Late last week, news quietly broke that screenwriter Gary Whitta (Book of Eli) was stepping away from working on the Star Wars spinoff movie set to be directed by Godzilla helmer Gareth Edwards. The two had been working together on the film for a year, and while it’s still unclear why Whitta left the project in the first place, the split appeared to be relatively amicable. Disney/Lucasfilm no doubt had flashbacks to the hubbub that surrounded screenwriter Michael Arndt’s departure from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and opted to handle Whitta’s exit more carefully. Nevertheless, the report of Whitta’s exit noted that a new writer would be hired to continue work on the picture in anticipation of its December 2016 release date, and a new report claims that Whitta’s replacement may be none other than X-Men: Days of Future Past writer/producer Simon Kinberg.
The folks over at /Film are hearing that Kinberg will be coming onto Edwards’ film to take over writing duties. They were unable to confirm the news so it’s to be taken as a rumor for now, but this development makes a lot of sense. After Arndt, Kinberg was one of the first writers hired on to help develop this new era of Star Wars films alongside Lawrence Kasdan. Initially, the two were to be consultants on Star Wars: Episode VII while also writing Episode VIII and Episode IX, but then word broke that they were actually going to be working on the standalone films instead of the trilogy.
When Ardnt was forced off of Episode VII, Kasdan moved to that film full-time to pen the screenplay with J.J. Abrams, then Rian Johnson was hired to write the next two trilogy installments and direct Episode VIII. Kinberg’s specific involvement in the feature film universe is still being kept under wraps (I asked him a few months ago and he said that was “the one thing I can’t talk about”), but he spearheaded the creation of the excellent animated series Star Wars Rebels, writing the one-hour first installment himself, and many have speculated that he’s been writing Josh Trank’s standalone Star Wars film.
Since Kinberg has been kind of one of the overseers of this new Star Wars franchise, it makes sense that he’d be familiar enough with Edwards’ film to seamlessly come on and do some work on the script. He’s become adept at juggling roles as a producer and writer on major projects, from the X-Men franchise to the upcoming The Fantastic Four, and he’s most recently been writing the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
Again, this news of Kinberg’s involvement with Edwards’ film has yet to be confirmed so it’s a rumor for now, but Lucasfilm is no doubt looking to get the script in shape as quickly as possible. The untitled film—rumored to be a heist movie with bounty hunters—is set to go in front of cameras at Pinewood Studios later this year once Spectre completes filming, so the clock is ticking.