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.
On May the 4th Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox outed a press release detailing the impending Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray. The nine-disc ultimate collection releases September 12 internationally and on September 16 in North America. All six films can be viewed in 1080p high definition and 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. The collection includes over 40 hours of bonus content like “vintage documentaries, audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, prop and costume turnarounds, retrospectives and more.” Jump after the break to find the aforementioned PR to get the full lowdown. Also, make sure you open up the gallery below to get a look at the fantastic box art for the original and prequel trilogy Blu-ray bundles. Oh, and May The 4th be with you!
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the stars of Paul, attempt a shot-for-shot Star Wars remake. It doesn’t take long for things to fall apart…and get super funny.
This week Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox announced when the Star Wars re-release in 3D is going to begin. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace will be the first in the franchise to receive the 3D conversion treatment, landing in theatres February 10, 2012. The remaining five films will follow suit over the course of consecutive years. Reads the press release:
Set against the thrilling and exotic backdrop of a “galaxy far, far away,” Star Wars is perfectly suited to the immersive 3D theatrical experience, and Episode I delivers some of the Saga’s most stunning and spectacular sequences – from the Naboo invasion to the Tatooine Podraces to the climactic lightsaber battle between Darth Maul and the Jedi. Supervised by Industrial Light & Magic, the meticulous conversion is being done with utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions.
Do we really have to experience Jar Jar Binks in three dimensions? I might skip out on this one and wait for the original trilogy to come back; I advise you to do the same. And for all you couch potatoes out there, don’t forget that the franchise is coming to Blu-ray in September.
George Lucas announced that the entire Star Wars saga was coming to Blu-ray in fall 2011, and this week he made good on that promise. On September 30, 2011 you’ll be able to purchase the Blu-ray collection in one of three ways: (1) The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) for $139.99; (2) The Original Trilogy for $69.99; (3) The Prequel Trilogy for $69.99. The Complete Saga set will come bundled with “more than 30 hours of extensive special features including never-before-seen deleted and alternate scenes, an exploration of the exclusive Star Wars archives, and much more.” Full PR after the break.
Early this week it was reported that George Lucas is very much interested in rereleasing all six Star Wars films in 3D. For years Lucas publically denounced 3D technology in film. According to various sources it was James Cameron’s Avatar that brough him over to the stereoscopic side. Here’s the plan. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace will undergo the 3D conversion process first, which takes at least one year to complete, with a planned release date in early 2012. The remaining five films will follow suit over the course of consecutive years. Why the long wait? Purportedly Lucas has been waiting for the 3D front to explode, both in cinema and at home. Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic special FX company will oversee the 3D conversion, and 20th Century Fox is backing the rereleases.
Though 3D converted films have been panned in the past (I’m thinking about you, Clash of the Titans), as compared to movies shot in 3D (like Avatar), the Lucas and the conversion house promise to deliver a worthy 3D experience come 2012. “Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right,” says John Knoll, ILM visual effects supervisor. “It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.” We shall see. Are you an impacient Star Wars fanboy/girl? Don’t forget that the franchise is coming to Blu-ray next year. Or you can get yourself a Star Wars branded Droid R2-D2 smartphone. Go nuts!