Producer Kathleen Kennedy Explains How She Got J.J. Abrams to Direct STAR WARS: EPISODE VII; Won’t Confirm 2015 Release

     January 30, 2013


Last week, the speculation over who would direct Star Wars: Episode VII finally drew to a close as it was announced that J.J. Abrams had the job.  So how did producer Kathleen Kennedy woo Abrams to go from one major franchise to another?  In a recent profile on the LucasFilm head, THR explains how Kennedy managed to nab Abrams for one of Hollywood’s most-coveted directing gigs.  She summarized her big pitch: “Please do Star Wars.”  Of course, she had a little help by explaining that Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) was writing the script, and writer-director Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) was consulting.  According to Kennedy, Abrams “was flipping out when he found out that Michael and Larry were on the movie already.”

But he wasn’t sold quite yet.  Hit the jump for more including Kennedy’s hesitation regarding Star Wars: Episode VII hitting its previously-reported 2015 release.

kathleen-kennedyAccording to THR, Abrams was concerned about being separated from his wife and three kids while making Episode VII since the movies probably wouldn’t be shot in Los Angeles.  There’s also the hesitation that any director, producer, or anyone has (or should have) when presented with the opportunity of being involved in the sequel trilogy.  However, after meeting with Kennedy and the writers secretly for about three hours on December 19th, “‘J.J. was just on the ceiling when I walked out the door,’ she recalls.”

Kennedy had the advantage of knowing Abrams since he was 14 when he caught the eye of her long-time associate Steven Spielberg by winning a Super 8 moviemaking contest.  From there, Abrams was hired to restore Spielberg’s own Super 8 videos.  When it came to Star Wars, Abrams and Kennedy “‘spent a lot of time talking about how meaningful Star Wars is and the depth of the mythology that George has created and how we carry that into the next chapter.'”  After a day of “furious negotiation”, the deal closed on the afternoon of January 25th (although the news was reported on January 24th, it wasn’t official until the following day).

But even though Abrams is now on board, he hasn’t agreed to meeting the 2015 release Disney CEO Bob Iger stated when Disney purchased LucasFilm.  Kennedy shares Abrams’ hesitance to rush Episode VII in order to make that date.  “‘Our goal is to move as quickly as we can, and we’ll see what happens,’ says Kennedy.’The timetable we care about is getting the story.'”

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