Thursday, December 31, 2015

George Lucas Comments on "Retro" The Force Awakens

In a 55 minute Charlie Rose interview with George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars commented on why he is no longer involved with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans.’ They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. …They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’”
Considering the film is essentially a repeat of Star Wars: A New Hope with JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy going out of their way to explain that they made The Force Awakens much like how A New Hope was made in ~1976, the "retro" remark is pretty much spot on. He also made a comment that seems to suggest that maybe he regrets selling his company to Disney, "I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…" before deciding not to finish that sentence (note: Lucas considers his Star Wars films to be his "kids" so its seems a comment on them getting the films, not on slavery in general). Disney holds grudges so do not be surprised if Lucas is persona non grata at all future Disney related Star Wars events. You can watch the full interview below, the relevant to this article part begins around the 50 minute mark.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Force Awakens Crosses $1 Billion In Record Time

It looks like Star Wars The Force Awakens is going to have the legs to make a real stab at Avatar's $2.8 billion worldwide box office record. After only 12 days of release, the film crossed the $1 billion worldwide threshold, the fastest movie to reach that point. It crossed the threshold on Sunday thanks to strong weekend with $149.2 million in the US and $$153.3M internationally bringing its grand total to $540M US and $546M international. And this is without the potential $300M to $400 million China could ultimately add to the total when it is released there starting on January 9. In total the film now has 37 box office records with more to aim for.

As for the grand daddy of them all, the all-time record, its relatively small drop of only 40% from one weekend to the next combined with a very week January to February box office schedule means the film will have essentially no competition for the next 30 or so days (which helped Avatar and Titanic land in the tops slots during their runs). 40% may seem high but the average from weekend to the next is usually in the 60% range which is why a high first weekend has become so critical to a film's over all financial success. It's still to early to say if it can pass Avatar and Titanic but I suspect it will not. It will end up in #3 slot passing Jurassic World's $1.6B total but stop shot of Titanic's $2.2B. I based this on the fact that while the die hard fans are seeing the movie repeatedly, general audiences are not and woman in particular are not driving ticket sales (and thus more repeat business), something that both Avatar and Titanic had in droves. Ultimately Disney isn't going to care as the film is a clear success signalling the strong future for their one Star Wars per year film plan and chances are the box office + merchandise (toys, clothes, etc) + home video (DVD, Blu-ray) + streaming sales (Netflix, Amazon, etc) of the first film will more than cover the $4 billion the company paid to buy Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Force Awakens Takes All Time Weekend Crown

As the congratulation pic shows, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a very good weekend. The first weekend of Force conquered the box office with a US take of $248 million and $281 internationally for a worldwide take of $529 million in a single weekend. This surpassed the previous weekend champ, Jurassic World's $208.8M US, $315.2M international, $524M worldwide. For the weekend the movie also holds a record for most pre-sales ($100 million), highest Sunday in the US ($60.5M vs World's $57.2M), widest release in December (4134 theaters), largest Thursday night preview ($57M), largest single day ($120.5M), biggest opening day ($120.5M), fastest film to $100M and $200M (and probably $300M), and biggest IMAX opening weekend ($30.1M). Basically its a good day to be the folks that approved buying Lucasfilm a few years ago (even though the decision to do it at the "cheap" price of $4 billion was a no brainer). It fell short for international total records mostly because the film doesn't open in China until January 9 while World opened on the same weekend. For Disney, they are hoping this high watermark gives them a chance to surpass Avatar for top grossing film of all time with its $2.79M worldwide sales.

Personally I think the film will fall short simply because the repeat viewings will not be sufficient enough as the story is essentially a remake of the first movie. Nor does Star Wars have the female following that other recent top dogs (Avatar, Titanic) enjoyed. Now if China embraces the movie that could be a different story. For next weekend its highly likely the film will drop at least 50% in sales (so around $120M US, $140M internationally) but that is normal. Things only get interesting if the drop is 40% or less which means its going to have much longer legs than normal (so chasing Avatar is achievable) or drops 60% or higher which means that movie goers didn't quite take to the movie nearly as well as critics or initial weekend fans did.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spoiler Articles About Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out, that has signaled a few spoiler articles about certain aspect of the story. Some are significant, others are minor but consider this your spoiler warning.

To start, there is a scene in the movie where Rey is called to a spot in a basement that contains Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. When she grabs it, she has a vision that hints at events in hers and other characters in the movie in the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and A New Hope. During those flashes she hears voices. If you listen carefully you can hear the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. More interesting is Ewan McGregor and Frank Oz reprised their roles just for that brief sequence. The last line in the sequence "Rey" was actually spoke by Alec Guiness using a little sound manipulation of him saying the word "afraid". You can read more from Abrams geeking out over the voices at Entertainment Weekly.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bad Lip Reading the Star Wars Trilogy

From the folks that have done the viral videos of the NFL Bad Lip Readings, here are their takes on the Star Wars Trilogy with an assist from Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Jack Black.

BB-8 Vocal Consultants, Panel Video, Stunts and Telling to Story of The Force Awakens

Just one day to go. The PR machine continues. To start, the first video below is an interview with Daisy Ridley who at this point I believe I have developed a bit of a crush on due to her clear joy at her part in Star Wars and the infectious smile. After that is a longer video of The Power of Storytelling Panel with the Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy as they discuss motivations in decisions made to be as authentic to Star Wars as possible. No spoilers so just makes for interesting viewing complete with audience questions. In general panels like this tend to be interesting because of length, those involved early on end up cutting off "sale this thing mode" and just let their enjoyment of the thing come out. The third video was about stunt training and 4th about telling the story.

As part of the world premiere of the movie it has been revealed that "BB-8 Vocal Consultant" were Bill Hader (SNL) and Ben Schwartz (House of Lies). Hader described the process of turning their noises into BB-8's noises, as "JJ f**king around with this sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by me. It looked ridiculous but it made BB-8's voice. At first I tried doing a voice, but we all agreed it sounded too human."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Reviews Are In - Star Wars: The Force Awakens SWill Meet Fan Expectations

The Disney embargo on Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been listed and reviews are starting to flood the web. The initial read from a bunch of them is the movie is excellent and feels like a fully realized Star Wars movie. Bunch of review links below with most going through pains to avoid revealing spoilers. The parts quoted below do not represent the entire review (since all are very positive reviews) but just an effort to get a range of takes on portions of the movie.

You get the sense that Abrams—like the characters in the film—feels the weight of Star Wars mythology on his shoulders. But the film doesn’t feel cynical or calculated. Abrams turns that burden into a dance partner, nimbly choreographing the audience’s collective nostalgia to land on surprising new beats. With the way that the fandom has multiplied exponentially since 1978, it’s not really accurate to say that Star Wars fans are waking up from a slumber. Nevertheless, The Force Awakens feels like a new dream, an imagining that should fulfill the hopes of millions.

The Verge
But for all of his (many) strengths, Abrams still carries his weaknesses into The Force Awakens. He’s remarkable at putting together a cohesive cast and giving each of his characters their moment to shine (Oscar Isaac in particular does a lot with what he’s given), but the movie inevitably gets bogged down at times with egregious, over-expository plot dumps. On one hand, it’s to be expected — 30 years have passed since audiences have seen many of these characters, and people have got to get caught up somehow — but compared to how sleek most of the movie is, the moments stand out in stark relief.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens World Premiere Red Carpet Video

Here is the full video of the Red Carpet Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Hollywood on Monday night. The around one and half hour presentation includes brief videos with some of the cast including Harrison Ford, JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and more. After that is a brief BB-8 video and Force for Change promotion that were also part of the red carpet presentation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Abrams 60 Minutes Interview, Box Office Predictions, and New Hope Despecialized

Tonight was the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Hollywood, CA. Part of that including heavy security including bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors, and confiscating phones. A few lucky fans that had camped out for the premiere got to see the movie and attend some of the after parties.

With the premiere, eyes turns to predicting the box office results. The movie is enjoying the widest December release in history with 4,100 screens in the United States alone, surpassing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's 4,045 screens. Current estimates have around $100 million in pre-release sales (a record) with first weekend estimates in the US being around $180 to $220 million but some going as high as $300 million. Except for China, all the major markets are getting the movie this week so I suspect the worldwide total for its first weekend will be in the $550 million range.

Speaking of China, it seems that Disney considers that a critical part of its success and attempting to get as much attention as possible for the movie there. The first trilogy (the 1980s one) never got a theatrical release there while the 2000s one did poorly. Part of the attempt to build excitement is to allow streaming of the six films, putting 500 Stormtroopers on the Great Wall, and hiring Chinese pop star Lu Han (think their Justin Bieber) as an "official ambassador" for the film. Basically Star Wars doesn't have the generational base and popularity it enjoys elsewhere but Chinese's entertainment interests align closer to other Western countries then people care to admit (for whatever reason). End result I suspect if the movie is good, it will be a success there. Time will tell as the film will not be released in the country until January 9.

This weekend 60 Minutes aired an interview with JJ Abrams that included a look as John Williams orchestrated the opening of the movie (after the crawl).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Five New TV Spots for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With about four days to go, the TV spot volume seems to be increasing with five more news ones for you to enjoy.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Abrams Geeks Out on John Williams and More as World Premiere Prep Begins

One week to go for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Gwendoline Christie comments on Captain Phasma while the world premiere prep for the movie has begun. For videos we have a clip from JJ Abrams 60 Minutes interview that will air Sunday night with snippet of John Williams scoring the film. Then is another video interview from Collider with Abrams as he talks about length of the draft cut of the film (2.5 hours), guesstimates around 15 minutes or so of deleted scenes for home video, agrees Han shot first (with a no duh expression), and A New Hope is his favorite of the Star Wars films as Empire Strikes Back stands on the shoulders of the first film. After that is a promotion of the IMAX version of the film. If you are interested in pictures, click here for 16 new stills from the film.

Gwendoline Christie on Captain Phasma
- "I think that Captain Phasma in this movie is a Boba Fett style character in that she is not at the forefront of the action. But she makes a huge impact."
- "I’d never dressed up as a Stormtrooper before. And that was really, really fun. But it was very empowering. The costume, because it’s so high functioning, inflexible, imposing, that gives you the actor a lot of qualities immediately to work with."

World Premiere Prep
- Occurs Monday night in Hollywood
- Four blocks of the iconic street -- from Highland Ave. to La Brea Ave. -- were already closed to traffic Thursday night at 11 p.m.
- "This is definitely bigger than the Oscars," one production manager told THR Friday
- Disney and Lucasfilm have not officially told guests which theaters will be used in Hollywood for the premiere. The blocks of Hollywood Blvd. that are closed include three: The Dolby (where the Oscars are held), El Capitan Theater and the TCL Chinese Theater.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New International Trailer and Two TV Spots for The Force Awakens

The movie is only 8 days from release and the marketing machine continues its march to the finale with more TV spots and interview nuggets. Below are summaries of what I found interesting from various sources or you can read the entire articles by hitting the links here: JJ Abrams Scripting | Han's Trailer Lines | General Leia | Millennium Falcon 2.0

After the quick summary are three new trailers. The first is one with Chinese subtitles that shows off more new footage then all the TV spots combined have (two more of which follow). Its very action heavy so pretty clear that Disney wants those Chinese bucks almost as much as the American ones.

- George Lucas did provide his outlines for Episodes 7-9 but "Disney had determined they wanted to go a different direction."
- Michael Arndt's original script was tossed due to lack of time to finesse it and Lawrence Kasdan wanted to but core elements were kept.
- Han's lines in the trailer, due to lack of context, will mean something different in the movie.
- Leia became a General instead of a Jedi as a decision to run the resistance but "will see again that she's still Force strong."
- Major difference is rectangular radar dish due to circular one being knocked off in Return of the Jedi
- Multiple versions of Falcon made for film both digital, about half the ship in full scale as was one of the weapon bays.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Two More Force Awakens TV Spots, Featurettes, Clip and Issac Talks About Poe

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens marketing machine continues at a nice steady pace. The latest PR releases include two more TV spots, a Rey featurette, and a promo clip from one of the Disney channels. If something new was shown it must have been quick enough that I missed it. Oscar Issac did hint at what the difference is between the previous trilogy's Rebellion and this trilogy's Resistance saying "One is to rebel against, so it’s an offensive action. Resisting is on the defensive. So I think the big difference is that [The Resistance] is even more cornered." The suggestion is the First Order is doing what the Empire couldn't and that is nearly wipe out their enemy.

The actor also spoke of how he ended up having an impact on Star Wars canon for his character. "This is one of the very cool things about working with Lucasfilm and J.J. [Abrams] is we’re creating this stuff together,” Isaac said. “And they’re open to that and they’re excited by that. So [the backstory] was a collaboration. That was me realizing that Yavin, the Rebel base at the end of A New Hope, was shot in Guatemala. I was born in Guatemala. This takes place 30 years later. Which is close to my age. And so I thought ‘Why couldn’t Poe be from Yavin? He could be from there, that rebel base.’ And I said that in some interviews. Lucasfilm heard that, it got back to the creators of Shattered Empire and they thought ‘That’s a cool idea.’ This is the first time where me talking about my character background I usually do as an actor, I get a comic book out of it. It’s pretty wild. They’re doing a beautiful job. I think it’s great. The story itself I had nothing to do with just the seed of that’s where Poe in born.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

Two Featurettes, Posters, and No Credits Scene

Some more promotional material for the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The two videos below are a brief behind the scenes featurette that were released along with two more character poster images.

The cast is also making the interview rounds. Per usual most of the talk is about the feel goods of doing the movie and almost nothing about the film itself. The one major "leak" if stretch the word is Harrison Ford saying that there is a "sword fight between Rey and Kilo Ren." Keep in mind that current info indicates that Kilo Ren is not force sensitive so this doesn't mean Rey is too (even though everyone has assumed as much from the very beginning). JJ Abrams also verified there is no scene during or after the credits. To close out, click here if want to see a video of Daisy Ridley and Oscar Issac singing (surprising well) "Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Captain Phasma To Return, Carrie Fisher Responds to Slave Leia and a New TV Spot

In an interview with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy it was revealed that the franchises' plan for Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) will extend beyond Star Wars: The Force Awakens as she is set to appear in the Star Wars 8. As Kennedy put it, "She’s an important character, a baddie in the best sense of the word."

On a not really related note, Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, responded to rumors that parental pressure might stop Disney from releasing anymore Slave Leia merchandise as parents in American are just fine with blood, violence, and the like but its a step to far when a woman is a little to sexy on screen. Any case Fisher found the reasoning as stupid as I do.
Wall Street Journal

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mark Hamill In Stormtrooper Costume for Omaze Force for Change

In the latest Omaze video to promote the Force for Change charity Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, himself took a walk on Hollywood Boulevard in a Stormtrooper costume. The charity is still open for a chance to win tickets to a red carpet premiere of the movie either in Los Angeles or London. Click here to donate.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Battle of Jakku Gameplay Trailer and Star Wars Vehicles To Scale

Two videos mostly for funsies. The first is a new trailer for Star Wars Battlefront: Battle of Jakku maps that shows how a destroyed Star Destroyer ends up on the planet surface when The Force Awakens opens 30 years after the battle. The second video is just for one, mostly in scale representation of all the major vehicles and creatures from the original Star Wars.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Two New Force Awakens TV Spots and BTS Short

In order below is a new behind the scenes short video with Daisy Ridley as she discusses Rey. After that are two TV spots that somewhat focuses on Rey and the movie bad guys.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Force Awakens Extended TV Spot, Score List and Lightsaber Battle Inspirations

The steady drip of Star Wars: The Force Awakens promotional stuff continues. With it comes just a tiny itty bitty bit more info about the movie itself. The latest is a new TV spot (below) and the score list for John William's soundtrack (below). Technically it has spoilers but nothing that means a thing to me in regards to piecing together a story.

Also in an interview with Empire, JJ Abrams discussed his inspiration for the lightsaber battles came from Terrence Malick's "powerful stillness", Kurosawa's "unbelievable scene choreography and composition", and John Ford Western's "confidence" saying "When you look at Star Wars and Empire, they are very different lightsaber battles, but for me they felt more powerful because they were not quite as slick [as the prequels]. I was hoping to go for something much more primitive, aggressive and rougher, a throwback to the kind of heart-stopping lightsaber fights I remembered being so enthralled by as a kid."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

New Omaze Force for Change Video, Empire Covers

Below is the latest video to support the Force for Change charity that will give you a chance to win a visit to the red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It includes brief videos with the cast as they talk about the different charities the money will go to. Also you can find six new covers featuring the cast of the movie from Empire Magazine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Star Wars 7 Almost Finished, Phasma Image, New TV Spot, 1st Clip and Hamill in Episode 8

More tidbits about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To start the image of Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is care of Empire Magazine. Next during a Q&A with Stephen Colbert, director JJ Abrams indicated the movie is almost complete saying "We were working on the final mixes at 2:30 this morning. I left with six very small, but important things that (still) need to be done..." He can't wait to be finished with it saying “The truth is working on this movie for nearly three years, it has been like living with the greatest roommate in history for too long. It’s time for him to get his own place. It’s been great and I can’t tell you how much I want him to get out into the world and meet other people because we know each other really well. But really, ‘Star Wars’ is bigger than all of us. So I’m thrilled beyond words (to be involved) and terrified more than I can say.”

Mark Hamill has officially verified he is in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (yeah believe it or not that fact has never actually been confirmed, just assumed) and he is in Star Wars 8 via a tweet, "Last shaved on 10/22 after final day of my 2nd #TheFlash (which airs 12/8 #XmasTrix), just in time for Ep VIII-whew!". Finally below is the first clip and another TV spot for the film.

Monday, November 23, 2015

New TV Spot, SNL Force Awakens Skit

Here is a new spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens along with Saturday Nights Live's skit as actors fake audition for the movie.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Force Awakens Kylo Ren Image, Props and High Ticket Sales

Empire Magazine has published a new image of Kylo Ren that shows off one of the bad guys from the movie. No new information about the character was revealed so far now he just remains a wannabe Sith and Vader fan boy. To go with that, Wired has posted 50 pics of different props built for the film. Last is good news for Disney as ticket pre-sales have topped $50 million, breaking records. Those sales are indicators that the film will capture the largest North American debut of all time with a possible single weekend take of $300 million which would crush all previous records.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Force for Change Omaze Charity for Star Wars Red Carpet Premiere

With a helping hand from Harrison Ford, Omaze has announced a new charity contest that will give 2 winners a chance to go to the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in London or LA and meet the cast of the movie. It essentially works like a raffle where you donate X amount of dollars for Y virtual raffle tickets along with additional items depending on which tier you donate from. Enjoy the video below and full details cam be found at

New Force Awakens Spot Focuses on Finn

Here is the sixth TV spot released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a focus on Finn with a dash of Han Solo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Force Awakens TV Spot, Behind the Scenes Vid, Running Time and Zuvio

More from Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to trickle in. The latest is another new TV spot with new footage (1st vid below) and a brief behind the scenes video from the UK (2nd vid). In addition the running time of the movie is set at 2 hours, 15 minutes. As for the weird looking character with cat eyes image, that character is called Zuvio who is a "vigilant law officer on a mostly lawless world" that "keeps order in a frontier trading post." Last is Disneyland has joined the Star Wars promotional march by redressing Tomorrowland with a much of Star Wars themed names, signage and more. A gallery of those changes can be found here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

EW: Info On Starkiller Base, General Hux, BB-8, Rey and Finn

For the third day in a row Entertainment Weekly has posted additional articles to promote their issue out on newsstands now for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This time the articles provide a tidbit about the Death Star like Starkiller Base, First Order General Hux, info on BB-8, and background on Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). The highlights are below or click these links for the full articles: Starkiller Base & General Hux | BB-8 | Rey and Finn

Starkiller Base
“It is very much — and it’s acknowledged as such in the movie — apparently another Death Star,” Abrams says. “But what it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power.” (My note: In sci-fi, the only step after destroying a planet is destroying a sun aka a star)

General Hux
Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), who plays the young military leader, says this commander of the First Order is defined by arrogance and contempt. “There’s an air of superiority, and being better than those people around you,” he says. “He’s pretty ruthless. A strong disciplinarian would be a mild way of putting it.”

What’s the appeal of the First Order to Hux? “It’s in the title: order,” Gleeson says. “It’s a desire to lump everything in its place and just have power. The desire for power is hugely motivating for a lot of people and normally the people who want all the power are not the ones who should have it.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

New The Force Awakens 60 Second TV Spot Shows New Footage

Thursday night a new 60 second TV Spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens aired that includes some new music and scenes including a touch more Han Solo.

More EW Interviews Teases Two New Characters in The Force Awakens

Entertainment Weekly has released more interviews with the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The key piece of new information is a little bit of information on the character of Maz Kanata that is played via motion capture by Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave). The character is the big eyed alien standing next to R2D2 on the recent poster and has the line "I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes. I know your eyes." in the trailer. Abrams says "Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time. She’s lived over a thousand years. She’s had this watering hole for about a century, and it’s like another bar that you’d find in a corner of the Star Wars universe." (basically she sounds like Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation). As for the poster, it was recently revealed by the IMAX twitter account.

Other articles:
Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? - Played by Andy Serkis using motion capture, the character is described as " enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful... He is large, he appears tall. And also just the facial design - you couldn't have gotten there with prosthetics. It's too extreme." That is pretty much it.

Where is Luke Skywalker? - Nothing revealed from Mark Hamill and JJ Abrams other then just saying keeping the surprise is good and the characters' are what fans choose to make them

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another New Force Awakens TV Spot and BTS Clip

The first video below is another new 15 second TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that is also just made up from bits from the last trailer. In addition is a commercial with some behind the scenes stuff to promote a sneak peak at the movie on the Disney Channel Friday night.

Entertainment Weekly Reveals Covers, Ford Interview and General Leia

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly includes a bunch of new Star Wars: The Force Awakens stories. Some of which it seems that EW has already released to their website. The released articles include an interview with Harrison Ford talking about Han Solo and JJ Abrams and Carrie Fisher discuss Princess Leia (Solo or Organa isn't said). The highlights of those interviews are below. In addition click here (mirror) for a gallery of 20 new stills including the four covers to the magazine issue.

Harrison Ford:
- Despite years of claiming to be tired of Han Solo (or at least the questions about him), apparently Ford has changed his mind saying "I was glad that the character was still alive for me to play in this new iteration"

- On Indy 5: "Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’d love to do another Indiana Jones. A character that has a history and a potential, kind of a rollicking good movie ride for the audience, Steven Spielberg as a director — what’s not to like?"

- On Solo: "He was always the cynical member of the original characters. While we were invited to engage on the questions of some pretty arcane mysteries — the Force and the mythology that surrounds it — he was the guy who said, ‘What? Huh? Come on.’? It’s what made the interplay between the characters work. There was a callow youth, a beautiful princess, a wise old ­warrior, and there was a smart-ass. ...He does not aspire to the position of Obi-‘Ben’ Kenobi, nor do I aspire to be some New Age Alec Guinness. His development is consistent with the character, and there are emotional elements which have occasioned his growth. ...We spend a lot more time [in the movie] on his failure to master basic skills, like accounting. And accounting for his own behavior. There’s a lot of the rogue still left in Solo. Some things don’t change."

- Advise to whoever is cast as young Han Solo: "I would say, ‘Talk to your director. Watch the movies. And welcome aboard. Make it your own.'"

- Who shot first?: "Knock yourself out. Have fun with it.”

JJ Abrams on Carrie Fisher:
- Abrams: "She’s referred to as General. But … there’s a moment in the movie where a character sort of slips and calls her ‘Princess.’ ...The stakes are pretty high in the story for her, so there’s not much goofing around where Leia’s concerned. But it felt historic to have her, especially with Harrison, back in scenes together."

- Lesson from SW7 Leia: "Fisher’s response is simple and without sarcasm: 'Never give up.'"

The Force Awakens TV Spot #2

Here is the second TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Its only fifteen seconds long and has uses same footage as the last trailer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kasdan Done With Star Wars After Han Solo Film

In an interview with German tabloid Bild, key Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan indicated he will be done with Star Wars soon. "I have now made four Star Wars movies. That's more than enough." He had intended to be done after Star Wars: The Force Awakens but apparently his family's excitement for a Han Solo film and working with his son Jon Kasdan reeled him back in. It could be argued that part of the reason that the recent prequel trilogy sucks so bad is because George Lucas wrote the films without Kasdan's input as he wrote the best films of the franchise (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) so his absence will be missed. The Han Solo film is aiming for release in 2018.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

JJ Abrams Talks Approach to Making Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In an interview with Wired, writer and director JJ Abrams discussed some of how he approached re-igniting the franchise without George Lucas and separating fan boy from storyteller when working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No real story spoilers were revealed but below are what I considered the core port of his response to each question. Having said that, worth reading the full interview. Behind the scenes pics can be found here.

How much of The Force Awakens is geared toward welcoming people back to the Star Wars franchise versus starting something completely new? How do you strike a balance between those two imperatives?
We wanted to tell a story that had its own self-contained beginning, middle, and end but at the same time, like A New Hope, implied a history that preceded it and also hinted at a future to follow.

Were there moments from your life or your own work from which you drew inspiration?
So I tried to not forget the mistakes I’d made, but I also tried to focus on things that I find inspiring about cinema. I asked questions like “How do we make this movie delightful?” That was really the only requirement Larry and I imposed on each other: The movie needed to be delightful. It was not about explaining everything away, not about introducing a certain number of toys for a corporation, not about trying to appease anyone. This has only ever been about what gets us excited.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Force Awakens TV Spot #1

First TV spot to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens with some new footage.

Friday, November 6, 2015

International Trailer for The Force Awakens Shows New Footage

An international trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens reveals some new scenes and new music for the upcoming movie.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Five New Character Posters for The Force Awakens

Below are five new character posters (defined by the tight focus on a single character) from Disney to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens that opened on December 18. Click to embiggen.

Friday, October 30, 2015

JJ Abrams "Answers" a George Lucas Question, Confirms No New Trailers

In two brief videos, JJ Abrams kind of sorta talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the first various celebs ask Abrams a question, none of which he really answers but then the only Star Wars one came from George Lucas. In the second interview with Extra, the director confirms there will be no more trailers and that he is enjoying hearing about people's theories on the film's story.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Trailer in the Force Awakens Style

Below is a well done fan made trailer for Star Wars: The Original Trilogy that uses the music and style of the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Fan Supercuts

Below are two fan trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that combines all the trailers for the movie into one cohesive and very well done edit that highlights that only three minutes of the film has been viewed since this cut removes all the duplicate moments. The JJ Abrams cone of silence remains strong.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Breaks Ticket Websites, AMC Exclusive Poster

At about the same time as the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, ticket pre-sales started and the results are very pleasing the theaters. That is after they recovered from their ticket sale sites crashing for the initial volume. The first day results includes a record $6.5 million in IMAX ticket pre-sales. The closest before this around $1 million for Hunger Games and The Avengers. AMC is reporting they have sold out 1000 shows nationwide and have chosen several theaters to remain open 24 hours on Friday. Speaking of AMC, the pic with this post is the AMC exclusive IMAX poster created by artist Dam Mumford that will be given away for "Star Wars Sundays". Anyone who purchases a ticket on Sunday from December 20 to January 10 will get one. I guess the goal is to good Sunday ticket sales and repeat buyers since Sunday is normally one of slower days of the week for movie ticket sales.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Final Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Post title says it all. Click here if interesting in a shot by shot breakdown.

Teaser Trailers for the Final Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Leave it up to Disney to top the teaser trailer for the trailer. Today the company released several teaser trailers to promote tomorrow night's release of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trailer will air at some point during Monday Night Football on ESPN but its almost a guarantee that it will appear online at or shortly there after. Disney owns ESPN and Star Wars so usually corporate synergy nonsense. There might be more as seen some labeled up to 7 but these are the only ones I could find that were not duplicates.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cinema Exclusives, Marathon Planned

As part of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, various theater chains will have exclusive art with the release. Also several will be doing a Star Wars Marathon to see all 7 Star Wars films in theaters. Below are the details via Dark Horizons.

Star Wars Marathon Event
The Star Wars Marathon Event is the ultimate fan experience. All seven movies. One epic journey. Guests will see each of the six previously released Star Wars episodes in digital 2D beginning with The Phantom Menace and concluding with the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D! Guests will also receive a lanyard featuring exclusive marathon art. Coming December 17.
- See at end of post for list of participating theaters.

Regal Cinemas
Star Wars Saturdays: Each Saturday, from December 19 to January 9, at Regal theatres the first 500 guests who experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX will receive a collectable ticket featuring unique Star Wars: The Force Awakens art. New art will be revealed each week.

Official Poster for Star Wars The Force Awakens

As a run up to the release of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Monday night, here is the technically the first official poster for the movie. Of note is I don't see Luke Skywalker on the poster and it appears that a new version of the Death Star (again?) plays a part in the movie.

Friday, October 16, 2015

50 New Images from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

From Topps Star Wars Card Trader app are 50 new images from the movie. Some with character names and other details. None of it really spoilery and most of it repetitive but if need a fix, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awaken World Premiere Date

Disney and Lucasfilm have landed on December 14th in Los Angeles as the world premiere date for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After that will be the usual publicity blitz as the cast moves around the world to promote the film.

Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 Trailer

From the New York Comic Con, here is a new trailer for Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 that returns on October 14th at 9:30p ET on Disney XD.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Star Wars Trilogy Continues Skywalker Family Saga

It not major news but it does confirm a few suspicions. In an interview with Costco Connection (yep from the warehouse store), Kathleen Kennedy pretty much confirmed that at least one of the new characters is a Skywalker (but could be many since technically any kid(s) from Han & Leia would count too).
"The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga," she explains. "The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe."
The beat makes perfect sense since eps 1-3 were about Anakin Skywalker, 4-6 were about his son Luke and daughter Leia and so 7-9 focusing on one or both of their children fits. It was something the Extended Universe did for 20 or so years before it was tossed into the trash.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 360 Degree Jakku Environment Video

In a video exclusive to Facebook (but no login required to view), is an interesting video that lets you get a 360 degree look at The Battle of Jakku location which is desert looking environment from the trailers. The reason the area is littered with destroyed ships and a Star Destroyer is because it was the last major battle between the Rebellion and the remnant of the Empire after the death of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. To check out the video click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Toy Descriptions Provide Character, Plot Details for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With the release of the first of probably many new toys around Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes bios and descriptions that finally provide a little meat to the bone that is what little we know about the movie. Due to the descriptions we know have a little background on the characters of Finn the Stormtrooper (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) along with some of names of other characters and locations in the movie. Believe it or not the info below is more detail about the movie than the totality of leaks from the last year so SPOILER WARNING!

"Sometimes, heroes come from the unlikeliest of places. The Galactic Empire has been dead for decades, but evil never really dies. With villains rising to take the Empire's place, heroes must rise to oppose them.

After becoming stranded by himself in the deserts of Jakku, and meeting up with a girl named Rey, a Stormtrooper named Finn has joined the side of the Resistance. He began his adventure as a part of the New Order, but now he's one of the few people that can stop them.

With a new look, Finn is ready for a new mission. Since trading in his Stormtrooper armor for a new set of gear, Finn's outfit might not be flashy, but it's all that a hero needs to succeed."
"The mission to take down the First Order is underway! After invading the Starkiller Base, one member of the Resistance has split from her group and found herself in a massive room full of First Order soldiers.

Completely surrounded by Stormtroopers with blasters and Knights of Ren with lightsabers, she seems to be totally outnumbered. Unfortunately for her enemies, though, they've made a big mistake: it's not about the strength of the weapon, but the strength of the warrior that wields it."
Starkiller Base
"An ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon capable of destroying entire star systems."
New Characters
Resistance star fighter mechanic Goss Toowers and his co-worker B-U4D, Resistance tactical co-ordinator PZ-4CO, intergalactic criminal kingpin Tasu Leech, the scavenger and trader Sarco Plank, the skilled if reckless Resistance pilot Ello Asty

Friday, September 4, 2015

Wave One Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys Revealed

Starting today the first wave of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys will become available. To no surprise everyone under the sun will be releasing merchandise related to the movie but the big ones to pay attention to are those from Hasbro, and Lego. The key piece is Spero BB-8 that looks and moves just like the character in the film using a smartphone app with the corresponding $150 cost. Of the group that is probably going to be the hardest to get hold of. For a quick review of that toy look at the video below or click here for more details. To check out images of some of those toys click here and another look at the Lego sets here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shortlist for Star Wars 8 Lead Revealed

The Wrap is reporting that Star Wars 8 director Rian Johnson and the Star Wars brain trust have a shortlist for the potential female lead in Star Wars 8. The list is Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), and Olivia Cooke (Bates Hotel). Part of the final round of auditions include a "chemistry-read" with The Force Awakens star John Boyega suggesting they will be part of at least a romance and/or flirtation subplot for the film. The movie is aiming for a May 26, 2017 release date so filming is expected to start soon.

You can't fault the taste of those involved as all three are up and coming actors with short but impressive resumes that have shown a deep well of talent that frankly surpasses most current "movie star" despite their mostly TV background. While I found Cooke to be the stand out actor on Bates Hotel, Maslany stands head and shoulders above the trio thanks to her amazing work on Orphan Black. After you watch her pretend to be another character who in turn is pretending to yet another character and completing understanding what is happening and at no point be confused is a level of acting that few actors would be able to pull off. (If not watching Orphan Black, you are missing out.) Due to the nature of the TV series she now has extensive knowledge of CGI, practical effects, and stunts that far outpaces the other two actors which for something as effects and stunt heavy as Star Wars can only be a bonus on her side. Good luck to all three of them, nice thing about this short list is any choice from this trio is a win for Star Wars.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Making of BB-8

If you like the cute little round bot shown in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer then be sure to check out the article on were they discuss the making of the character. The article covers the design (a soccer ball provided some inspiration), proof of concept (using a puppet version), and finally creating a working version that can "act" on set with the human actors. Click here to read the full article. The cover of Empire magazine featuring BB8 is here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Abrams Teases More of Kylo Ren

As part of his interview for Empire Magazine in the UK, JJ Abrams revealed a touch more about Kylo Ren of the villains in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is assumed that because he wields a light saber and a bad guy then he must be a Sith (the equivalent of Jedi) However, JJ Abrams said "Kylo Ren is not a Sith" who "works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force." Since there are always two (now that the Extended Universe is dead) then he might be suggesting that Kylo is the apprentice to Snoke's Sith Lord or at least a wannabe who is faking it. The character of Snoke has yet to be seen but he will be played by Andy Serkis using motion capture (like Planet of the Apes or Gollum).

As for The First Order which essentially replaced the Empire, is the result of "conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again" and is not necessarily just ex-Imperial officers. He further teased, "Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?" The idea of Vader being considered a martyr is definitely an interesting concept.

Rogue One With Grand Moff Tarkin?

The latest rumor regarding Star Wars: Rogue One is an interesting but unproven rumor. The Daily Mail (which basically likes to make up news) is reporting that Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, might get a digital resurrection for the movie. The actor played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope (the older gent that ordered Darth Vader around) and was the commander of the Death Star and responsible for construction. Considering that the movie is about the theft of the Death Star plans that eventually makes their way the Princess Leia for the beginning of A New Hope, it does seems reasonable that the character would appear so the rumor isn't as crazy as it seems on the surface. I assume that there are family or estate permissions to be granted but Star Wars money means those would be cleared with relative ease. As usual time will tell.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Empire Magazine Star Wars: The Force Awakens Covers

UK's Empire Magazine has revealed their two Star Wars: The Force Awakens covers for their upcoming issue that could almost be posters for the movie itself.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Abrams, Cast Comment on Star Wars in D23 Video

Below is a video of comments from the JJ Abrams and the cast from Star Wars - The Force Awakens as they comment on the film while avoiding actually revealing anything. Abrams did tease that perhaps Han Solo has moved into legend with all the plus and minuses that come with being a living legend in a galaxy far away.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

D23: New Star Wars Director, Poster, Theme Park, and Force Awakens Runtime

At the D23 Expo (D for Disney) in Anaheim, California some new information has been revealed about the Star Wars movies. To start take a look at the new poster by Drew Struzan that is currently exclusive to the D23 Con but hopefully will hint at future posters to promote the movie. Next, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has been tapped to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. Pre-production on the film is expected to start soon so that means he is out for directing Jurassic World 2. Third, the runtime for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set at about 124 minutes (2h, 4m) which hits right in the length for the original trilogy.

After that we have news that Disney is planning a Star Wars themed land for Disneyland Anaheim and Disney World Orlando. The land will be their largest yet covering 14 acres of land with attractions of a new planet, catina, trading post, a battle between The First Order (Empire) and Resistance (Alliance) and a ride to fly the Millennium Falcon. Essentially it will be like Harry Potter World only Disneyfied. No opening date but something that scale will probably take at least five years to build. Concept images can be found here.

Finally The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams discussed some random bits with the press:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rogue One Adds To Cast, Reveals Cast Photo and New Logo

Disney has revealed a new core cast photo along with a new logo for Rogue One. Filming for the movie, which takes place before A New Hope, began a few weeks ago that follows Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, and Forest Whitaker as they seek to steal the plans for the Death Star. Also announced today is new castmembers Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), and Jiang Wen (Let the Bullets Fly). As for the logo, as you can see below, Disney has chosen to drop the "Anthology" and replace it with "A Star Wars Story". No explanation for the change but sadly I suspect testing discovered that a higher than expected number of people didn't understand what "Anthology" meant.

JJ Abrams Talks Pegg, Secrets, and Sound for The Force Awakens

Entertainment Weekly has posted more about their discussion with JJ Abrams about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As usual for the director it contained virtually no real information other than lots of feel good thoughts but some might find it interesting. The key bit of "news" is that Simon Pegg helped provide input on the film. Not as a writer but as a sounding board for story ideas. Details below.

On Simon Pegg's contribution to the film
“I will say this in terms of Simon: while he won’t be recognizable in the movie, in all honesty, his role in this – not the performance or the character – but his support and friendship has been massively important and helpful in the process. He was a wonderful partner in crime to kick the story around and ask questions and come up with ideas, and he was an incredibly helpful part of the process for all of us. I’m very grateful. He was a sounding board. He would drop by the set because he wanted to, and when he could, he would help… We could talk about things, and he was a perfect combination of incredibly smart screenwriter, fan of the series, critical fan of the series, and friend of mine – but not just blindly supportive. He was an honest, critical friend. And he wasn’t so close to it that he became immune to things. He would come in with fresh eyes and very smart ideas. He’s one of a handful of people along the way that has been really priceless.”

On fandom and keeping film secrets:
“One of the great things that Lucasfilm has done over the years is embracing the community of Star Wars fans, and it’s because they realize that it’s really the fans’ story. And that understanding, that sharing of information and engaging with the fans is something that I really admire. My instinct is to typically keep things quiet – and if I had my way, perhaps we would be showing less – but the truth is, I want to make sure that the fans aren’t feeling like we are holding back for the sake of it. I also have read more comments than I ever expected where people say, ‘don’t spoil it for me, don’t show me everything, don’t ruin the story, I don’t want to know it yet. And I’m always grateful for that. So it’s a little bit of a tightrope, and we want to make sure we’re being forthcoming, but that we’re not spoiling."

About Ben Burtt the sound designer for the original trilogy (aka the guy who created all the blaster, starship, lightsaber duel, etc sounds)
“I can’t talk about what he’s doing specifically on this movie, but I’ll say that I’m thrilled to get to work with Ben again. We worked together on the Star Trek films, on Super 8, and now on this. We also are lucky to have Gary Rydstrom, of course, and Matt Wood. We have an amazing sound team. The thing that keeps being remarkable to me is how much George Lucas got right when he did Star Wars. Like, it is a preposterous ratio of things that work that were brand-new, and bold, and thrilling. The sound certainly was one of those things. And when you hear that specific roar of a TIE fighter, or the sound of a lightsaber coming on, or the sound of a droid, or any number of things – and there are so many – the idea that you can close your eyes and hear a couple sound effects and know exactly what movie that is, is completely a testament to the work that Ben Burtt did then, and that he’s contributing to now.”

Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke (using motion capture)
"I have nothing about him yet, but I will say that Andy Serkis is like working with someone who is an historically great actor. He is the kindest, sweetest, most lovely guy, so it’s not that he puts on any airs of being pretentious or anything at all, but he’s simply so damn good, that when I’m working with him, I feel like I’m working with someone who is, you know, like a Charles Laughton, or someone who is just so extraordinary. Then there’s the whole matter of how he incorporates technology in a way that no one has seen or done… There are many levels to his genius, but he is certainly a genius.”

Benicio Del Toro In Talks for Episode VIII

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy) confirmed that he is in discussion for a role in Star Wars: Episode VIII, "I can’t tell you much about it but I think that it might happen. It looks like it’s gonna happen so I’m very excited. I can’t talk too much about it. The script is hard to get. They told me they’d cut my finger if I talk about it." The currently untitled film is to be directed by Rian Johnson (Looper) for a May 2017 release.

Friday, August 14, 2015

First Look at Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens

Fan site Star Wars 7 News has posted an image of Luke Skywalker that was taken from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of note is the robes are very "Jedi" like as seen in the films and referenced in the (now no longer canon) video games and comics.

Entertainment Weekly Cover Story Reveals New Movie Images and Story Tidbits

In the cover article for this week's Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy discussed the film providing a few tidbits about the story and the characters along with a few images. The highlights are below. Click here for hi-def pictures and here for the full article.

- JJ Abrams decided to take on film when Kathleen Kennedy asked him "Who is Luke Skywalker?". Exploring that gave him chills.

- Did not reveal details of the post 30 years state of the world but said "Any good story has conflict. And if all were rosy 30-some years post-Jedi, we would be hard-pressed to find an interesting story to tell."

- The Empire has "morphed" into The First Order while a splinter group of the Rebels is called the Resistance with Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) a fighter for them.

- Leia somehow has Anakin's original lightsaber that Obi Wan recovered (Revenge of the Sith) and gave to Luke (A New Hope) who lost it when he lost his hand against Darth Vader (Empire Strikes Back).

- The main bad guys is Vader super fan Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), The First Order General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and First Order Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

- Force Awakens writer Lawrence Kasdan was also intrigued by the Who is Luke Skywalker question and exploring that 30 year gap for Han Solo and Leia.

- Abrams verified that he is not directing Episode IX (VII is being directed by Rian Johnson (Looper).

- Kylo Ren's mask was designed to be a nod to Vader's helmet while the lightsaber was hand built by Ren.

- Much like "Darth" is a Sith title, so too is "Ren" for Knights of Ren. As for what the knights are, Abrams didn't elaborate.

- Kasdan said "...there’s never been a character quite like [Kylo Ren]. ...he's full of emotion."

Star Wars Anthology Focused on Young Han Solo In Works

In an Entertainment Weekly interview with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, she confirmed that the second Star Wars Anthology film will focus on young Han Solo. The film is currently slated to be released on May 25, 201, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) and written by them along with Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens) and Jon Kasdan. Currently no one has been cast and no details on the script but Kennedy did comment on a few things.
“There’s got to be a reason for [the stand-alone film] to be. And obviously the thing that Star Wars has always done so well is it doesn’t spend a lot of time [explaining] the stories that have come before. We don’t want to do that either. We don’t want to spend time going back and answering a lot of questions that, quite frankly, I don’t think people want answered.”

“I think the key here is that we are identifying an event or events in Han Solo’s life that gives you some idea of who he is and why he is the character we have all known to love."

“You can imagine, given who we’ve chosen to come in and direct, it should be very entertaining and funny. Han Solo is the character inside Star Wars that everybody knows has a wit and sense of humor. So that’s what this should be.”

“He’ll definitely be probably in the high teens, low 20s. We’re not introducing you to a 10-year-old Han Solo.”
As for the third Anthology film, that is still set for 2020. It is rumored to be about Boba Fett but Kennedy didn't confirm it anyway besides saying "..we're definitely still developing it."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

International TV Spot for Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Below is a TV spot from South Korea that shows a few seconds of new footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All Changes Made to Original Star Wars Trilogy Over the Years

Below are four videos that provides a very comprehensive look at the (infamous) alternations that George Lucas made to the original Star Wars Trilogy between edition releases on home video. The key comparisons are probably a 1980s VHS 480p tapes (wish hadn't lost mine), 2004 DVD release and the 2011 Blu-ray release. The first two videos are for Episode IV: A New Hope, third one is for Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and the last is for Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

The comparison doesn't just cover CGI tweaks but sounds alterations, different or inserted lines, removed or added scenes and more. Keep in mind that because the source material is around 30 years old and not in HD, the original footage is often fuzzy and washed out looking and not specifically related to the comparison. I had for years read from fans how much they hated all the changes, some of which I remembered myself by only vaguely and the over all feeling I came away from watching these videos is most of the changes were not really that bad. In some cases they are a genuine improvement. The few that I didn't like usually involves unnecessarily adding lines (No!!) and yells when character silence tended to be more powerful for the scene. Of course replacement old Anakin with young Anakin remains moronic and completely unnecessary. For any fan of Star Wars, these vids are worth watching.

The Force Awakens Rumor of Character Death

Spoiler Warning!

Assuming the below turns out to be true (and there is currently zero evidence to support it), this is your spoiler warning.

EpicStream is reporting that they heard from an unnamed Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor that a major character from the original trilogy dies. The tidbit involves an overheard scene where he says "I don't know how he will cope without him" which indicates that either Chewbacca or Han Solo dies during the movie. Chewbacca has died once in officially approved novel form but that was retconned out when Disney shuttered the Extended Universe for fear it would confuse new viewers by allowing it to continue for older fans. The more likely candidate is Solo as Harrison Ford has long wanted to have his character die, going back to Return of the Jedi and I would not be the least bit surprised if his Force Awakens contract specifically stipulates that Solo dies so the actor doesn't have to worry about being bugged to return to the next two films of the trilogy. As usual with rumors, time will tell on which turn out to be true.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

SDCC 2015: Star Wars Panel Starts With BTS Reel, Ends in Concert

It seems JJ Abrams decided to go with the mantra of "go big or go home" for Friday's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). Moderated by Chris Hardwick (Nerdist, @midnight) included Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (who also wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), new good guys of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Issac (Poe Dameron) then the bad guys of Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhall Gleeson (General Hux) and Gwendonline Christie (Captain Phasma). If that wasn't enough, later Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford joined the panel.

During the panel Abrams showed a behind the scenes reel that showed off sets, props, actors (including Simon Pegg playing an alien) and more that teased various aspects of the movie. Usually these reels are never released to the public (for reasons I never understood) but Lucasfilm released that same reel to the public about the same time they showed it at SDCC (1st video below, screenshots here). By most standards that is enough for Star Wars to have won comic con but nope Abrams decided to kick it up a notch by inviting everyone at the panel to a Star Wars concert at the San Diego Symphony that ends in fireworks (3rd video). Below is a summary of key bits from the panel or you can watch the entire panel by clicking the second video below.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Star Wars Film Focused on Han Solo?

It seems the departure of Josh Trank has led to a re-evaluation of how Disney might handle their Star Wars Anthology films. The director was set to direct the second film that would focus on Boba Fett but now it seems the film might either be bumped or replaced with one that will focus on young Han Solo according to The Hollywood Reporter. If true it will be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the team behind The Lego Movie using a script from Lawrence and Jon Kasden with a release day of May 25, 2018. This would replace them directing The Flash for Warners Bros. Disney has not officially confirmed this news so it remains a rumor but THR tends to have solid sources for news like this.

Darth Vader Big Bad of Rogue One?

As always this is to be taken with a grain of salt but Birth Movies Death is reporting that Darth Vader might appear in Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One. The movie will be a prequel to 1977's Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope by showing how the plans for the first Star Wars were stolen and I assume made their way to Princess Leia's hands for the iconic opening of that movie. Darth Vader's role is described as "[Vader] will not be the main antagonist but he will be working behind the scenes, pulling strings and will appear onscreen. Literally, I'm told - he'll be showing up via viewscreen or holo projection or something." Considering the "time" of the film's setting, a cameo appearance of the character does make sense. As usual time will tell on rumors like this.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Andy Serkis' Star Wars Role

The thing about a JJ Abrams you need to understand up front is the secret cone of silence covers all aspects of production for as long as he can retain them. There is no secret to small that shouldn't be held back for a moronic amount of time even though his very own experience should tell him its better to focus on keeping the big stuff quiet and let the small stuff go. On the other hand the cone of silence means that little tidbits of news gets play all over the web forcing me to do the same. So what is the big news? Well we now know thanks to a picture from Vanity Fair that Andy Serkis is playing an all CGI character called "Supreme Leader Snoke".

I guess because Snake just seemed to on the nose (and Snape was already taken). Yep that is all. What is he leader of? No info. What does he look like? Remains in the cone of silence until a toy leak tells us. On the bright side Snoke will be partially created by the world's acting expert on motion capture so at least we know he will be interesting to watch regardless of how likely Abrams screws up the character itself (Abrams is extremely weak when it comes to characterizing bad guys). So until next time when the interwebs report with breathless abandon on what the character looks like.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You Day Character News

For Star Wars fans today was May the Fourth (as in Force) Be With You Day. Fans use it to let their fan flag fly while Disney and various news outlets used it to reveal new character info from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. None of it is really major or plot related but you finally get some confirmation on what a few characters names and who is playing them along with a few behind the scenes pics thanks to Vanity Fair.

Adam Driver has been confirmed to be playing sith Kylo Ren (the three pronged light saber wielder), Gwendoline Christie's character is Captain Phasma, an officer in the First Order of Stormtroopers and Lupita Nyong'o is playing Maz Kanata which is a pure CGI pirate. The full gallery of pictures can be found here or here. Below is a behind the scenes look at Vanity Fair's photoshoot for the film.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Director Fired from Star Wars Anthology II Film

Josh Trank is no longer the director of the second Star Wars Anthology film that is set for release in 2018. This isn't to be confused with Gareth Edwards helmed Star Wars Anthology - Rogue One film. Trank, most known for directing Chronicle and upcoming Fantastic Four, was given a chance to give the appearance that it was a mutual decision between the Disney, the film producers, and himself.
"After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I'm making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I've put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities. That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn't be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans."
In other words it reads as "creative differences." Which while common for Hollywood, is not common for a director trying to build his career and credentials. Nor is it common to turn down one of the largest franchises in history that would not only have netted him a ton of money over the course of his life and benefited his director career to the point he probably get to choose whatever project he wanted. Basically for him to "voluntarily" give up this job would be like you getting the winning multi-million dollar lottery ticket and choosing to tear it up instead of cashing it. That just isn't how human nature works.

Before I could post this, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed my doubts by reporting he was flat out fired by Kathleen Kennedy based on problems from the set of the Fantastic Four as reported to her by Star Wars and Fantastic Four producer Simon Kinberg. It seems that the director was often unavailable (which would grind much of production to a halt) and indecisive (a no-no for any director considering the volume of work that needs their approval). To be blunt it comes across like the director was high as a kite most of the time. This resulted in producers having to step into director-type roles, expensive re-shoots including filming in late April and replacing the film's editor. Considering that Star Wars is one of Disney's crown jewels, they wouldn't want to risk damaging the franchise on a director that doesn't seem up to a task will be several orders of magnitude more difficult with a level of required decision making and pressure that would make doing the Fantastic Four seem like a walk in the park. Even if the stories are not true, its still too much of a risk for Disney to make and so Trank is no longer in a position to make a career defining film. Trank better hope Fantastic Four doesn't bomb because there is no way his directing career could recover from that one-two punch.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One Is A Prequel

This weekend during Star Wars Celebration, a panel was held to discuss Rogue One. It is still in the movie's development cycle but Gareth Edwards (director) did drop a few tidbits of information. To start the new official title is "Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One" with Anthology added to differentiate the movies from the upcoming trilogy of films.

One of the most important bits finally provides a little insight on what the movie is about. The official synopsis "A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One.” This places the movie just before the beginning of the very first Star Wars film. The one known cast member, Felicity Jones, will play one of the rebels that steals the plans. Because of when it is set that means all the Jedi are considered extinct (except for the random few that will probably pop up as various movies, cartoons, and books need them too) so it will focus on characters without any power sets.

The last bit is the genre of the film. On the surface it sounds like a heist movie but apparently Edwards inspirations for the film are military in nature such as Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty where its a few against many and the potentially amoral decisions that must be made to survive and complete the mission. The image to the right is test concept footage that was shown during the panel.