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Star Wars Episode VII is still very much in the early stages of development - to the point where they don't have a script just yet. Lucasfilm has a treatment for the first film and have mapped out a full trilogy, but at the same time they don't have a full scripted version of what the movie will be. Who they get will have an incredible impact on the movie, largely because it will be the first one not written or co-written by George Lucas since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. There have been some rumors making their way around, but today a new one has entered the market.

Vulture has learned from sources that Michael Arndt, best known as the writer of Toy Story 3 and winning the Oscar for his script for Little Miss Sunshine, is the "leading candidate" to write Star Wars Episode VII. Sources tell the site that the writer has already produced a 40-50 page treatment (it's not clear if that's the treatment the studio already had) and is, "likely to be at least one of the writers when the Disney/Lucasfilm project begins shooting in 2014." Arndt was also apparently one of the few people in the world that knew about the Disney-Lucasfilm buyout before it actually happened.

The site adds that much like fans everywhere the studio is interested in having Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo return for the next movie, but there no deals in place. Since the deal was announced we have heard that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer - who starred in the original - met with Lucas before the buyout, and it was recently said that Ford would be game to return as the rouge smuggler, depending on the script and the director.

Arndt's representation declined to comment on the rumor and Lucasfilm said that they had no news on the matter. Vulture, however, adds that the writer would be perfect for two reasons: 1) he already has a relationship with Disney, having been a part of Pixar, and 2) apparently he is a "Star Wars expert." Here is how the site describes his affection for the work of Lucas:
At these talks, Arndt always tells attendees that Star Wars’ enduring appeal has to do with resolving its protagonists goals’ nearly simultaneously, at the climax of the movie. In the comments section of a discussion about a Star Wars talk Arndt gave at the Austin Film Festival in 2010, one attendee of the seminar notes, "Arndt stated that if a writer could resolve the story's arcs (internal, external, philosophical) immediately after the Moment of Despair at the climax, he or she would deliver the Insanely Great Ending and put the audience in a euphoric state. The faster it could happen, the better. By [Arndt’s] reckoning, George Lucas hit those three marks at the climax of Star Wars within a space of 22 seconds."

Indeed, in the third act of Star Wars, as Arndt explained to his young screenwriting Padawans at the 2009 Hawaii Writers Conference, its central characters' main goals all are met on pages 89 through 91 of the original Lucas script: At the crescendo of Star Wars, a spectral Obi Wan urges, “Use the Force, Luke,” and he does, thus reaching his inner goal (fighting self-doubt to become a hero). Han Solo reappears (meeting the philosophical goal of overcoming selfishness with altruism) to shoot down Darth Vader, which allows Luke to use the Force to mentally guide his shot and blow up the Death Star (outer goal and inner goals simultaneously met).

Arndt has a good deal of sci-fi in his upcoming filmography, having worked on the adaptation of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which will be in theaters next year, and the Joseph Kosinski-directed thriller Oblivion with Tom Cruise. He wrote The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind, which is set to come out the same year as Star Wars Episode VII in 2015 and also the Phineas and Ferb feature, which is still in pre-production and won't be in theaters until 2014.

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