J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan Are Now Writing STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
The well for any real solid news on the next installment in the Star Wars saga has been very, very dry as of late. While rumors on casting have been flying this way and that, it's still proved to be a lot of hot air in the end. Today, however, sheds some light on why things have been especially quiet over at the House of Mouse/Lucas.

Michael Arndt, who was originally hired as screenwriter for Episode VII, is no longer attached to the project according to a press releases that appeared on StarWars.com. Up to bat now is the film's director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, who was initially brought on board for the new film(s) as a consultant.

While the added oomph of Kasdan in a bigger role is good news for fans, it is nonetheless disconcerting to hear that Arndt is out. I'm choosing not to go into the realm of speculation here, but I will say that for Abrams and Kasdan to be writing now (and possibly from scratch) for a spring 2014 principal photography start date and that 2015 release... well, I wonder if this is enough time.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy had this to say on the change up:

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.

Of course it's full steam ahead, as the press release also included a venerable who's-who list of department heads, including a lot of Abrams mainstays and Star Wars vets John Williams and Ben Burtt:

  • 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 (Tintin, War of the Worlds) serving as executive producers.
  • John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.
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