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Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams take over writing Star Wars: Episode VII from Michael Arndt

Oct. 24, 2013by: Alex Maidy

Trouble in Disneyland? After what seemed like a smooth pre-production, Lucasfilm has dropped the news that STAR WARS: EPISODE VII scribe Michael Arndt is off the project. Director J.J. Abrams and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK writer Lawrence Kasdan are taking over.

There is little explanation as to why Arndt has been let go, but this doesn't have to mean the movie is in trouble. It is very common practice for movies to be written and rewritten various times before the finished product is filmed, but the word choice in Lucasfilm honcho Kathleen Kennedy's statement doesn't sound like it was a smooth transition:

“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.”

There is no mention of a completed draft or anything of the like. Michael Arndt is an Oscar-winning writer for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and was nominated for TOY STORY 3. He cowrote Joseph Kosinski's OBLIVION but has no other science fiction credits to his name. We all know J.J. Abrams background with the genre and Kasdan is the man we have all considered the reason for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK being as good as it is. With George Lucas already providing an outline for the story, I don't think it will be that hard to pick up where Arndt left off, but where exactly did he leave off?

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII is slated to begin filming in London in just a few months. Does this raise any red flags for anyone? Hopefully they decide to choose quality over the already announced 2015 release date if things don't get back on track soon.

Source: Deadline

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3:44PM on 10/24/2013

Mr. Voorhees

Of course it means the movie is in trouble. These movies are a bad idea
Of course it means the movie is in trouble. These movies are a bad idea
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3:51PM on 10/24/2013
Are you kidding me?! We've gone from the writer of Toy Story 3 to the writer of Empire, Raiders, Body Heat, Silverado... not to slight Mr. Arndt, but I'd say this is pretty good news!
Are you kidding me?! We've gone from the writer of Toy Story 3 to the writer of Empire, Raiders, Body Heat, Silverado... not to slight Mr. Arndt, but I'd say this is pretty good news!
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3:55PM on 10/24/2013
YES! This is fantastic fucking news, Kasdan is a genius.
YES! This is fantastic fucking news, Kasdan is a genius.
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4:15PM on 10/24/2013
So now we have the writer of the best SW movie on board. Sounds like an improvement to me.
So now we have the writer of the best SW movie on board. Sounds like an improvement to me.
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4:32PM on 10/24/2013

It's pretty common to hand these kind of movies off to different writers

so i'm not too concerned. And there's nothing wrong with Lawrence Kasdan as a writer - EMPIRE STRIKES BACK anyone?

As long as there aren't too many lens flares . . .
so i'm not too concerned. And there's nothing wrong with Lawrence Kasdan as a writer - EMPIRE STRIKES BACK anyone?

As long as there aren't too many lens flares . . .
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4:49PM on 10/24/2013

First rule of being a writer in Hollywood - You will get fired, maybe not today, maybe not on this movie, but it'll happen.

If anything this is still in the green for me (if not greener), Lawrence Kasdan DID write 2 of the 3 good Star Wars movies (and 0 of the bad ones). And JJ knows all your heart-strings, and how to tug them. I was really hoping that Kasdan was going to get in on the first new one anyway.
If anything this is still in the green for me (if not greener), Lawrence Kasdan DID write 2 of the 3 good Star Wars movies (and 0 of the bad ones). And JJ knows all your heart-strings, and how to tug them. I was really hoping that Kasdan was going to get in on the first new one anyway.
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3:15AM on 10/25/2013
He was a lead writer on Jedi, which while still a very good film, is the least out of the original trilogy. He had a MUCH smaller part on Empire. Everyone always gives him credit for that when most of that credit should go to Brackett. Plus his work has gotten almost universally progressively worse since then.
He was a lead writer on Jedi, which while still a very good film, is the least out of the original trilogy. He had a MUCH smaller part on Empire. Everyone always gives him credit for that when most of that credit should go to Brackett. Plus his work has gotten almost universally progressively worse since then.
4:59PM on 10/24/2013
I can't imagine anyone thinking that this is a bad thing. The screenplay will only get better. I really think that they should push this to 2016 though. I think it CAN get done for 2015, but they should really consider giving it some extra time.
I can't imagine anyone thinking that this is a bad thing. The screenplay will only get better. I really think that they should push this to 2016 though. I think it CAN get done for 2015, but they should really consider giving it some extra time.
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3:10AM on 10/25/2013
I think that anyone who looks at Michael Arndt's IMDB history over the past decade and then at Kasdan's can have no trouble at all arguing that this is a very bad thing,
I think that anyone who looks at Michael Arndt's IMDB history over the past decade and then at Kasdan's can have no trouble at all arguing that this is a very bad thing,
+36
5:09PM on 10/24/2013

What?

How does Kathleen Kennedy's statement make it sound like it wasn't a smooth transition? There is absolutely nothing about her statement that is even remotely controversial. In the first paragraph we are told that this change in writers doesn't mean anything because big budget movies usually have several writers, but in the closing paragraph it says the film should be pushed back if it doesn't get back on track. Sooooo, when did it veer off track? As you were writing the article? Is it business
How does Kathleen Kennedy's statement make it sound like it wasn't a smooth transition? There is absolutely nothing about her statement that is even remotely controversial. In the first paragraph we are told that this change in writers doesn't mean anything because big budget movies usually have several writers, but in the closing paragraph it says the film should be pushed back if it doesn't get back on track. Sooooo, when did it veer off track? As you were writing the article? Is it business as usual or a sign of problems? Do you have even the foggiest notion?

I knew who wrote this article without even looking up to see the byline. None of the conclusions in it are supported by anything but the author's opinion, which seems to change from sentence to sentence, and has no regard for facts that might get in the way. A complete waste of time.
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5:52PM on 10/24/2013
I'm not really surprised. It was a matter of time before Abrams took it over. How is it they didn't get Kasdan to write Indy IV?
I'm not really surprised. It was a matter of time before Abrams took it over. How is it they didn't get Kasdan to write Indy IV?
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+7
6:19PM on 10/24/2013

2016

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This film will not be out until the Spring/Summer of 2016.
Arndt has been off the project for awhile and the only reason they are releasing this news now is because a leak was imminent.
Expect news of the new release date when a cast announcement is made in late November.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. This film will not be out until the Spring/Summer of 2016.
Arndt has been off the project for awhile and the only reason they are releasing this news now is because a leak was imminent.
Expect news of the new release date when a cast announcement is made in late November.
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+15
7:17PM on 10/24/2013
Arndt was hired to write the screenplay back in early December of 2012. The fact that he was fired this late in the game is not a good thing. You guys can tell yourselves that everything is fine all you want, but I'm worried about this production. The movie won't be coming out now until December 2015 or later.
Arndt was hired to write the screenplay back in early December of 2012. The fact that he was fired this late in the game is not a good thing. You guys can tell yourselves that everything is fine all you want, but I'm worried about this production. The movie won't be coming out now until December 2015 or later.
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7:43PM on 10/24/2013
I've just read from several different sites stating that Star Wars 7 will most likely have to push back their starting date (for shooting). Originally it was supposed to start in February, but now it won't start until June at the earliest. There's no way in hell that Lucasfillm is going to hit their late May 2015 release date. Don't be shocked if it gets pushed to 2016.
I've just read from several different sites stating that Star Wars 7 will most likely have to push back their starting date (for shooting). Originally it was supposed to start in February, but now it won't start until June at the earliest. There's no way in hell that Lucasfillm is going to hit their late May 2015 release date. Don't be shocked if it gets pushed to 2016.
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7:58PM on 10/24/2013

Remember....

Kasdan wrote these movies back in the 70's and 80's (30-40 years ago). Since then he is behind such classics like "Wyatt Earp" and "Dreamcatcher". Food for thought...
Kasdan wrote these movies back in the 70's and 80's (30-40 years ago). Since then he is behind such classics like "Wyatt Earp" and "Dreamcatcher". Food for thought...
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8:04PM on 10/24/2013

I can wait...

Just make it good. There will plenty of other things to spend money on in 2015. Personally I like the screen writer change, taking the best of whats old and new.
Just make it good. There will plenty of other things to spend money on in 2015. Personally I like the screen writer change, taking the best of whats old and new.
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8:27PM on 10/24/2013

Hey, Michael...

Looks like you Arndt writing Star Wars anymore.
Looks like you Arndt writing Star Wars anymore.
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8:53PM on 10/24/2013
Wow, I wasn't expecting that. If Arndt had completed a draft that is now being rewritten by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams, then that would make sense, but I'm inclined to agree with JediteX. Fingers crossed and all.
Wow, I wasn't expecting that. If Arndt had completed a draft that is now being rewritten by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams, then that would make sense, but I'm inclined to agree with JediteX. Fingers crossed and all.
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9:06PM on 10/24/2013

Good Thing I Was On The Toilet When I Read This!

Otherwise there'd be a mess in my pants! Great news and am now convinced this film will be good.
Otherwise there'd be a mess in my pants! Great news and am now convinced this film will be good.
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+4
3:04AM on 10/25/2013

This is bad, this is very bad, I do not care what anyone else says.

J.J. is a perfectly decent writer, I am by no means an Abrams hater. He writes fun, competent action movies but he's simply not the same level of writer has Michael Arndt who has been the primary writer on two screenplays, both of which were nominated for Academy Awards. While Kasdan certainly helped on Empire Strikes Back, he was not the main reason that film was so great. That honor goes to Leigh Brackett, who was one of the most gifted screenwriters of her generation and also an accomplished
J.J. is a perfectly decent writer, I am by no means an Abrams hater. He writes fun, competent action movies but he's simply not the same level of writer has Michael Arndt who has been the primary writer on two screenplays, both of which were nominated for Academy Awards. While Kasdan certainly helped on Empire Strikes Back, he was not the main reason that film was so great. That honor goes to Leigh Brackett, who was one of the most gifted screenwriters of her generation and also an accomplished science fiction novelist. Kasdan was the lead writer on one Star Wars film - Return of the Jedi, and while it is a very good film, its noticeably a drop in quality from its predecessor. However, I and I'm sure many of you, would be perfectly happy to get a "Jedi" caliber Star Wars film after the prequel flicks. Of course Kasdan wrote othergreat stuff besides Star Wars, however, what really troubles me is that Kasdan has written nothing but absolute crap for the past 15 years. It's possible that he still has a good screenplay in him, but I feel that given everyone's track records over the past decade the prospect of a solo Arndt script holds a lot more promise than an Abrams/Kasdan collaboration.
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3:20PM on 10/29/2013
do you know anything about film history. you should read this before you embarass yourself, bc she wrote quite possibly the WORST SW screenplay of all time and Lucas actually saved it...

[link]
do you know anything about film history. you should read this before you embarass yourself, bc she wrote quite possibly the WORST SW screenplay of all time and Lucas actually saved it...

[link]
9:14AM on 10/26/2013
I don't want to get into a whole debate about this. Especially since I think we are both essentially Star Wars geeks who just want the best movie possible. But the accounts differ from source to source, so I guess we'll never know for sure who was responsible for what. But I know for a fact that Kasdan wrote more than 2 drafts of Empire, because I have both a fourth and a seventh draft of his Empire screenplays here at home. You can find those on the internet(hell I even think I got them from
I don't want to get into a whole debate about this. Especially since I think we are both essentially Star Wars geeks who just want the best movie possible. But the accounts differ from source to source, so I guess we'll never know for sure who was responsible for what. But I know for a fact that Kasdan wrote more than 2 drafts of Empire, because I have both a fourth and a seventh draft of his Empire screenplays here at home. You can find those on the internet(hell I even think I got them from this site once). But like I said before I don't want to get into a whole debate. Let's say we both agree Brackett and Kasdan are both excellent writers(with Brackett getting the upper edge here cause she was great till the very end, whereas Kasdan hasn't written that great stuff the last decade. But he still did the Big Chill, Silverado and Raiders back in the day.) and we both hope episode 7 will be great. Right?
1:46AM on 10/26/2013
Actually, false on both accounts. There's been a lot of debate about how much of Empire's story was her ideas and how much was Lucas' however Lucas himself has said that Brackett turned in a finished copy of the screenplay to him before her death in '78. He then commissioned Kasdan to write two more drafts and the first one departed much more from Brackett's screenplay then the second (and final) one. That's pretty much all of the solid details we have on the matter, but it really sounds like
Actually, false on both accounts. There's been a lot of debate about how much of Empire's story was her ideas and how much was Lucas' however Lucas himself has said that Brackett turned in a finished copy of the screenplay to him before her death in '78. He then commissioned Kasdan to write two more drafts and the first one departed much more from Brackett's screenplay then the second (and final) one. That's pretty much all of the solid details we have on the matter, but it really sounds like the bulk of that final draft came from Brackett with Kasdan fleshing out certain plot points and tweaking as necessary to help it better set up Return of the Jedi.

And speaking of Jedi, there were only two credited writers for that one. Kasdan and Lucas. Kasdan wrote the actual screenplay based upon Lucas' outline. Lucas co-wrote some pieces with Kasdan, we don't know which ones, but for the most part he was just there to serve as a consultant and touch up as necessary, as did director Richard Marquand. David Peoples, who incidentally had worked with Brackett on Blade Runner, was hired to do a last minute touch up of the script in order to make it more in line with the tone of Empire. Meaning that before his rewrite it was probably even more lighthearted and kid friendly.

Fun fact, Kasdan was the one who convinced Lucas to change the title from Return of the Jedi (which actually WAS the original title) to Revenge of the Jedi. Marquand eventually convinced him to change it back. Kasdan also wanted Han Solo to die offscreen and for Obi-Wan Kenobi to return to life (not just as a force ghost, but full on return to life) at the end of the movie.
4:39AM on 10/25/2013
As much as i love Leigh Brackett, Kasdan definitely wrote Empire. Leigh Brackett hadn't even finished a first draft before passing away. Kasdan has also always stated that he hardly had any input on Return of the Jedi, which is the reason he didn't want to write the Phantom Menace when George asked him. Not saying there isn't trouble in paradise here. But Kasdan does deserve the proper credit I think.
As much as i love Leigh Brackett, Kasdan definitely wrote Empire. Leigh Brackett hadn't even finished a first draft before passing away. Kasdan has also always stated that he hardly had any input on Return of the Jedi, which is the reason he didn't want to write the Phantom Menace when George asked him. Not saying there isn't trouble in paradise here. But Kasdan does deserve the proper credit I think.
3:48AM on 10/25/2013

So essentially Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams are taking another pass at the script before they start filming?

In other words: what happens on nearly every film produced in Hollywood.
In other words: what happens on nearly every film produced in Hollywood.
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9:26AM on 10/25/2013
So news that the Empire writer is doing a pass on the new Star Wars script sends the schmoes into a conniption frenzy, but news that there will be four Avatar sequels amounts to a reaction similar to that if the messiah were returning with cake and blowjobs for everyone. I don't know who you geeks are anymore.
So news that the Empire writer is doing a pass on the new Star Wars script sends the schmoes into a conniption frenzy, but news that there will be four Avatar sequels amounts to a reaction similar to that if the messiah were returning with cake and blowjobs for everyone. I don't know who you geeks are anymore.
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-2
4:02PM on 10/25/2013
This is fine. It just means that Michael Arndt finished the first draft, and Abrams and Kasden are working on the second draft. The important thing is that they not rush it for a 2015 release. If it's not ready, they should postpone production, take the time to flesh out the script, and plan for release in May 2016. I'm pretty confident they'll get a good movie out of this though. Maybe not Empire good, but at least as good as Abrams' other projects, and certainly better than the
This is fine. It just means that Michael Arndt finished the first draft, and Abrams and Kasden are working on the second draft. The important thing is that they not rush it for a 2015 release. If it's not ready, they should postpone production, take the time to flesh out the script, and plan for release in May 2016. I'm pretty confident they'll get a good movie out of this though. Maybe not Empire good, but at least as good as Abrams' other projects, and certainly better than the prequels.
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5:00PM on 10/25/2013
Star Wars 7 was announced in October 2012. You're really ok with it coming out in mid-2016?!? Ok, whatever.
Star Wars 7 was announced in October 2012. You're really ok with it coming out in mid-2016?!? Ok, whatever.
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