Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy on 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Development

July 29, 2013
Source: IGN

Kathleen Kennedy / Star Wars

Over the weekend, Star Wars Celebration Europe, Lucasfilm's new head Kathleen Kennedy revealed that John Williams was definitely returning to score the gestating Star Wars: Episode VII (as the composer seemingly indicated previously). In addition, Kennedy also gave an update on the progress of the film from the story and characters to practical and visual effects. Hitting the nail right on the head, and saying what all fans will be happy to hear, Kennedy said (via IGN), "We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing." More below!

Kennedy added, "The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now." And while she wasn't keen to divulge any information about the characters involved, she went on to talk about the pressure of making something as iconic, exciting and revered as a Star Wars film:

"I do think making huge popular culture – and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot it – is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again."

Considering many feel the prequels weren't able to live up to level of greatness and quality from the original trilogy, it sounds like Kennedy is being very careful to not tumble into some of the pitfalls that George Lucas could not avoid. One such arena is the abundance of visual effects, as opposed to much of the practical effects that made the original Star Wars trilogy work so well. Kennedy comments on both the valuable nature of those effects and the constantly changing face of technology, and also their preference for real locations and practical effects. The producer says:

"There's nothing more exciting than to be involved in that kind of technological innovation. When the story ideas you're working on contribute to pushing the technology, I really think that's what's so exciting about our business. It's when the imagination drives innovation and new design.

It's a conversation we're having all the time in the development of Episode VII. Looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects – that's something we're looking very seriously at. So we're going to find some very cool locations that we're going to use in support of Episode VII. And I think we're probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies."

When asked about what tools she might be talking about, Kennedy responded, "It's using model makers; it's using real droids; it's taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that's what will make it real." The audience response to that detail was more than positive, and you can tell fans are ready to get back to what made the original Star Wars trilogy great. Of course, this is all talk, and fans will have to wait to see how the film turns out until 2015. If you'd like to see Kennedy's full conversation with trilogy star Warwick Davis, watch it right here. Hopefully there's more news on Star Wars: Episode VII coming soon, so stay tuned.

Find more posts: Movie News, Star Wars



It's gonna suck

Geoff on Jul 29, 2013


way to stay positive! lol

Jamie on Jul 29, 2013


Sad but true. Chances are pretty low to take this proyect in a good direction. Plus, the big problem will not be the abuse of CGI and espectacular bullshit, but the PG audiences aproach.

Lautaro on Jul 29, 2013


Is there a reason Star Wars shouldn't be for all ages?

Ali Miller on Jul 29, 2013


Well. at the end It's just a matter of personal taste, I'd like to watch a Starwars a more 'realistic' approach, like nolan's batman (not that I likes those movies after all)... but in order to do that, in order to explore certain themes, and create certain imagery, I think it's necessary to move away from PG, at least for the sake of creating something different. So, essentially, I would kill to watch an R rated Starwars film directed by an obscure and well respected director.

Lautaro on Jul 29, 2013


More realistic approach? God i hate the internet and these idiotic comments. SW is and will always be fantasy Scifi. I do not want to it to be "Nolan" style "realistic". Besides, all Nolan movies have more plot holes and worse endings then even the SW prequels. So no, they will never make an adult SW. The original SW was for all ages and they shouldn't focus weather its PG or R but just on writing a good story that include characters to care about. I think JJ knows that most people think that the prequels blew. He of course cant say it but in general I think they will try to stay away from the prequel pitfalls. For one, GL isn't directing nor writing. So it can only be good news...IMO.

toksin on Jul 30, 2013


Besides you being cocky and certainly ignorant, actually, you're not explaining why is stupid to try a realistic approach with a Star Wars film in order to address an adult audience. Only in your square mind things should be static and permanent. Also, you're deviating the conversation to other topics that has nothing to do with my comment, I'm not talking about quality writing. That's another discussion. Think, if you want, of Blade Runner. So I think it should be pretty much interesting to approach the franchise with different perspectives and to explore new themes which may not be appropriate for kids. Sorry you feel that way!!!

Lautaro on Aug 2, 2013


The PG or U approach seemed to work well for the original trilogy...

Steven on Jul 29, 2013


The visuals in the prequels were pretty amazing, the pod race, droid factory and Kashyyyk are prime example from each film. It reflected the era, while the originals were set in a darker time and the fringes The script and director were at fault: Anakin was way to young in Episode 1 and no child that age talks "are you an angel" !!! Anakin turning to the dark side was handled appalling, Should have been a love triangle between Anakin, Padame and Obi-wan, and while we're at it that scene in Episode 2 between Anakin and Padame in which she's wearing a tight black corset in front of a roaring log fire and telling Anakin there couldn't be anything between them was bloody terrible. I can't blame everything on Mr Lucas though, couldn't someone have the balls to say "hey George, I'm not sure this would work" Rant over I'll shall be watching these after the first reviews come out......

Steven on Jul 29, 2013


This is definitely the best news we can hope for right now. Real effects!

ListenToVinyl on Jul 29, 2013


all i can think about is when are they going to have a Kathleen Kennedy biopic starring her twin. laura linney

jont on Jul 29, 2013


Hope they actually use real sets and models. Glad to see John Williams is on board. So far seems like the right direction.

hawk99 on Jul 29, 2013


As much as I love the amazing advancements in CGI that have been made(Avatar is still the most visually impressive film I've ever seen)....I often wonder how amazing practical effects would look today if CGI had never come along and people continued to advance those departments. I think the 'filming model ships against blue screen' method could be fantastic. I think doing 'big-atures' a-la Lord of the Rings could be amazing. Instead of doing CGI all over the place, why not try to create more of a blend and an illusion. I think that's a sad thing about The Hobbit trilogy. In Lord of the Rings, there are great sets, great miniatures, great make-up work, and the aforementioned 'big-atures' But in The Hobbit, you have CGI backgrounds, CGI establishing shots, Orcs with CGI faces, creatures that are all CGI...CGI CGI CGI...I remember when Del Tor was going to direct those films and he stated that his goal was to make the most seamless blend of CGI and practical ever seen, and it sounded epic. Then he left the project and Peter Jackson CGI'd the place up. I think there is something fun about the mid 90s-to-early 00s productions where CGI was starting to come in, but there was also a lot of use of traditional practical effects.

Chris Groves on Jul 29, 2013


Yes, there were no shots in lord of the rings that were all CGI. Nor were there any creatures that were all CGI either. In fact, all Jackson used in lord of the rings were real sets, real creatures, and about a million extras for the battle sequences. Truly amazing. *rolls eyes*

Jimbo on Jul 29, 2013


Oh yes, because THAT is what I said. I'm talking about the sets and miniatures used to represent places like Lothlorien and Isengard, and the practical effects used on was almost always makeup and prosthetics...yet you look at the Goblins in The Hobbit, or 'Azog' and their faces are clearly CGI in many cases. I wasn't knocking the films, I love LOTR and I really enjoyed The Hobbit...but there was much less of a blending of techniques in The Hobbit than there was in the trilogy. It's called "reading comprehension". Don't be willfully thickheaded. *rolls eyes*

Chris Groves on Jul 29, 2013

16 are 21....that means you like, no, loved the prequels

L on Jul 30, 2013


As a young kid? , I loved them. Now? I like them. The 6 films get better as they go, chronologically.

Chris Groves on Jul 30, 2013


Episode VII has truly epic potential. Everything about it feels like a 'win'. JJ Abrams directing? Win. He directed the best reviewed blockbuster of summer 2013. Michael Arndt writing? Win. He's talented. Practical and CGI effects being mixed? Win. Returning cast from the original? Win. John Williams returning to score the film? Win. The combination of two of the most powerful brands in the film/entertainment industry, Star Wars and Disney? Win. The level of hype and anticipation for this one is going to be at a maximum level.

Chris Groves on Jul 29, 2013


I like this chick

Christopher Philip Cinquegrano on Jul 29, 2013


Damn shame Disney laid off most of the staff at ILM. Way to go, Miss Kennedy.

Lego on Jul 29, 2013


I think you are thinking of LucasArts, not ILM.

Lars on Jul 29, 2013


oh really?

o'reilly on Aug 14, 2013


Take care of my baby.

DAVIDPD on Jul 29, 2013


I find it almost funny people are already going into this thinking it will be terrible, which means once they see it, there's a good chance that to them it will be terrible. I'd rather have zero expectations. That way I can develop an unmitigated opinion. For a long time no one thought these would happen anyway, so... Let it ride.

Quanah on Jul 29, 2013


I think they need to watch Elysium for inspiration.

THEFORCE on Jul 29, 2013


Please, keep the uber-grit and over the top sci-fi violence out of my Star Wars, thank you. Star Wars is more 'grand and vivid' than it is 'gritty and monochromatic'

Chris Groves on Jul 29, 2013

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