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

by     Posted 1 year, 202 days ago

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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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  • NFP

    See what the haters don’t get is, not only is their a solid group (Arndt and Kasdan) but JJ is going to be very passionate, and grasps the mythology of Star Wars, which are the age old Mythos of mankind. Star Wars will flourish once again. As a lifetime (31 years) fan, who was burnt out with prequels, I have a renewed sense of optimism as a fan, and now an uncle, my nephew will experience the same excitement I grew up with!

    • Steve

      Despite the grumbling of a few Star Trek fans about how JJ ruined Star Trek, and the tired jokes about lens flares, Abrams really is a top-notch director when it comes to blockbusters. The response from Star Wars fans has been pretty ecstatic so there is no consensus of worry despite what a lone voice here and there will tell you. The future for Star Wars hasn’t been this bright in a very long time.

      • Caerbannog

        Let me get this straight, a guy who has directed a grand total of three motion pictures to date is now considered a “top-notch director when it comes to blockbusters”. MI3 was the lowest grossing in that franchise. Super 8 ranks 353th in worldwide lifetime gross. Please spare us the blockbuster superlatives on this guy. He has just one, arguably.

      • Brenno

        you mad? he has directed 3 movies, and every 1 of them sits in my DVD collection without shame.

  • NFP

    See what the haters don\’t get is, not only is their a solid group (Arndt and Kasdan) but JJ is going to be very passionate, and grasps the mythology of Star Wars, which are the age old Mythos of mankind. Star Wars will flourish once again. As a lifetime (31 years) fan, who was burnt out with prequels, I have a renewed sense of optimism as a fan, and now an uncle, my nephew will experience the same excitement I grew up with!

  • RobertTC

    How exciting! That article put a big smile on my face.

  • jk

    Totally excited about this. Hopefully they can create good characters as beloved or better as the classic trilogy.

  • TheHOYT

    Must be a pretty good story if, JJ Abrams, a self-proclaimed Star Wars fan, was hesitant about directing, but did an about-face when he learned the contents of the story.

  • kemo517

    I hope Star Trek III passes to Duncan Jones

  • mrperfect

    I hope Abrams brings “the force” back to the original mythology. The Force in the OT is a mystical power used by the jedi for defense and knowledge – never for attack. How did this simple idea get so twisted and ugly in the prequels. (i.e. Yoda bouncing around like a flee with a lightsaber to FIGHT? Are you f**king kidding me). That goes against eveything Yoda taught us about the force in Empire. Anyway, I think Abrams can do good action and characters, but the mythos of the Star Wars universe is even more than that.

  • Caerbannog

    Let me get this straight, a guy who has directed a grand total of three motion pictures to date is now considered a \"top-notch director when it comes to blockbusters\". MI3 was the lowest grossing in that franchise. Super 8 ranks 353th in worldwide lifetime gross. Please spare us the blockbuster superlatives on this guy. He has just one, arguably.

  • sense 11

    The H8ers sound more and more pathetic each day.

    Go JJ we believe in You

    • MaxiM

      no, no jj is a hack, plain and simple

    • Johnson and Johnson

      You forget that prequel hate was not overnight. It became an internet meme thing, mainly from non star wars fans and well meaning fans who wanted what they got in Episode 3 and LOVED it. People who think the prequels are bad just watched Plinkett and not the prequels.

    • Johnson and Johnson

      Now, Star Trek, on the other hand, was a mind trick. It took an unpopular franchise, marketed the HELL out of it, and gave pretty much Nemesis with younger actors and more comedy.

  • MaxiM

    Well, So now star wars is dead. First it was doctor who is dead, then batman is dead, then james bond is dead and then star trek is dead. Original James Bond ended in 2002, original Batman ended in 1992, original Star Trek series ended in 2005, movies in 2002, and original Doctor Who ended in 1996. All four (james bond, doctor who, star trek and batman) had remakes done, no respect to established franchises from the past, just stupid lame ass remakes. Now I never thought star wars was going to be tarnished, well now it will be. 6 movies of star wars was enough. Go ahead lucasfilm, disney and jj, make your shittty movies, they will not be and already are not star wars movies. they will be movies with the star wars name on them, they will be jokes, hacks off films, in other words, shiiit!

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