Variety reports that Disney began pitching the free TV rights – technically basic cable – on the Star Wars films last week, for all three trilogies. The asking price on is claimed to be “high” – even for the “vintage” titles. Movie rights are worth less and less to networks these days, but Star Wars seems to be an exception.
Spike TV held the Star Wars rights through 2014, paying $65-$70 million for six years and six films. The Indiana Jones films went for about $25M each in 2008.
Cable outlets who have met or are meeting with Disney include Turner, FX Networks, Viacom, NBCUniversal (which owns SyFy, which aired A New Hope when it first launched as the Sci-Fi Channel and USA Network, who had the rights to the original trilogy in the 90s,) A+E Networks and AMC Networks.
Variety cites speculation that the pitches to outside networks may be Disney’s way of seeing “what the market will bear” – aka covering their ass – before settling the rights on one of their own networks. (I’ve been expecting the films will indeed show up on Freeform.)
The Force Awakens will debut on Starz next year as the last film under the channel’s deal with Disney. TFA likely won’t show up on basic cable until 2018, while Episode VIII and IX will go to Netflix first under Disney’s current deal with the streaming service.
Episode VIII has a new release date – December 15, 2017. I am not at all charmed by this news, but I suppose it was inevitable once The Force Awakens started breaking almost every box office record there is. VIII was originally announced as the franchise’s return to May.
The film is being written and directed by Rian Johnson, with most of The Force Awakens cast expected to return. The release from StarWars.com also notes that principal photography will begin in London next month – half a confirmation of a report from earlier this week. The part about script tweaks will no doubt remain unconfirmed.
I expect that we won’t see another Star Wars film release in May until/unless the franchise starts to falter. The next Star Wars movie, the standalone Rogue One, is set for the coming December. The untitled Han Solo standalone was announced for May 25, 2018, but that was also before The Force Awakens and I expect we’ll see that pushed back as well.
There are a few things floating around in regards to Episode VIII, gleaned from The Wrap‘s Jeff Sneider during a Meet the Movie Press chat. (Via Screenrant.)
Sneider said that principal photography in VIII has been pushed back a month in order to accommodate script changes. The new female roles have apparently been minimized to focus more on Rey and the other characters we met in The Force Awakens, and Gina Rodriguez is out. Bel Powely is still a question mark, but one of the roles has gone to an unknown Asian actress.
It’s rather telling that Sneider hasn’t this for The Wrap – almost nothing we’ve heard about VIII has been solid enough for the trades to touch formally, so feel free to be cynical on this. In any case, Episode VIII is still set for a May 26, 2017 release.
There’s a new name in the mix for the unknown new female character in Episode VIII: Diary of a Teenage Girl’s Bel Powley. Previous names related to the role are Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who’s apparently out?) Gina Rodriguez and Olivia Cooke.
There was an earlier rumor that there were two new roles for the Rian Johnson directed film drawing from the same shortlist, but that’s yet to be collaborated beyond the initial report.
Powley is getting a lot of good buzz for Girl, and also appears as the young Princess Margaret in A Royal Night Out.
As always, remember these are only rumors, and they are anything but solid. Episode VIII is due to begin shooting this month, so hopefully we’ll hear something solid on any newcomers soon.
Today’s must read is Lawrence Kasdan at the Los Angeles Times. He talks about coming back to Star Wars, working with J.J. Abrams, canon (pure gold here), and the inate goofiness of the original trilogy. Just some great stuff.
Plus, on Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII: “He’s going to make some weird thing.”
→ Settle your bets: The crossguard blades on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber “are raw power vented from the primary central blade,” per the description on display at Disneyland’s Star Wars Launch Bay. (IGN has a tour.) We already knew he built it himself, but the design is “ancient.” (via Reddit)
→ Speaking of Kylo, we haven’t seen much of Adam Driver lately, but he did tell Vulture that he found SDCC to be “intense” and “surprisingly moving.”
→ The Force Awakens is skipping some early award shows, says The Wrap, but the only one here you may have heard of is the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It will be out in time for consideration for the Academy Awards.
→ Variety says there was indeed new music from The Force Awakens in the Shondaland spot.
“I haven’t been offered anything,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw told E! of the rumor that she’ll be in Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII. Either it’s the plain truth, or she is way (way) better at this then Benicio del Toro.
There’s a rumor that Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) got one of those (rumored) Episode VIII roles, but it’s based on Rian Johnson and John Boyega following her on Twitter, which, okay. To be fair, plenty of us read a random Rian Johnson tweet as a hint towards Gugu Mbatha-Raw, so maybe there’s something to it after all. Verdict: Maybe!
There’s another rumor going around regarding Finn’s last name. I won’t even link anyone who’s running it because it’s based on an unofficial description from a third-party Amazon listing, and shockingly, that is nowhere near a sound source. Verdict: Ha ha, no.