According to those close to the project, producer Kathleen Kennedy and most of the film's creative team have asked Disney to push the release to 2016, but studio CEO Robert Iger is adamant that Episode VII -- perhaps the franchise's most anticipated installment since 1999's The Phantom Menace -- not budge. That has created enormous pressure on all involved, with director J.J. Abrams stepping in to take over scripting duties with Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote 1980's Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, considered the best film in the series.
For his part, Arndt worked exclusively on Episode VII for most of the past year and already had penned a 40- to 50-page treatment before Lucasfilm was sold to Disney in October 2012. But as one of Hollywood's highest-paid screenwriters, who can command more than $300,000 a week doing rewrites, the Oscar-winning scribe (Little Miss Sunshine) was ready to move on to other projects.
Some sources say Abrams has become autocratic in recent months, wresting some casting control from Kennedy. But others disputed that notion, saying Abrams and Kennedy both have been involved in casting sessions. Unlike Kennedy, Abrams is said to be more in sync with Iger's desire to meet the 2015 release target -- which allows zero margin for error -- at all costs.
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