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:
I can only say that Gwendoline Christie is my favorite. She just killed it. You think, “Well, what? It’s wearing a costume.” But it’s a lot to wear and to have a performance when you’re wearing that requires a different kind of skill set and an additional talent, and she’s got it. It’s an incredible thing to work with her. I am glad that a character has been designed that is visually as stunning as that is, because she deserves it and the fans do to. When I first saw that design my mind was blown because it looked so undeniable.
Colin [Trevorrow] doesn’t need my advice, he’s going to kill it. But I will say that he is going to be spoiled by this remarkable cast and incredible crew. I’m jealous that he gets to work with them, because they’re terrific, all of them.

Obviously it’s star wars and there are going to be thousands of CG shots in this movie, but it was really important to us that wherever it didn’t need to be, it wasn’t. It’s incredible how much gets sort pushed off to solve later. We’ll shoot it on blue and figure it out later. We’ll shoot it on green and we’ll make this up later. It was really important for a sense of authenticity that the set be built, the exterior, interior, that we go to real locations that were actually in the sun.

I know it sounds silly, but in the behind the scenes reel you see this giant gimbal of the Millennium Falcon cockpit and it was outdoors. The reason we did it – we didn’t have to do that, but the reason we wanted to was, you just can’t fake sunlight. You can do a pretty good imitation, but you can just tell. There was something about wanting to see Daisy’s character actually sitting in the cockpit with sunlight streaking across in motion. It’s a little detail and I’m not sure anyone’s going to care abut that, but it’s an incredible thing when you see it just how much better it looks because it’s real. So we just tried to do that as much as we could and it was often challenging but it was worth it.

There were these amazing people in the costume department who were sitting and punching in the hair – they literally take a needle that has the round part cut off and using it to punch in one hair at a time. They sit there for weeks at a time to finish the arm. It’s an incredibly time consuming job, and it seems like a thankless job, but I kept trying to thank them because they were doing such an amazing job. You can’t deny Chewbacca, so people were just constantly – whoever would visit the set or be there, even some extras, before the day was over they would go over and embrace Chewbacca. It was an ongoing thing, and one of the casualties was patches of hair on the suit.

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