Our most popular post by far this week has been the one on the issue of Expanded Universe costumers and the Star Wars Weekends parade at Disney World. There have been a number of updates over several days, but nothing truly definitive enough to start a fresh post with… Check in now to make sure you’re up to date!
As we’ve been reporting, the makeover of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland with a new Star Wars spaceport feel has another step forward, but only a small step. MiceAge, which has been the primary source of Disneyland expansion rumors, has reported that the “first phase of the Star Wars makeover of Tomorrowland did get the green light from Burbank in December.”
However, they go on to report that the first phase, of re-doing the front half of the Anaheim’s Tomorrowland area as a Star Wars-themed spaceport, as well as the second phase of creating a bunch of new attractions for a Star Wars land, might be on hold due to funding, and that on-hold state has allowed the design team to switch from just original trilogy elements to incorporating things from Episode VII:
The Imagineers assigned to the Star Wars Tomorrowland project have now been debriefed on the characters and plotlines coming for Star Wars Episode VII that opens in theaters in about two years. …. Those key [original trilogy based] attractions are all still part of phase two, but they are being layered or tweaked to include references from Episode VII that will be released in theaters at least 18 months before any of those attractions open.
As for bringing more Star Wars to Orlando? The word is that it “appears to be simply cancelled for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”
With Episode VII scheduled to open December 2015, that “at least 18 month” timeframe puts into June 2017 or later.
Merchandising! Disney CFO Jay Rasulo spoke at an investor conference today and spoke of Lucasfilm following in Marvel’s footprints for distribution across different platforms – though he did say that they’re willing to look outside their own networks for distribution. Nothing earth shattering here – he also said that there’ll be more Star Wars rides coming to the parks over time – but it confirms that there’s plenty more in the pipeline than just new films. And, yes, expect the full merchandising blitz for Episode VII. Whatever could the sequel trilogy equivalent of a Jar Jar lollipop be, I wonder?
Rumors. Were the rumors of Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Wars just a smokescreen? The Daily Superhero has a source that claims that the rumors were manufactured by Disney as a cover… Because they actually want him for a Marvel role, perhaps Doctor Strange. Sounds pretty plausible to me – and what’s easier to play on than the internet’s unending ability for uninspired fancastings?
Disney and Paramount have reached an agreement regarding the Indiana Jones franchise, Variety reports today. Disney retains Lucasfilm’s ownership rights but gains “distribution and marketing rights to future films.” Paramount will continue to distribute the first four films and will receive “financial participation” on future ones.
There have been rumblings of an Indy 5 since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, and actions on it have been rumored to be a part of Harrison Ford’s still unconfirmed Episode VII contract.
Drew McWeeny of HitFix speculates that this could lead to other actors taking on the iconic fedora:
…Only truly deranged and damaged people would take something as rich with potential as Indiana Jones and then just remake the movies that already exist. “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” “Temple Of Doom,” and “The Last Crusade” should all be considered canon, and if you’re going to make new movies, then do it in a way that works around those films, not that tries to replace them.
Indiana Jones as the new James Bond? Well, as McWeeny points out, the character has already been played by four others besides Ford. I certainly prefer the idea to simply remaking Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade, but it’s hard to imagine anyone stepping into Ford’s shoes. (Yeah yeah, Nathan Fillon, blah blah blah noshitcakes. At least try and think outside the box, fancasters.)
And our final word:
Could lack of Indy news in last 64 minutes signal production problems?
— Pablo Hidalgo (@infinata) December 7, 2013
MiceAge has been a primary source for all the rumors of Star Wars attractions in the works for the Disney parks, particularly Disneyland, but their latest dispatch is troubling. Problems with over-budget infrastructure implementations have placed almost all Imagineering projects on hold – or canceled. Here’s the part that pertains to Star Wars:
Originally the plan to add Star Wars to Tomorrowland was going to be divided into two phases; a first phase involving some placemaking and a replacement for Captain EO to be finished prior to the 60th Anniversary, and a second phase kicking off in late 2015. The second phase included the Speeder Bike E Ticket ride, Ewok village and forest where Autopia currently is, a Millenium Falcon walk-thru where the PeopleMover platform is, tearing out the decaying PeopleMover tracks and moving the Astro Orbiter up on top of the Space Mountain concourse, and turning Tomorrowland Terrace into an interactive Tatooine Cantina restaurant show. All of that is now on hold indefinitely. Although Anaheim gets off a bit easier with its Star Wars plan on hold, as the plans for many of these Star Wars elements coming to Disney Hollywood Studios in WDW have just been cancelled outright.
None of this has been officially announced, of course, and it might be bunk for all we know… But this doesn’t give us much hope that for expanded Star Wars features at Disneyland in time for the next Celebration.
Disney CFO Jay Rasulo talked a bit about Star Wars at an investor conference today, and the biggest revelation for us is that he called the spinoffs “origin story films,” according to Variety’s Marc Graser. That’s in line with some of the rumors we’ve heard about Han Solo and Yoda, and while part of me hopes that Attack of the Clones disqualifies Boba Fett, somehow I suspect not. Still, it does imply an extended focus on characters outside of the Skywalkers.
Rasulo also called Star Wars an “evergreen property” and said there are plans to expand licensing programs, though the focus is “to put out a great film.” But Disney has faith in the franchise: “Of all our worries, ‘Star Wars’ is not one of them.”
Just as we were warned yesterday, there’s no breaking Episode VII news out of the live action film panel at Disney’s D23 Expo. Alan Horn reiterates the “summer 2015” release date and a few other things that have already been well confirmed (Michael Arndt, J.J. Abrams, John Williams, spinoffs with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg) and then moved on, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
There’s still Pablo Hidalgo’s Star Wars crash course later today, but I wouldn’t expect much breaking news there. (Please keep stormtroopers well away from the edge of the stage.)
Still, that said, they are previewing plenty of footage and stars from their other films – including a first look clip from Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent – so if nothing else that probably means good things for Star Wars fans attending D23 in the future.
IGN’s Eric Goldman asked ABC’s Paul Lee about seeing Star Wars make the jump to TV today. His answer was a bit roundabout, naturally:
“I certainly have a glint in my eye. They have a lot on their plate when you look at the features that they’re planning on rolling out for the next few years, but we’ve started conversations with them.”
He went on to say “It would be nice to use other strong Disney IP” and that “It’s an amazing world.” I wouldn’t count on seeing or hearing much soon, but at least we know a live-action option is still on their minds.