Movie Editor's Blog

Movie Editor's Blog

Is new Star Wars scribe right for Episode VII?

Disney certainly isn't messing about with the new 'Star Wars'. Less than two weeks after Lucas sold the rights to Disney, the Mouse House has already enlisted a new writer.

Lucasfilm confirmed on Sunday that Michael Arndt will write the next instalment, and has actually been working on a story treatment for months. But who the devil is he? And what does this mean for 'Episode VII'?

Gold standard... Michael Arndt cradling oscar (Credit: PA)

Critical darling

Arndt is most famous for writing 'Toy Story 3', which was not only a box office smash, but as well received by critics as the previous instalments (no mean feat).

The script earned him an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination, but he already had a shiny gold man on his mantelpiece after winning the Best Original Screenplay prize in 2007, for indie darling 'Little Miss Sunshine'.

This made him the first screenwriter EVER to get a nod for both. In short; you might not have heard of him, but Arndt is one of the most coveted screenwriters in Hollywood, which is a surely a good thing for 'Star Wars'?

Indie hit... Little Miss Sunshine (Credit: Fox Searchlight)

Attention to detail

While doing press for 'Sunshine', Arndt revealed that his script went through more than 100 rewrites after asking friends and family for feedback. He said: "A writer is only as good as the feedback they get. Set up an airtight feedback loop with the smartest people you can find. Trust your creative instincts; don't trust your critical instincts. Let someone else tell you when your script is "finished."

This fastidiousness was obvious in the tight, razor sharp script, and must have endeared him to Pixar, who are renowned for re-writing and re-editing their films numerous times before release.

Was there the same culture of brutal but always constructive self-criticism when George Lucas was writing Jar Jar Binks' dialogue in the 'Phantom Menace' screenplay? Possibly not.

He sticks to his guns

Another telling anecdote about Arndt is that during production of 'Little Miss Sunshine', he chose to walk away from the project rather than compromise the story.

Focus Features wanted to shift the story to the Greg Kinnear character. Arndt disagreed, refused to re-write the script and was axed, though he was eventually reinstated and his original screenplay made it to screen.

It seems Arndt isn't afraid to stick his neck on the line if suits meddle with his vision, and will hopefully dissuade Disney from using dozens of writers on the project - a big problem for many blockbusters.

Emotional... Toy Story 3 (Credit: Disney)

Tearjerker

Lucas' 'Star Wars' prequel scripts were plodding affairs, as anyone who yawned through scenes featuring Hayden Christensen mumbling to Natalie Portman in a CGI meadow will know.

In contrast, Arndt's work on 'Toy Story 3' helped make it the most emotional entry in the franchise so far. There were reports that it made "grown men cry".

Not only that, it was also the darkest - remember the 'furnace' scene? 'Little Miss Sunshine' also featured an extended sight gag about hiding a corpse.

'Star Wars' badly needs some genuine heart and emotional depth again, something Arndt has delivered before.

Memorable dialogue... Jar Jar Binks (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Homework

Finally, while Arndt's well-known efforts weren't science fiction, two of his upcoming projects are. He helped out on the script for 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire', the sequel to the teen dystopian epic that did big business back in March.

He also did a rewrite on 'Oblivion', the Tom Cruise-starring graphic novel adaption that will be released next year.

The perfect prep for 'Star Wars'?

We hope so.