"Star Wars: Episode VII" may be delayed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

With the recent exit of writer Michael Arndt, who was replaced by "The Empire Strikes Back" writer Lawrence Kasdan, Disney is under big pressure to stay on target with its projected 2015 release date.

The magazine reported that several insiders say the script isn't close to being ready -- which would probably make sense, since they just switched writers, after Disney reportedly wasn't happy with what Arndt had produced so far.

I don't blame them. I mean, a movie called "Star Wars: Episode VII: The Further Adventures of Jar Jar Binks and People Who Talk Just Like Him" didn't seem to be a good idea at all.

Mark Hammil (left) as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher (center) as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo all got their big breaks in the the original
Mark Hammil (left) as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher (center) as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo all got their big breaks in the the original ``Star Wars in 1977. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The publication spoke with people close to the project, who said producer Kathleen Kennedy and most of the film's creative team have asked Disney to push the release back to 2016, but CEO Robert Iger is adamant that the next film -- easily the franchise's most anticipated installment since 1999's "The Phantom Menace" -- must come out in 2015.

I agree. I don't know if I can wait an extra year to get my paws on all those new action figures.

Iger's stance has apparently created enormous pressure on all involved, with director J.J. Abrams stepping in to help Kasdan with the script.

Arndt -- who wrote "Toy Story 3" and "Little Miss Sunshine" -- reportedly worked exclusively on the script most of the past year and already had a 40-50 page treatment finished before Lucasfilm was sold to Disney in October 2012.


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But as one of Hollywood's highest-paid screenwriters, who can command more than $300,000 a week doing rewrites, the Oscar-winning writer was ready to move on to other projects.

Sources told the Hollywood Reporter that Abrams has become autocratic in recent months, wresting some casting control from Kennedy. Others say that both have been involved in casting sessions. Abrams is said to be more in sync than Kennedy with Iger's desire to meet the 2015 release date -- "I'm taking an awufl riks, Iger. This had better work."

If you understood those last two sentences, see you in line two weeks before the movie comes out.

Even though the 2015 summer release schedule already looks jam-packed, with Disney/Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Warner Bros.' Superman-Batman film, and Lionsgate's final Hunger Games, Iger wants the new "Star Wars" in that mix. Reportedly, the plan is to roll out Episodes VII, VIII and IX over a six-year period, with at least two spinoffs -- written by a team including Kasdan and Simon Kinberg -- interspersed between.

That's a LOT of action figures.

But another project insider dismisses all the talk of schedule problems. "It's nothing out of the ordinary," the insider told the Hollywood Reporter. "Almost every big movie changes writers at some point. There's no drama here."

Contact Tony Hicks at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.