The Hollywood Reporter writes that the recent departure of original screenwriter Michael Arndt has shaken up the production significantly, and that "the studio is under the gun to keep the film on course for a 2015 release despite a script that several insiders say isn't close to ready." Producer Kathleen Kennedy reportedly asked Disney to consider shifting "Episode VII"'s release another year, but the studio is on a tight schedule that will dole out films from the new "Star Wars" trilogy over the course of the next six years, and doesn't want to deviate from that plan.
Consultant Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote original trilogy films "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," was brought on as co-writer on "Episode VII" along with director J.J. Abrams. THR reports that Abrams is much more confident than Kennedy that the film can meet its 2015 deadline, and is pushing to keep plugging along at breakneck pace in order to do so. That has led to some alleged friction between the two -- THR says there have been reports of Abrams taking over some casting duties from Kennedy -- though insiders tell the trade that any animosity is over-exaggerated.
Sources also tell THR that Arndt left the project because the Oscar-winner was "ready to move on to other projects," and that the screenplay was in relatively good shape at the time of his departure. He reportedly had a 40- to 50-page script outline completed before Lucasfilm was sold to Disney in October 2012, and had spent much of this year working solely on "Episode VII."
Insiders say that the writer shakeup is "nothing out of the ordinary" for Hollywood and "there's no drama" to report. Here's hoping they're correct; it looks like "Episode VII" is coming out in 2015 whether it's ready or not.
[via The Hollywood Reporter]