Michael Arndt Off 'Star Wars Episode VII,' J.J. Abrams And Lawrence Kasdan Writing

If you wondered why there hasn't been any real news on the Star Wars Episode VII front, this is likely a big part of the reason. The script Michael Arndt was writing (likely based on George Lucas' original outline) is no longer in play. Instead, J.J. Abrams and Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan are scripting.

There's an official statement at StarWars.com, which includes the following from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy:

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.

This is the point where people will start coming out of the woodwork with some things they've heard over the past couple months. Devin Faraci at Badass Digest, for example, says that Abrams started scripting from scratch very recently. He also says that the rumors of Abrams being unhappy with the production over the summer were due to dissatisfaction with the script, and that what Abrams and Kasdan are doing now is as new as possible, with new characters and story elements. All of that means that casting could all be up in the air. That's why there was no big announcement at D23, and why we've heard nothing but thin rumors of late.

There have been rumors that Episode VII might be pushed out of a summer 2015 opening to December of that year, and there are details here that support the claim. For instance, the official press release mentions nothing of a May 2015 release, saying only that production will take place next year for "an expected 2015 release." Everyone nails down release dates way before a film is shot these days, so Star Wars evading that point is significant. Could the movie be pushed to May 2016?

Then there's the start of production date, which is now "Spring 2014" rather than January or February of '14.

Look at it this way: hopefully this means we'll get a better film — one that has more time taken to get its story and characters right from the beginning. Most things people hate about the prequels started with those scripts. If Abrams and Kasdan get this right, everyone will be thankful for the change and delay when the movie hits.

The press release says that pre-production continues at full speed,

On the plus side, this press release also features a crew update, including the following names:

  • Director of photography Dan Mindel (Mission: Impossible IIIStar TrekStar Trek Into Darkness)
  • Production designers Rick Carter (LincolnAvatarForrest Gump) and Darren Gilford (OblivionTRON: Legacy)
  • Costume designer Michael Kaplan (Star Trek Into DarknessMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolFight Club)
  • Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (SkyfallThe Dark Knight RisesInception)
  • Sound designer Ben Burtt (LincolnWall-EStar Wars: Episodes I-VI)
  • Re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom (Jurassic ParkSaving Private RyanToy StoryMission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol)
  • Supervising sound editor Matthew Wood (Star Trek Into DarknessThe MasterThere Will Be Blood) of Skywalker Sound
  • Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (Star Trek Into DarknessPirates of the Caribbean: At World's EndStar 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 ProtocolJack RyanStar Trek Into Darkness) and Jason McGatlin (TintinWar of the Worlds) serving as executive producers.
  • John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.