Actor Topher Grace made some headlines in 2012 when word leaked that he’d privately shown an 85-minute version of all three Star Wars prequels. That’s unlikely to ever see the light of day, but he and friend/collaborator Jeff Yorkes have now released a 5-minute “mega-trailer” for the franchise, including both complete trilogies, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One and Solo. It’s absolutely worth a watch, and the perfect thing to come out as we await Episode IX.
Disney is trying to buy back the broadcast rights to Star Wars from Turner Broadcasting, which currently has them through 2024, says Bloomberg. They apparently want them for their own streaming service.
I admit that I am a bit doubtful, since it seems like streaming and broadcast rights for older titles ought to be separate? But I’m hardly an expert on this sort of minutiae, and Disney might want the exclusivity for their own service regardless of what the TBS/TNT deal allows.
TNT started showing the first two trilogies in September 2016, and got The Force Awakens this year. Rogue One is due in 2019 – if Disney doesn’t find the magic number to get them back, that is. The TNT deal was reportedly worth “at least $250 million” – Bloomberg pegs it as $275 million, and says TNT wants “programming to replace the lost films” as well.
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.
Kenny Baker, the actor who played Artoo, has died at the age of 81. The 3 foot, 8 inch actor was the man inside the droid for the original and prequel trilogies. He also played Paploo the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and appeared in Time Bandits and Flash Gordon
Baker has been ill for some time. “It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life,” his niece, Abigail Shield, told the Guardian. “He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”
Peter Mayhew posted “a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart” on Chewbacca.com on Monday.
“Goodbye #KennyBaker,” Mark Hamill tweeted. “A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination. He WAS the droid I was looking for!” Fellow actors Ewan McGregor and Warwick Davis also posted remembrances on Twitter.
George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy spoke about Baker on StarWars.com. Lucas calls him “a real gentleman” and “an incredible trooper,” while Kennedy says “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”
Here’s a little oddity from the past: Brian Ashmore’s painting of Anakin Skywalker, his wife and baby Luke from 1993. Originally painted for Topps’ Star Wars Galaxy 2 card set, it may very well be the earliest depiction of the couple, for all it was pulled from the set by George Lucas himself. Here’s what Ashmore himself had to say about it back in 2008:
There are a couple things that I find interesting about the image. First, my depiction of Padme (I had no idea of her name at the time…this was 6 years before Episode 1) looks a bit like Natalie Portman. Second, Anakin’s shadow on the wall is in the shape of Darth Vader. I’ve always wondered if this image might have influenced Lucas even just a little tiny bit in his casting of Natalie Portman or even the decision to have little Anakin’s shadow be in the shape of Darth Vader in an early Episode 1 promo poster. Probably not, but I can dream. Can’t I?
I don’t know about the casting choice – Iain McCaig seems to be the culprit there – but the shadow? Stranger things have happened… In any case, the painting eventually saw the light as ‘The Skywalker Flame’ in the Star Wars Galaxy 5 set.