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Star Wars: Episode VII Writing Duties Shift To Lawrence Kasdan And J.J. Abrams

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star-wars-episode-7Since its first announcement in 2012, Star Wars: Episode VII has been one of the most-anticipated movies of the decade. Official announcements about the next Star Wars have been few and far between, but now we’ve learned that screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) has left the project.

According to StarWars.com, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made the announcement that Arndt will no longer be writing the screenplay for Episode VII. Taking up his duties are Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams. Of course, Kasdan co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so he has a clear understanding of the world and its characters. Abrams co-wrote the script for Mission: Impossible III and the screenplay for the sci-fi throwback Super 8. Kennedy says:

I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script. There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.

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Lawrence Kasdan’s Handwritten Empire Strikes Back Script Pages

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HanSmallWe’re about to start getting a whole lot of new Star Wars, beginning with Episode VII in 2015, but the bar for a good Star Wars movie was set all the way back in 1980. The Empire Strikes Back was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, and directed by Irwin Kershner. (It is perhaps telling that the film widely regarded as the best of the Star Wars movies was the one where George Lucas only had a “Story by” writing credit.) Now the folks over at /Film have snagged a major exclusive: a look at Kasdan’s handwritten first draft of the Empire screenplay.

Kasdan donated his Empire script to the Writers Guild Foundation Archive, so kudos to them for allowing the /Film folks to share this little snippet of history with Star Wars fans everywhere. Above, you can see Kasdan’s handwritten version of arguably one of the most unforgettable scenes in the franchise’s history: the iconic “I love you,” “I know” exchange between Princess Leia and Han Solo. It looks a little different, however, since Ford ad-libbed his line in response. It’s up there with Roy Batty’s “Tears in rain” speech from Blade Runner and Fords own “shooting the swordsman” Raiders of the Lost Ark moment as one of the greatest movie ad libs of all time.

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Lawrence Kasdan Wants A Fresh Start With The New Star Wars

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When Disney and Lucasfilm announced they would be bringing screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan back into the fold for the upcoming Star Wars films, many fans were extremely happy with the decision. Kasdan co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the early ’80s, and those two films are often cited as the best of the saga. With Star Wars set to return to the big screen in a major way, how will Kasdan help take us from Episode III to Episode VII?

In an interview with Hero Complex, Kasdan talked about taking a new approach to the Star Wars saga. Having been away from the Star Wars universe for a while, Kasdan feels that the new movies should give the saga a fresh start. Kasdan explains:

“I’m trying to start fresh. There are certain pleasures that we think the saga can bring to people that they’ve been missing, and we’re hoping to bring them that, and at the same time, have them feel that it’s all new.” Kasdan continued, “The ones I worked on were a long time ago, and they had a slightly different feeling than the ones that followed. The first three, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Empire’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ are all sort of more about people than the ones that followed.”

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Robotech Movie Coming

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robotechI’ve always preferred to have my giant combat mech needs filled by Mech Warrior, but I know a lot of you go for its giant robot suit competitor Robotech. Well congratulations, you win. Robotech is being turned into a movie, which means that my dreams of a Mech Warrior film are now almost certainly doomed. The properties are just too similar.

Even better news, the Robotech script is being written by none other than Lawrence Kasdan. Yeah, that Lawrence Kasdan. The guy who wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Basically, just about any George Lucas movie which was good. If only he’d had the sense to hire him for the prequels… what a better world we’d now be living in.

More details on Kasdan’s hiring over at HR.