There hasn’t been a lot of officially sanctioned information coming out of the Lucasfilm camp regarding the production of STAR WARS: EPISODE VII. That changed today, with a press release that was notable for who was listed on it… as who wasn’t.
The release, included in its entirety below, detailed who would be working on the film as it heads for production, slated to begin in March. There are a lot of familiar names for the STAR WARS fan to see, including John Williams, Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood, and Garty Rydstrom.
However, one change stands out: Michael Arndt is no longer writing the script for the film, and J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are heralding the script into production.
Word around the campfire has had Abrams tossing out Arndt’s treatment and writing from scratch as early as summer of this year. Devin Faraci at Badass Digest has been hearing rumours of discontent for the last couple of months, and the move to bring in Kasdan should come as no surprise:
My sources tell me that the focus of the story has changed in a big way, that it’s a whole new set of characters being followed than in the Arndt script. I don’t want to say much more than that, because I just don’t know how in flux things are and I’m sick of being misquoted on this stuff, but it seems like there’s a complete overhaul. Top to bottom. This isn’t a rewrite, this is a completely different movie with different main characters.
The STAR WARS site still lists 2015 as the release window. That said, remember that J.J. Abrams has no qualms about pushing films back if they’re not going to be ready on time – see both STAR TREK and INTO DARKNESS for examples.
Here’s the full statement from Lucasfilm:
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, Star Trek Into Darkness), production designers Rick Carter (Lincoln, Avatar, Forrest Gump) and Darren Gilford (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy), costume designer Michael Kaplan (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Fight Club),special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception), sound designer Ben Burtt (Lincoln, Wall-E, Star Wars: Episodes I-VI), re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story, Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol), supervising sound editor Matthew Wood (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Master, There Will Be Blood) of Skywalker Sound, and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (Star Trek Into Darkness, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Star 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 Protocol, Jack Ryan, 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.