This broke officially Friday night, so you probably already know the news: Michael Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, will be writing the script for Star Wars: Episode VII. It's sort of unclear if he's involved in the larger trilogy treatment or if he's just doing this one movie. He's been 'in story conferences' with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy, at any rate.
This is a totally bland, safe choice, which means it's probably the right choice. Little Miss Sunshine is the epitome of watered down edginess for the mall crowd, a movie designed from the ground up to feel more interesting and weird than it really is. Arndt's script is perfectly calculated, a Poochie for quirk movies. His Toy Story 3 is a retread of 2, but done with enough competence that it feels fresh. Perhaps occasional contributor Dan Whitehead will pop into the comments, because he's had some good thoughts on why Toy Story 3 was so briefly overrated (I think it's settled into the proper place, but at the time it was like nerds weeping in the streets over the movie). Arndt has since decided to become a franchise guy, I guess - he's written The Hunger Games: Catching FIre as well. It's a safe gig for somebody who is good at taking orders from the higher ups, a guy without much vision.
And frankly, the vision for Star Wars VII will be strictly corporate. It was cute watching people float around major, idiosyncratic talents as possible writers and directors, but this is going to be a trilogy by the suits, top to bottom. Maybe future films - Disney has announced they want to keep cranking out movies in the Star Wars universe every two years - will be more experimental or interesting, but this trilogy is getting fine tuned to death by the people in board rooms.
It has to be - this trilogy cannot fail. This is where Star Wars, burned on the shit pyre of the Prequels, must be reborn. Disney can't afford another disappointment if they're going to ride this 4 billion dollar purchase into the future. Kathleen Kennedy is too smart to let this turn into another trade negotiations trilogy. And Arndt will take all the notes and implement them with skill and utter anonymity.
Expect this to be a harbinger for who directs. Jon Favreau seems really plausible; enough name recognition and Iron Man cred to put on trailers while also smarting from enough failure (Cowboys and Aliens, and the stillbirths of Magic Kingdom and Jersey Boys) to make him be a strong team player. Favreau's good with FX, as well, and he'll possibly turn to more practical stuff, as he did in the first Iron Man and Zathura. I also think Favreau has a lot in him, and I would like to see Episode VII be the launchpad back to a career that got off track.
I wonder if we'll get the title before we get the director...