News came a little while ago that Michael Arndt has been replaced by both J.J. Abrams (Super 8) and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). Rumors at the time pointed directly at Disney insisting that the release date for Star Wars: Episode VII would be 2015. Interestingly, the announced release date on December 18, 2015 places it about 4 months after the next D23 Expo.
But why has this shift in screenwriters happened?
Abrams was on a conference call, and Deadline reported he said the following:
It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be. Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a Star Wars movie is kind of unbeatable.
Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of his or adore him more, He’s a wonderful guy and was incredibly helpful in the process. [This event] doesn’t preclude working with Michael again in the future, he is one of the best writers around.
As “Episode VII” continues pre-production, Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams have assumed screenwriting duties for the film. Kasdan, who has been serving as a consultant on the film, is a veteran of several classic Lucasfilm productions, writing the screenplay for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and serving as co-screenwriter for “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” Acclaimed director and screenwriter Abrams’ credits include “Super 8,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Fringe,” and “Lost.”
“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.”
Location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are already underway on “Episode VII.” A team of gifted artists are working to bring the latest installment of the “Star Wars” saga, including director of photography Dan Mindel (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Star Trek“), production designers Rick Carter (“Lincoln,” “Avatar“) and Darren Gilford (“Oblivion,” “TRON: Legacy“), costume designer Michael Kaplan (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol“), special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (“Skyfall,” “The Dark Knight Rises“), sound designer Ben Burtt (“Lincoln,” “Star Wars: Episodes I-VI“), re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom (“Jurassic Park,” “Saving Private Ryan“), supervising sound editor Matthew Wood (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” “The Master“) of Skywalker Sound, and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End“) of Industrial Light & Magic. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “Star 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.
Shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.