Wednesday, September 13, 2017

JJ Abrams To Direct Episode IX as Movie Moves to December

Disney and Lucasfilm has officially announced the replacement for Colin Trevorrow on Star Wars: Episode IX. The Force Awakens director and co-writer JJ Abrams will once again perform his dual role work for the the ninth movie with co-writer Chris Terrio. The studio said "J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm. 'With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,' said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy."

In addition, the movie is moving from its planned May 24, 2019 release to December 20, 2019. The change isn't really a surprise since Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and Han Solo are all December releases. Might as well stick to the pattern and own the Holiday movie season year after year rather then getting mixed up with all the summer tent pole movies.

This should eliminate any director strife as JJ Abrams set the template that Kathleen Kennedy has really been following even if has not quite recognized it. Her stated goal was to seek out new voices that would add to the franchise but really she wanted safe voices and you can't get safer then JJ Abrams. I can't say I am excited by the choice as making The Force Awakens a rehash of A New Hope didn't do anything to grant confidence and his long history of TV shows and movies have indicated an strong ability to setup interesting mysteries but poor ability at follow through and concluding those mysteries in a satisfying way as I suspect he forgets that to figure out the solution while coming up with the problem/mystery. I guess we will see in two years.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Star Wars IX Seeking New Director

The Star Wars franchise director problems continue as director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) has left Star Wars: Episode IX. "Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon," read a Lucasfilm statement.

The movie is currently in the scripting, pre-production design phase so best guess is just too many arguments between Lucasfilm and Trevorrow on the tone, story, and look and feel of the movie. Trevorrow showed he can play in others playground and build on what came before with Jurassic World so can't help but wonder exactly what happened to indicate that wasn't possible here. One theory is that Lucasfilm lost confidence in him after the commercial failure of The Book of Henry (which suffered from a horrible script and lazy ending) but that strikes me as unlikely as that film was never high on anyone's radar to begin with. Apparently some of the problems could be with the script as Jack Thorne (Wonder) was hired last month to give the Episode IX another pass.

This is the fourth director to be replaced in that last two years with JJ Abrams and soon Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) to emerge unscathed from Lucasfilm desire to get director's with new takes while not really wanting them to bring any new takes to the table. Gareth Edwards was effectively replaced on Rogue One by Tony Gilroy. Josh Trank was fired from a potential Boba Fett film that has now been indefinitely tabled for rumors of being extremely indecisive (an absolute no-no for any director since their day is nothing but decision making) on the Fantastic Four movie which eventually bombed spectacularly. The final two was Phil Lord and Chris Miller being replaced by Ron Howard on the Han Solo film near the end of principle photography due to conflicts with Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) along with entirely to much improv for what is not supposed to be a pure comedy film. Basically there is not true pattern to the firings except it seems that maybe Lucasfilm is following one hit wonder directors a little to much instead of waiting until they have a few hits under their belt. Ultimately they really want directors that are use to merging their vision (or compromising depending on point of view) with the studio's vision and that is something that comes with experience.

A rumor has already emerged that Rian Johnson is being considered as the replacement director which is possible but I imagine Lucasfilm would want to see how The Last Jedi does first. Regardless without a script the director position can wait a little while. ILM can work on pre-production designs without a director but it will mean redoing things once one is picked as the first thing a new boss always wants to do is add their stamp to things whether it needs it or not so any designs they come up with, no matter how good, will get notes on things to change by the new director. From a fan perspective it doesn't mean a thing as this occurred early enough in the film-making process to have no impact on the release date for Episode IX and likely no real impact on the already planned conclusion to the current trilogy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Lucasfilm Looking To Make Obi-Wan Movie

With talk of the Star Wars Boba Fett movie, the question has become who else might Lucasfilm do the next non-Episode movie after Han Solo. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it appears they have turned their money making machine to Obi-Wan Kenobi with Oscar nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) in talks to direct the film. There is no script, no indication of era it would be set in and as a result it means its too early to assume Ewan McGregor will be offered a chance to reprise the role. Considering the last two movies are more or less set as prequels to A New Hope, I would not be the least bit surprised if we get old man Kenobi on Tatooine as he secretly keeps teenager Luke safe from afar. That would allow them to cast a new older actor in the role. Considering this director's entire filmography is nothing but high drama and zero action, an older quietly working Ben using Force moves not lightsabers while trying to survive on a desert planet would fit right in his scope of experience. However this is still very early stages, as we have learned with all the problems Lucasfilm has experienced with directors, until principle photography begins there is no guarantee of a film and even then the director it starts with may not be the director it ends with.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Two Short Vids from the Star Wars: Han Solo Set

If one thing bringing Ron Howard to the set of Han Solo has shown - its how an experienced master "should" be teasing an upcoming film. JJ Abrams and others have taken the over kill approach of putting a cone of silence on everything. Characters names, vague descriptions, costumes, and other plot irrelevant details are treated as if they are state secrets that will blow the entire movie wide open if revealed (only to learn later that holding back those details was just silly.) Ron Howard instead of merrily tweets short videos and the occasional picture from the set. None reveal a thing about the movie and still maintain the cone of silence but at least gives fans the illusion they are part of things. Its the cake and eat it too solution that for some reasons others are incapable of. Today the director tweeted two short videos (see below) that shows a green screen junk yard like set, lets us know it involves a crane while another shows an old speeder decaying on a icy ground. What useful thing did we learn? Not a thing but we feel like we did. That is marketing mastery at its finest.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi EW Cover, Links

This weeks Entertainment Weekly covers Star Wars: The Last Jedi that includes new images from the movie. While the actors do talk about the film, they do dance around providing anything specific about the story. If your interested you can find the four stories here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Images | Summary of articles