Obi-Wan Kenobi said act on instinct — but others might see this as a disturbance in the Force …
Lucasfilm has announced that Star Wars: Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties from Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine and nominee for Toy Story 3, who had previously been working on the story.
The movie is slated for release in 2015 but no firm date has been set. In its announcement about the screenwriter shuffle today, Lucasfilm said the current plan is still to begin shooting in Spring 2014.
Abrams started out as a screenwriter with such films as Regarding Henry and Forever Young before becoming more genre and sci-fi focused with Alias, Lost, and movies such as Mission: Impossible 3, Super 8, and the Star Trek reboot.
Kasdan has a rich history in the Star Wars universe. While best known as a writer-director of dramas such as Body Heat, The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist, Kasdan also co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He had been consulting on the development of the new trilogy, which picks up with the Rebellion after the death of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
Kasdan was also working with screenwriter Simon Kinberg on the development of spin-off prequels being developed by Lucasfilms. Sources tell EW that one film will follow the adventures of young Han Solo, while the other focuses on Boba Fett and his rival bounty hunters.
It’s not clear what role Arndt will have moving forward. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy characterized the change-up as a positive in her statement. “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.”
Massive productions like this typically go through multiple rewrites, so it would be premature for anyone to have a bad feeling about this just yet.
While Abrams and Kasdan get the script in shape, pre-production for Episode VII remains underway. The plan is to shoot mostly at London’s Pinewood Studios, but exterior locations are being scouted, nearly every actor in the business is trying to land a role with the casting department, and sets and costumes are being designed in preparation for those actors to inhabit when principal photography gets underway.