After JJ Abrams came out and denied doing Episode VII a couple of months ago, everyone was wondering just what Lucasfilm did to convince him to change his mind. The Hollywood Reporter has a five page feature up on Kathleen Kennedy, and the first thing the address is exactly that:
Abrams agreed to meet with Kennedy on Dec. 14 at his Bad Robot offices in Santa Monica. Famously plain-spoken, she summarizes her pitch like this: “Please do Star Wars.” And she had cards to play. Not only was Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) writing the script, but Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote 1980′s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983′s Return of the Jedi, was on board to consult. Abrams “was flipping out when he found out that Michael and Larry were on the movie already,” says Kennedy.
The bit about Kasdan on board as a consultant is a huge deal. I still see other sites reporting that he’s not involved with Episode VII and just writing a tie-in movie, but Kennedy right there confirms that he is advising on Episode VII. Another interesting thing about the deal was:
So Kennedy had to do what she does so well: put one of the industry’s most prominent directors at ease. And she’s known Abrams since he was 14, when Spielberg had read an article about him winning a Super 8 moviemaking contest and hired the future director to restore his own childhood Super 8 videos. “We spent a lot of time talking about how meaningful Star Wars is and the depth of the mythology that George has created and how we carry that into the next chapter,” she says. Finally, after a day of furious negotiation, the deal closed the afternoon of Jan. 25. To the bitter end, Abrams was telling associates that he still wasn’t fully committed to directing the project. But Kennedy is confident that he will be in the chair when the cameras roll. She is less clear that the first film in the new trilogy will be ready by 2015. “Our goal is to move as quickly as we can, and we’ll see what happens,” says Kennedy. “The timetable we care about is getting the story.”
As it closed on the 25th of January, it didn’t take long for it to leak online. She also does confirm hat 2015 isn’t set in stone.