Recent news that Michael Arndt is letting go of the reigns to the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII movie will, no doubt, be met with great exultation from diehard fans of the Star Wars franchise. This is not because Michael Arndt is a bad screenwriter, by any means, but due to the mere fact that this decision has opened the door for the return of Lawrence Kasdan, who was responsible for co-writing two films from the original trilogy – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983).
Of course, many have hankered after the series’ return to form, since the release of the disappointing modern Star Wars trilogy. Kasdan could be the much needed catalyst required to deliver that classic Star Wars feel back to the acclaimed series – a man who is revered for his expertise in Star Wars lore.
Kasdan was originally ushered in to operate as a consultant on the new Disney-orchestrated project, and was signed up to serve a limited role in the film’s production. In light of recent news, this is all set to change.
The announcement was made on Oct. 24, 2013, proclaiming that pre-production was still very much active, with both Lawrence Kasdan and Director J.J. Abrams assuming screenwriting duties for the hotly anticipated movie.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy stated that he was excited by the brand new story arc, and “thrilled” to have the combined writing talents of Larry and J.J. Abrams, focusing on the script, before proceeding to boast about their relative merits:
“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 was designated the task of penning Star Wars: Episode VII last year. He is credited with writing scripts for Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Little Miss Sunshine, snatching a coveted Oscar for the latter.
It is known that Arndt had already produced a 40 to 50 page outline for the film, alongside a first draft. The statement failed to offer any explanation for his departure, which chiefly centered upon the writer’s fleeting contributions, during the film’s pre-production stages.
The announcement describes some of the specifics of the film’s pre-production, confirming that location scouting, cast selection and production and costume design were already taking shape. The following highly experienced crew members were stated to be involved in the project’s undertaking:
- Director of Photography Dan Mindel (Mission: Impossible III and new Star Trek movies)
- Production Designer Rick Carter (Avatar, Forrest Gump)
- Production Designer Darren Gilford (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy)
- Costume Designer Michael Kaplan (Star Trek Into Darkness, Fight Club)
- Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould (Inception, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises)
- Sound Designer Ben Burtt (Lincoln, Star Wars: Episodes I to VI)
- Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk
- Executive Producers: Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin
Meanwhile, the statement also confirmed that John Williams would return to score at least Star Wars: Episode VII.
Shooting is scheduled to take place in the Spring of 2014, located at Pinewood Studios, and the movie is slated for a 2015 release.
Meanwhile, E! Online recently reported that the afore-mentioned estimates may be somewhat optimistic. Insiders have allegedly reported a significant shift in the direction of Arndt’s original script, with Abrams dissatisfied with a preliminary version of the screenplay. The sources claim the script is likely to be overhauled to include an entirely new set of characters.
By: James Fenner
Star Wars Website