UPDATE 2: Lucasfilm has confirmed that Michael Arndt is writing the Star Wars: Episode VII script. Scroll down for even more information.
UPDATE: Michael Arndt is now reported to have written a treatment for Star Wars: Episodes VII-IX.
It didn't take long for the Star Wars rumor mill to start functioning at full capacity again, once the Walt Disney company formerly announced that it is purchasing Lucasfilm from George Lucas and plans to release a third trilogy beginning with Episode VII in 2015. The news broke over 10 days ago now, but people around Hollywood are still reeling from the unexpected news; not to mention, the easily-excitable Internet masses have gone into overdrive, debating the benefits and drawbacks of this development (in ways both serious and not-so-serious).
We heard some rumors about prospective directors for Episode VII earlier on this week, with candidates including Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class). However, today we have a nice juicy rumor about who has written the screen story for the new installment.
Mark Hamill revealed last week that plans for a new Star Wars trilogy have been developing for over a year now, so it would make sense for a story treatment for Episode VII to have been written by now (seeing how we've heard the plan is to cover a new original story). Vulture has been told by its "informed sources" that such a 40-50 page treatment has indeed been finished, by none other than Oscar-winner Michael Arndt.
Arndt won his Academy Award for scripting Little Miss Sunshine; some four years later, he picked up an additional Oscar nod for his Toy Story 3 screenplay. He has since contributed to the scripts for the upcoming Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller Oblivion and Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, as well as Pixar director Peter Docter's followup to Up (with the playful working title The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind). Hence, it would make perfect sense for Disney and LucasFilm to recruit Arndt to write up a story treatment for Episode VII, given his established relationship with the Mouse House (in combination with his stellar output to date).
Michael Arndt also co-wrote the script for 'Catching Fire'
Arndt's history lends further credibility to this Episode VII rumor, as he's overseen numerous writers' retreats in the past; specifically, ones where he traditionally breaks down and examines the effectiveness of Lucas' screenplay for the original Star Wars installment, Episode IV - A New Hope:
At these talks, Arndt always tells attendees that Star Wars’ enduring appeal has to do with resolving its protagonists goals’ nearly simultaneously, at the climax of the movie. In the comments section of a discussion about a Star Wars talk Arndt gave at the Austin Film Festival in 2010, one attendee of the seminar notes, "Arndt stated that if a writer could resolve the story's arcs (internal, external, philosophical) immediately after the Moment of Despair at the climax, he or she would deliver the Insanely Great Ending and put the audience in a euphoric state. The faster it could happen, the better. By [Arndt’s] reckoning, George Lucas hit those three marks at the climax of Star Wars within a space of 22 seconds."
The Episode VII story treatment from Arndt reportedly sets the stage for both Luke and Leia Skywalker to return in some capacity - along with Han Solo and (by extension) possibly other important characters from Episodes IV-VI. Nothing is set yet, of course, but we know that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher met with Lucas to discuss the third Star Wars trilogy last summer; moreover, Harrison Ford recently announced that he is indeed open to the idea of reprising his role as Han Solo.
It's also worth mentioning that Arndt's treatment reportedly calls for "much older" versions of these characters, so the stage would be set for all three stars to return to the franchise (assuming this element of Vulture's scoop is accurate). Suffice it to say, there should be more than enough fan support for the trio coming back - even if the Skywalker siblings and Han Solo end up serving little purpose beyond bridging the gap between the second and third Star Wars trilogy (a la Leonard Nimoy as the older Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot).
On that note, Abrams is also name-dropped as one of the individuals who will be receiving Arndt's treatment for Episode VII. Other big-name contenders are said to include Lucas' BFF Steven Spielberg (who was offered the chance to direct Return of the Jedi back in the day) and Brad Bird. The latter of those two filmmakers is a very popular choice among fans for tackling the Star Wars franchise, based on his work on such do-daring action-packed titles as The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. However, these individuals are considered long-shots right now.
It also needs to be emphasized that this is all technically RUMOR (until we report otherwise, at least). Nonetheless, if Arndt has indeed written a story treatment for Episode VII, then there's a good chance he'll be involved in the actual screenwriting process (which would be welcome news indeed). Furthermore, it's not surprising to hear that the cream of the crop are being looked at to direct - but is quite encouraging, all the same.
UPDATE: Deadline is now confirming that not only has Arndt written a treatment for Episode VII, but the entire third Star Wars trilogy. Furthermore, the site has been informed that he will indeed begin working on the script for Episode VII next year.
UPDATE 2: The official Star Wars site has confirmed that Michael Arndt is scripting Star Wars: Episode VII.
As pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII begins, Lucasfilm has confirmed that award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay for the new Star Wars film. As revealed in the ongoing video series posted here on StarWars.com, Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas have begun story conferences with Arndt. Arndt won an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay for writing Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing Toy Story 3 (2010).
More on Star Wars: Episode VII as the story develops.