UPDATE: Read the below for the basics and the context, then check our update for the confirmation and latest news.
There are very few writers working for the studios right now that I respect as much as Michael Arndt. His work on Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 ranks amongst the most directly impressive, brilliantly well-crafted and affecting screenwriting in many years.
Vulture seem to have beaten everybody to the big scoop and are reporting that Arndt has completed "a 40 to 50 page treatment" for the next Star Wars picture. Even if this is now handed off to another writer for the script to be completed -which isn't necessarily likely, just always a possibility – then Arndt will already have done enough to get a credit on the film.
The report goes on to name three directors as an example of those who can look forward to receiving a copy of the treatment: Brad Bird, JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg. Whither Colin Trevorrow?
While no contracts are in place, the film is set to bring back the key trinity of Luke, Leia and Han, in the personages of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford – pending contractual agreements. I'm sure they're all intricately woven together in Arndt's treatment so if anybody (ie. Ford) decides they don't want to play along, it's probably going to be a case of wiping the whiteboard and getting back to first principles.
Arndt gives lectures on story structure and he uses the first Star Wars as an example of how to get things right in his seminar Endings: The Good, The Bad and the Insanely Great! No wonder, then, that he was on Lucasfilm's radar, and drawn in to work on this film some months ago now.
Arndt's next movie to see release is going to be the Phineas and Ferb feature, of all things, followed by sci-fi action epic Oblivion and the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. He then has Pete Docter's follow-up to Up, currently going by Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind, to come in 2015. That's right around the time we'll be seeing the next Star Wars – sounds like one heck of a double-whammy.