‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ Producer Kathleen Kennedy Talks Getting J.J. Abrams to Direct

Published 1 year ago by

kathleen kennedy star wars 7 jj abrams Star Wars: Episode 7 Producer Kathleen Kennedy Talks Getting J.J. Abrams to Direct

Disney is now the official owner of Lucasfilm and has newly-appointed president Kathleen Kennedy concentrating all her efforts on getting Star Wars: Episode VII into theaters. That includes postponing 3D re-releases for previous installments and hiring top-notch talent in Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Oblivion) as screenwriter and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) to direct.

Abrams’ confirmation for the Episode VII directing job came as a shock, due to his ongoing commitment to the Star Trek franchise and previous comments about not wanting the burden of picking up Star Wars from where George Lucas had left it. So how, exactly, did Kennedy go about changing Abrams’ mind?

THR has unveiled an in-depth profile on Kennedy, spanning her career as an eight-time Oscar-nominated producer and Steven Spielberg’s go-to collaborator over the past 30 years. Indeed, insiders are claiming that Spielberg was instrumental in the task of convincing Kennedy to pursue Abrams for Episode VII, which she eventually did:

Kennedy already had called Beth Swofford, Abrams’ CAA agent, and been told Abrams was too deeply engaged in the next Star Trek movie and other obligations at Paramount — not to mention innumerable television projects — to consider the job. Nonetheless, Abrams agreed to meet with Kennedy on Dec. 14 at his Bad Robot offices in Santa Monica. Famously plain-spoken, she summarizes her pitch like this: “Please do Star Wars.”

JJ Abrams Star Wars Episode 7 Star Wars: Episode 7 Producer Kathleen Kennedy Talks Getting J.J. Abrams to Direct

By that point, Arndt has already been recruited as screenwriter and Lawrence Kasdan – co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – had come aboard as consultant, with Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) soon to follow. Kennedy, Arndt, Kasdan and Abrams got together five days, where the trio spent three hours attempting to win the Trek filmmaker over; that is, despite his concerns about obligations to Paramount’s rebooted Star Trek series and Mission: Impossible franchise, as well as a slew of ongoing TV series and upcoming pilots. Kennedy then spent another month convincing Abrams to join the Dark Side new Star Wars installment:

“We spent a lot of time talking about how meaningful Star Wars is and the depth of the mythology that George has created and how we carry that into the next chapter,” she says. Finally, after a day of furious negotiation, the deal closed the afternoon of Jan. 25.

Abrams, it turns out, is not committed to the 2015 release date target Disney originally announced for Episode VII, meaning the film could end up pushed back to 2016 in order to accommodate the demands of Abrams’ creative process (similar to what happened on his sequel Star Trek Into Darkness). Kennedy is refraining from weighing in on that matter, beyond saying that:

“Our goal is to move as quickly as we can, and we’ll see what happens. The timetable we care about is getting the story.”

More on Star Wars: Episode VII as the story develops.

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Source: THR

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40 Comments

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  1. I hope they go in a completely different direction than the EU. I will be deliciously evil to throw that many EU fanboys into states of hysteria. Not to mention most of the stories are horrible.

    I wonder if Carrie Fisher will pull out the bikini.

    • Actually, I’d say the majority of EU is probably better written than any of the films. I could point out probably 100 different comics and novels that are deeper, richer and more engrossing than any of the written screenplays.

      And I still have a hard time believing the hateful geek community is so willing to embrace a fat, raspy voiced leia, a fat crusty luke, and a stroke riddled han in the new films AFTER the crystal skull debacle…

      • I agree with darthballs. With small exceptions, most of the proof of how great Star Wars storytelling can be has come from the EU.

      • The new movies are not going to focus around Han, Luke, and Leia. At best they might have supporting roles for continuity purposes.

        As for the EU. Get ready for a lot of it be invalidated.

        • Bingo.

  2. I wonder if any of the directors they asked actually told them that the prequels sucked? Or, did they just swallow and praise the medeocraty?!

    • I bet they praised them for their technical merits. While I hated the prequel’s story lines, there were some exceptional scenes and some amazing CGI throughout the prequels. That said, I wish some of the time and money spent on CGI had been diverted to the script. I don’t read SW books/comics/fanfiction, but I hear that there are some amazing stories yet to be shown on screen. With Abrams having grown up with Star Wars, and loving that universe, and with his pretty amazing track record of movie-making, I’m betting that he’ll do right by the franchise.

  3. They would need to jump ahead a number of years in the expanded universe for an age appropriate Luke, Han and Leia. The books based on the Yuuzhan Vong would offer a new story arc that pits the Jedi and the New Republic against a terrifying new enemy. It is not based on Sith. They could also run with the idea of a female protagonist with Jaina Solo.

    • You do realize that they’re still going to be based on LUcas’s original treatments from way back when, right??

      • I don’t think anyone but you and I realize that. That the fact that he said on numerous occasions that it was to was suppose to be set up as a 12episode saga every three movies follows a different Skywalker because all though there are plenty of books and comics in the star wars universe, the movies(ep. I-XII) are solely focuse on the skywalker family in the generation. Anakin(ep.I-III)…Luke(ep.IV-VI)…and then the next movies are going w/ skywalker offspring.

  4. I love that pic of Abrams: His eyes say, “I’m staring into your soul”, while his right hand says, “You’re number one!”

  5. So far so good IMO. I really think that Kennedy is handling this the right way. She’s hired proven talent for every aspect so far.
    Sure, there’s something to be said about how Marvel has handled their properties bye hiring writers and directors who people might not have expected but Kennedy couldn’t take that chance with Episode 7 and beyond. Especially because of the complete disdain over the prequels. If LucasFilm announced that they had hired unknown writers and a unproven director the whole project would have gotten off to a tough start.
    I can understand that their are some who are not fans of Abrams but let’s be honest, you’re in the minority. Most fans (including myself) are happy with their choice of director and are filled with more hope rather than doubt about the future of Star Wars now that it’s in the hands of an extremely capable talent.
    And I also should say TAKE YOUR TIME!!! Please!!! I would love to see Episode 7 in 2015 but I’m completely fine with waiting longer if that means we will see a better movie. And I’m not talking about just better than the prequels. That wouldn’t be a hard task. I’m talking about something on par with the originals. Something fans can be proud of…
    End of Rant. ;)

    • I’m with you. I want a trilogy that outshines the originals. I want a trilogy that makes me forget everything I saw in the prequels – especially Jar Jar. And I want more jedi on jedi action, with jedis demonstrating power on par with the Knights of the Republic games. And moving forward, if a jedi “is strong with the force”, then let him/her showcase that talent. Don’t tease me by saying that Anakin is stronger than Yoda, but never show me doing anything worthy of that statement.

      I’m still bothered by how poorly Anakin/Darth was treated in the prequels. What’s the worst thing Darth did? He killed some younglings. Really?! The big baddy in the original prequels, of whom everyone’s afraid, and all he does is kill some younglings? I’m so glad Lucas released control of the franchise. I wish he’d done it 20 years ago, but better late than never.

      • He also acted like a winey b@$ch alot. Oh and he beat his wife. Terrible, just terrible.. Come to think of it that whole padme/anakin thing was righ on par with the twilight crap.

        • Lucas is still there, creative consultant

      • So killing a room full of children is not considered bad in your book? I think the entire world would disagree with you right about now.
        Anakin also slaughtered an entire village of sand people…women and children included. Consider that for a moment if you compare it to real life. It’s pretty shocking actually that they included these acts at all in the prequels.

  6. Let us not forget one important thing.

    Lucas funded all of the Star Wars movies, and only Fox distributed it. Disney might own them, but the moral differences within Disney might be the deciding factor.

    After all, they do not believe in letting Evil triumph over Good.

  7. Its early, way early, but I think they have the right guy for star wars in J.J..

  8. I have not done very much reading around the EU but I am seriously passionate about the 6 Star Wars films I have seen. I saw the OT (countless times) when I was younger and they were amazing and I did enjoy the PT but upon reflection (I’m 18 now) they could certainly have been better, no doubt.

    I feel that we have still not seen on screen the raw awesome power that one with the force could possess. I know we saw yoda raise a ship and a decent exchange between yoda and dooku in EII:ATOTC but if someone was so powerful surely they could blow doors open or push multiple people over with ease. A lightsaber throw like the ones in the game would be sweet too

    I would also like to see an actual bad ‘bad guy’ not one who has turned bad to help the ones he loves as SW has done that already. It was mentioned above/somewhere else before me but maybe for the first new episode we could have the main villain not be a sith but be someone working for the sith, I would love to see the mandalorians. Also it should not be a direct attack on the Jedi, if the council is re established by now, the Jedi should attempt to intervene in whatever the problem is and then get dragged into the plot. maybe do not see the sith until the next one – much like the emperor in ESB – or do not have them in it at all. If they can find a compelling enough villain/collection of villains to fill they next three episodes then I’m game for that. Possibly have the backlash of the crime lords who would have thrived under the empire. Sorry for long post – I got more carried away with ideas as I was typing.

    • Well, Palpatine seems like as bad a bad guy as you could get. But I agree that it would be nice to have an antagonist who is not just a retread of Vader. The Expanded Universe actually could furnish some great characters (Thrawn, Isard, Nightsisters), but it seems pretty clear that they are not going to go there.

      • and dont forget Darth Bane. that was a damn good story that deserves to be told.

  9. I think that hiring Abrams was the obvious, safe choice for Kennedy. He will probably deliver something that makes the studio and hopefully most of us fans happy. But in no way do I think that he is the best director possible for this. I hope that he does well, and that they then hire someone else for the next film(s).

    • I was hoping for Joe Johnston. Many of the characters and designs that so many love found their grounding with him, not Lucas. Yoda, Boba Fett, etc. Also, with Johnston’s penchant for films that have a “nostalgic” warmth to them (The Rocketeer, Captain America, Jumanji), it seems Joe would have maybe bridged the gap well between modern filmmaking effects/techniques and the grainy warmth and simplicity of the original trilogy of which he played such a major role.

      But, this is all a moot point. lol

  10. EU, OT, PT…WTF. I mean, I figured it out but when will the abbreviating end! If time travel is ever invented, I’m going back to take out the person who convinced Kentucky Fried Chicken to shorten to KFC…and Prince too.

    As for the article, way to be persistent Kathleen Kennedy!

  11. When you boil it down to the basics. Star Wars to me, is no longer relevant. What makes JJ Abrams so successful is his lack of Big Projects. Lets Start

    Alias First Couple of Seasons, it was good then it went to hell.
    Lost First couple of Seasons Good then…Well can anyone explain to me.
    Fringe.See Above

    Now the shows still pending.
    Person of Interest And Revolution

    Now. Undercovers and Alcatraz.

    Point, not everything JJ Abrams starts either starts off great and goes bonkers and loses it, or gets confusing and starts being boring. Flat out are bad, or did not go the distance.

    His Track record working with Big Name Stars…Ok Tom Cruise and???????????

    His best work are with Smaller or lesser known Actors, See Star Trek, Lost, Fringe, Person of Interest, Felecity, Revolution….Etc. Point is, he works within a comfort zone, and none of you can deny it. Can he make Star Wars successful without the names we know and love, or the actors who made them. No, because it means he will have to deal with egos outside of his comfort zone.

    Why my Optimism for Star Wars is not high. Combine with Disney eventually putting their stamp on what they think they want (Moral Compass always point true.) Star Wars needs to be nasty, it needs to be evil and it needs to let the bad guys win. What made Empire Strikes Back the best of them all.

    Disney, will not allow that.

    • Revolution is awful, and person of interest thrives cause jonathon nolan writing. His films are his strong point and like you said contains actors who arent A-listers.

  12. It may sound weird for me to say this about “Star Wars”, but sometimes less is more, and the prequels just had too much of everything. (Apart from good scripting, acting and heart.)

    I think they need to slow some stuff down a bit. I actually want to be able to see what’s going on as well as absorb the meanings and consiquences.

    • I agree re: less is more. When I watch the dizzying space scenes from the recent trilogy I imagine Lucas editing the CGI:

      “Stop everything! Can someone explain to me why there are three consecutive frames without at least 15 ‘splosions?! Bitches, this is my canvas and I’m paying you to paint!”

      Pretty sure it went something like that.

  13. A movie that did nothing but show Darth Vader’s rise to infamy, systematically hunting down and slaughtering all the remaining jedi pre episode 4 would be awesome! (not that I think we will get that, but lets face it, and evil, badass, hard PG13+, jedi sluaghtering mad Vader would be the s***!)

    • Saw Pirates of the Caribbean, tell me, could any of the 4 have been more violent? If you say yes, then you know the direction Star Wars is going to take.

  14. If they put in Kyle Katarn I’ll be happy. He is just so awesome!

    • Who?

  15. J.J. please reboot the franchise. I want to see Darth Vader hunt down some Jedi like Obi Won told Luke he did. George did not give us that, he had DV kill younglings and Separatists. Please oh please give me the Star Wars I long for…

    • Unlike Star Trek, JJ has been asked to direct, not reboot the franchise.

      Disney will not make a PG-13 Star Wars. One, Star Wars was desgined and written to use little to no blood.

      Seriously, Disney wants their 4 billion dollar purchase rebooted, think about that?

      • Look, I respect your opinion on this and everything, but there was this little movie called The Avengers that came out last year under the Disney banner….it was PG-13, and every one of J.J.’s movies up until now have been PG-13. I think Disney knows a sinple principle like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

        That being said, I agree with your points about beating a dead horse. I think if Star Wars becomes a brand like Marvel, it’ll lose what makes it special. Give me an excellent Stsr Wars movie every few years, not a few merely good ones every year. But still, I have high hopes for at least episodes 7, 8, and 9, since all of the pieces seem to be coming together well. Beyond that, I’m hopeful but unsure.

  16. If you think Disney is not going to kill Star Wars.

    Think Pirates of the Caribbean. Tell me how much they are willing to beat a dead horse.

  17. Point. JJ Abrams will Quit when the over reaching hand of Disney tweaks this, tweaks that, re-write this.

    Already JJ Said 2015 IS NOT Going to happen, more like 2016.

    And JJ Abrams has his on conductor, chances are John Williams wont score it. NOW THAT RUINS IT FOR ME.

  18. I’m really going to miss the 20th Century banner w/ the drums beating right before the words lucas film appearing in green leading up to “A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away…”

  19. I’m still waiting for them to say what is going to become of the Blu Ray release of the original (unedited). Sure Fox has some distribution rights, but I’m sure Disney and Fox could work something out.

  20. First JJ “I’m a liar” Abrahms gets the job, then it potentially gets pushed back to satisfy his ego.

    Oops, I meant “creative demands.” Sure.

    News gets worse and worse…

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