Whoa. Kathleen Kennedy and the brass at LucasFilm just announced on StarWars.com that screenwriter Michael Arndt will no longer be handling the script duties for Star Wars: Episode VII. Instead, director J.J. Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote Empire Strikes Back and had been serving as a consultant on Episode VII) will tackle the screenplay together.
“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” states Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “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.”
Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, isn’t even taking another crack at the screenplay – he’s off the project entirely. Devin over at BadassDigest has sources close to the production, and they say the script was scrapped as early as this July because Abrams wasn’t happy with what Arndt had delivered and wanted to take a pass at the story himself. (This was reportedly the cause of tension when rumors were floating around that Abrams might leave the project.) Even more important, though, is talk that Abrams and Kasdan won’t be rewriting Ardnt’s draft: they’re starting from scratch and including a whole new batch of characters and an entirely different story altogether. This is a major overhaul, and since the movie is scheduled to start filming early next year, it means that the new writers are going to have to hurry to meet the May 2015 release date LucasFilm keeps talking about.
If you follow other movie blogs, you’ve likely been reading all the “reports” about the actors who claim they’ve auditioned for parts in the new movie. This new screenplay will likely render those particular parts useless, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that if those actors actually got far enough along in the process they’d need to come back in and read again. But it all depends on what kind of new characters Abrams and Kasdan drop into George Lucas’ cinematic universe, and now we know we’re still a little ways away from official casting announcements (unless Fisher, Hamill, and Ford are coming back in any version of the story, regardless of who writes it).
Stay tuned, but I think our own Eric D. Snider said it best below:
— Eric D. Snider (@EricDSnider) October 24, 2013
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