Monday, December 22, 2014

A Thank You Video from Star Wars Sets

Below is a new video filmed as part of the Omaze "Force for Change" charity that has JJ Abrams and the crew saying "Thank You!" for participating in the charity which raised $4.26 million for UNICEF.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Retro Cards Reveals Star Wars Character Names

Combine a re-creation of Topps '70s era trading cards with moments from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and you finally get the names of a few of the characters that will be in the film. Makes you wonder what arm twisting torture was required to get JJ Abrams to approve even the release of this tiny nugget of info. Any below is the list of new info while the entire card set can be found at Entertainment Weekly or

- Pop-up Stormtrooper is called Finn (John Boyega)
- Rolling droid is called BB-8
- X-Wing pilot is named Poe Dameron
- Girl on speeder bike is Rey (Daisy Ridley)
- Sword Lightsaber holder is called Kylo Ren

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

Here is the teaser trailer for Star Wars: Thee Force Awakens that is due Christmas 2015. Being an JJ Abrams flick, the teaser is just that - a whole lot of images that tell you absolutely nothing about the film except that the CGI will be great.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII Gets Official Title

In a tweet today, Walt Disney revealed the official title of the next Star Wars films along with a logo. The tweet say: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens has completed principal photography. #TheForceAwakens #StarWarsVII"

Probably for the marketing simplicity the film will be referred to as Star Wars: The Force Awakens while the unspoken fan version will be Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. The title pretty much explains why the Extended Universe had to be trash canned. Between the title and story rumors, the 30 years between the end of "Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens" was not the Jedi Order returning but really just Luke Skywalker disappearing and the galaxy just moving on after the fall of the Empire.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII Ends Principle Photography

It seems principle photography has ended for Star Wars Episode VII based on a since deleted tweet that included an image of a letter from the producers to the cast and crew. Basically that will allow for nearly a year of post-production work to be done on the film, probably with every minute needed for what will likely be a special effects heavy film. It also means that what little news has leaked about the movie will crawl to zero as director JJ Abrams ability to control leaks becomes nearly absolute since its all in house work from this point onward. Below is the text of the note:
"To the Extraordinary Cast and Crew of Episode VII:

It is a true honor and absolute joy to come to set every day and work alongside each of you. Your professionalism, passion and patience is more deeply appreciated than we could ever express.

From the deserts of Abu Dhabi, to the Forest of Dean, to the stages of Pinewood, you have risen to every challenge and been as wonderfully kind as you are brilliantly talented.

Our ambition here is large, of course, and it must be: we are here to make a film that entertains millions of people, of all ages, for generations. To create an experience people will cherish watching as much as we will cherish having made it, together.

How lovely it would be if you had, in addition to your name on the screen, some actual real tangible proof that you were part of it! Here, then, is that proof. Wear it well, wear it healthily, wear it proudly. But, mostly, thank you.

With Love - JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Bryan Burke

Monday, August 11, 2014

Force for Change Winner Announced

After a several month campaign that resulted in raising $4.2 million dollars for UNICEF Innovation Labs along with another $1 million from Disney, a winner has been revealed for a walk-on role in Star Wars: Episode VII. A video is below as DC Barns was surprised with his win in what he thought was just a donor video chat. In addition JJ Abrams tweeted his support with an image of a note held in what may or may not be Luke Skywalker's robot hand.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Abrams' Force for Change Update Reveals New X-Wing

In a new video (below) to promote Force for Change, J.J. Abrams stood by a "new" X-Wing Starfighter however based on the aging done to the prop its actually old within the post-Return of the Jedi world the story is set in. The Force for Change charity is to support UNICEF with a chance to donate for a chance win a set visit in London and be an extra in Star Wars Episode VII. It has a kind of Kickstarter feel to it with different donation levels that also give you a chance to win other Star Wars related prizes. Full details and how to donate is here. After that is an additional video from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to promote the charity drive.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Star Wars Adds Two, Planning Hiatus

Two new cast members have been added to Star Wars Episode VII as the production plans on a two hiatus in August. The two cast members are Pip Anderson and Crystal Clarke. Both are literal unknowns as Clarke's first roles are still in post-production while Anderson is known in parkour circles so expect he will be used for ability to perform stunt work while acting. Per usual Abrams' cone of silence rules, no information was released about what characters they would playing but I suspect both will be minor supporting roles. As for the filming break, the cause is related to Harrison Ford's broken leg (or sprained ankle, reports vary) that was caused by a door on the Millennium Falcon set.

"The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film," said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in the Sunday casting statement.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Star Wars Episodes VIII Gets A Director

Even though Star Wars: Episode VII is only a few weeks into production, Disney has moved ahead with hiring the director of Episode VIII and it is not JJ Abrams. Instead they hired Rian Johnson (Looper). The director will begin work on the script soon. Disney has indicated they hope to get the next trilogy out in an every other year fashion and I guess this move allows them to stick to that schedule as right around the time Ep 7 finishes post-production, chances are Ep 8 almost be complete with its pre-production and on verge of starting filming.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Abrams Posts Response to Set Leaks

While JJ Abrams' desire to keep movie secrets borders on obsession, he does still have his sense of humor. In a letter that he tweet via the Bad Robot twitter account, the Star Wars Episode VII director wrote a letter about the recent set leaks that included a Millennium Falcon set. Probably safe to assume part of the set will be the holographic chessboard that the letter is on. In case can't see the pic it says:
I wish people would stop leaking photos from Episode VII and making ridiculous claims that the Millennium Falcon is in the movie.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TMZ Star Wars 7 Set Pics with the Millennium Falcon

TMZ was able to sneak on the Abu Dhabi set of Star Wars: Episode VII and take a bunch of pictures. The most significant find is it turns out they are building the Millennium Falcon set and it looks like they are going 1:1 scale for it. Sadly most are screwed up by their oversized watermark (cause still 2005 to them apparently), but regardless you get a look at what appears to be a Tatooine location that has a lived in look that has been around awhile along with (at least judging by the giant creature and Falcon) are going for practical special effects rather than CGI whenever possible. All their set pics can be view here and here.

Two More Join Star Wars: Episode VII Cast

Today Lucasfilm has announced that Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave) and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) has joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. The pair will join the core cast on the film bringing up the female cast to four. What the roles are was not specified.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Force for Change Message from Star Wars Set

JJ Abrams has posted a new video from the Abu Dhabi set where Star Wars is currently filming. In the video he announces a new charity called Force for Change and a chance to win a set visit and extra role in the movie.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII Principle Photography Started

Via Bad Robot's Twitter page, we have learned that principle photography has begun for Star Wars Episode VII directed by JJ Abrams. They posted the image to the left with a tweet that simply said "#dayone". The movie will probably film for most of the summer but thanks to Star Trek, JJ Abrams has mastered how to maintain his secrets and keep sets closed so I am doubting that much info will leak about the movie or its plot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rumored Title is Star Wars: Episode VII - The Ancient Fear?

Ain't It Cool News is reporting that they have two sources indicating that the humored title of the next Star Wars film is Star Wars: Episode VII - The Ancient Fear. Their source says the title "refers to Max Von Sydow's villain who makes Pazuzu look like a pussy!". For some reason AICN and the various sites reporting these nuggets failed to explain what Pazuzu is (can't help but wonder how few actually know the reference).

Any case I had no clue so some quick Google-fu later and the source is probably referring to the evil girl possessing spirit from the movie The Exorcist. Which in turn probably got its name from from Babylonian mythology where the spirit "was the king of the demons of the wind...represented the southwestern wind, the bearer of storms and drought [and famine]." So basically we learned nothing from the analogy except AICN's source likes to drop movie trivia in useless ways. The title itself has not been officially confirmed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Core Cast of Star Wars Episode VII Revealed

Today LucasFilm casually announced the core cast of Star Wars Episode VII. As the staged pic (left) reveals, it is a bit of a dude-fest (only one new female cast member). As per JJ Abrams operating procedure established with Star Trek Into Darkness, no character names or story details were revealed and chances are it will be quite a while before we learn something as simple as a name. Returning favorites are Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Kenny Baker (R2D2).

After that the list dissolves into a list of "who?" with John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (?), Adam Driver (Girls, rumored playing movie's big bad), Oscar Isaac (?), Domhnall Gleeson (oldest Weasley brother in Harry Potter films), and Max von Sydow (legendary actor but not known for sci-fi & action films).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Star Wars Expanded Universe Being Rebooted

LucasFilm has announced they are officially closing the Star Wars Expanded Universe of the last 35 years and opening a new sandbox to align with the Abrams additions to the universe. Anything produced from this day forward must tie into the new EU as the old Expanded Universe is officially closed for new works. The only current official canon that exists will be the 9 Star Wars movies (adding the three unreleased ones) and two cartoon series (Clone Wars and Rebels). Anything, be it books, comics, and video games, etc. no longer count for anything and will be filed under the "Legends" banner so that Disney can at least continue to make money from the old stuff. The over all plan with the reboot is to once again try to have all Star Wars properties align into a single canon (like the old EU), with only the old EU names and characters can return in new and completely different forms (as LucasFilm already owns them). Any stories from the old EU do not count.

If this sounds familiar, DC Comics did the exact same thing a few years ago creating the "New DCU" where the sales boost was temporary, most fans have not really liked the rebooted characters as much and the only consistently successful franchise after the reboot is Batman whose own history essentially carried over the new DCU virtually unchanged. To say the least, after enjoying the Expanded Universe far more than the movies themselves, this news has made me angry.

Honestly I really do not have a problem with a reboot in and of itself. I just have a problem with closing the EU entirely. It just unnecessary and pointless. The old EU has plenty of great stories still to be told, especially with the books just starting a storyline where a planet of Sith are starting to take steps to conquer the universe. Now they have closed it off. After all these years, all these threads will remain unfinished like a long time TV series suddenly cancelled. I know studios like to think their audiences are really dump but when it comes to sci-fi, that simply isn't the case. I think fans can keep up with two universes at once. Most Star Wars fans are keeping up with dozens of them at any one time be it from comics, movies, books, or video games. Adding another isn't really a big deal and just allows fans to enjoy alternate takes on characters even more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Star Wars Movies Ignoring Expanded Universe

Just in case you doubted my previous posts on the subject, Star Wars: Rebels writer Simon Kinberg has put another nail in the Star Wars Expanded Universe coffin. While at Wondercon he said, "You know, [the Expanded Universe is] not off-limits, and it’s certainly inspiring — I’m working on an animated show for [Lucasfilm] as well, Star Wars: Rebels, that will take inspiration from everywhere, but — I know for the movies, the canon is the canon, and the canon is the six films that exist." If you are wondering about his bonafides, he is writing the movie script for one of the three planned standalone films that will focus on a single Star Wars character. As such he would be at least aware of the broad strokes of the trilogy storyline so his movie can at least avoid contradicting the main trilogy.

So basically the canon is the movies and nothing else. I assume that includes the cartoons too. If Abrams grabs anything from EU its probably going to be because the name, design or what have you is already owned by Lucasfilm so free and clear to use but not because he actually saw any EU content that he deemed worth using. So for hypothetical example, let us say there is an Admiral Thrawn in the movie (this is my made up example, not real). But the character might be in the Alliance army and only has a five second appearance before assassinated. The name wasn't used as a wink to EU fans but because Abrams said "I need a name I can legally use for this minor character" and legal returned with a list of names of which Abrams happened to like Thrawn the most. So for EU lovers, its dead and done. There might be a few more books that come out to finish any story lines out there but by 2015 they will gear up to tell stories set in the post-Abrams Star Wars verse simply because that is how Disney operates. I find it tragic waste but that is how it is.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Star Wars Planning Tatooine Desert Set

It looks like Star Wars is returning to a location it has returned to many times before. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production is planning to rebuild the Skywalker homestead seen in the previous trilogies. Tatooine is the birth place of Darth Vader, previous domain of Jabba the Hutt and home of Luke Skywalker that kicked off the franchise. The somewhat decayed set used in the movies still stands in Tunisia where the previous movies filmed on location. However, the country is considered unsafe as politically unstable and under economic hardship that has increased incidents of terrorism and kidnapping. The main takeaway from this is the Episode VII story arc involves scenes at Luke's old home. I am betting Luke is retired and called back into service by Han or Leia with a goal to "introduce" him in a near similar way he was introduced in A New Hope.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Star Wars Update: Chewbacca and Filming Has Started?

As Star Wars Episode VII is a JJ Abrams production, that means information will be hard to come by and what information you do get could be incorrect or just rumor. The latest is that actor Peter Mayhew will return as Chewbacca, joining returning favorites Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. The reason it remains rumor is that the information has not been confirmed by Disney. Which doesn't mean much since Abrams has no problem letting false rumors circulate if it contains his movie secrets (which he defines as literally anything and everything to do with the movie, even if not really remotely related to spoiler information).

In other related news, Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in an interview that Episode VII has already started filming. That doesn't necessarily mean the principle photography has begun. Chances are whatever is being filmed is background plating and other things needed for ILM to begin their CGI work on the film that probably started months ago and will continue almost right up to the film's release in December 2017.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Star Wars Episodes VII Starts Filming in May, Set 30 Years Later

Today was a big day in Star Wars: Episode VII news. We actually learned two new official nuggets. Which is more official "new" than the last three plus months combined. JJ Abrams was probably throwing things and yelling at people after he heard. The new things we learned really confirmed old rumors. One, that Episode VII will take place about 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi and two, that principle photography will begin in May 2014. As for who is cast, so far only R2-D2 is confirmed but it will "will star a trio of young leads along with some very familiar faces." The trio of young leads probably being the offspring of Luke & unknown and Han and Leia who will also be in the next trilogy of films in some form or fashion. So far the casting rumors for that trio has all been late teens to early 20s with names like Lupita Nyong, Jesse Plemons and others being named dropped.

For the geeks, the proper phrase for the time jump would be 34 ABY which means 34 years After the Battle of Yavin when the first Death Star was destroyed in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Anything before that "year" is measured as BBY (Before Battle of Yavin). At 34 ABY, technically the Expanded Universe (EU) could remain intact as that would set the movie after the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that destroyed multiple planets, decimated the Jedi corps, killed one of the Solo children (and Chewbacca) and also lead to severely weakening the Republic formed after the Empire fell in Return. Only problem is Ben Skywalker had not been born and the other two Solo children were in mid-teens. Still wish had gone with 42 ABY as the novels had set it up so that the fully re-consituted Jedi no longer trusted the Republic (and vice versa) while a planet full of Sith begin to conquer the known universe. Seems that is more ripe for epic storytelling while keeping intact all that came before.

Really though this is just for giggles speculation as we are talking JJ Abrams. He has zero knowledge or interest in the EU. At some point he probably googled "Star Wars Expanded Universe" so he at least understands the question when asked about it but his knowledge is limited to whatever he skimmed on the page. Sad for long time fans who enjoyed the franchise beyond the six movies or cartoons and a big eye roll for those that only know about Star Wars from the movies and cartoons. With news of a start date, maybe we might actually learn who is cast but if Star Trek was any indication (it took set leaks just to learn character names), it might be a while before who what their roles are much less the story itself.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First New Cast Member for Star Wars Episode VII Announced

Variety is reporting that Adam Driver (Girls) has been cast in Star Wars: Episode VII in a major role. The describe it as "Exact details are unknown, but the character is said to be in the vein of iconic “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader." The is the first new casting announcement for the film which is under the usual Abrams cloak of secrecy. Considering his age (30), I assume his role is more apprenticeship to the big bad than the movie's big bad. The current rumor for that is Michael Fassbender or Hugo Weaving. My vote is for Weaving because he seems owns anything he is in and seems to enjoy fan interactions while I suspect Fassbender is simply unpleasant to be around. Considering Abrams has a history of even refusing to reveal the names of characters, it could be a while before learn anything specific. Theoretically Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will be returning but that still has not been officially confirmed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII Script Completed

In an act that probably caused him great physical and mental pain, JJ Abrams actually revealed a few things about Star Wars Episode VII while promoting his new TV series Believe. One, the script is complete and now "We're working really hard and we've got our script and we're in deep prep, full steam ahead, y'know." He also verified that he did meet with Jesse Plemons (Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad) as "one of the actors that we’ve talked to." This doesn't mean he has been cast, just that he is probably one of dozens Abrams has probably considered for various roles. He also verified the movie will be filmed on traditional 35mm film, not IMAX or digital (the new standard). For Abrams this is the most "secrets" (for him every aspect of production is a state secret) he has revealed at once about the movie so things will likely go dormant for a few months while he recovers.