Category Archives: lucasfilm

Rumor mill: Is LucasArts facing a shutdown?

Unlike the ending of Clone Wars, reports of a possible LucasArts shutdown in the works are anything but surprising. While Kotaku’s report on the future of 1313 was mostly based on sources, the absence of the game – perhaps LucasArt’s hottest upcoming property – from any recent industry events is rather telling.
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This week, another report from GamesIndustry International has been making the rounds. LucasArts told them that the speculation of a shutdown is “one hundred percent not true” and that “everything is moving ahead.”

Ex-employees are less optimistic, echoing much of what you’ll hear from gamers themselves these days:

The studio’s performance in recent years has not impressed former LucasArts employees. One ex-LucasArts employee had this to say: “The ‘business’ has been on life-support since the Star Wars license and subsequent development for their best title went to Bioware/EA. I’m frankly amazed that they’ve stayed in business this long. No stomach for truly original product, and slender means to produce their previous cash cows – Indy and Star Wars.”

Given Disney’s history with their gaming divisions, along with some other hints, you can’t blame anyone for worrying about the future of LucasArts these days.

Reports: Lucasfilm Animation layoffs forthcoming

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There have been multiple reports that layoffs are on the way for Lucasfilm Animation in the wake of the cancellation of The Clone Wars.

If this does pan out, it’s not particularly surprising: Our own Stooge predicted the end of Lucasfilm Animation last week. Alas, as sad as it is, it only makes sense that Disney would eliminate a department that’s redundant to their own extensive resources. Our pal Bryan at Big Shiny Robot has a level-headed examination of the yet-unconfirmed moves:

But renewed calls to panic in this case aren’t justified. This seems wholly consistent with the plan we were upset about a week ago. What’s being done to The Clone Wars is unfair, both to the fans and the artists who create the show, and it will never hurt to voice your support, but being upset at a cat for eating a mouse (or in this case a giant mouse eating a television show) is to deny the nature of the thing.

That said, the letter-writing campaign that’s being pushed is far from useless: If you enjoyed The Clone Wars then, yes, make your voice heard. It may be too late to turn back the clock for Clone Wars, but it might make a difference for the remaining episodes, or show that there’s enough interest to sustain another show.

But it’s also time to sit down, take a deep breath, and make sure you’re presenting your case in a calm and rational manner. Panic only breeds more panic, and that’s not the kind of statement that’s going to make a good impression on the higher-ups at Disney – or anyone else.

UPDATE: The good news is, Bryan got word from Lucasfilm that the ‘bonus content’ that was promised – and deeply doubted – “will absolutely be made available to fans.”

‘Interesting’ Star Wars publishing announcement coming to Entertainment Weekly

Lucasfilm executive editor J. W. Rinzler tweeted the above this morning, and it raises a lot of questions… Given Rinzler handles mostly nonfiction and art texts, my guess is a book on the company’s acquisition by Disney, or a new art book we haven’t heard of yet.

Of course, it could be pretty much anything up to and including the future of the Expanded Universe. (Not that that writing isn’t already on the wall. ) Personally, I think that topic may be a bit too obscure for a mainstream publication like Entertainment Weekly, but it’s certainly going to come up as we wait.

The next issue of EW is coming out tomorrow, but ‘near-future’ implies we’ll be waiting a bit longer. Hopefully not too long, because there’s little that sends fandom into a panic like announcing announcements.

Roundup: Reacting to Lucasfilm Animation’s new direction and The Clone Wars ending

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Monday’s announcement that Lucasfilm was taking its animation division in a new direction, focusing on exploring a new series while bringing a graceful end for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a hard stop for Detours, brought out a lot of mixed feelings from fans. Many, like Stooge and me, were sad and angry to see The Clone Wars get shut down at its peak. I’ve rounded up reactions from the voice cast of the show, as well as from bloggers and entertainment reporters.

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George Lucas: Hamill, Ford and Fisher are all but certain for Episode VII

disney-swIn a great story on the Lucasfilm acqusition by Disney in Bloomberg Businessweek, George Lucas more or less admits that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are returning for the new movies:

Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

That may be the big news out of this, but the article itself is a must-read on the process, with extensive input from Lucas and Bob Iger.

George Lucas is not selling his Disney stock

lucas-aotsAlthough George Lucas registered for the ability to cash out his Disney stock last week, a Lucasfilm rep told The Bearded Trio he has no plans to do so:

“George Lucas currently has no plans to sell his Disney stock,” Lynne Hale, a spokeswoman for Lucasfilm, said in an e- mail. “This was a required filing in conjunction with the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney.”

Lucas plans to donate the proceeds of the sale to charity.

Kasdan, Kinsberg talk Episode VII and spin-offs

IGN has the first interview with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg since their involvement with Episode VII and the standalone films was formally annouced.

He wouldn’t answer when asked about who the films will feature, but Kasdan has plenty of praise for Michael Arndt and J.J. Abrams.

No news bombs were dropped, but it’s a nice interview with a bit of insight behind the curtain.

Lucasfilm, ILM nabs a few pre-Oscar awards

RedTails-image-award-lucasIn the land of not-Star Wars, Lucasfilm picked up a couple awards last weekend:

Red Tails won the NAACP Image award for Outstanding Motion Picture, beating out others such as Flight and Django Unchained. In a video clip from the event, George Lucas shares why he produced the WWII action film about the Tuskegee Airmen.

While the Annie Awards were dominated by wins for Wreck-It Ralph and Dragons: Riders of Berk, a team from Industrial Light and Magic won for Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production: Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, and Mark Chataway won for their work on The Avengers. Also in the running, we had The Clone Wars crew with four nominations and LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out with one nomination.

From Close Encounters to Episode VII: The Hollywood Reporter profiles Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy on the cover of The Hollywood ReporterKathleen Kennedy is the The Hollywood Reporter‘s cover story and naturally, it begins with how she convinced J.J. Abrams to take on Episode VII:

Famously plain-spoken, she summarizes her pitch like this: “Please do Star Wars.” And she had cards to play. Not only was Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) writing the script, but Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote 1980′s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983′s Return of the Jedi, was on board to consult. Abrams “was flipping out when he found out that Michael and Larry were on the movie already,” says Kennedy.

Abrams tells THR, “I learned firsthand how incredible and persuasive she is.” Some — but not all — of his reservations were dispelled. “The thing about any pre-existing franchise — I’d sort of done that,” he says. “But when I met with Kathy, it was suddenly very tantalizing.”

Kennedy goes on to discuss Lincoln’s Oscar campaign and her partnership with director Steven Spielberg, including this cute tidbit of how George Lucas approached him about hiring her:

Lucas called to raise the issue during a dubbing session on Lincoln. “He actually asked for her hand in business,” says Spielberg. “I wasn’t going to stand in her way.”

We learn that she’s commited to Lucasfilm for 5 years, splitting time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, her start in the business, meeting husband Frank Marshall and more.

As for Lucas? Spielberg says he’s ready to stay retired:

Asked whether he believes Lucas can really keep his distance, Spielberg doesn’t hesitate. “I completely know he can do that,” he says. “He’s ready to start living without the burden and weight and responsibility of this huge corporate asset.”

In short, if you’re curious about Kennedy, this article is a good place to start!

Mashable’s Chris Taylor exploring the business and culture of Star Wars in upcoming book

Hyperspace falcon Chris Taylor, deputy editor at Mashable, is working on How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, a book on the business and culture of the franchise.

I’m thrilled to be writing How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, the first book to examine the entire Star Wars brand from a business/culture perspective. As Disney takes control of the franchise and prepares to release Episode VII in 2015, there’s never been a more important time to consider exactly what made this epic great in the first place. Its past offers a lot of clues to why it has a robust future in the post-Lucas era, given how much of it was a team effort from the very beginning. I want to give proper credit to all the other talented writers, technicians, artists and game-makers who built the Expanded Universe and helped it thrive.

It’s a daunting prospect, trying to do justice to a modern legend that has mesmerized every generation since 1977, but I can’t imagine a more engrossing research project. This book will be more fun than a barrel full of Banthas.

It sounds like even the Expanded Universe will get a place in the spotlight – Taylor told CNET he’s trying to read/reread all the novels and comics, which seems pretty ambitious.

Taylor has covered Star Wars since 1997; this will be his first book. It’ll be released early next year by Basic Books.