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May 19, 2015

So what happened when Kasdan took over VII's writing duties?


Star Wars fans who have been following the development of The Force Awakens will know that its gestation has taken a long time. And while good things come to those who wait, it was Micheal Ardnt who was announced very on in the piece as being the one to carry the baby – i.e. write the script. 

Last year a big change was announced that director JJ Abrams and Jedi/Empire writerLawrence Kasdan were formally taking over writing duties for the seventh Star Wars film.

There was a fair bit of scuttlebutt about what the deal was there. Was Ardnt’s script terrible? Were there creative differences and what were they?

The Vanity Fair interviews continue to prove golden with intel about the film’s production and Kasdan has spoken about the scripting process:

“With pre-production chores already well under way in London, where much of the film would be shot at Pinewood Studios, Abrams and Kasdan took over the screenwriting process, starting more or less from scratch. “We said, Blank page. Page one. What do we desperately want to see?” Abrams told me. 

Though Abrams said both men had pet ideas from the development process they wanted to incorporate, and did, Kasdan made the process sound like more of a teardown: “We didn’t have anything,” Kasdan said. “There were a thousand people waiting for answers on things, and you couldn’t tell them anything except ‘Yeah, that guy’s in it.’ That was about it. That was really all we knew.”

So what of Ardnt's work? Turns out there wasn't a massive failure on his part but he had run out of puff:

"Michael Arndt was having difficulty finishing a script within the necessary time frame. “There was a ton of ideas and outlines, a lot of cards on the wall, a lot of writing on whiteboards,” Abrams said, but no screenplay. "
Kasdan and Abrams spent the next 6 months writing the script. Product was able to continue as they were able to say to the crew – this character is in it, this ship is in it, this thing will happen here etc. 

This means that Lucas's treatments and ideas were ultimately not used. Kathleen Kennedy politely described that as being departures from ideas as “exactly the way you would in any development process.”

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