'Star Wars: Episode VII' now has new screenwriters

JJ Abrams and 'Star Wars' veteran Lawrence Kasdan have replaced 'Toy Story 3' writer Michael Arndt

'Star Wars: Episode VII' now has new screenwriters

Director JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, have taken over as screenwriters on Star Wars: Episode VII.

Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt was hired to write the film's script last November (2012) but has now been replaced by Abrams and Star Wars veteran Kasdan, who was formerly a consultant on the project.

Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement: "I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and JJ working on the script. 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. JJ 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."

The statement confirms that Abrams is due to start shooting next spring (2014) at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and a 2015 release date is expected. At present, no plot details are known and the cast has yet to be confirmed.

Harrison Ford and fellow original stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are all expected to be returning, though Ford claimed he has "not quite made the choice" during a TV interview earlier this month (October). Atonement's Saoirse Ronan and The Wire actor Michael B Jordan have both revealed they have auditioned for roles and Benedict Cumberbatch, who worked with Abrams on this year's Star Trek Into Darkness, has been linked to the film too.

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