‘star wars: episode vii’ writer drops out

Things have been a little quiet — too quiet — on the “Star Wars: Episode VII” front lately, leading many to believe that J.J. Abrams would not be able to make the proposed summer 2015 release date, and now an official announcement from Lucasfilm seems to confirm that things aren’t going as planned.

Michael Arndt, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter who was one of the first people brought onto the new project, has left “Star Wars: Episode VII.” Writing duties have shifted to Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, the co-writer of “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” who had been consulting on the film and prepping a future spin-off movie for the series.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy released an official statement on StarWars.com.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said. “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.”

The brief from Lucasfilm continues, listing the production crew for “Episode VII,” and stating that production is scheduled to begin next spring in England with an “expected 2015 release.”

The clock is certainly ticking on Abrams and company. Even with production already underway, most likely already working on complex effects shots and design elements, two years is not a lot of time to make a “Star Wars” movie, especially when things like casting and a title remain big question marks.