‘Star Wars’ Producer Goes Inside the Writers’ Room

Back in October 2012, the news that Disney purchased LucasFilm for $4 billion, and that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was put into development, sent shock waves throughout the fanboy community around the world. For the next few years, details on the highly-anticipated project were incredibly hard to come by, but in just a few months, fans will finally get to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theatres. One of the key players behind-the-scenes who helped put everything together is Simon Kinberg, who serves as an executive producer on the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels and is listed as a “creative consultant” on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The writer-producer recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly, where he spoke about breaking the story for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX. Here’s what he had to say about the writing process with Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan, which he compared to a TV writer’s room.

“Like a TV writers room, we spent a week with a whiteboard and some pens and were in a conference room all day talking about [movies] VII, VIII, and IX. But it’s a whiteboard covered in our notes. We had a sense of what we each wanted to write. It was the most magical time because we were writing Star Wars movies. Then we would go back to the inn at Skywalker and have dinner and drink a little bit and Larry would tell me and Michael stories about the moment in his life where he wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, The Big Chill, Body Heatall in the span of, I think, five years. So we just had this crazy, magical time together.”

Simon Kinberg is no stranger to big-budget franchises, serving as a writer and producer on 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, this weekend’s Fantastic Four and next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. As for his role as a “creative consultant” on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the writer/producer calls himself a “friend of the court.” Here’s what he had to say about his unique role in the franchise.

“I’m like a friend of the court. I consult on the movies. I worked on VII: helped break the story, read scripts, drafts at certain points, and gave my thoughts whatever they were worth.”

It remains to be seen if he will take on this creative consultant role onStar Wars: Episode VIII, set for release on May 26, 2017, and Star Wars 9, which will arrive sometime in 2019. It also isn’t known if he will be involved in any capacity on the new spinoffs Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, and the Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo Movie, which Phil Lord and Chris Miller have signed on to write and direct. He is also producing Deadpool and Gambit spinoffs for 20th Century Fox, along with writing the Logan’s Run reboot.

Several franchises are now employing the same sort of “writer’s room” technique that Simon Kinberg described. James Cameron hired a team of writers to help craft his Avatar sequels, while there are currently a team of writers working on Transformers 5 and subsequent sequels and spinoffs for Paramount. Universal Pictures’ shared monster franchise also has a number of writers working on unspecified projects. Do you think this is the way all major franchises will be written in the future? Chime in with your thoughts below.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to theaters 17 December, 2015.

Adrian Drayton

Adrian Drayton is the Director of Reel Dialogue. A film critic and commentator on culture for 20 years, he believes in the power of cinema and the power of God to start conversations about faith and culture. He is also a massive Star Wars nerd.