Kevin addressed this on Friday, but it has now been confirmed that Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) will pen the screenplay for Star Wars: Episode VII. Word at the end of the week was Arndt had written a 40-something page treatment for the film, but now he has the official gig as StarWars.com released the folllowing statement:
As pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII begins, Lucasfilm has confirmed that award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay for the new Star Wars film. As revealed in the ongoing video series posted here on StarWars.com, Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas have begun story conferences with Arndt. Arndt won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for writing Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing Toy Story 3 (2010).
Arndt's recent screenwriting duties has involved projects that certainly contain sci-fi elements including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Oblivion, the Tom Cruise starrer for TRON: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski.
One thing I will say as of now is this new trilogy is already off to a good start as someone other than Lucas will be writing the screenplay. It seems things can only get better from this point on... right?
A curious piece from that statement above, however, is the mention that pre-production is beginning. This normally suggests a director is involved and has a crew beginning work designing elements of the film, and in the case of a sci-fi film such as Star Wars I would think this would involve production and creature design. Could a director be named shortly?
Rumors of Brad Bird and J.J. Abrams being approached have bubbled up recently, but the idea of Abrams going from Star Trek to Star Wars seems unlikely and with Bird working on his own sci-fi project 1952, which recently added George Clooney to the cast makes the possibility of him being involved seem quite slim. Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) was among the additional directors recently rumored as well as Safety Not Guaranteed helmer Colin Trevorrow.
Directors we know that won't be involved include Steven Spielberg, Zack Snyder and Quentin Tarantino, all three of which recently weighed in with their thoughts on helming the franchise:
"No! No! It's not my genre. It's my best friend George's genre."~ Steven Spielberg
"I could so care less. Especially if Disney's going to do it. I'm not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars."~ Quentin Tarantino
"I don't think I'd be interested in directing it. I'm a huge Star Wars fanatic. I just think doing [episodes] seven, eight and nine is just a slippery slope. It's a whole other mythological experiment I'm excited to see, but it's a lot of effort."~ Zack Snyder
Casting will likely begin taking place soon as well with a lot of talk lately centered on original franchise stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford being courted to return to play Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo respectively. Who knows if the story will involve their characters, but it might be interesting to see them included if necessary.
Meanwhile, a second video with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy discussing the future of the franchise from a screenwriting prospective.