The official Star Wars website has announced that Star Wars: Episode VII‘s script is now being developed by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
The news is significant because it means Michael Arndt has left the project. The screenwriter is critically acclaimed for his work with Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine, and most recently he wrote The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. Abrams is also the director of Episode VII.
“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “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.”
Kasdan has penned many big films including The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi. Based on this statement from Kennedy, it looks like Abrams and Kasdan are still working with Arndt’s script but will be spending a considerable amount of time reworking it.
The statement also notes that “location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are already underway” for Star Wars: Episode VII, but fans are slowly growing more and more concerned that the film won’t make its previously-announced summer 2015 release date. Rumors indicate that the film will be released in December 2015 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Disney plans to release Star Wars spinoff movies every year in between each new Episode, so the clock is also ticking on their planned 2016 spinoff movie.