Rumor: Yoda to star in first standalone Star Wars movie?

Yo-yo-yo-yodaRumor time! While we’ve heard before that Disney was interested in doing Star Wars movies not in the main storyline (looking at you, Zack Snyder’s Seven Samurai-inspired film), but here’s a new rumor to add to the wall: Ain’t It Cool News reports that the first standalone film is going to focus on Yoda.

The first Stand Alone film is going to center upon YODA. At this stage specifics are sparse, but Kathleen Kennedy is putting together a STAR WARS slate… I’m wildly curious for more details on the YODA film – would this be a young or old YODA tale?

As always, it’s a rumor, until we have official confirmation.

Also mentioned in the same post: Star Wars theme land in Disney’s California Adventure.

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!

So we have Abrams… What does it mean for Star Wars?

Vader Into Darkness

Naturally, it seems like everyone has thoughts on J.J. Abrams directing Episode VII. Overall, I’m pleased – I think he has the specific skill set that Star Wars needs to go forward – but I’m no expert on the man or his works, so let’s ahead on to the links.

Or: Sick of analysis already? The Internet Photoshoppery Guild has been busy.

io9’s Charlie Jane Anders asks if Abrams can – or should – do for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek. “Abrams reliably brings a lot of energy and a sense of fun to whatever he tackles, along with a commitment to personal drama in the middle of huge set pieces. I’ve never been bored watching something Abrams was directly involved in. Even if you hated Abrams’ Trek, you have to admit it packed in some powerful emotional moments, and was way more entertaining than the best moments of the last two TNG movies put together.”

HitFix’s Drew McWeeny on why Abrams is the right choice for Star Wars, and ponders on what he thinks might have made him change his mind.

Author John Scalzi has a nice (if reluctant) rundown of the qualities that make Abrams a good choice for the job.

Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich has 14 things we can expect, while Vulture’s Margaret Lyons and Gilbert Cruz go beyond the lame lens flare jokes for seven things. Listacles. Whoo.

Over at Tosche Station, Emily gives us a Trekkie’s take on why Abrams will be good for Star Wars.

Tricia Barr thinks the Abrams’ resume means good things for those hoping for more diverse protagonist.

Kevin Smith is very excited. Of course.

And Hollywood.com’s Christian Blauvelt talked to Bonnie Burton, TFN’s Eric Geller and me about the choice.

Whatever your opinion, I have to admit I’m relieved to have one of the big questions answered, but there’s one thing we can count on, from a man who won’t even reveal the name of his next movie’s villain – there will be no lack of big secrets going forward.

Episode VII: Abrams says snagging Star Wars is “an incredible thing;” Could release date get pushed back?

Abrams (mug)J.J. Abrams plays it close. E!Online caught up with the newly minted Episode VII director last night at the Producers Guild Awards, where he shockingly failed to give them any details about the original cast returning. He did say that getting the job was “an incredible thing” and “wildly surreal.”

Release date shenanigans? Comic Book Movie noticed a key line in The Hollywood Reporter’s Abrams story: “Episode VII is set for release in 2015, but sources say Abrams has not committed to that release date, meaning the date could be changed if the development process requires it.” There’s quite a crowd of other blockbuster-calibur films set for 2015, most notably the Avengers sequel, but personally? I rather hope we can go the full symbolism route and shoot for a 2017 release. (Or, maybe I’m just a fandom masochist.)

Bullet dodged? Slashfilm says that in-the-running Matthew Vaughn may have pitched Chloë Moretz (Hugo, Kick-Ass) as lead for Episode VII. I don’t dislike Moretz, but I can’t picture her in Star Wars. (Obligatory reminder: CJ is a fancasting-free zone!)

Speaking of dodgy… The Daily Mail is claiming that “battle scenes” may be filmed at an old quarry outside a shopping center in Kent. The quarry has been used in two episodes of classic Doctor Who, once standing in for the planet of – get this – Solos. But obviously, this one goes straight into the ‘shameless rumormongering’ basket.

CONFIRMED: J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII

J.J. Abrams with Steven Spielberg on the set of Super 8

And just like that, it’s official: StarWars.com confirms that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII. He’ll also be producing, with partner Bryan Burk and Bad Robot along for the ride.

“To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”

Also on board as consultants – half confirming another rumor – are Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi) and Simon Kinberg. As always, Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy is Episode VII’s executive producer, while George Lucas is a creative consultant.

The frenzy began Thursday when The Wrap reported that the Star Trek director had the job. Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly and pretty much every news outlet you can think of quickly followed suit. “J.J. Abrams and “Episode VII” were even trending on Twitter.

His resume as a film director also includes Super 8 and Mission: Impossible III. He was also the mastermind behind the TV shows Felicity and Alias. But it’s almost certainly his take on Star Trek – which owes no small debt to Star Wars – which has most informed the reaction.

Abrams is an admitted Star Wars fan. He’s dropped multiple Star Wars references over the years, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it R2-D2 in Star Trek.

Abrams won’t be leaving the Trek fold entirely – Paramount’s Rob Moore told Hero Complex yesterday that Abrams is still under contract to at least produce a third Star Trek film.)

And I do feel for Star Trek in this – I don’t think there’s any real (non-petty) reason one can’t work in both franchises, but Star Wars talk is almost certainly going to dominate at least some of the press for Star Trek Into Darkness now.

J.J. Abrams is still not confirmed for Episode VII

AbramsUPDATE: NOW he is! But please remember the lesson of this post for next time!

No, J. J. Abrams still hasn’t been confirmed as the Episode VII director. No matter how many sites are reporting it, we still haven’t heard from any of the people who do have the power to confirm the rumor: Not Lucasfilm, not Disney, and not Abrams’ people. No one has gone on the record yet.

And with good reason. Over at Fandom Apocalypse, Austin lays out the case for why we shouldn’t count Abrams in just yet:

Why hasn’t Disney or Lucasfilm made any official announcement yet, while the rest of the entertainment world is acting like this is a done deal? Because until Abrams puts his signature on that contract, there is no guarantee. The man could be sitting in a conference room with every big wig from Lucasfilm and Disney, plotting out the entire production process, but until he puts his John Hancock on that paper, there won’t be an official confirmation.

Might it have been deliberately leaked that negotiations were in progress? Sure. But the fact remains: It’s not confirmed.

No one is saying this isn’t true, or won’t turn out to be true in time: We’re just saying that it’s not confirmed. It’s not for sure. The big players will only chime in when all the deal is done. If it’s done. But that’s not something we can count on… Yet.

Struzan clarifies: He hasn’t been officially approached by Disney for Episode VII art

Revenge Of The Jedi (Struzan)Artist Drew Struzan is adding some context to his remarks from earlier in the week about Disney and Star Wars. On Facebook, he says there’s been nothing official, only chats with friends at the company:

“Disney” has said nothing to me and I expect nothing. That a couple of friends were wishing is only an expression of the hope that many are sharing but says nothing regarding the Studio itself. Even if ‘they’ did ask, which Disney has not, I’d rather leave the new films to the next generation to interpret. I’ve had my time and they were exceptional blessings for which I will forever be grateful.

Disappointing, but the man is retired, after all. Still, I hope Lucasfilm and Disney continue the trend of painted artwork for the primary movie posters – even if it is with a different artist. I’m sure there are plenty of worthy contenders out there who’d love the chance.

J. J. Abrams to direct Episode VII? (Yes, he is.)

J. J. Abrams on the set of Star Trek

UPDATE: Confirmed!

The Wrap is reporting that J. J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII, despite several denials. They say that Kathleen Kennedy “has been courting” the Star Trek director for the job.

For something slightly more solid, frequent Abrams co-producer Roberto Orci says the rumors are true. And the official Twitter of the Kennedy/Marshall Co. – Kathleen Kennedy’s production company – tweeted a link to Rolling Stone’s Abrams article. But I’m still waiting for that Death Star to sing.

SEQUEL TRILOGY RUMORS: Take seriously at your own risk.The Wrap’s source, “an individual with knowledge of the production,” says that Ben Affleck (Argo) was also in the mix.

Variety is also reporting that Lucasfilm “is closing the deal” with Abrams. The Hollywood Reporter‘s sources also say that negotiations are in progress. The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly also seem pretty sure about it.

Will this pan out, or has April Fools come early this year? Stay tuned, and remember nothing is confirmed until we hear it from StarWars.com.

In any case, prepare for a slew of lame Star Wars vs. Star Trek lens flare jokes.