Comic Con: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ brings together entire main cast & the fans get a concert (Behind-the-scenes video inside)
It’s a funny thing, really. Though little was divulged in terms of new announcements at the Star Wars panel at San Diego Comic Con 2015, it turned out to be the most amazing Con experience and one I will never forget.
A packed Hall H chants “Let’s go Star Wars!” and claps as if we were at a sporting event. Only at Comic Con, am I right? In time, moderator Chris Hardwick (the Talking Dead host and Nerdist leader was everywhere this year!) came out to introduce producer Kathleen Kennedy of Lucasfilm, director J.J. Abrams, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Abrams talked up Episode VII‘s reliance on practical effects over CGI, and he made a point by bringing out a new character named Bobba Joe. The creature, operated magically by five people, managed to walk across the stage twice without falling over or bumping into anything. The oversized puppet really impressed the audience with its finesse. Abrams says to expect many characters like this in the film.
“We aren’t ready to show you scenes from the movie or a new trailer, but we wanted to bring something that was as unique and unexpected as we could,” Abrams told the crowd. The behind-the-scenes reel shown to panel attendees brought tears to many eyes–it encapsulates the sheer force of the Star Wars franchise and does a great job of sharing the level of detail and blood, sweat, and tears that Abrams and co. are putting into this thing. Also, Simon Pegg pops up in a surprise cameo! You can watch nearly 4-minute clip after the break.
The cast came out next. Our three heroes John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey), and Oscar Isaacs (Poe Dameron) and then the villains Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), and Gwendolyn Christie (Captain Phasma) and then the legacy players Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). And yes, the crowd went more than wild at the sight of all this talent, especially when Mr. Ford entered the scene. He received the biggest standing ovation by a mile. Gleeson accidentally leaked the name of the villains’ base: Starkiller Base. Beyond that, nothing new was announced here. A handful of first-looks at practical effects characters were displayed, and you can see those in the gallery.
Just as the panel felt like it was wrapping up, Abrams said this: “Who wants to go see a live Star Wars concert right now? We only have room for all of you. We are literally all going to walk to a location together and experience a Star Wars concert tonight.” It’s hard to describe the rush I felt along with everyone else there. It was like a wave of excitement crashed into the crowd and all of sudden we were all high on life all at once. And with that, the entire Hall H–over 6,000 people–proceeded to collect their belongings and follow a procession of Stormtroopers to the Embarcadero Marina Park South where the San Diego Symphony was waiting to perform selections from the iconic Star Wars score. The walk took about 45 minutes or so, but that wasn’t a problem for anyone. With our exclusive lanyards we walked proudly behind the convention center and slowly made our way to the secret venue on the water. Once everyone was situated with free colored lightsabers, Abrams and the entire cast came out again to introduce the symphony. Composer John Williams wasn’t on hand, unfortunately, but he did pre-record a message wishing the fans a good time and “May the force be with you.” The sun set, the music played beautifully against a backdrop consisting of classic scenes spanning all six films, and just when we all thought it couldn’t get any better, fireworks exploded in the sky just as the Star Wars main theme kicked in at the end of the concert. A rainbow of lightsabers showered the symphony with love.
This was truly a shared experience to cherish for a lifetime.
The Star Wars universe is growing. Today, Disney made official a second Star Wars “Anthology Series” film that will focus on the early days of smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo. “The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley,” reads the press release. I guess that puts the kibosh on Harrison Ford reprising his iconic character in this untitled prequel spinoff.
Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the witty and wickedly funny directors behind The LEGO Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 21 Jump Street, and TV’s The Last Man on Earth are locked in to direct the Han Solo feature. Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon are penning the script together; the elder Kasdan is a Star Wars veteran having co-written the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the upcoming The Force Awakens. And of course, Lucasfilm mainstay Kathleen Kennedy is producing.
“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with,” said Miller and Lord in a statement. “We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”
“We’re so excited to be working with Chris and Phil, who will bring a fresh new dimension to the Star Wars universe,” added the Kasdans. “They’re two of the smartest, funniest and most original filmmakers around, and the ideal choice to tell the story of Han Solo, one of the coolest characters in the galaxy.”
Kennedy also shared enthusiasm for working with the now-prolific directors. “It’s not just any filmmaker who can tell the story of such a beloved icon like Han Solo, and I’m excited to say we’ve found the perfect team to handle the task. Larry and Jon know all there is to know about the character, and Chris and Phil will bring their wit, style, energy and heart to tell Han’s story.”
The Han Solo adventure sets its sights on a May 25, 2018 release. But first there’s J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens out this December 18, Gareth Edwards’ Anthology entry Rogue One out December 16, 2016, and Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII out May 26, 2017.
[Via Star Wars]
Stars Wars has been taking over the Internet lately; from the spectacular teaser trailer for The Force Awakens, to concrete details about the war-themed Rogue One standalone film as well as a fresh look at EA’s Battlefront video game, the hype train for Disney’s lucrative acquisition isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Just in time to celebrate Star Wars Day–May the Fourth be with you all–Vanity Fair has pushed out its cover for their upcoming June issue and look above to see who’s adorning it: from L-R there’s John Boyega as Stormtrooper Finn, the completely real and not-CGI new droid BB-8, Daisy Ridley as scavenger Rey, Peter Mayhew’s Chewie, and Harrison Ford back as Han Solo. Famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz was invited to the Force Awakens‘ set to snap the pic.
For more, head over to Vanity Fair. At the bottom of the page you’ll discover a photo gallery packed with never-before-seen looks at Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o as CGI’d character Maz Kanata, Girls‘ Adam Driver as baddie Kylo Ren, and more. The preceding article is also worth a read; in it, director J.J. Abrams teases an Easter Egg death for Jar Jar Binks, and he also reiterates his reliance on practical effects. Also, there’s video following Leibovitz on set!
Want a copy of the Star Wars-themed Vanity Fair to display on your coffee table? The June issue hits newsstands nationwide on Tuesday, May 12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theatres December 18.
The Star Wars Celebration convention continues. Mere days after unveiling the universally enjoyable second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a second panel packed with franchise fans would parcel fresh intel regarding one of the two upcoming Star Wars stand-alone films. Today’s panel was originally supposed to feature Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank, but the latter director was a no-show due to an illness. So, only Edwards’ Rogue One spinoff film was discussed, and Trank’s still untitled Star Wars pic wasn’t brought up. Moving on!
Godzilla director Edwards was joined on stage by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart. First and foremost, we’ve got a description for Rogue One: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans,” spills Star Wars’ official Twitter feed. At the panel, it was confirmed that The Theory of Everything‘s Felicity Jones will star as a Rebel soldier.
A brief teaser was screened at the panel; Lucasfilms has yet to post a clean copy of it online, but that never stopped the Internet before. You can search YouTube for cell phone recordings but be quick about it–they’ll be pulled before long. In case you can’t find it, here’s a quick description of the action. It opens with narration from Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film. The dialogue pulled from A New Hope went like this: “For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.” The visuals start on a planet teeming with lush forestry. As the camera starts panning towards a bright sky, a TIE Fighter zooms by heading for what appears to be the planet’s nearby moon. As we follow it fly away, we realize that’s no moon–it’s the original Death Star hanging beyond the clouds. The teaser goes black, and just as solider radio coms chatter starts to get hectic, the Star Wars Rogue One title card appears.
Be mindful that this footage was made in collaboration with the folks at Industrial Light & Magic specially for this reveal. Edwards and his team are currently in pre-production with shooting set to begin this summer. The clip is a mere taste of what’s to come. In addition to the footage, concept art was also displayed for the rabid crowd; it depicts soldiers storming onto a rainy, muddy planet.
Edwards briefly expanded on Rogue One. “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie,” he said. Don’t expect the film’s main set of characters to bring down their enemies with The Force or other mythological powers, because they won’t. Edwards says, “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.” Sounds like a much more grounded, realistic approach to the franchise, one we haven’t yet seen. Edwards’ spinoff is very much a war movie; the director cited Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down as inspirations. “It’s called Star … Wars,” he reminded the crowd. In terms of where it fits in the Star Wars timeline: Edwards confirmed Rogue One takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.
Expanding Star Wars‘ inherently sci-fi tendencies and pushing the franchise’s genre in new directions is, in fact, the point here. “The idea behind these movies is that Star Wars, as much as it is a set of stories and characters we know, it’s also a place–a place we can explore in terms of character and time,” said Hart. Edwards’ Rogue One will showcase a heist story set in a gritty, war-torn environment with relatable soldiers who wield no magic. Though we don’t have information to go on yet about Trank’s spinoff, his film is also set to play with the genre and inject new storytelling elements into the franchise.
We should stop using the term “spinoff films” at this point, since Kennedy and Hart introduced a new branding term for all non-trilogy franchise films. All spinoff/standalone movies set in the Star Wars universe are to be referred to as films in the “Star Wars Anthology Series.”
Star Wars Rogue One, the first Star Wars Anthology Series film, is slated to hit theatres December 16, 2016.
An incredible look at Electronic Arts’ video game Star Wars: Battlefront waits after the break. (Click here for more…)
A memorable new teaser for ‘The Force Awakens’ arrives at Star Wars Celebration, plus new character details
Today at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, California, director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy unveiled the latest teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Tons of fans present at the event exploded in excitement over the new one minute fifty-nine second teaser, and now you can too; go on, don’t hesitate, mash play above and let all of its glory wash over you! Done? Watch it again.
A few things to note. That is original Star Wars star Mark Hamill providing voice-over during the first half of the teaser; his lines are directly plucked from Return of the Jedi when he’s revealing to Leia that Darth Vader is his father. “The force is strong in my family,” says Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. “My father has it. I have it. My sister has it.” The line that comes next is new: “And you have the power, too.” We’re left to assume here that Luke is talking to a next-generation Skywalker in The Force Awakens, but neither Abrams nor Kennedy would confirm. Seeing Darth Vader’s utterly maligned helmet here is a striking image that I know will sit with me for some time.
What else? Referring to the desert world that made its debut in the first teaser, Abrams confirmed it is not Luke Skywalker’s home of Tattoine, but instead an entirely new world called Jakku. These expansive, beautiful sequences were filmed in the deserts of Abu Dhabi.
The latter half of the panel introduced new franchise stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac. Respectively they play a scavenger named Rey, a Stormtrooper named Finn, and an X-Wing pilot named Poe Dameron. Though plot details are still being tightly kept under wraps, Abrams allowed each of them to briefly let some character details fly.
“We discover Rey on the desert planet Jakku,” Ridley shared with the crowd. “She is a scavenger in a ship graveyard. She’s completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself, until she meets another character and an adventure begins.” Boyega picks up and says, “When we find Finn, he’s in incredible danger. The way he decides to react changes his life and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a unique way.” Issac goes on to describe Dameron like this: “He’s the best fricking pilot in the galaxy, that’s who he is! He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess. He comes across Mr. John Boyega’s character and their fates are forever intertwined.”
Making fun surprise appearances today were R2-D2 and the new droid BB-8. Though The Force Awakens admittedly uses lots of green screen for its special effects, Abrams reiterated his film’s reliance on practical effects and BB8 is a prime example of that. “We talked about how having a CGI BB-8 would be easier,” Abrams noted. “But we thought it would be better for the actors and the performances to have the real thing.” The director is taking a cue from Star Wars creator George Lucas’s playbook here; the original trilogy took advantage of robotics and advanced puppetry to pull off some of the most inventive and impressive stunts in cinematic history. Sounds like J.J. is on board with that, too. Watch BB-8 in action on stage right here.
The trailer ends with perhaps the most exciting bit yet: Han Solo and Chewbacca return in fleetingly grand fashion and ignite the nostalgic part of our collective brains. “Chewie, we’re home,” Han positively snarls, which is then followed by the lovable Wookiee’s signature roar. Though Han’s portrayer Harrison Ford wasn’t on hand at the event, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew showed up to express their ultimate gratitude for the generations of passionate Star Wars fans. “I have a simple message: a simple thank you,” Hamill gushed. “If it weren’t for all the UPFs—Ultra Passionate Fans—we wouldn’t be here. It never ceases to amaze me.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18.
Today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger led a shareholder meeting and made some exciting announcements regarding a couple of his company’s most lucrative franchises.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, is coming December 18–we all know this. Now what comes after? Details about the future of Star Wars just got a bit clearer. Sandwiched between Episode VII and its direct followup Episode VIII, Disney is releasing the first stand-alone Star Wars film. “Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga,” reads a press release. Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is confirmed to direct Rogue One, and Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz) is penning the script. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) will star. The idea for the stand-alone came from John Knoll, an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic (that’s the visual effects company created by George Lucas in 1975). Production on Rogue One begins this summer and it’s slotted to hit theatres December 16, 2016.
Iger went on to confirm that Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Breaking Bad) will direct Star Wars: Episode VIII, “which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Ep8 releases May 26, 2017.
In other Disney-related news, Iger made an unsurprising but still incredibly exciting announcement about the future of Frozen. A sequel is most definitely in the works! Frozen co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are working on the followup to the top-grossing animated film of all-time.
“We enjoyed making Frozen Fever so much and being back in that world with those characters,” said John Lasseter, Pixar chief creative officer. “Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have come up with a great idea for a sequel and you will be hearing a lot more about it and we’re taking you back to Arendelle. We are so excited about that.”
That’s all there is to know for now. But now I bet you’re craving Frozen like Olaf craves summertime. Don’t fret–you can experience a brand new Frozen adventure starting tomorrow when the Pixar short Frozen Fever hits theatres; it’s playing in front of Disney’s new live-action Cinderella.
It’s here, and it’s glorious. Today director J.J. Abrams released upon the world his vision for Star Wars. Tatooine? Droids! Stormtropers! A landspeeder? X-wing starfighters! A triple-bladed lightsaber! TIE fighters? The Millennium Falcon! John Williams’ iconic score! A Sith (?) foreboding the reawakening of the Force: “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side…and the Light.”
The 88-second teaser takes no time to prove its might; it is extremely effective in teasing the seventh episode in the Star Wars saga. It injects the classic Star Wars universe with fresh characters (see John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and is that Adam Driver as the shadowy villain?), potential new worlds (I’m pretty certain the desert world is Tattoine, but what about those water and icey worlds?), and a visual style that grounds CG animation with practical finesse (how fantastically gritty is that Stormtrooper reveal sequence at 0:32!). The flashy clip does raise more questions than answers, doesn’t it? Why is Boyega wearing a Stormstrooper suit? Is he actually playing a baddie, or is he taking a cue from the Luke/Han playbook and simply impersonating one? Better question: Why are Imperial Stromtroopers still around, and more, why are TIE fighters still flying the skies chasing after X-wing starfighters? At the end of Return of the Jedi our heroes defeated the Galactic Empire, right? Or perhaps they merely put a major dent in it and now, after many years have passed, The Empire will rise again with a new villain at the helm. The timing is on point: The Force, which apparently has been in a slumber, is making a comeback and both the Dark side and the Light will battle for supremacy again. Please share your theories in the comments section below!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also starring Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow and original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker, opens December 18th, 2015.
Jump after the break for more trailers. (Click here for more…)
— Star Wars (@starwars) November 6, 2014
Thoughts? J.J. Abrams’ attempt to reboot the coveted franchise hits theatres December 18, 2015.
Summer has arrived! Now that you’ve binged OITNB and revisited the Dome, it’s time to jump into new worlds including Halle Berry’s Extant and Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain. Skip after the break for the full rundown of anticipated July premieres you can’t miss. (Click here for more…)
At last, the cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII has been announced and it includes many familiar faces as well as new, fresher ones. Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) are all back to reprise their roles from George Lucas’ original trilogy. They are being joined by the following newcomers: John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (Mr. Selfridge), Adam Driver (Girls), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), and Max von Sydow (The Exorcist). Eye a candid black-and-white shot of the cast and creatives during the first table read above.
Abrams released this statement along with the announcement: “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”
Abrams is directing from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and himself, he is executive producing Kathleen Kennedy and Bryan Burke, and original composer John Williams returns to handle the film’s score.
After the break, Abrams and Kasdan wish fans a Happy Star Wars Day from London. May the Fourth be with you!
Episode VII opens December 18, 2015.
The next installment in the Star Wars saga will release into theatres on December 18, 2015.
“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” said Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.
Despite a change in the writing department, Episode VII is on track for its now solidified 2015 release. Two weeks ago Michael Arndt stepped away from the film and director J.J. Abrams and consultant Lawrence Kasdan took over the screenplay duties. Recently Abrams opened up about the switch-up.
“It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be,” he told Deadline. “Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on aStar Wars movie is kind of unbeatable.” He added, “Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of his or adore him more. He’s a wonderful guy and was incredibly helpful in the process.”
Mark your calendars, people. We get to revisit that galaxy far, far away in two years time.
[Via Star Wars]
Michael Arndt steps away from ‘Star Wars Episode VII’, J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan resume script duties
Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt has dropped out of penning the upcoming Star Wars movie from director J.J. Abrams. Taking over screenwriting duties for the film are Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan. Kasdan, who was the co-screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and who also wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, had already been serving as a consultant on Episode VII.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy commented on the behind-the-scenes changes, remaining positive as production on the highly anticipated franchise reboot is already underway.
“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” Kennedy said in a statement. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”
Location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design for Star Wars Episode VII has begun and shooting is scheduled to begin in spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios. The film’s expected 2015 release remains firm.
[Via Star Wars]
Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk are teaming up with boy-geniuses Phineas and Ferb in a special Disney/Marvel crossover episode airing later this month. The official episode description goes like this:
In Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk stand powerless after being struck by Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s power-draining “inator.” Once the Marvel Super Villains – Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom and M.O.D.O.K. – find out that Dr. Doofenshmirtz is responsible for robbing the Super Heroes of their powers, they seek him out and together create mayhem in Danville. Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb do everything they can to restore the Super Heroes’ powers before the evil villains take over the world.
If you’re a big fan of Disney’s addicting and mildly sophisticated ‘toon about step-brothers with wild imaginations and Stan Lee’s superheroes, then you’ll definitely want to set your DVRs for Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel set to debut on Disney Channel Friday, August 16 at 8PM. Jump after the break to watch a preview and trailer for the upcoming crossover event.
In other P&F news, the animated series is playing host to Star Wars in 2014; for more details, pop after the break! (Click here for more…)
The Force is strong with this one. Today news spread like wildfire that J.J. Abrams–the same man who resurrected Star Trek for the big screen–will do the same for the other massively popular set-in-space franchise Star Wars. The Wrap broke it first.
This fall George Lucas sold his Lucasfilms to Disney for $4 billion and his partner Kathleen Kennedy signed on to ensure the making of a new Star Wars movie. Shortly thereafter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) agreed to pen the script and now the immense project has a star director in Abrams. Star Wars: Episode VII aims for a 2015 release.
Neither Abrams nor Disney has commented on the story yet. What’s interesting, however, is that just a couple months ago Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn’t interested in taking on Lucas’ lucrative franchise. He admitted that he had “original stuff” he was hoping to do next. He went on to say how much Star Wars influenced him at a young age and that it ignited his passion for visually epic storytelling. “As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” he said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.”
In a two–part interview with Hero Complex conducted in 2009, Abrams talked about the challenge of reimagining Star Trek in a post-George Lucas Star Wars world. “I’m just a fan of Star Wars,” he said. “As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was. If you look at the last three Star Wars films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing Star Trek — despite the fact that it existed before Star Wars — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.”
It is definitely going to be interesting to see exactly how J.J. Abrams plans to bring Star Wars back into the fold compared to the way he did it with Star Trek. He’s a powerful player in the sci-fi arena, and personally I have no doubt he’ll get it right. What say you?
Star Wars is making a comeback after Disney’s recent acquisition of Lucasfilm; that we know. Who will direct? Who will write the coveted screenplay? Today we have a definitive answer to the latter question. Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will pen the screenplay for Star Wars: Episode VII. He is best known for writing Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3; he also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. According to a news brief directly from the official Star Wars website, Star Wars creator George Lucas (who is serving as creative consultant on the project), newly appointed head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy (the film’s executive producer), and Arndt have commenced story conferences and Episode VII is slated to release in 2015.
The Star Wars fanbase is a rabid one, so the pressure is on for Arndt to deliver.
[Via Star Wars]
Hold on to your lightsabers. The house of Mouse is acquiring Geroge Lucas’ production company. In a deal that went down today, The Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction valued at $4.05 billion. In addition to acquiring Lucasfilm and all of its operating businesses including LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, Disney now also owns the rights to popular franchises like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
In fact, what really shook people today is that Disney already has plans to expand the Star Wars universe by producing at least three more films in the saga. Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm will transition into becoming the President of Lucasfilm and will report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn; at her post she will serve as brand manager for Star Wars and executive producer of future Star Wars films. Star Wars Episode 7 is being targeted with a 2015 release. Disney CEO and Chairman Robert Iger lays out the framework: “In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the “Disney-Lucasfilm” brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.” In addition handpicking Kennedy to run Lucasfilm under Disney, Star Wars creator George Lucas will serve as creative consultant on future films.
In a press release, Lucas discussed his decision to sell his production company and how important it is to him that Star Wars continues on into the future. “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
Production on Episode 7 is already in the early stages. Kennedy and Lucas are sitting down with writers and discussing the direction they want Star Wars to go next. Jump after the break to hear what they have to say on the matter.
Instant reactions to the news on Twitter are mixed. Some say they feel betrayed by Lucas for letting his prized franchise fall into different hands. Others express their sheer excitement and think it’s about time the franchise was injected with fresh ideas from new filmmakers. No matter where you stand, Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. is huge news–from the development of new propertied media to merchandising new collectable products–and the acquisition is sure conjure up major fanfare in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Star Wars fans and gamers alike have been waiting patiently for Microsoft to stamp an official release date for the movie themed hardware and software bundle. Well, the time has finally come. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, the bundle–which includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures–launches into the marketplace this spring on April 3. It is being valued at $449.99 and can be preordered today at Amazon and Gamestop. Take a gander at the sleek packaging above and mark your calendars appropriately.
[Via Major Nelson]
Check out this kick-ass viral video starring Team 2X, a collective group of professional martial arts performers. Watch as a lone Jedi takes on a hoard of ninjas and a vengeful Sith Lord. Stay for the end–it’s unexpected and absurdly humorous.
Jedi Ninjas was developed as a passion project to recreate the current style of Star Wars action seen in video games into live action. This style often combines elements of Force powers with the use lightsaber combat. As there are no upcoming live action Star Wars movies to this date, this was a project to make many of the fans’ dreams into a reality.
3D re-release trailers: ‘Titanic’ & ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ [Update: ‘Beauty and the Beast’]
Two classic movies are being re-released in 3D. First up is James Cameron’s 1997 emotional roller coaster Titanic. The director who imagined Avatar is re-releasing the tragic love story in 3D on April 6, 2012. This date falls right around the 100 year anniversary of the sailing of the ship. Titanic is considered one of the greatest movies of all time, but do you feel comfortable watching all those people lose their lives in eye-popping 3D? Tough call.
Next up is the re-release of The Phantom Menace, the first prequel movie from George Lucas’ famed Star Wars franchise. Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic special FX company is converting all six Star Wars films to play in 3D. Episode 1 comes back to theatres on February 10, 2012, and the remaining five films will follow suit over the course of consecutive years. Watch the new trailer after the break.
Update: Disney has released a trailer promoting their next foray into 3D. After re-releasing The Lion King in 3D into the wild, Disney is reaching its hand into the vault again and this time they’re sharing Beauty and the Beast with the world again. Skip after the break to watch new trailer. The Disney classic returns January 13, 2012. (Click here for more…)
Let’s start with the coolest bit of news straight from Redmond. Microsoft is pushing out a Star Wars-themed Xbox 360 bundle to celebrate to release of Star Wars Kinect. The Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars bundle includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures. The bundle’s price: $449.99. It’s available for preorder today, comes out this fall.
Next up is the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth. The sleek new headset connects to the Xbox through the console’s standard radio frequencies, and since it packs Bluetooth functionality it can double as a regular old BT headset and pair with your mobile phone and computer. The communication device goes on sale early November 2011 and will cost $59.99. Jump after the break to watch Major Nelson give a quick tour of the packaging.
Also announced was the Xbox 360 Media Remote. Media playback controls include play/pause, skip forward, fast forward, skip back, fast back, and display to control DVD, CD, or streamed media. The TV controls include power on/off, volume up/down, mute and TV input. The Xbox 360 Media Remote’s menu navigation controls include A, B, X, Y buttons, D-pad navigation, back and select. Live TV, if provided on the Xbox 360 by your TV service provider, can also be controlled with the remote. It’ll cost $19.99 when it comes out alongside the wireless headset this November.
And last, but certainly not least, is Avatar Kinect. Explains Microsoft: “Avatar Kinect is a new social entertainment experience that brings your avatar to life. Avatar Kinect captures your facial expressions and voice so when you smile, nod or speak, your avatar does the same. Invite up to seven friends to join you in 24 imaginative virtual stages – discuss the latest celebrity gossip or news on the Talk Show Stage, try out your hysterical comedy routine on the Performance Stage, or wager who will win the big game in the Sports Party Stage.” The experience gets even more social as the Kinect sensor can record your sessions and you can upload them to KinectShare.com, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. After the break you’ll find a short video demonstrating the software’s abilities.
Also out is Kinect Sparkler, a fun Kinectified app that “transforms simple finger painting into an aerial light show” using advanced finger tracking. Kinect Avatar and Kinect Sparkler are out now; the former is free to all Xbox LIVE Gold members (it is unlocked for all Xbox LIVE members (Free or Gold) to enjoy from 7/25 to 9/8) and the latter costs 240 Microsoft Points. Both can be found in Kinect Fun Labs section in Xbox LIVE.