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J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan Take Over Writing Duties on ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

Disney and Lucasfilm fill out the rest of the technical team behind the next installment of the franchise; actors still to be announced

J.J. Abrams and “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties on “Star Wars: Episode VII,” replacing “Toy Story 3”-scribe Michael Arndt, who was originally hired to pen the project.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “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.”

Disney and Lucasfilm released the news on StarWars.com.

The companies announced Arndt (whose credits also include “Little Miss Sunshine”) was hired on the project in November 2012, an announcement they also made on StarWars.com. To land the job, Arndt wrote a 40- to 50-page treatment for the film.

Shooting on “Episode VII” is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.

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Kasdan had been serving as a consultant on the film, and has had a long relationship with Lucasfilm, having written the screenplays for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and co-written “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

The screenwriter was brought on last fall by George Lucas to write and produce future installments of the “Star Wars” saga. Simon Kinberg is also developing upcoming “Star Wars” pics to produce.

Disney and Lucasfilm added that location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are already underway on “Episode VII” with Dan Mindel (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”) serving as director of photography; and Rick Carter (“Lincoln,” “Avatar”) and Darren Gilford (“Oblivion,” “Tron: Legacy”) as production designers.

Michael Kaplan (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) serves as costume designer, while Chris Corbould (“Skyfall,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) will serve as special effects supervisor, with Roger Guyett (“Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith”) as visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic.

“Star Wars” franchise vet Ben Burtt returns as sound designer, with Gary Rydstrom (“Jurassic Park”) tapped as re-recording mixer and Skywalker Sound’s Matthew Wood (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) as supervising sound editor.

Kennedy, Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers.

John Williams is returning to the series to score the soundtrack.

Shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios, in the U.K., for an expected 2015 release.

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