It's just been announced that the new writers of Star Wars Episode VII are Lawrence Kasdan and JJ Abrams, replacing Michael Arndt. With the film supposedly shooting in just a few months this is a big deal, and one that bodes ill for a May 2015 release, which people still think is happening. I've previously reported that I heard Disney was setting the film for a December 2015 release, but today's news makes a 2016 release very, very plausible.
A couple of months ago I reported that I heard there was tension inside the production, and that JJ Abrams had been making noise about leaving. That got picked up (erroneously) by other outlets saying Abrams WAS leaving. My understanding is that the tension was about a lot of issues, including release dates and schedules, but also about the script. Abrams wasn't satisfied with what Michael Arndt had written and wanted to take a crack at it. While it was announced today, I heard they scrapped the entire Arndt script as early as July, but I didn't know that meant they were scrapping Arndt as well.
What's the big change? My sources tell me that the focus of the story has changed in a big way, that it's a whole new set of characters being followed than in the Arndt script. I don't want to say much more than that, because I just don't know how in flux things are and I'm sick of being misquoted on this stuff, but it seems like there's a complete overhaul. Top to bottom. This isn't a rewrite, this is a completely different movie with different main characters.
Just this morning I mused that the best unintended side effect of hiring JJ Abrams to direct was that people assumed the lack of Star Wars news was the Mystery Box in play. I knew it wasn't, and now everybody does as well - we haven't heard anything because this movie is still finding its way. That's good news, though - better that the film take its time in pre-production than be rushed to meet an arbitrary release date that will please OCD fans.