Star Wars: Episode VII is going to be a massive movie on multiple levels. It will no doubt take a huge bite out of the box office, but it’ll also be the test case that will hopefully prove the naysayers wrong and ushers Star Wars into a mighty new resurgence. But with Episode VII slated for a December 18, 2015 release, the next Star Wars films has some serious rough patches thanks to things like writer changes and Harrison Ford’s busted leg. Now a new rumor suggests director J.J. Abrams may be butting heads with his Disney bosses over just when we should get to see Episode VII.
Latino Review has a pretty solid record with rumors, and this latest one seems to track with a lot of the other things that have been happening with the production. LR says that both J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy are pushing hard for a release date shift back to May 4, 2016, which would give them more time to deal with the fallout of Harrison Ford’s injury and put Episode VII back in the traditional Star Wars May release window. However Disney head Bob Iger is dead-set on the December 2015 release, in spite of the various factors that might make a delay beneficial. That’s disappointing if true, as this is definitely a situation where “later but better” would be much preferred to “on time and a mess.” Okay, that’s a general truism for any project, but there’s a lot riding on Episode VII, and if it hobbles across the finish line still plagued with problems, that’s bound to affect confidence in Disney’s larger schemes for the Star Wars franchise.
Perhaps even more interesting is Latino Review’s speculation about how this latest battle might tie into other recent events behind the scenes of Star Wars. First there were the script issues, where Abrams tossed out Michael Arndt’s Episode VII draft in favor of a script that he and Lawrence Kasdan were going to collaborate on. When you also consider the recent announcement that Rian Johnson would be taking over as writer/director of Episode VIII (and possibly IX), added to this alleged dispute between Abrams and Iger over release dates, Latino Review poses the question of whether Johnson’s hiring might be a case of Iger deciding Abrams isn’t the right man for the job after all. At this point it’s too late to replace him on Episode VII without massive complications, but if Iger isn’t happy with Abrams, the hiring of Johnson would suddenly make a lot of sense. If nothing else, not letting Abrams finish out the trilogy did seem like an odd choice at the time, especially since Abrams has repeatedly raved about his love for Star Wars and about how this is pretty much his dream job.
Given the internet age we live in, I’m sure we’ll eventually learn the truth about all the turmoil behind the scenes of the revived Star Wars franchise, but in the meantime all we can do is hope that the final product isn’t dragged down by any of these production speed bumps. And if Abrams really is being phased out, I feel bad for the guy, especially since I’m on his side when it comes to erring on the side of taking more time to get Episode VII right. But I’m also way more excited to see Rian Johnson’s take on Star Wars than I ever was to see J.J.’s. Hopefully the Force will be strong with the franchise in spite of the problems.