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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.

Kennedy did not reveal why exactly Arndt is leaving the project, but it is rumored that Kasdan and Abrams are starting over from page one. The press release ends with “Shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.” While Disney and Lucasfilm have yet to announce an official release date, could the film be pushed back to 2016 if, in fact, Kasdan and Abrams are starting over from scratch?

Considering the recent activity on the official Star Wars YouTube channel, the good people at ScreenCrush surmised that Lucasfilm might release a new teaser trailer at the end of the month. Over the past few weeks, Lucasfilm has released original teaser trailers from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi on subsequent Wednesdays. This led Screen Crush’s Mike Sampson to speculate that Lucasfilm might release a teaser on October 30th, which happens to be on a Wednesday. Now that Kennedy announced the exit of Arndt, it’s unclear if this bit of speculation will prove true.

Michael Arndt won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine in 2006. He was also nominated a few years later for Best Adapted Screenplay for Toy Story 3 in 2010. He seemed like he would be a good fit for Star Wars: Episode VII, so hopefully his exit from the project was amicable.

The Star Wars press release also mentions who will be working on the film production’s crew. The names on the list are a good mix of Abrams regulars such as Dan Mindel alongside Star Wars veterans like Ben Burtt and John Williams. Despite Arndt’s departure, it seems like Star Wars: Episode VII is in very capable hands.

  • Director of photography Dan Mindel (Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness)
  • Production designers Rick Carter (Lincoln, Avatar, Forrest Gump) and Darren Gilford (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy)
  • Costume designer Michael Kaplan (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Fight Club)
  • Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception)
  • Sound designer Ben Burtt (Lincoln, Wall-E, Star Wars: Episodes I-VI)
  • Re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)
  • Supervising sound editor Matthew Wood (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Master, There Will Be Blood) of Skywalker Sound
  • Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (Star Trek Into Darkness, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith) of Industrial Light & Magic.
  • Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Ryan, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds) serving as executive producers.
  • John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.

Star Wars: Episode VII is still expected for release sometime in 2015.

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