Star Wars: Episode VII Loses Screenwriter Michael Arndt

Screenwriter Michael Arndt is exiting “Star Wars: Episode VII” with director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan assuming scripting duties.

Lucasfilm made the unexpected announcement Thursday. Kasdan co-wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” making him a revered figured in “Star Wars” lore. The 64-year-old scribe, who also wrote “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” had been serving as a consultant on the film.

“There are few people who fundamentally understand the way a ‘Star Wars’ story works like Larry,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point.”

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Arndt was named the sole screenwriter last year. He won an Oscar for the script to “Little Miss Sunshine,” and also wrote “Toy Story 3” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Shooting for “Star Wars: Episode VII” is to start in the spring, with the film due out in 2015.

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