Ugh. This is not good, people. Not only do we know that Lucas was going to do Episode VII himself before Disney took over, and that he’s having regular council calls with J.J. Abrams—but now we’re just finding out that Michael Arndt is out as screenwriter.
He’s being swapped out for Abrams himself and Empire Strikes Back screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan. And sure, it’s nice that Kasdan has been pulled, but Arndt’s departure is an instant red flag, particularly because no one is bothering to explain why he decided to part ways. Here’s the word from Kathleen Kennedy:
"I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script. There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a 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.”
So Arndt was working on the script, ostensibly gave an outline and maybe a basic draft, and now he’s booted. Which probably means that he wasn’t in line with what Lucas wanted, or that he went in a direction that Abrams wasn’t keen on. (Lucas has a history of doing this, which is one of the main reasons that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was such a wreck of a movie) Which isn’t to say that what Abrams wants is going to be bad no matter what, but you know, heaven forbid that the Star Wars films have an awesome, Oscar-winning screenwriter this time around.
Nervousness. Come on, Disney, you’re too early into this to start having hiccups at the most important stages.