Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Official Darth Vader Selfie

To mark the occasion of Star Wars opening an official Instagram account, a Darth Vader selfie was posted. The photoshopped image uses background from Episode III A New Hope so I don't recommend making the leap that its proof that Vader appears in Star Wars: Episode VII. Chances are the new account will be used to posted images from the past and the present of franchise.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Abrams Pleased With Star Wars Release Date Change

In an interview with MTV to promote his new novel "S", Star Wars Episode VII director and writer JJ Abrams commented on the movies change of release date from Summer to Christmas 2015. He joked about the "casting" of R2-D2 and how tough a negotiator his agent was.
"I will say that it is an infinitely better situation now than when they were saying that they wanted it in the summer [of 2015]," he said. "Before I even came onto the project, they were talking about 2015, and they made this announcement very early on, which I understand. I understand why they'd want that, but it didn't necessarily have anything to do with the reality of where anything was creatively. I think that it's a hugely important thing that [the creative process] come first," Abrams said. "A release date is great, but you have to release something great. To me, the new release date is a huge improvement."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Official Star Wars Episode VII Picture (Updated)

JJ Abrams or an intern at Bad Robot has tweeted what is technically the first official picture from Star Wars Episode VII. The picture shows director JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and others as they stand around R2D2. The guess is they are at Pinewood Studios in England working on pre-production for the movie coming in 2015. The tweet:
Hi from the workshop! #StarWarsVII pic.twitter.com/9R7JGSfxlC

Update: The two builders in the picture has been identified as Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples. The long time Star Wars fans were hired to built R2D2 for the movie and keep him running for whatever film conditions require of the famous robot. The pair have been building replicas of R2 and other Star Wars droids for years so they have the experience and the fan credentials to re-create the famous droid to meet fan expectations.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Star Wars Episode VII Gets Official Release Date

Today Disney has announced the planned official release date for JJ Abrams' directed Star Wars: Episode VII as December 18, 2015. It was assumed for a while that the goal was a summer 2015 but most felt that date was unrealistic considering no meaningful pre-production has started on the film. Combined with that was a recent decision to switch writers from Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) to Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Eps III, IV). Along with the release date, Abrams explained the switch as a factor of time.
It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be. Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a Star Wars movie is kind of unbeatable. ...

Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of his or adore him more, He’s a wonderful guy and was incredibly helpful in the process. [This event] doesn’t preclude working with Michael again in the future, he is one of the best writers around.
The average production cycle of a big budget movie is around two years so the extra six or so months should provide the time he needed. It also has the bonus of removing Star Wars from a crowded summer season to the Holiday movie season which tends to be mostly crowded with Oscar bait.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Stranger" Teaser For a New Novel

The mystery of the Bad Robot trailer from a few weeks ago has been revealed to be a book titled "S." Yep just the letter S. The book is by Doug Dorst (Alive in Necropolis) based on a concept by JJ Abrams for release on October 29. I would not be surprised if Abrams hopes to use the book as a way to get funding for a movie from one of the studios.

Book description:
One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.

A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.

The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.

The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.

The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

S., conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand, and it is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rumored Star Wars Episode 7 Production Start Date

It looks like Star Wars Episode 7 may hit its expected 2015 release date, but instead of its traditional May release it will be a Christmas time release. According to the Latino Review, the rumored principal photography start date is January 21, 2015 to make a Christmas 2015 release date. Depending on the volume of special effects, the start date actually gives Disney the choice of Summer or Christmas depending on how the already crowded summer 2015 schedule shakes out. Other major releases include Superman vs Batman and Avengers 2.

I base this on the Transformers production schedules when principal photography starts about a year (early June) the year before) before its intended release date (late June), with post-production starting about 8 months before the intended release date (October). Considering that franchises' budget and special effects are in the same scope as Star Wars, then the extra 6 six months that the January start date is giving Star Wars should be more than enough breathing room for Disney to make an informed decision on the best release date to maximize their profits.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Star Wars Filming in 35mm

In a change of pace from the now industry standard, it has been revealed that JJ Abrams has chosen to film Star Wars Episode VII in 35mm and chosen cinematographer Dan Mindel for the task. Mindel worked with Abrams on the Star Trek films. The information comes from Mindel himself at an event he was participating in. The news is interesting as most films today are filmed digital and not on film stock as use to be the case for the previous 90 or so years of filming history. If I recall correctly Star Wars Episodes I, II and III were some of the first films to use digital filming for the entire production. This doesn't prevent the movie from going down the latest nonsense with 3D, Imax and so forth. I think the move is mostly to more match how the first three Star Wars films which were done on 35mm and maybe even a touch of getting sick of the cumbersome, sometimes faulty digital cameras that he has used on his last few films.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bad Robot's "Stranger" Teaser

JJ Abram's Bad Robot production company has posted a teaser video simply titled "Stranger". What it means, what it is promoting, and all those other questions remain unknown. I suspect this for an idea that really only exists on paper and Bad Robot is hoping to use it to get studio interest to pay for whatever idea the video is for. So watch it and then ignore it until something more substantial is released about it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Star Wars VII Casting Rumor

The Latino Review is reporting that Disney and JJ Abrams are considering Ryan Gosling and Zac Efron for roles in Star Wars Episode VII. The role Gosling supposedly is up for is the son of Luke Skywalker (named Ben Skywalker in the books) while Efron's role is unknown. The site also said that Leonardo DiCaprio decided to pass on a Star Wars role to do Robotech The Movie. Now none of this is unsubstantiated so take it with a grain of salt.

Could it be true? If Star Wars was still under George Lucas with JJ Abrams I would flat out dismiss it as I think the pair's instinct is to cast mostly unknowns, especially in the lead roles. Something both have done their entire careers. However, this is Disney and they prefer "named" stars at their movies. They save the newbie castings for their TV shows. This is Star Wars so hiring some famous male or female starlet just for their name strikes me as silly but Disney doesn't think that way. They just think "X star could add y dollars to opening weekend. We need them for Star Wars!". So because of Disney's heavy hand, I am unable to dismiss this rumor as being false. Thanks to Ghola for the link.

Monday, July 22, 2013

JJ Abrams Considering Dropping Star Wars?

A post from Badass Digest is suggesting the unthinkable - that JJ Abrams is considering dropping out of his dream project of directing Star Wars Episode VII. There is nothing substantiating the report beyond "multiple insiders" so take it with a grain of salt. As lifted from my Star Trek post, I call BS despite what is likely Disney Synergy Hell.
The rumored problems is Abrams is growing more angry with directives from Disney such as being forced to film in England. If true, this could allow Abrams to return to direct Star Trek 3. My first instinct is to call BS on this rumor. To be blunt, I just don't see Abrams turning down a dream job that also likely a financial windfall for him. Chances are he will make more money from directing Star Wars then he will from all his previous movies combined, at least if going by the nearly $100 million paydays that Michael Bay enjoyed for Transformers. I don't see Abrams giving up back end points on profits or a cut of the merchandising that will be sure to drown us by 2015. Nor do I see Paramount caring. I suspect that even if Abrams left Star Wars today, they would not offer the Star Trek 3 director's chair to him.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Star Wars Episode VII Character Descriptions

Despite the famed JJ Abrams' cone of silence, the new lead characters being introduced in Star Wars Episode VII have been leaked by Bleeding Cool and later confirmed by LucasFilm. The film, which is supposed to start shooting soon at the famed Pinewood Studios, is supposed to take place around 30 years after the end of Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

The assumption is the film will focus on the children of Luke, Han and Leia and the below descriptions do little to discourage that idea. While long time fans who have kept up with Star Wars through the books (called the Extended Universe) are hoping they might be the characters of Jaina Solo, Jacen Solo, and Ben Skywalker. I could see the names being used because Lucasfilm (aka Disney) owns them but nothing about the Extended Universe will be used. I doubt JJ Abrams' is even aware such a thing even exists and will have no interest in trying to tell stories that doesn't interfere with it. Nor does Disney care as the books are but a drop in the bucket compared to the merchandising from the new movies and so from their perspective they are probably fine with the books doing their thing as long as profitable but those stories are irrelevant to their movie plans. So now on to the descriptions.
Late-teen female, independent, good sense of humour, fit.

Young twenty-something male, witty and smart, fit but not traditionally good looking.

A late twentysomething male, fit, handsome and confident.

Seventy-something male, with strong opinions and tough demeanour. Also doesn’ t need to be particularly fit.

A second young female, also late teens, tough, smart and fit.

Forty something male, fit, military type.

Thirtysomething male, intellectual. Apparently doesn’t need to be fit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Almost Human Trailer

Fox officially announced their Fall 2013-2014 TV schedule and with it released trailers for their new shows including JJ Abrams' Almost Human series. The series is set to air on Mondays at 8/7c with Karl Urban playing a detective who is partnered with an android (Michael Ealy). The trailer, built entirely on the pilot episode, does show a lot of potential.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Abrams' Believe Picked Up By NBC

JJ Abrams is currently 2 for 2 in series with Believe being ordered by NBC for the 2013-2014 season. Yesterday Fox ordered Almost Human to series. Below is the description of the show.
Levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature, even predict the future… Since she was two years old, Bo has had gifts she could neither fully understand, nor control. Raised by a small group known as the “True Believers,” the orphaned girl has been safeguarded from harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain. But now that she is 10, her powers have become stronger, and the threat has grown more dangerous. With her life and future now in jeopardy, the “Believers” turn to the only person they see fi t to be her full-time protector. That is, once they break him out of jail. Tate, a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate who’s lost his will, is initially reluctant – until he witnesses one of her extraordinary abilities. Bo sees people for who they truly are… and who they may become. Tate and Bo begin their journey, one in which trust must be earned. Traveling from city to city, every place they stop and everyone they meet will be changed forever. But they’ll have to keep going to stay one step ahead of the sinister forces after Bo’s power… because it will take a miracle to keep them safe forever. The powers of a young girl may hold the fate of our world in Believe, from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Revolution, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and executive producer/writer/director Alfonso CuarĂ³n (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men). From Warner Bros. Television & Bad Robot Productions. Executive Producer/Writer: Mark Friedman. Executive Producer: Bryan Burk.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fox Picks up JJ Abrams' Almost Human to Series

TV Line is reporting that Almost Human has been picked up for the 2013-2014 season by Fox. The series, executive produced by JJ Abrams, stars Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Lili Taylor, and Minka Kelly. The premise is "An action-packed buddy cop show set in the near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids." The exact number of episodes was not specified. Other series that Fox ordered is Rake (about self-destructive defense lawyer), Sleepy Hallow (modern take on the classic story), and Dads (to 30 something Dad's move in).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

JJ Abrams Wants John Williams for Star Wars VII

Once George Lucas gave up the reigns to Star Wars (a decision I suspect he regrets as Disney dismantles his empire as quickly as they can) and JJ Abrams took over, a epic ton of questions are being asked. One of those questions was would John Williams score the music or would Abrams stick with his long time music collaborator Michael Giacchino.

In a Berlin press conference to promote Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams said "For Star Wars, it’s every early days to know, but I believe that going forward, John Williams will be doing that film because apparently he was there long before I was." Now this does not mean the 81 year old legendary composer will return as deals still need to be worked out and contracts to be signed but the director making Williams his first choice is a necessary step. Now for the other million questions...

Friday, April 26, 2013

JJ Abrams Optioning King Novel for TV

Deadline is reporting that JJ Abrams' Bad Robot is in negotiations for the rights to Stephen King's 11/22/63 novel for use as either a TV series or miniseries to air on a cable channel. The story has school teacher Jake somehow going back to 1958 and deciding to use the time in between to prevent the assassination of President John F Kennedy on 11/22/1963. Right now in the "how much to buy this" phrase. After that its get a script, shop it to networks who will decide for series or miniseries and so forth so will be a while before major news on casting and the like.

Revolution Renews for Second Season

Today NBC announced they are renewing Revolution for a 22 episode second season for the 2013-2014 season. The show was renewed along with Parenthood, Grimm, Chicago Fire, and Law & Order SVU. The show is executive produced by JJ Abrams.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Revolution Returns Tonight, Webisodes Conclude, 8 Minute Preview

After a long 4 month break, tonight Revolution returns on NBC at 10pm EST. As a way to ease back in, the "Enemies of the State" webisodes conclude with parts 3-5 (part 1-2 here) as Neville hunts for others against the Monroe Republic. Those are below. After that is the 8 minute preview of the new episode that starts where the last left off - a now fully powered and armed military helicopter chasing the good guys.


Abrams on Figuring Out Star Wars Approach

JJ Abrams has started some of the promotional tour that will be part of promoting his next movie Star Trek Into Darkness. Of course when he talks to the press, the main focus is going to be his plans for Star Wars Episode VII that he is also directing. In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, this was no difference as he answered a few questions.
While he was able to approach Star Trek with a detached objectivity, how will he, as a huge Star Wars fan approach Star Wars' bold new era?
“I don’t know because we’re just getting started. So it’s a great question that I hope I’ll have a good answer to when I know what the answer is. There are infinitely more questions than answers right now, but to me, they’re not that dissimilar. Though I came at these both from very different places, where they both meet is a place of ‘Ooh, that’s really exciting.’ And even though I was never a Star Trek fan, I felt like there was a version of it that would make me excited, that I would think ‘that’s cool, that feels right, I actually would want to see that.

“How we were going to get there, what the choices were going to be, who was going to be in it – all of those things I knew would have to be figured out, but it was all based on a foundation of this indescribable, guttural passion for something that could be. It’s a similar feeling that I have with Star Wars. I feel like I can identify a hunger for what I would want to see again and that is an incredibly exciting place to begin a project. The movies, the worlds could not be more different but that feeling that there’s something amazing here is the thing that they share.”

Why change his mind on directing Star Wars
“My knee-jerk reaction was that I’m in the middle of working on the Star Trek movie and I can’t even consider it. But then time went by and I got further along working on the movie and getting to a place where I had done most of the heavy lifting. So when I met with Kathy Kennedy we just started discussing it and I was able to actually engage in the conversation. I went down to tell Katie, my wife, and I said ‘I had just a very interesting conversation with Kathy.’ That was the beginning.

“I will say that Steven [Spielberg] was very encouraging of Star Wars. It’s funny because I talked to him about it and it turned out he knew all about what was going on.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leads Cast for Abrams' Cop Drama (Updated)

It seems that JJ Abrams has found his leads for his Fox buddy cop pilot. Friday Night Lights and Charlie's Angels hottie Minka Kelly has been tapped to play Valerie Stalh, one of the cops that works with John Kennex and his android parnter who will be played by Michael Ealy (Common Law). I assume the character will provide that female/romance angle that all cop shows seem to require. All that remains is to find who will play John Kennex. The pilot episode will determine if Fox will order additional episodes for the 2013-2014 season. The show currently remains untitled.

Update: The final cast member has been hired for this project that might be titled "Human" (lets hope not). Karl Urban (Judge Dredd, Star Trek) has signed on to play the cop John Kennex that is partnered with an android. This is the first regular television role for the actor that has done movies for the last decade or so.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Revolution Webisodes Part 1 and 2, Preview

JJ Abrams' Revolution returns on NBC starting March 25 at 10pm EST and as a run up they have started posting a webisode series called "Enemies of the State" that acts as a kind of prequel as Neville begins his hunt for Miles who has just quit the Monroe Republic. The first two parts are below. In addition, Abrams himself introduces a sneak peak at the first minute of the return episode. The real question is can the series survive its six month hiatus, especially since NBC's ratings have achieved new record lows for network television? Are the kids, their behavior and response to circumstances still has childish and annoying as they have been for the first half of the season? Is a television shows capable of assuming that teenagers, much like adults, when faced with circumstances of life and death tend to be changed by those circumstances into something more mature and hardened rather then childish and reckless? Will the show begin answering questions instead of just adding new ones? I guess we will all start finding out in just a few short weeks.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Abrams' Believe Casts Co-Lead

JJ Abrams has found one of his leads for the pilot episode of Believe. Jake McLaughlin (Savages) has been cast as the protector of a young girl with powers who is being hunted by others. Assuming NBC likes the pilot, the show would get an order for the 2013-2014 season. I am curious to know how they plan on keeping what seems like a chase concept interesting over the long haul.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Abrams' Partners With Half-Life, Portal Studio

JJ Abrams production slate continues to remain overflowing as he announced a partnership with Valve yesterday to create movies based on their video game properties. Valve is the video game studio behind the hit franchises Half-Life and Portal. “We’re going to figure out if we can make a Portal movie or Half-Life movie together,” [Valve head Gabe] Newell said. Considering Abrams will be busy with Star Wars for at least the next two years (really three since not a snow balls chance he can hit Disney's preferred Summer 2015 release date), safe to assume he will get Executive Producer credit while others will do the writing and directing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Two Pilot Orders for JJ Abrams

On top of the soon to be financial (and one hopes critical) windfall from becoming the next director of Star Wars, JJ Abrams can add two more potential shows to his to do list. NBC has ordered a pilot episode for "Believe" while Fox is producing the pilot episode for his future cop concept. The orders are only for the first episode of a potential series for the 2013-2014 season. From the pilot the networks will then decide if and how many episodes to order for the season. Believe is about the relationship between an ex-con who must protect a young girl who will develop unspecified super powers in seven years. The currently untitled cop show takes place in the future where a cop's partner is an android.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

JJ Abrams Directing Star Wars?!? (Updated)

After frequently denying rumors, it seems that JJ Abrams was not able to ignore the call from Disney to direct Star Wars: Episode VII. Multiple Hollywood websites are reporting that unnamed sources have confirmed that J.J. is either in negotiations or has signed the contract to direct the first film of the next set of Star Wars trilogies (with likely first dibs on doing all three if he chooses).

The script for the film is currently being written by Michael Arndt for a summer 2015 release date. If true that means that either Star Trek 3 will get pushed back until after Star Wars or more likely the directing reigns would be turned over to someone else with Abrams retaining executive producer credit. Assuming Abrams is able to get the kind of deal that Michael Bay got for Transformers (back end points, percentage of the movie and toy profits, etc.), he could make over $100 million from the first film alone, something that anyone would have a problem turning down regardless of their level of interest which is high with Abrams who said "Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time." Considering he wasn't even a fan of Star Trek when doing those two films, wonder what the result will be when it's something he loves. Disney nor Abrams have yet to confirm or deny these rumors.

Update: LucasFilm has officially confirmed JJ Abrams will direct Episode VII.
J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.

“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”

George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

“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.”

J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.

Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abrams Closes Deal on Lance Armstrong Story

Only in America can someone cheat at sports and get rewarded for it. Sure Lance Armstrong will have to endure some slight humiliation but that is nothing compared to the money he already has received over the years and will likely continue to get with able assist from JJ Abrams and Paramount Pictures closing a deal for the screen rights to "Cycle Of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong" that is currently being written by Juliet Macur who is a sports reporter for The New York Times. Since the deal just closed there are no specifics on director, writer, or anything else related to the project. The main lesson from cheating in sports over the years is that not only do cheaters win but they can even get movies made after them for doing it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

JJ Abrams, Ron Howard Parner on Movie

Vulture is reporting that director Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code and more) and JJ Abrams will be teaming up soon for "All I've Got". Howard will direct, Abrams will executive produce through Bad Robot. The movie is based on a 2003 Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She'Yesh Li that is about a woman on her death bed given the choice of reliving her life with her first husband who had died in a car accident or remain dead waiting on her second husband of 50 years who she had three children with. The movie seems to follow a recent Hollywood theme of adapting Israeli television programing as was done with HBO's In Treatment and SHowtime's Homeland.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fringe Series Finale Trailer

Sadly JJ Abrams' Fringe ends its run this Friday with its final two hours starting at 8PM. Check out the trailer below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Abrams Talks Mission Impossible V, Fringe and More

While participating in the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour to promote Revolution (returns March 25), JJ Abrams spoke with Collider about his other projects including Mission: Impossible, Fringe and more. The full interview is here, highlights below.

Highlights:
- Has other TV projects in the works but unable to talk about them yet.
- Looking for a writer for Mission: Impossible 5, said "we're a minute away from being able to discuss that."
- Not seen the Fringe finale but "the script was unbelievable. I think its going to be incredibly emotional. ...If it's not satisfying, I don't know what satisfying is."
- Futuristic robot cop drama not yet started casting.