Abrams: Episode VII to start production next year, past Star Wars should be ‘honored’ but not ‘revered’

AbramsAt a Producer’s Guild event Saturday, J.J. Abrams said that things will start moving on the Episode VII production “at the end of the year,” Variety reports. Producer Bryan Burke said much the same – though a little more tentatively – in May.

Overall Star Wars talk continues to be vague, but Abrams said:

“It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”

Variety said that quote was related to the novels; The Hollywood Reporter says it was about the existing movies. Unless video comes out from this, I give up guessing if it refers to any specifics.

He also said he’s not a fan of going overseas to shoot, but apparently the U.K. thing was in the works before he was on board.

Abrams also talked about his affection for the medium of film – covered in more detail by The Hollywood Reporter – which opens up some questions. Did committing to Episode VII mean committing to shooting digitally?

Singer Florence Welch for Episode VII? Dream on.

Florence WelchYeah, let’s call poodoo on this one right now. British tabloid The Sun is claiming that singer Florence Welch – of Florence and the Machine – is “being lined up for a leading role in the new Star Wars movie trilogy.” Riiiight.

They’re also claiming that Michael Jackson’s kids are “pushing for auditions,” because of course.

That said, if there’s a Mos Eisley bar-like scene featuring musicians planned in the new film, they could certainly do worse than a cameo from Welch. But for a lead role? I am beyond skeptical.

Oh, and she was born in 1986, which her makes her way too young to play Mara, so don’t even start. (via)

Episode VII bits: Fisher, Ford still not signed either; Irish locale rumors get specific

In a recent interview with Extra’s Mario Lopez, Carrie Fisher talks about bipolar disorder and, when asked about Episode VII, says: “We could get back together at Comic Con or one of those things, you never know.” But she also says she ran into Harrison Ford recently and he “doesn’t know,” so everything remains up in the air. (And it was only last week that Mark Hamill said he hasn’t signed a deal.) San Diego Comic Con is a major venue for giant announcements – it’s not so far-fetched that we might see an Episode VII panel and a major announcement of some sort there. But July 18 isn’t so far away, so don’t get your hopes up too high that anyone will be signed by then.

Location. Another report of Ireland being a contender for Episode VII filming from Clare People, this time a bit more specific: The Burren, which does look appropriately alien.

Who else wants in? The recent lineup of folks who wouldn’t say no to Lucasfilm: Daniel Radcliffe, the rumor-mongered John Noble, Josh Holloway and, of course, Joss Whedon bemoans that he’s too tied up for it.

Of course. William Shatner jokes that he’ll be “playing the bastard son of Leia and Jabba.”

Williams still wants to come back for Episode VII

John WilliamsAt this point, it seems almost certain that John Williams will be returning to compose the soundtrack for Episode VII; He’s said he’s like to do it and director J.J. Abrams think he’ll return. Even longtime Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino thinks so.

In an interview with Zap2it, the composer said:

“We’ve certainly talked about that, and I’m happy and willing to do it,” he confirms. “J.J. Abrams, who will be the director, seems excited about the idea. I have to say that J.J. is a much younger man than I, but I will try to keep up with him as much as I can!”

I’m not sure that “talked about that” infers that formal negotiations are currently in progress, but it does show that he hasn’t lost interest.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in talks for Episode VII?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Dracula

Latino Review’s El Mayimbe says that sources are telling him that Jonathan Rhys Meyers of The Tudors fame is in talks for a role in Episode VII.

FRYSQUINT: SEQUEL TRILOGY RUMORS: Take seriously at your own risk.Meyers is best known for playing Henry VIII in the Showtime series, but if you’re a big Ewan McGregor fan you’ll no doubt recall his turn in Velvet Goldmine. Perhaps more tellingly: He was in the J.J. Abrams-directed Mission Impossible: III. His next major role is as the title character in NBC’s Dracula.

I think it says something that my first thought upon seeing ‘Tudors star’ in the headline was less Meyers and more Natalie Dormer, who’s been knocking it out of the park lately on Game of Thrones and Elementary. (And would thus probably be past being billed as just a ‘Tudors’ star, but hey: Gut feeling. Her Anne Boelyn was the best part of the series.)

I can’t help but hope this one ends up being only a rumor, but Meyers would make a decent villain, I suppose. With all that shouty petulance in his wheelhouse, I can certainly see him playing a failbot Sith/Darksider ala the late Jacen Solo.

Star Trek costume designer says he’s on board for Episode VII

Star Trek Into DarknessIn an interview with Buzzfeed, costume designer Michael Kaplan says he’ll be working on J.J. Abrams Episode VII.

“I’ve just learned I’ll be working on the new Star Wars movie, again with J.J. Everything just got formalized [last week], I haven’t even had the chance to talk to anyone about it all other than to be told ‘welcome aboard.’ It’s a little too soon to know exactly what’s in store but I’m excited, absolutely, to get to work on another prestigious sci-fi series.”

In addition to both Abrams Trek movies, Kaplan’s credits include Blade Runner and Fight Club. (via)

Will J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot take their Star Wars beyond movies?

J. J. Abrams on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness

The Wrap reports that the Paramount/CBS scuffle over Star Trek merchandising rights prevented J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot from doing quite as much as they would have liked to with the franchise off-screen – and that struggle could have had a part in him signing on with Lucasfilm. His Star Wars contract may allow Abrams a hand in the Star Wars “television properties, theme park rides and spin-off films” that will emerge in the new era his Episode VII is spearheading.

As successful as “Star Trek” has been, few franchises match the profitability and cultural prominence of George Lucas’ space opera, which would be difficult for any director to pass up.

“Disney has always been oriented to multi-platform revenue stream situations,” Seth Willenson, a film library valuations expert, told TheWrap.

Moreover, Willenson notes that Abrams, who has a deal that is believed to include creative and profit participation in “Star Wars” inspired merchandise and spin-offs, will have more control in shaping the legacy of the Skywalker clan than he would have had with developing side projects for the “Star Trek” crew.

Granted, while Lucasfilm, and thus Disney, does own most of Star Wars free and clear, the franchise isn’t totally free of hurtles. 20th Century Fox has distribution rights to the first Star Wars “in perpetuity,” while the other 5 will revert to LFL in 2020. This could complicate things like box sets in the future, but for Abrams, that’s not going to be an immediate issue, or stop him from exploring multi-platform options.

Meanwhile, it’s Bryan Burk’s turn to talk about Episode VII and secrecy with /Film.