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.
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.
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.
Jedi News is reporting that ‘several sources’ have told them that the Star Wars animated series is at an end. Big Shiny Robot has heard much the same, and believes an official announcement is imminent.
The Clone Wars’ fate under Disney has been uncertain for some time now: Cartoon Network only had the rights to air it through season 5, and many expected – or hoped – that it would move to the Disney XD channel.
Disney has its annual upfront presentation of its networks’ programming for the 2013-2014 season on March 12, so this will be the right time for some news – either The Clone Wars will be on its list, or it won’t. If it isn’t on the Disney lineup, then hopefully we’ll have some announcement of what the future does hold for the show. While being popular, the show is fairly expensive to produce, and without George Lucas championing the show like a billionaire who does whatever he wants with his own money, it could be that the show’s budget (despite raising the bar on animation for a weekly TV series) could be working against renewal in the post-George era.
It’s not yet known what will happen to the completed episodes of what would be the sixth season: Jedi News believes a direct-to-DVD/Blu-Ray release of some sort is possible. Other sources indicate that an online distribution method such as through iTunes might be a possibility. With each production season creating a few more episodes than get aired in the broadcast season, and pushing into the next season for airing, there’s at least one story arcs that should be ready to go: The Clovis story arc originally slated for season five. We know that a lot of voice work has been recorded for season six, but knowing that it takes about a year for an episode to be produced from story to ready to air, it is not known how many season six stories made it out of the pipeline.
If this rumor proves true, a Clone Wars cancellation would be the second piece of major fallout from the acquisition. The 3D rereleases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were ‘postponed’ in January. Also in the “no news is bad news” department, Star Wars Detours hasn’t been on the radar at all, with its Facebook page last being updated in November.
Still, with 5 seasons and more than 100 episodes, you can’t argue that The Clone Wars hasn’t had a good run.
In 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.
Although 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.
Actors. An Australian DJ (?!?) is claiming that John Noble will be playing the villain in Episode VII. You probably know Noble as Fringe’s Walter Bishop, or from Lord of the Rings, where he played Denethor, perhaps Middle-Earth’s least stable father figure. Like Walter Bishop, I have my skeptic face on.
Abrams alumni Keri Russell would be down for Star Wars, because once again, who’s going to say they don’t want to be in Star Wars?
Money matters. George Lucas has filed to cash out his Disney stock – the 37,076,679 shares that were half the purchase price for Lucasfilm. (Note: The move doesn’t mean he has to or even will sell immediately, just that he can.) In any case, it was announced early on that Lucas would donate the company’s purchase price to fund “educational issues.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger dropped a couple of bombs on us this afternoon regarding future Star Wars movies.
Lucasfilm is working on ‘a few’ standalone films featuring existing characters – but not part of the overall saga. Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are working on them – thus confirming the second half of an older rumor.
Iger said that Disney and Lucasfilm hope to make Episodes VII-IX over “a six-year period.” They’re still aiming for a 2015 release, but “a few other films” will be released “in that period of time.” Bryan Young speculates that this likely means we’ll be getting a Star Wars film on a yearly basis, which is in line with sister studio Pixar’s output
UPDATE:StarWars.com adds that Kasdan and Kinberg are working on two films separately, each focusing “on a specific character,” and that they’re both expected to come out after Episode VII.
Iger declined to name any specific characters, so the Yoda film still remains strictly a rumor – but certainly a far more likely one now. I’d also place bets on Boba Fett getting his own movie – but if it keeps him (and his director fanboys) out of further Episodes, that’s a price I will (grudgingly) pay.
Del Rey had a Facebook chat with Timothy Zahn for Scoundrels today, and it was… Very busy. I admit I skimmed most of the actual questions, but I can verify that all of Zahn’s answers are free of spoilers for Scoundrels.
There was a lot of old ground covered, but we did get a surprisingly detailed look at what Zahn has pitched to Del Rey. He begins:
If there are to be more books, and if LFL/Del Rey/Disney decide to let me write some of them, I have a trilogy project to pitch where the third book would also be the third book of the Hand of Judgment series (Allegiance and Choices of One). Again, I don’t know if that will happen.
A Fel or Chiss novel would be fun. As a matter of fact, the trilogy I mentioned above (which I’ll pitch if I’m invited to do another book) would have one book heavily involving Thrawn and the Chiss. (The middle book, btw, would feature Mara being sent to stop an assassination…against Vader. Imagine the fun they would *both* have with *that* assignment.) The proposed series title is The Maestro Trilogy, if anyone wants to star nagging Del Rey. (No, seriously, *don’t* nag. Just ask politely…)
When asked about his favorite era:
At the moment I like writing in the Ep 4/5 gap, partly because the characters are so much fun in that era and partly because the territory hasn’t been as well explored. However, I understand there are several books now scheduled in that time, so it may start getting crowded. As to other eras, the Old Republic era has a lot of good writers who are working there, and I’m not sure whether Del Rey is planning to go beyond Legacy of the Force right now. If the Ep 3/4 gap is ever opened up (LFL so far has kept that off-limits) there are a bunch of stories I could tell there.
And naturally he was asked quite a bit about the sequel trilogy and how it relates to his books:
Actually, I think Disney will do right by LFL. Their record with Pixar and Marvel indicates they know how to step back and let the people who know what they’re doing just do it. With Kathleen Kennedy now helming LFL, and with all the wonderfully talented people already in place there, I’m expecting good things to come. Of course, if Disney decided they wanted a couple of TV shows, and just *happened* to think of Mara Jade or the Hand of Judgment, I would certanly not stand in their way.
As to whether any of my characters might show up in the sequels: Again, no idea what’s being planned, but I would naturally love to see something I’ve done up there on the Big Screen.
Overall, I find myself hoping (yet again) that Del Rey finds a different way to do these chats. Sure, a couple good things came out of this one, but it was a bit of a mess…
The recent recap of last year’s biggest events reminded me of something that has been largely overlooked: George Lucas is retiring. Granted, he’s tried to retire before – a couple of times, if memory serves – with limited success. And the news was understandably overshadowed by the double-whammy of the Sequel Trilogy and the sale to Disney. But still. The Flannelled One is stepping down, off to work on experimental films or build a working X-wing or become a lumberjack or whatever retired billionaires do. Yes, there were the starwars.com videos, where he talked a bit about his future plans, but in general, this story has been ignored. Heck, I saw more chatter about Rick McCallum’s retirement. Rick McCallum is a wonderful guy, but there’s only one George Lucas. He deserves a little more attention.
“We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet,” Lee exclusively told EW. “We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.”
Some of the financial concerns that Lucasfilm faced producing the series on their own are moot under the Disney deal, the article points out. Lee compares it to the Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. show that ABC is also working on.
They also have what might be the most detailed summary we have yet to see… From ‘sources,’ mind:
Sources say the live-action series centers on the story of rival families struggling over the control of the seedy underside of the Star Wars universe and the people who live within the subterranean level and air shafts of the metropolis planet Coruscant (the Empire’s urban-sprawl-covered home planet). A bounty hunter may be the main character.
And apparently some of the concept and character designs are being used in 1313…
They also, I think, are the first to reveal that Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) may be involved…