Star Wars Episode VII Script: Michael Arndt Is Out, Lawrence Kasdan And J.J. Abrams Are In

Alderaan, Schmalderaan: this guy blew up Vulcan!

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

News that control of the Star Wars franchise had been handed over to J.J. Abrams initially had die-hard fans weeping in the aisles. Many a night’s sleep has been lost to the fear that Abrams would do a Star Trek on them.

Forget George Lucas tinkering with Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley, Abrams is eminently capable of rewriting the entire mythology. Alderaan, Schmalderaan: this guy blew up Vulcan!

Imagine Star Wars: Episode VII as the opening of an new era. One in which Anakin Skywalker never turned to the Dark Side, instead living out his life fixing moisture vaporators on Tattoine. One in which Darth Vader is unmasked as the tormented Jar Jar Binks (played by a snarling Benedict Cumberbatch)…

A news update from Star Wars HQ may not have alleviated all of those fears just yet: Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed that after a year on the project Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) is out as scriptwriter, and Abrams is in.

It’s not a huge surprise: Abrams told Collider in September that he’d ditched plans to direct Star Trek 3 in favour of spending more time with Star Wars VII. However, in news to gladden the most stalwart of Star Wars hearts, Abrams will be joined by veteran safe pair of hands, Lawrence Kasdan.

In genre circles, multiple Oscar nominee (and member of the George Lucas inner circle) Kasdan is best known for his work on The Empire Strikes Back (which has, let’s face it, the best script of any of the films to date) and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also co-wrote The Return of the Jedi.

Kasdan made his name with sharp, witty scripts for landmark, star-making films bookending the eighties: Body HeatThe Big Chill and Grand Canyon. However, in the ’90s and early ’00s he had mixed fortunes with films ranging from Dreamcatcher to French Kiss. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the Star Wars table this time around.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said 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 Star Wars: Episode VII. Shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.

The production team assembled so far boasts an impressive string of credits and is chock full of veteran Lucas and Abrams collaborators.

Confirmed members include Blade Runner costume designer Michael Kaplan, director of photography Dan Mindel (Star Trek Into Darkness), production designers Rick Carter (Avatar) and Darren Gilford (TRON: Legacy), special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Skyfall) and sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars: Episodes I-VI).

Oh, and John Williams is returning to score the new film. Wheeee!

Excited much? Stay tuned for updates. @TVClaw

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