This is interesting… and kind of worrying.
The Hollywood Reporter has posted a story claiming that Kathleen Kennedy is pushing for a 2016 release date for Episode VII while Disney CEO Bob Iger is adamant that the film must make its scheduled summer 2015 release date “at all costs”. That’s sort of in line with current whisperings, though it paints a clearer picture; it also might explain why the Lawrence Kasdan/J.J. Abrams post on StarWars.com listed only an “expected 2015 release” despite Disney chairman Alan Horn publicly touting the summer 2015 release at the D23 expo back in August.
The story contradicts other rumours in two key ways, however:
- Abrams himself is not unhappy with the schedule and is working towards the summer 2015 release target
- Michael Arndt simply left to pursue other projects, leaving Kasdan and Abrams to complete the screenplay themselves
Now, maybe the shift in emphasis from the Solos to Luke Skywalker has still happened. Maybe Arndt would have reworked the script appropriately had he not left for greener pastures. Or maybe that was all hot air. Who knows at this point?
What’s becoming clear is that Disney need to hit their scheduled release for Episode VII if they want to allay the fears of investors who’ve seen $4b get sunk into this behemoth. And yet Kennedy, who no doubt has a better understanding of what’s actually involved in this enterprise, is nervous about the impact such a tight schedule will have on the end product.
This is almost certainly a reliable report (though one source gives a “We’re fine… we’re all fine here, now… How are you?”-style response) and frankly, it doesn’t look good. Indeed, it seems to suggest that Disney’s attitude is simply “I don’t care if it sucks, just make it happen!”
That said, The Empire Strikes Back had bigger problems than this, and it ran on a similar schedule, while The Phantom Menace took a leisurely four-and-a-half years to get out the door—sometimes pressure is what’s needed to get creative people sufficiently motivated.
I guess the most reassuring part of the whole story is Abrams’ confidence that he can pull this off. And let’s not forget that Kasdan is working on the screenplay right now.
Help us, J.J. and Larry: you’re our only hope…