Star Wars 7

the Empire Strikes Back

The story typically goes something like this. In the 1960s, Hollywood had weathered an economic crisis but was losing an ongoing battle with television, so it turned to youth-oriented, smaller projects and gave unprecedented freedom to envelope-pushing directors who worshipped in the churches of Bergman, Kurosawa, Hawkes. Then Jaws (huge) and Star Wars (way huge) came along in the mid-late 70s, imbuing Hollywood with a renewed focus on entertainment spectacle that has, for the most part, dominated its practice since. George Lucas’s original Star Wars without doubt had a significant role in shifting the industrial history of Hollywood toward what we recognize today. It illustrated the lucrative possibilities of mass merchandising, helped elevate B-movie genre fare to A-movie status, and contributed to the now-entrenched thinking that informs our annual movie calendars: the notion that big, expensive fun belongs on our summer movie screens. Yet despite its arguably peerless impact on popular culture in 1977, Star Wars alone resides far more comfortably alongside the film school generation of New Hollywood than the blockbuster mentality it allegedly produced. Rather, it was the film’s 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back that made good the changes that have since come to dominate the logic of today’s Hollywood.

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Star Wars

Yesterday’s official announcement that J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII is set to hit theaters on December 18, 2015 was a long time coming – after months of chatter (not all of it especially heartening), it was high time that Disney and Lucasfilm gave us something official and tangible to chew on. A release date! Line up now! Or probably don’t because that’s actually insane. But like the announcement of any highly anticipated release date, the news that the newest Star Wars will arrive just in time for the 2015 holiday season comes complete with plenty of analysis. Why now? Why then? Why? Here’s your short answer – December 2015 is when the film needs to be ready (at least financially speaking), it’s a target date the film’s creative team thinks they can hit, and it’s perfectly poised to pull in lots of holiday dollars. That’s it – timing and money. In fact, that’s what most release date setting consists of, finding a spot for a film that will guarantee a finished product and the chance to make some return. But that doesn’t mean we can’t just overanalyze this thing to high heaven in the meantime. After all, December 2015 is a long, long way away. (It’s practically in its own galaxy.)

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jjabramsstartrek2

Here’s what we know: there will be a new Star Wars movie in the next few years (2015 to be more precise). Currently producer Kathleen Kennedy has Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt working on a script for Episode VII of the saga. George Lucas will serve as a consultant. In today’s round of “it might be true but might be completely made up” Star Wars Episode VII news, several reputable outlets including Deadline and LA Times are reporting that J.J. Abrams has been chosen by Disney and Co. to head up the rebirth of one of the most prosperous franchises in the history of cinema. Which is interesting, as Abrams actively denied involvement, placing him on the ever-growing list of who won’t direct Star Wars Episode VII. Whether or not this story is true could be held inside Abrams’ Mystery Box for all we know, but it is notable that it’s making the round with otherwise responsible outlets. It would be unprecedented to see Abrams take over Star Wars just after rebooting Star Trek, but it also might not be such a bad thing. As Star Trek fans can attest, Abrams does have the goods. In more concrete news, Abrams does have Star Trek Into Darkness coming out on May 17.

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Zack Snyder

UPDATED: THR reached out to Snyder’s reps, who told them:  “While he is super flattered because he is a huge fan, Zack is not involved in any way with the new Star Wars. He is currently in post on his two films, Man of Steel and 300: Battle of Artemisia.” Just for the sake of clarity – we still don’t know who is directing Star Wars: Episode VII (though, we certainly know who is not directing it), but that little piece of key information hasn’t seemed to sway the trickle of still more chatter about the Star Wars movie universe and what other projects we can start expecting to see. Next up, Vulture reports that the reason director Zack Snyder put the kibosh on rumors that he could direct the seventh Star Wars is because he might already be busy making a Star Wars film. Wait, what? The outlet reports that the filmmaker is “developing a Star Wars project for Lucasfilm that is set within the series’ galaxy, though parallel to the next trilogy. It will be an as-yet-untitled Jedi epic loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai, with the ronin and katana being replaced by the Force-wielding knights and their iconic lightsabers.” It’s still somewhat unclear when exactly Snyder’s new project would take place in the Star Wars chronology, but Vulture also reports that “one insider expects it will not be considered part of the ‘numbered’ episodes, but rather a stand-alone film set sometime post–Episode VI events, […]

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Ever since the surprising announcement that we have a new Star Wars on the way, just about every movie site on the web has started running lists (including us!) of who they’d love to see direct it. I’m sure Matthew Vaughn‘s name was on more than a few of those lists (as it turned on, he didn’t appear on ours), and it seems there’s a small, small chance of that dream coming true. According to (an unconfirmed rumor on) Collider, Vaughn is in discussions to direct. First of all, take this story with a grain of salt. New Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy is probably having a lot of discussions with all kinds of directors, considering how many people would die to take a crack at Star Wars. Vaughn is most likely one of those guys and on a list of hopeful prospects they have, just like their list for who they’d want to play the old, whiny Luke Skywalker.

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