In a Rolling Stone compilation piece, we learn the following from Kathleen Kennedy:
We had discussions based off of George’s treatments, and then when J.J. and Larry came into the process, there were new ideas being discussed, which is normally what would happen in a development process. We didn’t have a script, we didn’t have an extensive treatment of any kind, so we were still trying to find the story for the movie, so it’s not as though something was just read and then set aside, and everybody said, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do that, we’re going to start on this new thing.’ Everything emanated from what George had created with the original movies, and then some of the things he was talking about in this brief synopsis. We carried on from there.
So there you have it. There was no treatment by Michael Arndt based on George Lucas’ synopsis. Arndt was writing a draft based on ideas from Lucas’ synopsis as well as input from Lawrence Kasdan, Simon Kinberg, Kiri Hart, Pablo Hidalgo and (later, but crucially) J.J. Abrams.
By mid-2013, a workable script was not materialising, and Arndt requested 18 more months, having spent eight months already. Kasdan and Abrams took over, developing a new story but retaining key concepts, such as a female lead and a stormtrooper who defects. It seems a fair bet that Lucas’ overall conception of Episode VII was retained even if his story couldn’t be used.
It’s now two days till the premiere and three days till the first reviews are published. Are you ready?