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In his career as a screenwriter, Chris Weitz has handled projects both small and big - from his Oscar-nominated adaptation of the Nick Hornby drama About A Boy, to the fantastical big screen version of The Golden Compass - but his next project definitely falls into the latter category. After all, he's been selected as the new screenwriter for the Star Wars' franchise's first spin-off movie.
We first learned that the untitled Star Wars movie was in need of a new writer earlier this month when it was revealed that screenwriter Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) was leaving the project, and it's The Hollywood Reporter that has the news of Chris Weitz coming in to replace him. There were some earlier reports that suggested that the gig was going to go to Simon Kinberg - a co-writer on X-Men:Days of Future Past who has been linked to the trilogy of Star Wars spin-offs before - but apparently those stories were inaccurate.
Before his work was done, Gary Whitta was able to complete the first draft of the 2016 Star Wars film, but as of now we really have no idea what it's about. We have heard some rumors suggesting that it will follow a team of bounty hunters on a mission to steal the plans for the original Death Star, while others have said that the movie could be a movie that centers on the history of Han Solo. Hopefully we'll hear more official word about it in the next couple months as the project moves towards production.
Chris Weitz doesn't have a ton of experience when it comes to writing scripts for action movies, though he has recently worked closely with the Walt Disney Company on the script for Kenneth Branagh's upcoming live-action Cinderella - and it was that work that may have led to him getting the in-studio Star Wars job. The fairy tale film is his first writing credit since 2007's The Golden Compass. Presumably he will be working closely with director Gareth Edwards on the script, the filmmaker having signed on to helm the spin-off movie last May, shortly after the release of Godzilla.
While big blockbusters bring in new writers all the time, it's interesting to note that this is the second time that the Star Wars franchise has done so in a big way since Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was originally being written by Oscar winner Michael Arndt, but a few months before production it was revealed that the movie was changing gears and that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan were taking over the screenwriting process. We won't know the ultimate effect of these kinds of changes until the films actually start coming out, but the way things changed from the start of development to the end of production will certainly be interesting to read about in the future.