Star Wars: Episode VII

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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If you’re reading this, chances are pretty high that you’ve got some vested interest in Star Wars. And if that’s the case, than you must have seen the same thing I did this weekend: Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s face plastered across every film news site in the known universe, with the words Star Wars: Episode VII following shortly after. The anticipation swells as you think of Ejiofor and Star Wars as a perfect match; he’s got talent and charisma galore, and Serenity proves he’s no stranger to the space opera action adventure. His name even sounds a little like “Chewie.” That’s got to mean something. And then you actually read beyond the words “Chiwetel Ejiofor” and “Star Wars” and that giddy excitement transforms back into the same dull Star Wars-less banality of everyday life. Here’s the connection The Times discovered between Ejiofor and Episode VII director J. J. Abrams. “The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, front-runner in this year’s Oscar race, is sitting in the lobby of J. J. Abrams’ office.” Then, when prodded about Ejiofor’s office-lobby involvement, Abrams drops this juicy morsel: “I can’t discuss casting. But he’s a very talented gentleman.”

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news kasdan writing episode vii

Remember how excited you were when Disney and Lucasfilm announced their merger and the scheduled arrival of Star Wars Episode VII for 2015? That seems like so long ago that you’d be forgiven for having expected some sort of casting announcement by now beyond the usual rumors (Benedict Cumberbatch!) and threats (Justin Bieber!). Well there’s finally been an official (and rather pompously titled) announcement, and while it has nothing to do with casting it explains why it has nothing to do with casting. Michael Arndt‘s script is off the table, and Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams are drafting a new one. The news has had the expected results online with seemingly the majority of people piling on the negative comments regarding both Abrams and Kasdan. Abrams never stood a chance in the public eye, but Kasdan? A common rejoinder has been the terribly witty rhetorical question, “What has Kasdan done for us lately? That’s right, Dreamcatcher.” This is followed by loud laughter and much sobbing. These people are idiots.

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Letting go of a loved one is tough, but it’s something we all must do at some point. And George Lucas is no different. He and his son, the twenty year-old Jett Lucas, recently went through a similar experience, of a father releasing his child into the world to grow and develop on its own, without that constant parental influence. The child in question, of course, isn’t Jett Lucas. It’s Star Wars: Episode VII. The younger Lucas described his father as keeping a close eye on his beloved franchise, “as any parent watching their kid going to college would.” But the Star Wars creator seems to have had a tough time staying away, and has, as it turns out, been exerting far more influence over Episode VII than previously thought. Jett Lucas (in an interview with Flicks and the City) had this to say: “He’s constantly talking to J.J. [Abrams]. Obviously J.J. was handpicked. He [Lucas] is there to guide, whenever, he’ll help where he can.” As well, the elder Lucas had actually begun work on Episode VII a year before the franchise was sold to Disney, and has created a set of “guidelines” that Abrams and the rest of the new blood will be following. With luck, it’s the Lucas responsible for the original Star Wars (and not the one responsible for the prequel trilogy) that’s currently helicopter-parenting a few feet above Episode VII.

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starwars

Seeing as Star Wars fandom is a thing that goes back a good 36 years now, its community of enthusiasts have, over time, become an eclectic group who represent a multitude of different age groups, backgrounds, and opinions. Just go to any Star Wars message board around the Internet and you’ll see a steady and healthy stream of debate about a whole host of subjects, from classic arguments like why George Lucas had Luke kiss his sister in A New Hope, to more modern debates around which changes made to the Special Edition films were positive and which were negative, to immediate concerns about whether or not JJ Abrams is going to include any known characters from ancillary Star Wars novels in his upcoming Episode VII. Two things that pretty much every Star Wars fan can agree on, though, are that a Star Wars movie just wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without John Williams handling the music, and that Lucas—heady with the possibilities presented by new technologies—went way overboard with making everything in the Prequel Trilogy CG, to the point where he ended up making a series of live action movies that largely look like glossy, crappy cartoons. Well, some new announcements coming out of Star Wars Celebration Europe address both of these issues, and they’re the kind of announcements that will likely be seen as reason to celebrate for Star Wars fanatics.

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Star Wars 7 Script

Bad Robot recently tweeted this picture, asking fans to guess what was behind the cover. Sporting red pages to make it harder to copy (unless you diabolically own a color printer and an entire barrel of red ink), the even money is on this being Michael Arndt‘s script for Star Wars: Episode VII. It could also be a special 12th anniversary edition of the Joy Ride screenplay, or they might be trying to hype up their Micronauts project right before Comic-Con, or they might have bound together the production team’s lunch orders from this year in brass tabs. But, yeah, even money is still on Star Wars.

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b031-header

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who think there’s a conspiracy behind the superhero trend. For your consideration, Episode #31:

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dumber

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve, of course, got the latest name to be confirmed for the Veronica Mars movie, as well as some info about the casting process for Star Wars: Episode VII. They’ve been talking about putting together a sequel to Dumb and Dumber for quite some time now. The project has seen its share of ups and downs, however, and many people have probably started to think that it’s just one of those things that’s never going to happen. A new report from Deadline claims that those fears are unfounded though. They’re reporting that Dumb and Dumber To has just landed in the lap of Universal, and not only are Peter and Bobby Farrelly on board to direct and do a re-write of the current script, but both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are on board to reprise their roles of Harry and Lloyd, as well. And more than that even, this is said to be a movie that’s been put on the fast track, so it should see scheduling starting soon. That all sounds pretty official, right?

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Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-trio

It’s hard to watch Star Trek Into Darkness and not think about Star Wars. Yes, J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII and so we have that knowledge on the brain going into this. Maybe we’re even on the lookout for clues hinting at what we should expect from his take on that galaxy. This isn’t the first time the Trek franchise has had to try and prove itself in the shadow of George Lucas’s own series. Even though it originated with a TV show in the 1960s, Trek‘s cinematic resurrection a decade later was in part allowed by and somewhat influenced by the success and quality of the first Star Wars. But even regardless of the fact that Abrams is following the latest Trek with the next Wars, I often otherwise felt like I was watching one of the latter while sitting through Into Darkness. Before getting into the evidence that Abrams is a clear fan of Lucasfilm works (and not just Star Wars) and likes to sample from them, let’s take a moment to think about what all his call back references and allusions to both Wars and Trek might mean for Episode VII. Will there be too much winking and fan-service, unhidden Easter eggs and inside jokes and maybe even outright recycling the way Into Darkness is with certain prior Trek installments? Could Episode VII have a number of allusions to Trek the way Into Darkness pays obvious homage to Wars? Rather than creating new worlds of his […]

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Star Wars

Did you think that the summer blockbuster movie season was full enough already? Not sure you could handle another major release? Had your fill of superheroes and sci-fi and comic books? Too bad. While we’ve long known that the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII installment would likely hit in the summer of 2015, news at Cinema Con reveals that Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm are just going whole hog on the entire thing and taking over summers with new Star Wars for the foreseeable future. Both ComingSoon and FirstShowing report that Episode VII will indeed hit theaters sometime in the summer of 2015, and that it will be followed every summer thereafter by a new Star Wars film, with the new traditional Star Wars eps alternating with those standalone character-centric films we’ve all been chattering about. While we know that we’re getting a new trilogy, we’re still not sure of how many standalone films we’re going to be getting, so it’s probably best just to block off your summers for the next decade or so. You weren’t busy, right?

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Lando Calrissian

As we all know, the new Star Wars franchise is going to need Billy Dee Williams. Without him, the movies will be at least 12% less cool. The good news is that the production knows that. The bad news is that it might not be a possibility. According to Film Buff, the actor was asked about returning as Lando Calrissian for the new series while attending the Monster Mania Convention, and the response was non-committal. Apparently Williams has been asked to come back but hasn’t decided whether he’ll do so or not. Like the site wisely points out, his potential pass may have more to do with his age (a timeless 76) than his desire to wear a baby blue cloak again. No matter the reason, it looks like Episode VII may have to suffer through being 12% less charming, but here’s hoping that Williams is willing and able to, at the very least, roll through in cameo capacity. Or that hologram technology gets good enough to put him on film without the actor ever having to visit the set.

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Carrie Fisher

What is Casting Couch? Yesterday it was mostly about a bunch of dudes who got jobs acting in movies, today it’s mostly about a bunch of ladies who got jobs acting in movies—ladies from the show Mad Men in a couple of cases. Tomorrow? Who knows. UPDATED: CNN now reports that Fisher was “joking.” Sure. Probably Carrie Fisher was supposed to wait for some sort of official announcement from the new Disney-owned Lucasfilm’s marketing team before she went and confirmed what we all were thinking, that the main players from George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy are going to be showing up in J.J. Abrams‘ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. But Carrie Fisher being Carrie Fisher, she seems to have gotten sick of all the questioning and just confirmed that she’s coming back anyway. And she confirmed it to Palm Beach Illustrated, of all outlets. When asked if she could confirm that she would be reprising her role as Leia Organa for Abrams, Fisher simply responded, “Yes.” Oh, Carrie Fisher, never change.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

With the world all abuzz about J.J. Abrams stepping up as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, it almost feels like we’ve forgotten that there’s still another Abrams-directed Star Trek movie that we haven’t gotten to see yet, and chances are it’s going to be pretty awesome. So, in order to remind us to spend money on Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, the promotional team behind Star Trek Into Darkness has put out a new behind the scenes featurette that talks up how crazy the movie is going to be and how it’s such a complete filmgoing experience that it’s essentially the last movie you’ll ever need to see (until the next one). What’s in the video? Well, honestly it’s just a series of the film’s big effects shots interspersed with talking heads interviews with Abrams and some of his cast members, but it’s worth a watch to get a sense of just what the expectations for this film are. Abrams calls the movie “the most fun and challenging experience that I’ve had” and “everything I’ve done wrapped into one movie,” and great pains are made to promote how much bigger in scope this sequel is than Abrams’ first Star Trek movie and what a relentless and action-packed roller coaster ride it is.

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Star Wars

While the news that Disney chose J.J. Abrams to direct their first go-around with the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode VII, hasn’t been universally accepted as good news by everyone, it’s hard to argue the fact that there were far worse candidates the studio could have tapped. And now another piece of news regarding how Disney plans on handling the Star Wars franchise has hit, and it’s one that’s probably going to give nervous fans a little bit more confidence in their decision making going forward. Remember how Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was post-converted to 3D and re-released in theaters, and how everyone was up in arms because not only is the film geek community sick of movies getting shoddy 3D conversions, but they’re doubly sick of everything getting recycled and repackaged, and they didn’t ever really like Lucas’ Prequel Trilogy in the first place? Sure you remember, all of us have at least that one Star Wars-obsessed friend who takes everything involving the franchise way too seriously and then talks your ear off about it. Well, the good new is, according to Deadline, the new Disney-owned Lucas Film has decided to scrap the planned 3D conversions of Episode II and Episode III, and instead focus all of their energy on the Abrams-helmed Episode VII. So there are two less things we’re going to have to listen to people bitch about.

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JJ Abrams with George Lucas

J.J. Abrams is a no-brainer for Star Wars: Episode VII. He’s proven himself as a popular storyteller of science fiction by working with, among others, a giant international franchise that takes place in space. He’s also a self-diagnosed fan of George Lucas‘ grand creation — a factor that went into his feigned earlier denial of the directing gig when speculation was at its peak. From a business angle, from a fan angle, from every angle, he’s the ideal filmmaker to take over for the franchise. Which is why his hiring is potentially terrible. It all boils down to two key problems. One, the consolidation of creative visions under too few roofs, and two, the potential for a generic future of a revolutionary franchise.

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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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What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that’s ready for the weekend. Colin Firth is kind of a sneaky hunk. At first glance he’s pretty handsome, but not the most attractive dude in the world, and then he’s got this charm to him that just grows on you until you’ve scrawled his name on all of your Trapper Keepers. He’s such saucy dish that it looks like he can make even a big name star like Nicole Kidman develop a schoolgirl crush. THR is reporting that she liked playing his wife in the recent World War II drama The Railway Man so much that she’s now actively recruiting him to join her in her next project, Before I Go to Sleep. Apparently, Before I Go to Sleep is an adaptation of a S.J. Watson novel about an amnesiac woman whose husband must reintroduce himself to her every morning. Early attempts at titling the film The Rich Man’s 50 First Dates were reportedly rejected by the studio.

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Star Wars

Before we get into today’s line-up of fresh Star Wars Episode VII talk, can we just take one moment to reflect on how truly insane it is that we’re reporting on an entire string of rumors about a seventh Star Wars film that is actually being made within mere months? Have we thought about that enough? Yes? Okay. First up, more director rumors! (We know you guys love these.) Joining the ranks of Zack Snyder, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino, J.J. Abrams has weighed in on his potential for helming the film with a big, fat, resounding “no.” The director told Hollywood Life: “Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time…I frankly feel that – I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more then anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!” Cross Abrams off the list (probably). And what about Jon Favreau? Favs gave a bit of a riff on Abrams’ answer to the outlet, saying: “I think both J.J. and I come from a generation of people who formed our whole creative persona around what […]

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Timothy Zahn

Old school Star Wars fanatics had a long wait between George Lucas’ original trilogy and the launch of his prequel trilogy in 1999. So, to get their Star Wars fix, many turned to the expanded universe of Star Wars-themed comic books, novels, toys, video games, and what have you. At this point there’s a wealth of Star Wars stories and Star Wars characters who have never actually appeared in one of George Lucas’ Star Wars films; stories and characters that have legions of fans in their own right. The materials that get most often referenced by Star Wars geeks trying to educate newbies about the expanded universe are probably Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” of novels, which take place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, are already widely embraced by Star Wars fans, and have generally been thought of as the logical starting point if anyone were going to make Star Wars: Episode VII and beyond.

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Star Wars

You know the story. At this point it’s basically the new shot heard ‘round the world: Disney has bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, George Lucas is retiring from the Star Wars game, and three more Star Wars films are planned for production starting in 2015. Lucas and the new Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy, have stated that they have archives of story treatments for more books, TV shows, and films… but with Lucas stepping back from the property, who are they going to get to direct these next three episodes in the ongoing Star Wars adventure? Let’s take a look at some candidates, whether they be likely, unlikely, or long shots.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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