies.
Newell said his company would like to work with Abrams on a movie adaptation of "Portal" or "Half-Life."
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