Screenwriter Michael Arndt Unexpectedly Exits “Star Wars VII”

Screenwriter Michael Arndt is leaving a galaxy far, far away.

The scribe is exiting "Star Wars: Episode VII" with director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan assuming scripting duties. LucasFilm made the unexpected announcement Thursday on the website. Arndt was also said to be working on treatments for the other two planned new "Star Wars" films, according to Deadline.

No reason was given for Arndt's departure from the project.

Arndt was announed as the sole screenwriter last year, and has previously won an Oscar for the script to "Little Miss Sunshine." He also wrote "Toy Story 3" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." The latter film opens in theaters on Nov. 22.

Kasdan is a well-respected name in the "Star Wars" universe. He co-wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," and also wrote the screenplay for "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Kasdan was already on board as a consultant for the seventh installment in the "Star Wars" franchise.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in the statement posted online. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

Shooting for "Star Wars: Episode VII" is to start in the spring at Pinewood Studios in the U.K., with the film due out in 2015.

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