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Disney CEO Says Star Wars: Episode VII Must Be In Theaters In 2015

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Disney vs. Lucasfilm

With Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams taking over writing duties on Star Wars: Episode VII, there has been much speculation about whether the next installment in the Star Wars film series will be released on time in 2015. The exit of screenwriter Michael Arndt only fueled that speculation, and there seems to be some minor drama going on at Disney and Lucasfilm.

According to THR, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and most of the creative team behind Episode VII are looking to push the sci-fi film’s release back to 2016, but Disney CEO Robert Iger is adamant about the film’s release staying in 2015. Considering that there are reports that Kasdan and Abrams are rewriting the new screenplay from page one, there is now a lot of pressure to deliver the film on time, regardless of any story or character issues.

Michael Arndt spent more than a year working on the screenplay for Episode VII. Arndt is one of the highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood, commanding a hefty $300,000 a week for doing rewrites. He has already moved on to other projects.

It is also reported that J.J. Abrams is starting to take more power away from Kathleen Kennedy when it comes to casting the film, while other sources say that Kennedy and Abrams are conducting casting sessions on Episode VII together. Apparently, J.J. Abrams has a strong desire to deliver Star Wars: Episode VII on time in 2015, despite Kennedy’s reservations.

When 2015 rolls around, we’ll see a lot of big blockbusters heading into theaters, including Man of Steel: Superman vs. Batman and the final installment in The Hunger Games film series. Disney already has a big movie in the works with Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Bob Iger is insistent that Episode VII opens in 2015 because it’s part of a bigger strategy with Lucasfilm that includes unveiling the rest of the sequel trilogy within six years after the release of Episode VII. That’s not even getting to the two Star Wars spinoff movies supposedly planned for release between each “Episode” film. Disney has a lot on the line in 2015, so it’s important that the film is in theaters on time, despite problems with the script, story, or characters.

With rumors that production on Episode VII will begin in early 2014, there is a possibility that the film might be delivered at the end of 2015 rather than during the summer, like other Star Wars films in the past. Honestly, the creative team should have priority with the release date, but it’s understandable why Bob Iger is so adamant about a 2015 release date from a business standpoint.

Considering that Episode VII will be the first film in a new Star Wars sequel trilogy, it’s better to get the story right instead of rushing the creative process. If Episode VII suffers in quality, it would be easy to imagine Episode VII and Episode IX suffering as well. Could Star Wars: Episode VII be any worse than The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones? I certainly hope not.

Star Wars: Episode VII is expected for release in theaters sometime in 2015…or 2016.

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