At the opening of Industrial Light & Magic’s new London studio, Kathleen Kennedy said that Lucasfilm is “within three weeks of finishing Episode VII.” I suspect she means the actual production period, but who knows. The London studio is working on Episode VII, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man.
Today, Latino Review’s Da7e Gonzales claims that there’s indeed a struggle behind the scenes to push Episode VII back to May 2016, with JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy on one side and Disney’s Bob Iger on the other. (As we’ve heard before – but from LR, so.) Their bargaining tool? Harrison Ford’s leg, which I think has more press than rest of the cast combined at this point.
Of course we know Lucasfilm is still sticking to December 18, 2015 – but then, they would be. That is the release date – at the moment, anyway.
There are a thousand other considerations when a huge corporation like Disney is involved, but from the fan end, would any of us really object to May, if it comes to pass? I’d certainly prefer it, but the movie’s release date was never going to be my hill to die on.
In any case, this paragraph in particular makes the upmost sense to me:
The franchise and it’s spinoff films will likely be big no matter what, but the value of owning Star Wars is owning the bottomless well of potential money and that means plugging into nostalgia. Star Wars as a franchise can’t pull a Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and drastically change tones, Star Wars can’t reboot. Star Wars is continuous. Kathleen Kennedy cannot have an Episode VII that botches the handoff between Star Was and Star Is.
Star Wars may not really need to be ‘fixed’ after the prequels – I’m not even a big prequel fan and I think it’s silly to say the franchise was ‘broken’ by them – but there is a perception issue in the mainstream. The mainstream thought the prequels were bad. We can argue about whether that’s been softening until the cows come home, but the fact remains that the perception is there and it’s still plenty powerful. It still, to this day, colors how many people see Star Wars.
Kennedy needs to usher Star Wars into something that can last for Disney. She knows they can’t afford to stick the landing by releasing a rushed, subpar Episode VII with the future of the franchise hanging in the balance.
Episode VII will make Disney millions, maybe billons, not matter when it’s released or how good (or bad) it is. No matter what movie it opens against. But if Star Wars is going to last beyond a third trilogy, it’s going to need some careful cultivation. There are a whole lot of people to convince, and most of them aren’t those of us who follow every drip and drabble of news, or who know that just using the terms ‘bad’ and ‘prequels’ in the same sentence will lead to a tedious debate in certain company. Lucasfilm and Disney both need the mainstream, and they need to convince them that Star Wars is, and can be, ‘good’ again.
Of course, this story of an internal struggle and using an old man’s innocent leg as a bargaining chip is only a rumor, and none of this may pan out in any way; You know the drill. And even if it is true, plenty of great films have come from crazier turmoil than this. We simply won’t know until the movie actually comes out – whenever that ends up being.
StarWars.com has announced the official cast for Episode VII. Star Wars alumni Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker will be joined by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow.
And that second new female role? They may still be looking, says The Hollywood Reporter.
After a period of silence, Jedi News’ Jedi Master SQL has returned. Today he says that “a select number of executives” and ” leading movie industry writers and publications” have been to the set – something that we’ve already seen some evidence of. As for the meeting themselves:
The majority of the media and vendor meetings have been with JJ Abrams and or Kathleen Kennedy themselves – emphasising what looks like finally some big announcements are imminent with vendors and the mainstream media prepped by those at the very top. It is same to assume that both JJ and Kathleen would have given interviews at these meetings which will be used by these publications in upcoming issues.
Also on set? “A number of actors and actresses whom we assume are cast, and or at least in late stages of negotiation.” And thus, “costume fittings and training are starting.”
These are all very good signs that announcements are imminent. Could This is Madness actually be leading up to something even bigger than a mere popularity contest? Stay tuned…
Lucasfilm.com relaunched yesterday, and an eagle-eyed Justin LaSalata noticed that the lead photo on the production page – a meeting featuring Kathleen Kennedy and maybe (far right) John Knoll – shows what’s probably concept art for Episode VII that includes what looks like the Millennium Falcon, a mountainous location, an X-Wing pilot and maybe even an older Luke? (Or, maybe, ghost Obi-Wan on Dagobah in Return of the Jedi?) Look closer:
The Falcon appearing is pretty much a given at this point, but this is the first thing we have officially that even hints at it. Of course, it could all be for something else…
There’s also what looks like a few new – or at least better quality than we’ve seen – images of the Ghost on the Rebels page.
Lucasfilm officially opened their new ‘Sandcrawler’ building in Singapore this week (complete with some delightful photos) but for our purposes perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of this are Kathleen Kennedy’s comments on how the spin-off films will interact with the sequel trilogy, from the Straits Times, via Toys Revil.
“George was so clear as to how that works. The canon that he created was the Star Wars saga. Right now, [Episode VII] falls within that canon. The spin-off movies, or we may come up with some other way to call those films, they exist within that vast universe that he created,” she says.
“There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the standalone films) in and out of the saga episodes. Consequently, from the creative standpoint, it’s a roadmap that George made pretty clear,” she adds.
We’re all pretty clear on ‘canon’ in this context, so the real meat here seems to be that the characters anchoring the spin-off films won’t be in the “Episodes.” The question: Does she mean just the new Episodes, or the Episodes that are already in the bag? The rumor mill has pegged characters such as Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Yoda as contenders, but Lucasfilm and Disney themselves have said nothing beyond that the spin-offs would be “origin stories.”
I’m inclined to think she means only the new films – which would probably clear folks like Fett and Yoda – but it’s certainly open for interpretation. And a formal name for the spin-offs would be nice as well. Star Wars Origins? (via)
— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) November 14, 2013
Exciting developments! And questions: Does this make Artoo the first confirmed cast member of Episode VII? Who are the other two guys? Is Artoo now officially a bad robot? Speak amongst yourselves ;)
Impromptu tweet roundup below the cut!
The Hollywood Reporter goes digging behind the scenes to report that Disney CEO Bob Iger still wants the film out in summer 2015, even though Lucasfilm (if maybe not director J.J. Abrams) would prefer to push it back to 2016. If true, this puts a bit of a snarky spin on that “expected 2015” from Lucasfilm last week.
They also have conflicting sources on a struggle over casting between Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, and, of course, the assurance that this sort of thing is nothing out of the usual.
In any case, I wouldn’t go expecting a solid release date announcement any time soon.
Well, this isn’t the news we’ve been expecting… It looks like Episode VII has said goodbye to screenwriter Micheal Arndt. StarWars.com has announced that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are now penning the script for Episode VII.
“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” Kathleen 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.”
It’s unclear if any of Arndt’s script will be used, but I don’t think it looks likely… Whatever the case, I’m sure the rumors will be coming momentarily.
The announcement confirms a number of other production roles, including sound designer Ben Burtt and many others. (/Film has a nice rundown.) It also says “location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are already underway” and states that “shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014″ for “an expected 2015 release.”
Another year, another Celebration… And now we can rest. For a few weeks, anyway. For those of you who weren’t in Germany, who didn’t wake up before dawn to catch news out of Germany, or who maybe just had other stuff to do this weekend, here are the headlines.
“Real locations and special FX”
Kathleen Kennedy inferred that we’ll be seeing more of a mix of effects – not just the digital stuff, which is pretty much inevitable, but also some more traditional model-based effects and such as well. HitFix’s Drew McWeeny addresses this – and the staggering pressure that Episode VII has to live up to:
I love that much of what I’ve been hearing seems to match what Kennedy is saying. I’ve heard that Lawrence Kasdan is considered by everyone else in the process a pretty great resource, and a really lovely collaborator. And I’ve heard that ILM is building a lot of actual models for this film, that they plan to shoot the models and digitally composite on a much larger scale than the last trilogy. It’s an aesthetic choice, evidently, and I find it very exciting to imagine big ILM model units working to build out the world.
Kennedy knows the gig, she’s clearly taken the time to understand what’s going on with fandom – and I don’t think she’s the only one. This is, as McWeeny said, a fragmented fandom. There are a lot of voices, and the stakes for this movie, for the whole franchise, are high. Will they manage to please everyone? Probably not: There are fans who will love or hate Episode VII no matter what. But I think it’s a good sign that they’re willing to try, and that shows in what little they’re willing to tell us so far. What’s behind closed doors? Hopefully something even better.
Of course this was the big ticket news out of the con, and while I understand being disappointed that we didn’t get more, it’s still rather reassuring to have Williams back on board.
There’s been some confusion about whether he’s back for just one movie – the official site says just Episode VII, but apparently onstage, Kennedy said he was coming back for all three. And maybe that’s the plan, but just not on paper yet. In any case, it’s good news.
We may not have the whole enchilada yet, but Dave Filoni did give fans enough to sate their appetites, it seems. He made it clear that the style is very much based on Ralph McQuarrie, that the stories will be told in order and showed off some concept art… One of which may be Alderaan.
And the Wookiee Gunner points out that we’ve actually been seeing new ship The Ghost all along! Tricky, tricky.
And we have our next convention! In all honesty, I welcome the gap: We could all use a little time and space to save, as much as Lucasfilm will need the time to prepare. Let’s not forget, the Celebrations started as a way to get fans excited about the new movies… And think how much they’ll have to show us a month or so before the thing even comes out!
The venue change isn’t much of a surprise… But I really doubt we’ve seen the last of Orlando. After all, Disney does have two theme parks.
Alas, Celebration announcements always bring a round of disappointment: We all want it close to us, but there are a lot of people to please and no matter where the thing is, some folks aren’t going to be able to come. The convention center may not be as cavernous, the plane tickets may not be as cheap, etc. It’s sad but there’s no pleasing everyone, ever. We all just have to deal, one way or another, and wait to see how the experts surprise us.
But still, I’m hopeful about California and very happy with the return to the original pre-movie schedule. Hell, I might even go to the theme park for once. Might.
And remember, news hounds: Patience. They’re not going to give us everything at once. They’re going to dribble it out slowly, they’re going to deny things, the rumors will keep flying. (All this has happened before… All this will happen again.) It’s our lot to wait it out and see what emerges.