Thursday, November 8, 2012

Episode VII Rumor: Screenwriter Michael Arndt has Written a 40-page Story Treatment

Multiple sources in Hollywood are reporting that writer Michael Arndt has penned a 40-50 page story treatment for Star Wars: Episode VII, that would include the idea of bringing back actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford to reprise their roles.

It is not known if Arndt is the only Episode VII treatment being considered by Disney/Lucasfilm.

What is a film treatment you ask? According to Wikipedia:

"A film treatment (or treatment) is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards (index cards) and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play. It is generally longer and more detailed than an outline (or one-page synopsis), and it may include details of directorial style that an outline omits.
Treatments read like a short story, except they are told in the present tense and describe events as they happen."
Vulture has a lot of interesting details in it's story:
"Sources also tell Vulture that the studio’s brass want to bring back the three central characters of the original Star Wars: a much older Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. No deals are in place with any of the original actors, though our source did say it had high ambitions to sign up Mark Hamill, and EW recently reported that Harrison Ford was open to the idea of returning. We're told that Arndt's 40-something page treatment will soon be crossing the desks of top directors, including Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg (the former producing partner of Lucasfilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy), and J.J. Abrams. Whether they’d be interested is unknown (Star Wars is a lot of baggage for an established director), but Disney wants to make sure they’ve at least tried the biggest names."
Included in Vulture's story is a very interesting annecdote about Arndt's respect for Lucas' Star Wars Episode IV script. Apparently Arndt is a frequent speaker at writer's conferences and one of his key case studies in script writing is A New Hope.

"At these talks, Arndt always tells attendees that Star Wars’ enduring appeal has to do with resolving its protagonists goals’ nearly simultaneously, at the climax of the movie. In the comments section of a discussion about a Star Wars talk Arndt gave at the Austin Film Festival in 2010, one attendee of the seminar notes, "Arndt stated that if a writer could resolve the story's arcs (internal, external, philosophical) immediately after the Moment of Despair at the climax, he or she would deliver the Insanely Great Ending and put the audience in a euphoric state. The faster it could happen, the better. By [Arndt’s] reckoning, George Lucas hit those three marks at the climax of Star Wars within a space of 22 seconds." 
Indeed, in the third act of Star Wars, as Arndt explained to his young screenwriting Padawans at the 2009 Hawaii Writers Conference, its central characters' main goals all are met on pages 89 through 91 of the original Lucas script: At the crescendo of Star Wars, a spectral Obi Wan urges, “Use the Force, Luke,” and he does, thus reaching his inner goal (fighting self-doubt to become a hero). Han Solo reappears (meeting the philosophical goal of overcoming selfishness with altruism) to shoot down Darth Vader, which allows Luke to use the Force to mentally guide his shot and blow up the Death Star (outer goal and inner goals simultaneously met).

Who is Michael Arndt?  Thanks to the magic of IMDB, we can look at his writing credits.

2015: The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind (screenplay) (pre-production)

2014: Phineas and Ferb (screenplay) (pre-production)

2013: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (screenplay) (filming)

2013: Oblivion (screenplay) (post-production)

2010: Toy Story 3 (screenplay)

2006: Little Miss Sunshine (written by) 
 If you want a taste of Arndt's style, here is a PDF version of the Little Miss Sunshine script. I can assure you  I will be watching Little Miss Sunshine and reading that script at some point soon.  It should be noted that Arndt's Little Miss Sunshine script won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay in 2007.

It is interesting to note that not only has he written or is writing animation, but he penned the screenplay for The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire and the Sci-fi film Oblivion.

There are multiple writers on Oblivion but it appears that Arndt was brought on to give the script a final revision, and it may be a good warm up for Star Wars. According to IMDB description of Oblivion, which stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman and is due for a 2013 release.
"A court martial sends a veteran soldier to a distant planet, where he has to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveler causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission, and himself." 
Given that there is a relative small amount of film material to judge Arndt on, I think the fan jury will still be out on this one until we learn more. It looks like Arndt has at least one high profile supporter if this rumor is true.

Source: Damon Lindelof's Twitter


1 comment:

  1. I watched LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE this past year; it's one to see, especially for Alan Arkin (a friend wrote me long ago that Arkin won the Academy Award, and it was worthy since Arkin is "one of the greats" as the friend said).

    Thanks for the post, here's hoping there is more news in the future and script or scripts that may appear for curious fans to read about later and new Star Wars movies. Something to look for.