Remember how excited you were when Disney and Lucasfilm announced their merger and the scheduled arrival of Star Wars Episode VII for 2015? That seems like so long ago that you’d be forgiven for having expected some sort of casting announcement by now beyond the usual rumors (Benedict Cumberbatch!) and threats (Justin Bieber!). Well there’s finally been an official (and rather pompously titled) announcement, and while it has nothing to do with casting it explains why it has nothing to do with casting.
Michael Arndt‘s script is off the table, and Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams are drafting a new one.
The news has had the expected results online with seemingly the majority of people piling on the negative comments regarding both Abrams and Kasdan. Abrams never stood a chance in the public eye, but Kasdan? A common rejoinder has been the terribly witty rhetorical question, “What has Kasdan done for us lately? That’s right, Dreamcatcher.” This is followed by loud laughter and much sobbing.
These people are idiots.
As someone who loves the original Star Wars trilogy and can’t wash away the memory of the prequels, I’ve had little to no interest in upcoming films. Abrams’ involvement was a given from the very beginning, and while that’s far from the death knell that many people believe it was never something to be excited about. The news that Arndt would be scripting was equally uninteresting as his resume features only one science fiction adventure, Oblivion. It’s an entertaining movie, but the generic retread of a script is its least appealing element. (That actually applies to his script for Toy Story 3 too. Yeah, I said it.)
Kasdan, by contrast, has moved from mere consultant to lead writer, and that should instill great confidence in anyone interested in a return to form for the Star Wars universe. Sure he co-wrote Dreamcatcher, but in addition to it being a fairly shitty source novel do you know who the other co-writer on the screenplay is? William Fucking Goldman. That’s right. The man behind The Princess Bride, Misery, All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, and more co-wrote the script for Dreamcatcher. If these two guys couldn’t make it work no one could.
Kasdan’s resume is equally exciting with films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Silverado, Body Heat, The Big Chill, Wyatt Earp, and others to his name, and while he’s written some duds too there’s really only one credit that matters. The man wrote The Empire Strikes Back. You know it’s the best of the six films by a wide margin, and you also know that he’s responsible for much of what makes it so damn memorable and entertaining.
George Lucas is no longer behind the typewriter, and Kasdan is. This is good news people. Start acting like it.
The full announcement from Kathleen Kennedy is below.
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.”