LEGOLAND California announces new The Force Awakens models for 2017

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LEGOLAND California announced a major addition to their LEGO Star Wars Miniland to open in March 2017. While the Carlsbad theme park currently has Star Wars miniland dioramas representing key scenes from the first six films, as well as a jumbo-sized Death Star model, they are planning a whole set of scenes to build The Force Awakens into their fantastic Miniland style.

Joined at the press conference by a lifesize LEGO R2-D2, LEGOLAND California Resort’s General Manager Peter Ronchetti detailed the plans for The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display at the theme park:

“Right now, at our secret Model Shop in Carlsbad, Master Model Designer Nik Ehm of our Merlin’s Magic Making team is working on creating six scenes that represent the first 30 minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Ronchetti. “There are two primary focal points – the more traditional character-driven scenes on the planet of Jakku, and an enormous LEGO model of the Star Destroyer Finalizer. At 16-feet long, it will be the longest LEGO Star Wars Miniland model ever created!”

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According to the press release, the scenes, which will be in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland and feature lights, sound effects and animation that bring the scenes to life, will include:

  • Kylo Ren’s capture of Poe on Jakku
  • Rey’s rescue of BB-8
  • Poe and Finn’s escape from the Finalizer
  • The wreck of Finn and Poe’s TIE Fighter
  • Rey, Finn and BB-8’s escape from Niima Outpost
  • The escape from the Starship Graveyard

The park announced that this new model display will open to the public for their annual LEGO Star Wars Days on March 4-5, 2017, perfect for spring break.

“At LEGOLAND California Resort, we pride ourselves in innovation, creativity and memorable experiences for our millions of guests we see each year and 2017 continues that tradition,” said Ronchetti. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens set records as the top-grossing film nationally of all time and we’re excited to bring it to life here in our popular LEGO Star Wars Miniland!” said Ronchetti.

Other upcoming additions to the LEGO-themed resort in 2017 include an expansion for the LEGOLAND Water Park, called Surfer’s Bay, and the addition of NINJAGO themed rooms and suites to the main hotel, replacing the castle themed rooms, with the plan to open a new separate LEGO Castle themed hotel in 2018, in front of Sea Life Aquarium.

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The new The Force Awakens model will be replacing the model currently in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland: a large diorama depicting the Battle of Christophsis from 2008’s The Clone Wars animated film. This diorama, which features Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi and Captain Rex leading clone forces against an army of battle droids and larger weaponry amid the crystalline buildings of Christophsis, is one of the original seven dioramas from when LEGO Star Wars Miniland opened in 2011. I hate to see older exhibits taken down, but a sixteen-foot Star Destroyer towering over the guests will certainly bring a wow factor as a centerpiece to the whole Miniland experience that just isn’t there presently. I’d love to see a built-out Niima Outpost, complete with Unkar Plutt’s shop, and the spaceport, and will be interesting to see how they incorporate a different scale for the spaceship chase dioramas.

While I am certainly looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens brought to LEGO Star Wars miniland, I still feel that there is so much more they could do – after all, there’s Rebels and the LEGO The Freemaker Adventures also to build on, and by the time this opens in 2017, Rogue One will have been released. But I also know that there’s not a lot of real estate in the LEGO Star Wars Miniland area without doing some major surface regrading as the area is terraced on the side of a hill. Hopefully they are planning ahead to where will they put the eventual Episode VIII & IX displays!

Check out the official announcement video for a sneak peek at some of the early renderings of how the new models will appear in Miniland (For just the Star Wars portion of the announcement, watch from 0:19 to 0:49):

TNT nabs Star Wars basic cable rights

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TNT and TBS will be the new basic cable home of the Star Wars franchise, per The Wrap. TNT will begin airing the first two trilogies later this month, beginning with The Phantom Menace on Tuesday, September 20. They’ll debut one film a night and finish up with a six-movie marathon on Sunday, September 25.

The multi-year licensing agreement also includes The Force Awakens (currently running on the premium channel Starz) and Rogue One. They’ll join the lineup in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Variety’s “industry sources” estimate the deal is worth “at least $250 million” for at least 10 films, with the rights for The Force Awakens and the upcoming movies in the range of $35-$40 million each. The deal runs through “at least” 2022. USA Network – which held the Star Wars basic cable rights back in the ’90s – and FX Networks were also in contention for the deal.

Adam Driver on Star Wars directors and how the Episode VIII script has “nuance and ambiguity”

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Adam Driver is the latest Star Wars star to show up at the Toronto International Film Festival. (We previously heard from Lupita Nyong’o.) He’s actually there for Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, but of course no one can resist asking him about Star Wars.

In the Toronto Sun, Driver praises Star Wars directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, citing their “very specific vision.” He went into further detail (on director technique, anyway) with Collider, and compared the VIII script to Empire… Sort of:

It’s great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.

He also talks about originally being overwhelmed with the scope of Star Wars, and how Abrams helped break that down. A full interview will be coming to Collider soon, and Patterson will be in theaters at the end of the year.

The Force Awakens debuts on Starz, and how I finally joined the 21st century

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The Force Awakens begins its run on the premium cable channel Starz today. While currently available On Demand and in the Starz app, it will air on the actual channel at 9:00pm tonight. (There may be live-tweeting!)


Also available are the extra features from the two Blu-ray releases – several behind-the-scenes documentaries and cut scenes.

To celebrate the release, Starz contacted me (along with several other fans, I believe) and sent me a Google Chromecast and access to their app. I do have Starz through my cable package, but I’ve never ventured much beyond that. (Yes, I am fitfully behind the times in my TV-watching technology – I didn’t even have a functioning flatscreen TV until late last year.) Setup on the Chromecast was simple – it requires a power outlet, a HDMI slot and an iOS or Android device to act as the remote. I set it up, grabbed Starz from the app store for my iPhone, and was streaming the special features to my TV last night in under twenty minutes. (You will need an existing Starz subscription, but once that’s set up, you can also watch directly on the app.)

This morning, I powered it back on and, boom – The Force Awakens itself. Next up – moving the Chromecast to a currently defunct flatscreen that’s been gathering dust in a cable-less part of the house…

EUbits: First Ahsoka review, checking in with J.W. Rinzler and the Making of TFA

ahsoka-book2-cropThe first review of E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka has appeared on Kirkus. It’s short, but there do appear to be some minor spoilers. Still, they say it “a great treat for young—and not-so-young—Star Wars fans that provides a thrilling back story for a compelling character.” The book is due out October 11.

Checking in with The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Co-author J.W. Rinzler was on a podcast recently, and long story short, it’s still a big question point.

Star Wars Reads is back for 2016. The generally kid-centric event is “a month-long campaign” set for October.

The Force Awakens out on Blu-Ray 3D (plus Abrams commentary) in the fall

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A second The Force Awakens Blu-Ray set is on tap for fall, this time in 3D. The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition features a few new extras, most notably an audio commentary from director J.J. Abrams.

The release, which contains a Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital HD, and DVD, will begin rolling out on October 31 and arrive in the U.S. and Canada on November 15.

No word yet on that rumored prequel 3D set, though.

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