Update: Disney has announced the official release date for Star Wars: Episode VII.
Last month J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over as the writers of Star Wars: Episode VII, leaving original screenwriter Michael Arndt behind. Reports surfaced soon thereafter that Lucasfilm was struggling with Disney's mandated 2015 release date, and it appears making that deadline may have played a role. Deadline reports that J.J. Abrams addressed the change during a media call promoting the new Bad Robot television series Almost Human.
"It became clear that given the timeframe, and given the process, and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be," he's quoted as saying. Abrams described working with Kasdan on Star Wars as "kind of unbeatable," and given his pedigree it's no surprise: Kasdan's credits include such iconic movies as The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Big Chill — though more recent work like Dreamcatcher hasn't captured the same spark.
Abrams was quick to praise Arndt's contribution to the project, however, saying that "Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn't be a bigger fan of his or adore him more." It isn't out of the question that Arndt could contribute to another Star Wars movie down the line, he said — but with production on Episode VII scheduled to begin early next year there will be plenty of work to do before that question is tackled.