Lucasfilm released an official update on the development of Star Wars: Episode 7. Things don't look very good. The start of filming has been delayed by a few months (it was expected to start in early 2014). Also Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams are taking over Arndt's script and are doing rewrites...
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.
I hope this won't lead to a delay of the release date. Still it's good to see that they really want the best for the movie and are not rushing with something they don't like.
After this announcement the web was flooded with panic and pessimistic comments. This reaction was triggered mainly by one rumor posted by BadAssDigest. Still that's just a rumor. I'm surprised that people prefer to believe this rumor and not the official Lucasfilm announcement which clearly stated that the script is only being rewritten. They're not starting from scratch. Script rewrites do delay productions but they are a necessary evil. A Hollywood production without any script rewrites is really a rarity.
So let's think more positive. Actually the Episode 7 script rewrites and Lawrence Kasdan's involvement with the script can be considered a good omen. Check out The Empire Strikes Back script problems from almost 35 years ago which lead to one of the best stories in the Star Wars saga (again with the involvement of Kasdan).
After the success of Star Wars, George Lucas tapped Leigh Brackett, best known for co-writing the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall classic, The Big Sleep, to write the script for the sequel. Brackett was also an acclaimed science-fiction writer. Unfortunately, what she turned in was not what Lucas wanted.
To be fair, unlike Arndt's situation, Brackett would have most likely been allowed to revise her own draft. Sadly, Brackett died from cancer before she was given a chance. This left Lucas with an almost unusable script and no writer.
Lucas is mostly responsible for writing Empire as well, even though Lucas did not award himself a writing credit. It was only after Lucas finished his draft that Lawrence Kasdan was brought in to polish up some dialogue. (Kasdan played a much larger role on Return of the Jedi than he did Empire.)
The original Leigh Brackett draft of Empire is a bit of a marvel in and of itself. It's online if you want to read it (which I have), and it is really drastically different than what appeared in the final film. And it's an oddity worth exploring to illustrate just how much a story can change from the first draft to the final draft.For the full story go to Huffingtonpost.
So everybody, calm down! :)