Just short of three weeks have passed since this year's (century's?) most shocking news broke: that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm and is moving forward with a new Star Wars trilogy, beginning with Episode VII in 2015. Studio representatives have since confirmed that Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Catching Fire) is scripting the seventh installment, working from his own original story treatment (as opposed to George Lucas' older treatments or the Star Wars Expanded Universe fiction).
We've otherwise been left to our own devices when it comes to determining who could direct Episode VII (by the process of elimination); not to mention, exactly which original trilogy (OT) characters could be returning (even from beyond the grave, it seems). Today, we can firmly scratch two more directorial candidates off the list.
Shortly after the Disney/Lucasfilm merger was announced, many of our readers (and Star Wars fans in general) began calling for Brad Bird to land the directing job. The filmmaker would make an excellent choice for the position, bringing the same gusto storytelling skills and knack for Saturday morning cartoon fun he lent to such animated features as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. Moreover, he demonstrated a similar capacity for handling live-action entertainment last year with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (read our review).
Some 10 days ago, rumors were still circulating that Bird's secretive sci-fi project (which is based on a script co-penned by Damon Lindelof, with the working title 1952) could in fact be Episode VII in disguise. However, the announcement of Arndt as screenwriter - coupled with news that George Clooney may headline Bird's film - shot that idea down. Bird has since hammered the final nail into that coffin (via Twitter):
Not doing Star Wars... That said, Michael Arndt is a fantastic writer and [newly-appointed Lucasfilm President] Kathy Kennedy is a brilliant producer. I will be first in line to see the new STAR WARS.
Bird's creative sensibilities, as mentioned before, make him a natural fit for Lucas' sci-fi mythos, but there have been indications that studio heads are giving thought to a more outside-the-box approach to continuing Star Wars - and, therefore, have been considering handing over the reins to someone like lesser-known filmmaker Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed). That suggestion appeared to gain additional credibility over the weekend, when The Film Stage dug up the following quote (from an interview with Trevorrow dating back to this past June):
“I can’t speak with any specificity as to what the next thing will be. There are amazing opportunities that have arisen as a result of ['Safety Not Guaranteed']. One of them, I will say, will probably create a good deal of ire against me on the Internet when people find out what it is. So, I just want to say in advance that I promise you, for all those who love the mythology that I will be tackling, trust that I love it as much as you do. And I will respect it, and hopefully make it not suck.”
However, that story has prompted Trevorrow to halt further speculation for good, as he shortly thereafter Tweeted "To clarify, there is another film we all love that I'm currently trying not to mess up. Odds I will direct Episode VII: 3720 to 1." It's a bit disappointing, since Trevorrow's proven ability to create captivating stories and characters (without a big-budget cushion) makes him a promising pick for the job. Moreover, the bigger-than-its-britches nature of Safety Not Guaranteed recalls Lucas' own pre-Star Wars work on THX-1138 and American Graffiti.
One thing Lucas did have that Trevorrow does not, though, was a massive financial hit under his belt (ie. American Graffiti) - not to mention, the latter's small resume and background might have proven to be as much a hindrance as benefit, when it came to snagging the job. All the same, we'll be keeping our ears peeled for an update on what popular established property Trevorrow is currently working on.
In the meantime, we will continue the tedious procedure of narrowing down the list of possible Episode VII directors one-by-one. Fingers crossed, a final answer to that lingering question will be provided sometime before the year's end (though, don't start holding your breath just yet).
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters in Summer 2015.