We’ve known for the past couple of years that George Lucas was working on a treatment for Star Wars: Episode VII before Disney bought Lucasfilm, and that the studio decided to toss it out. Speaking to Vanity Fair in their print issue [via The Playlist], Lucas reveals that his treatment focused on teenagers. Disney was worried that this route would be a retread of the prequels, and decided to go in a different direction.
This led to the hiring of Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) in November 2012. One year later, director J.J. Abrams and producer Lawrence Kasdan took over screenwriting duties. In the VF article, Abrams said that Arndt never even finished a draft. “There was a ton of ideas and outlines, a lot of cards on the wall, a lot of writing on whiteboards,” Abrams said. With only six months before filming began, Abrams and Kasdan threw out Arndts ideas to write an entirely new script.
If plot details were scarce, it may have been because Abrams and Kasdan were still figuring out those details themselves. “We didn’t have anything. There were a thousand people waiting for answers on things, and you couldn’t tell them anything except ‘Yeah, that guy’s in it.’ That was about it. That was really all we knew,” says Kasdan, which would explain why we knew soon after that the new film would feature the original lead characters.
The two were able to churn out a draft by January 2015, but were still working on story beats on the set, which isn’t as uncommon as might you might think on a blockbuster. Whether the Force will be strong with that film remains to be seen. We’ll find out when The Force Awakens opens on December 18th.