Disney CEO Tells Lucasfilm: EPISODE VII Has To Come Out In 2015

Disney CEO Tells Lucasfilm: EPISODE VII Has To Come Out In 2015


Last week, when I recapped the move by director JJ Abrams to replace Michael Arndt as the screenwriter for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, I closed the article thus: “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.”

Apparently, Disney CEO Robert Iger didn’t get that memo. In an article today by the Hollywood Reporter, the Mouse House chief has made it clear to Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy that they have to hit the announced 2015 release window, with no excuses.

This means that Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have less than two years to complete the bones-up rewrite of the film’s script, get it cast, in front of cameras, and complete the effects.

I’ll pause here for dramatic effect.

When studios announce release dates before anything has been completed on the production of a tentpole film, friction generally ensues. Prime example: Sam Raimi left the SPIDER-MAN franchise when he did not want to rush his fourth film in the Sony series, after the pressure to meet the third film’s release date affected the final product.

Iger has every reason to hold Lucasfilm’s feet to the fire. Disney spent over $4 billion to purchase Lucasfilm, and they have highly intricate plans to capitalize on that investment, including spin-off films, merchandising, and ancillary properties that all depend on a feature film coming out on time. Moving the release date of EPISODE VII back to 2016, in the eyes of the Disney corner office, would signal a failure to deliver on that massive purchase price.

Meanwhile, Abrams and Kennedy know they have one shot to get the bad prequel taste out of the mouths of two generations of STAR WARS fans. If this film feels rushed when it does hit the screens, they will have blown the opportunity Abrams has worked so hard to seize: re-making a STAR WARS franchise in Bad Robot’s image.

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America's Sweetheart. Pixel monkey; media whore; recovering film critic; baseball fanatic; husband; Texan; human.