Don’t Panic! Why There’s Really Not Much to Worry About With Star Wars Episode VII

We live in a wonderful age right now where a wealth of information about our favorite films are right at our finger tips.  Where before, you didn’t know anything about a movie until trailers started hitting, cinephiles can instantly get updates on projects they’re looking forward to most before production even gets started.  It’s a great thing, but there are some downsides to it as well.  One of those would be rampant rumors and speculation, another is how closely we see behind the scenes and how little the average person understands it.

Last week came the news that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan had taken over writing duties from Michael Arndt.  I’m going to talk about this more in a sec, but keep it in mind.  Today’s report from THR is that Kathleen Kennedy (the head of Lucasfilm now) asked Disney to push back the Star Wars Episode VII release date, and Bob Iger (Disney’s CEO) denied it:

According to those close to the project, producer Kathleen Kennedy and most of the film’s creative team have asked Disney to push the release to 2016, but studio CEO Robert Iger is adamant that Episode VII — perhaps the franchise’s most anticipated installment since 1999’s The Phantom Menace — not budge. That has created enormous pressure on all involved, with director J.J. Abrams stepping in to take over scripting duties with Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote 1980’s Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, considered the best film in the series.

For his part, Arndt worked exclusively on Episode VII for most of the past year and already had penned a 40- to 50-page treatment before Lucasfilm was sold to Disney in October 2012. But as one of Hollywood’s highest-paid screenwriters, who can command more than $300,000 a week doing rewrites, the Oscar-winning scribe (Little Miss Sunshine) was ready to move on to other projects.

Some sources say Abrams has become autocratic in recent months, wresting some casting control from Kennedy. But others disputed that notion, saying Abrams and Kennedy both have been involved in casting sessions. Unlike Kennedy, Abrams is said to be more in sync with Iger’s desire to meet the 2015 release target — which allows zero margin for error — at all costs.

This sounds like a whole bunch of drama is going on behind the scenes with Abrams and Kennedy no longer on the same page, and this is the conclusion that most fans and other websites seem to be jumping too.  I, however, don’t feel that’s the case.  What it sounds like is Abrams is confident he can deliver the desired product in that time frame.  Remember, this is Abrams we’re talking about here; a man who does nothing but work to his own schedule (look how long it took him to get back to the Star Trek sequel).  So if he’s saying he can do it by 2015, then that’s a great sign that things are on track.

Sites and fanboys keep referring to the screenwriter changes as a bad omen as well, and a major influence behind needing a delay; claiming that they had to scrap the whole script and are currently busting ass to rewrite the whole thing.  No.  Just no.  This is what happens when people jump to conclusions.  When you take a look at the press release from Lucasfilm last week, there’s no mention of a total rewrite of the script.  The just say that Abrams and Kasdan had been brought on to work on it. 

This is the sort of thing that happens ALL THE TIME on major studio releases.  They bring in a guy to get the initial script done and the general story out there so they can get pre-production work started, and then once they get to a certain point, they bring in some bigger guns to polish up the story and get it looking as good as possible.  From what I’ve seen and read, this is all Lucasfilm has done in bringing Abrams/Kasdan to the script.  Could there have been some problems with Arndt’s script?  Sure, but that doens’t mean they’ll scrap the whole thing either, just make adjustments.

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The truth is, Star Wars is a massive franchise and despite all the people who bitch, still has a ridiculous amount of fans dying to see this film.  It’s our own fears and worries at this point getting in the way and causing people to jump to negative conclusions.  These little updates don’t necessarily mean the production is in trouble, in fact, they may mean everything is operating normally. 

As for a delay, I see many people saying to go ahead and push it to 2016; citing a lack of news and official updates as reasons.  The truth is, we probably have more official information on Episode VII than we do other 2015 films coming out, Avengers included.  I mean, last week they gave us the full production crew, we know the composer, and we’ve know for a while when and where they plan on filming.  Compare this to something like Ant-Man (which isn’t filming till the Summer and got moved forward), or Batman vs. Superman, Terminator, and even Jurassic World

There’s still plenty of time to make Star Wars VII and easily make it’s 2015 release (especially if they move it to the Summer), so let’s all calm down and not worry as much. 

-Jordan