There were rumors some months back that JJ Abrams was going to leave the Star Wars franchise. That hasn’t come to pass, but now reports have surfaced that Michael Arndt, who also penned Toy Story 3, is leaving the project, and JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are taking over the screenplay from here.Kasdan, who wrote Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, recently signed on for at least one movie in the new Star Wars series, but he’s now also going to come in and help out with the first installment in JJ’s reinvention of the classic franchise. This is definitely great news for Star Wars geeks because Kasdan wrote the best one in the series, and has a long track record of great scripts including Body Heat, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, and so many more.
As Entertainment Weekly reports, Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, has said in a statement, “I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and JJ working on the script. 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.”
Kennedy added, “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.”
While there still isn’t a firm release date, EW tells us the plan for Star Wars is to start shooting in Spring 2014 for a 2015 release date. Usually Memorial Day is prime Star Wars time, but there’s also been speculation the next installment could have a November 2015 release as well.