Lucasfilm announced big news this week: the top level slate of creative talent behind the first film of the next Star Wars trilogy. Moving away from screenwriter Michael Arndt, Lucasfilm handed over writing duties to Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams. Kasdan had served as consultant during the pre-production phase, and they couldn’t have selected a better choice than the screenplay writer for Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Silverado (not to mention Body Heat, The Big Chill, and The Accidental Tourist) to bring his experience writing great movies to this project.
It’s a mix of young and old, with the established Kasdan working with relative newcomer J.J. Abrams, whose credits include the last two Star Trek films, along with top duties on Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Fringe, and Lost. Yes, he’s young, but he’s no slouch.
“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” stated Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a Lucasfilm press release. “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.”
As location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are moving forward, Lucasfilm named its production team, which is beginning to make what will likely be the biggest film of 2015. The dream team includes legends who worked on the original Star Wars trilogy: composer John Williams from the first two trilogies and every other best soundtrack of all time, sound designer Ben Burtt (Lincoln, Wall-E, Star Wars: Episodes I-VI), visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (Star Trek Into Darkness, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith) of Industrial Light & Magic, and long-time Lucasfilm fixture, producer Kathleen Kennedy.
From the Star Trek universe and more recent world of filmmaking, the Star Wars Episode VII crew will include director of photography Dan Mindel (Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness), costume designer Michael Kaplan (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Fight Club), supervising sound editor Matthew Wood (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Master, There Will Be Blood) of Skywalker Sound, and executive producer Tommy Harper (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Ryan, Star Trek Into Darkness), as well as the aforementioned Abrams as writer, director, and producer.
The list of top-level moviemakers goes on to include more recent talent: special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception), production designers Rick Carter (Lincoln, Avatar, Forrest Gump) and Darren Gilford (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy), re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story, Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol), and producer Bryan Burk, with Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds) serving as executive producer.
Filming for Star Wars Episode VII is scheduled to begin in Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.