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One of the most promising pieces of news we've heard about the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII ever since it was revealed last year was that the studio had hired Academy Award winning screenwriter Michael Arndt to pen the script. Sadly, however, it appears that puzzle piece is no longer in place, as its been officially announced on StarWars.com that Arndt has left the project and that J.J, Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties for the project. There is no explanation in regard to why the screenwriter has left the project, but Lucasfilm president and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy is optimistic about the change, saying in a statement,
"I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. 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. 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."
Part of Kasdan's "fundamental understanding," of course, comes from the fact that he penned the script for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back as his first produced screenplay in 1980. He has also been working closely with the Star Wars franchise ever since the Walt Disney Company purchased LucasFilm and is one of the writers who is working on a spin-off Star Wars film that will be separate from the central saga. Abrams' writing credits, meanwhile, include not only multiple television series, but also movies like Super 8, Mission: Impossible III and, believe it or not, Michael Bay's Armageddon.
One also must wonder what this major shift will mean for Star Wars: Episode VII's release date. When the project was announced the studio said that the movie would arrive in theaters some time during the summer of 2015, but at this stage it's looking more likely that it will be released some time in the fall of that year instead (the film still doesn't have an official release date). With Abrams serving as director, production is scheduled to begin next spring at England's legendary Pinewood Studios.
How does this news make you feel about Star Wars: Episode VII's prospects? Does it make you worry that the film is changing writers at this stage in the game? Or do you just write it off as being part of what a movie goes through as it moves through pre-production? Tell us what you're thinking in the comments below!