May the Force be with you, Michael Arndt. Always. Like a departing echo from Obi-wan Kenobi, LucasFilm today announced that the Star Wars Episode 7 screenwriter has abruptly left production of the J.J. Abrams-led film. Under normal circumstances this could be disastrous; Arndt has an impressive resume. But Star Wars fans take heart: his replacement has the pedigree you’re looking for.
Lawrence Kasdan, best known in Star Wars circles for writing The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, is taking the reins of writing Star Wars Episode 7. Kasdan will share script writing duties with J.J. Abrams, who has famously agreed to direct Episode VII and skip the next Star Trek movie.
Before moving into his official role as a writer for Star Wars Episode 7, Kasdan had been serving as a consultant on the film. The 64-year-old Kasdan has done well outside of Star Wars, having also written Raiders of the Lost Ark.
To his credit, Arndt was no lightweight either, which is what could’ve made his departure from Episode 7 so epic. Arndt has previously won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his work on Little Miss Sunshine, and he also wrote Toy Story 3 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Arndt was originally tapped to be the sole writer on Star Wars Episode 7. Now that he’s gone the way of Anakin, those writing duties will be led by the dynamic duo of Abrams and Kasdan. Shooting for Star Wars Episode 7 is scheduled to begin in spring 2014, with the film set to hit theaters in 2015.
“There are few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point.”