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The First Standalone Star Wars Film Just Hired This Writer To Replace Gary Whitta

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Star WarsThere’s been so much focus lately on J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens that it’s easy to forget that there’s a ton of other stuff going on in that neck of the woods. As part of the massive Star Wars remodel, next up in the production line is the Gareth Edwards-directed spinoff movie. Late last week we learned that Gary Whitta, who had been handling all the writing duties, left to pursue other opportunities. Though he finished a draft, there’s still a great deal of work to be done, and now it looks like they may have found a replacement in the form of Simon Kinberg.

According to Slashfilm’s sources, Kinberg is stepping in to pick up where Whitta left off. This report is unconfirmed and unofficial at this point, but not only does this sound like a good idea, it sounds like an obvious choice. Whitta’s biggest jobs up to now have been After Earth and The Book of Eli, neither of which exactly light you on fire with their scripts. And Kinberg is already entrenched in the Lucasfilm family, running the show over at Star Wars Rebels. He’s also a consultant on The Force Awakens, and swooping in at the last moment to save films is kind of his jam in Hollywood. It’s even been reported that he was already working on one of the standalone films, though it was rumored to the Josh Trank-directed one (Kinberg also worked on Trank’s Fantastic Four). If this winds up being true, it won’t blow any minds, but maybe now he’s writing two spinoffs.

As far as details about the film, we don’t know anything more or less than we did earlier today. According to the most recent rumors, it is still a heist film, one full of bounty hunters (possibly fan favorite Boba Fett?), and it revolves around the theft of the plans for the first Death Star. This puts the movie in the time just before A New Hope, which also happens to be where Kinberg and company are working with Rebels. So if nothing else, he’s familiar with the period and could likely knock a new draft out in short order if necessary. And speed probably will be important considering the film is supposed to go in front of the cameras before too awful long—it’s next up at Pinewood Studios after Spectre, the latest James Bond movie, wraps up.

There was, however, that one recent rumor that said the first non-Episode movie centers on Han Solo and could star Aaron Paul. For his part, the Breaking Bad star said that was news to him, but it’s something to consider. Honestly, we don’t know which of these is true, or if neither is, and we likely won’t for some time, but this seems even less likely than it did when the story started floating around.

Whatever the first standalone Star Wars film is called, and whatever story it tells, it’s slated to hit theaters on December 16, 2016. What do you think of Simon Kinberg writing the script? He’s already got commitments to X-Men: Apocalypse at Fox, so do you think he has time to take on another big project? Sound off below.

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