Lawrence Kasdan

news kasdan writing episode vii

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.

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Iron Man Han Solo

When Disney announced that their future, non-trilogy Star Wars movies would be origin stories, two things struck me as funny. One, we already got an origin story of one of the universe’s most iconic characters (he was supposed to be the chosen one!), and pretty much everyone hated it. Maybe the problem was that it took three movies instead of one? Two, Disney wants Han Solo to be their Iron Man. They haven’t concretely confirmed that they’ll be focusing one of their stand-alone movies on Solo, but he seems like an obvious choice alongside Yoda and/or Leia, and regardless of which character they feature, the studio will have pulled a kind of Reverse Marvel by taking a sprawling, established film universe and re-introducing its players as monolithic superheroes.

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Empire Strikes Back

There is a lot of Star Wars material to work with. George Lucas originally had a few thoughts on where Episodes VII – IX should go, there are countless novel adaptations and comic books, and if you culled the collective amount of fan advice, there would be enough storylines for a thousand more movies. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan probably knows that better than most, but as the scribe has signed on to write one of the new sequel entries, he told the LA Times that his plan was to start from scratch. “I’m trying to start fresh,” he said. “There are certain pleasures that we think the saga can bring to people that they’ve been missing, and we’re hoping to bring them that, and at the same time, have them feel that it’s all new.”

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Lawrence Kasdan Star Wars

A lot of people who comb through movie news will recognize Lawrence Kasdan‘s name next to all the Star Wars developments that have been pouring out in the past two weeks. Some will know the franchise (as well as Indiana Jones) as his legacy while others would point to his intimate portrayals of life’s difficulties in movies like Grand Canyon and The Big Chill. He’s gone through eras of great prolificness and droughts where work seemed impossible to find, and after four decades, he’s amassed a great amount of wisdom and expertise. He’s also in the unique position of abandoning (and being all but abandoned by) the studio system years after having been a mid-wife to massive franchises. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the man who told us who Luke’s father was.

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Star Wars

Briefly: The big news is just flying out of Hollywood in fun, easily-digestible bites today. A rumor that Jack shared with us earlier today that held that Disney is setting up a series of stand-alone Star Wars films and that the first would center on Yoda, has now been confirmed by Disney. Sort of. Walt Disney Pictures Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced today that Disney is working on those stand-alone films, but didn’t reveal which character would be getting the solo film treatment first, saying, “I can confirm to you today that, in fact, we are working on a few stand-alone films. Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are both working on films derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga. We still plan to make Episodes 7, 8, and 9, roughly over a six-year period of time, starting in 2015. There are going to be a few other films released in that time, too.” So, what you’re saying is, all we’re going to be able to talk about for the next six years is Star Wars? Okay. [CNBC, via ComingSoon]

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J.J. Abrams

As was breathlessly reported earlier this week, Disney has now confirmed (via press release) that J.J. Abrams is their official pick to direct their new Star Wars film. There’s not much else to say as of now, so let’s roll out some fun quotes from the release! Kathleen Kennedy: “It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.” George Lucas: “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller.  He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.” Abrams: “To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor. I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.” What a lovefest. Abrams will produce alongside his Bad Robot and partner Bryan Burk and Kennedy. The press release also confirms that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will both consult on the project.

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Star Wars

We’ve known about Star Wars: Episode VII and its subsequent planned sequels for less than a month, but already the Internet has cycled through enough rumors that we now have to put the seventh film out of our heads so that we may properly focus on the eighth and ninth movies in the venerable franchise. Why, Internet, why? We don’t even know who is directing the seventh film yet! (Though, we certainly know who is not directing it.) Deadline Hollywood first reported this afternoon that they had the early lead on some possible screenwriting contenders to pen the eighth and ninth films. The outlet was not specific on who would pen which film, if only one scribe would be picked to do double duty, or if they’ve share credits, but the names they’d been hearing were Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan. As far as rumors go, this certainly is not a bad one. The outlet also reported that they heard that Disney has “approached” both Kinberg and Kasdan, and they believe this is to “get the ball rolling on the subsequent installments mapped out by Lucas.” But “approached” isn’t the right word, as THR now reports that Kasdan and Kinberg have both closed deals to pen installments of the new films. THR, like Deadline, is unsure of “their exact division of responsibilities,” but they do add that they will produce the films. An official word from Disney has not been released as of yet.

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Culture Warrior

“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.” I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes. Criticizing Hollywood’s creative crisis is nothing new. But with the mega-success of The Avengers and the continuing narrative of failure and disappointment that has thus far characterizes every major release since, it seems that this crisis has been put under a microscope. The moment where unprecedented success is the only kind of achievement Hollywood can afford and the well of decade-old franchises and toy companies become desperately mined for material is something we were warned about. But Hollywood’s creativity-crippling reliance on existing properties is not the only, or even the primary, problem faced by mass market filmmaking’s present moment. The bloated numbers sought after each and […]

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Editor’s note: With Darling Companion opening this week in limited release, we thought we’d unleash Dustin’s review from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, originally posted on January 30, for you to take a bite out of. Woof. The opening night film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always been a walk-away; generally an under-cooked indie with no distribution and little shot at getting into general theaters. So why kick a film when it’s down? There’s not a lot of value in heaping negative criticism on a new filmmaker who will likely go on to bigger and better things with more experience. That said, the 27th year of Santa Barbara’s festival brought a heavyweight opening night player in writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan, and his Sony Pictures Classics distributed Darling Companion. Basically, fair game. Darling Companion is the story of Beth Winters (Diane Keaton), her spine surgeon husband Joseph (Kevin Kline), and the dog that  brings them together. Or at least, it tries to be about them while clumsily pulling viewers into unnecessary side stories that aren’t particularly interesting. The film suffers on every level, but prominent among its faults is an odd pace that steals away any reason to invest in any of the characters, the spotty narrative, or the wholly expected and unsatisfying ending.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) The Plot: When the Nazis threaten to find and unleash the power within the Ark of the Covenant, the US Government turns to the only place that can save them: Academia. Back in the 1930s, Professors and Archaeologists were made of a lot tougher stuff, and were far more attractive to co-eds than they are today. The manliest among them, Indiana Jones, fresh off a disastrous trip to a South American jungle, embarks on a global quest to find the Ark first.

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