Well, file this under ‘delightful:’ Disney is testing interactive droid characters to roam their parks. Youtuber DAPs Magic (via io9) spotted ‘Jake’ at Disneyland’s Launch Bay, even interacting with exhibits.
Threepio, Artoo and BB-8 are givens for the parks, but the idea of new-to-us droids randomly roaming Star Wars Land? Bring it.
Disney has announced that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford will be making a fifth Indiana Jones film for a July 19, 2019 release. Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will again produce.
The last Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, came out in 2008. Rumors of a fifth installment have been rumbling since Disney and Paramount announced in 2013 they’d come to deal on rights to the franchise following the former’s 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm.
Vanity Fair has a new interview and profile of Kathleen Kennedy in the wake of The Force Awakens. The most interesting part, perhaps, comes from writer Tony Kushner (Angels in America:)
“She talked about the way in which the conventional approach to these things is that a script starts from an outline, and that’s what everybody focuses on before there’s a word of dialogue.” In Kushner’s recollection, Kennedy was urging the writers to turn their focus to the characters. She kept saying to them, “Who are these people? I don’t know who these people are.” Kushner felt that “she was expressing an impatience about character being secondary to story line, which violated something very essential for her.”
He went on: “We had an interesting conversation about how a lot of playwrights start with outlines because it gives you something to hold on to, but that you know the characters are likely to derail the outline once they start doing what they do.” He and Kennedy talked about how “there’s no telling what will happen once you have invented a person. They may be willing to do what the outline says to do, but they may have very different plans in mind.” The sense Kushner got was that Kennedy “was pushing people to be unafraid of being lost for a while. It was good to see her holding the banner of complexity in the middle of this huge enterprise of Star Wars.” The machines, in other words, have not won.
She also addresses Leia’s slave bikini:
Referring to a notorious scene in Return of the Jedi, I asked Kennedy if she would ever have put Princess Leia in a golden bikini—the famous “slave Leia” costume that is embedded in the collective unconscious of legions of men who were adolescents in the 80s. “With a chain around her neck?,” Kennedy asked, arching an eyebrow and laughing. “I don’t think that would happen.” She quickly added that she didn’t think George Lucas would put her in that bikini today.
Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, on the other hand, says “George is not apologetic about that bikini.” I don’t doubt it.
The article notes that there isn’t a ban on the slave bikini – but I’ve always suspected the real story is that there’ll be less bikini, as opposed to a blanket ban, considering the source of the ‘banning’ brouhaha is a pinup artist.
The Washington Post has a new profile of George Lucas, where he talks about Lucasfilm, the old movies, the new movie (he hasn’t seen it yet,) and his reasoning for Han shooting second:
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
There’s no doubt in my mind he’s said something like that many times, but even I can’t spare any more brainspace for these things. They are what they are, and sometimes being healthy about Star Wars means you just have to shrug.
On “the divorce” with Star Wars and Lucasfilm:
“There is no such thing as working over someone’s shoulder,” he says. “You’re either the dictator or you’re not. And to do that would never work, so I said ‘I’m going to get divorced.’ . . . I knew that I couldn’t be involved. All I’d do is make them miserable. I’d make myself miserable. It would probably ruin a vision — J.J. has a vision, and it’s his vision.”
Later, he compares it to a grown child getting married, and admits “it is what it is and it’s a conscious decision that I made.”
In any case, it’s a nice profile that doesn’t avoid the unavoidable, but does the job of catching us up with George.
We’ve seen drastic changes in the landscape of the franchise and fandom – the sad but ultimately merciful alternate universing of the old Expanded Universe, the cancellation of The Clone Wars, saying farewell to beloved licensees like Dark Horse – but we’re getting not only more films, but theme parks and fresh starts aplenty from Disney, Marvel and Del Rey. Things have changed a lot, but what of it? Sometimes, change is necessary, and I think the last three years prove that – at least so far.
It’s been a trip, and the franchise has reached some crazy highs in that time, a heightened interest from all quarters, a surge that we haven’t seen since The Phantom Menace. Could we be setting ourselves up for disappointment? Even if The Force Awakens is indeed well received, I doubt anything will go completely smoothly, as we’ve already seen some dark undercurrents regarding the changes. But if someone as cynical and jaded as I am can be hopeful, why not?
“I have a huge number of men who call me,” she says. “And tell me how much of a Star Wars fan they are, how much they want to get involved in anything to do with Star Wars. I don’t have a lot of women who call.”
Fortune magazine is honoring Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy as one of their selections for 2015’s Most Powerful Women. (She’s #42.) They’ve published a lengthy profile, which includes the interesting factoid that “more than half of her 18-person executive team, with whom she meets weekly, is female.”
During Disney’s biennial D23 Expo, Bob Iger stormed the stage to the tune of John Williams’ titular Imperial March to deliver arguably the biggest news of the Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios panel: Dual, 14-acre themed Star Wars lands in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.
From the official press release: “I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
A true collaboration between Disney Imagineering, ILM, and Lucasfilm, the Star Wars land will be a truly immersive and authentic experience. Both lands will feature two signature attractions, one of which is piloting the Millennium Falcon on a clandestine mission. Iger stressed that every element would feel as if you were a part of the world: restaurants, storefronts, and entertainment would all feature galactic characters for an authentic interactive experience.
And yes, there’s going to be a cantina.
Later Saturday, during D23 Expo’s Parks and Resorts panel, additional details on the recently announced Star Wars Land were revealed along with more immediate changes coming to the domestic parks towards the end of this year.
Season of the Force
Season of the Force will be a limited-time, seasonal event in 2016 at both Disney World and the Disneyland, bringing new Star Wars experiences to both parks. At Tomorrowland in Disneyland, guests will have an opportunity to partake of Star Wars-themed entertainment, food and beverages, and new merchandise. The popular Space Mountain coaster will be turned into Hyperspace Mountain with a temporary Star Wars layover in which you’ll get to experience a high-octane X-Wing battle. On the other side of the country, guests of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be treated to a new fireworks spectacular set to John Williams’ memorable Star Wars scores.
Star Wars Launch Bay
Also at both parks will be the newly created Star Wars Launch Bay that will be located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. The Launch Bay will be a hub for interactive experiences for guests that want to learn more about The Force Awakens, as well as an opportunity to purchase special merchandise and food. It’s expected to open late this year.
The ever-popular Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will see a new update later this year in both U.S. parks. (Information on the update availability coming to the international parks is currently unknown.) The anticipated updates will be include locations and characters from The Force Awakens.
At this point, the Star Wars invasion is real and it’s happening. I’ll see you all in the pit.