April 21, 2014

Tag Archives: Star Wars

Star Trek may bleed into Star Wars – J.J. Abrams

So, it’s officially official. Disney just put out a press release, which means I can write about it without fear of it being debunked moments after publication. J.J. Abrams is indeed directing Star Wars: Episode VII. And what do I have to say about that? Well… not much really.
There is indeed a part of me that feels that it is wholly inappropriate and/or unnatural that the same director will be behind new Star Trek *and* new Star Wars movies. Back in the old days, I believed in the perhaps simplistic idea that every franchise would get their own special director. Sam Raimi had Spider-Man, Bryan Singer had X-Men, and Chris Nolan had Batman. Obviously that idea no longer exists.
Bryan Singer can helm X-Men and then go on to attempt to reboot Superman with Superman Returns before taking back the X-Men franchise from Matthew Vaughn, who is now rumored to be among Warner’s top choices for a Justice League movie. Even with more and more franchises being rebooted and/or changing hands, it seems like an awfully incestuous little circle, with only a handful of directors seemingly ending up helming these major properties. Say what you will about Marvel, but they deserve kudos for thinking outside the box on pretty much every major film thus far when it comes to a director.
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Disney confirms J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars: Episode VII

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”
“To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.
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George Lucas Talks About Star Wars

HollywoodNews.com: Sirius XM Radio today announced that it will broadcast an in-depth interview conducted by Senator Bill Bradley with award-winning filmmaker George Lucas—the legendary creator of the Star Wars Saga and Indiana Jones series and chairman of Lucasfilm, Ltd.—on a special edition of Senator Bradley’s SiriusXM show American Voices.
Lucas discusses a variety of topics throughout the interview, including: his evolution as a filmmaker and storyteller and the role technology played on this journey; his philosophy on education in America; what inspired him to make Red Tails and the importance of sharing the history of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen with the youngest generation of African-Americans in our country today; and the spiritual life lessons woven into the Star Wars Saga.

Senator Bradley’s interview with George Lucas will premiere Wednesday, March 7 at 11:00 am ET on SiriusXM Stars (channel 107). Encore presentations will air all week on SiriusXM Stars, including: March 7 at 11:30 am, 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm; Friday, March 9 at 7:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm and 8:30 pm; Saturday, March 10 at 12:00 pm, 12:30 pm, 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm and Sunday, March 11 at 6:00 am, 6:30 am, 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 11:00 pm and 11:30 pm (all times ET). The Bradley-Lucas interview will also air throughout the weekend on SiriusXM Stars Too (channel 104). The complete programming schedule is available www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmstars.
Video excerpts from Senator Bradley’s SiriusXM interview with George Lucas are available at www.youtube.com/siriusxm.com.
George Lucas is the critically acclaimed director of THX 1138, as well as the producer of a myriad of independent films. In 1973, he directed and co-wrote American Graffiti, which won the Golden Globe and garnered five Academy Award® nominations. Four years later, Lucas’ Star Wars broke all box-office records and set new standards for sophistication in film visuals and sound. Lucas continued the Star Wars Saga as storywriter and executive producer with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, followed by Return of the Jedi in 1983. He returned to directing in 1999 with Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the first major live-action film to be projected digitally. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones broke new ground as the first major movie shot using entirely digital media. Lucas is the creator of the classic Indiana Jones character, and co-wrote and executive-produced Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom [...]

The Phantom Menace is about to out-gross The Dark Knight!

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: With just $1 million separating the two films, today or tomorrow is likely the day when one of the more reviled films in geek-ville, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, will surpass one of the more openly worshipped geek film in recent years, The Dark Knight, at the global box office.
As of Wednesday, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace crossed $1 billion, becoming the eleventh film to do so and the first Star Wars film to cross said benchmark. Obviously there is inflation and 3D price-bumps to figure, but just remember that The Phantom Menace’s adjusted-for-inflation grosses from 1999 would equal about $664 million in domestic grosses alone (it earned $431 million in the summer of 1999, the second-largest grossing first-run film behind Titanic at that point). And don’t forget that a number of major fantasy films, chiefly the first three Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, have had several theatrical releases since their initial respective debuts.
In the days before VHS became mainstream, it was not uncommon for popular films to show up repeatedly at a theater near you. With the apparent consumer appeal of 3D-converted re-releases, we are seeing a return to what may be a revolving door atop the list of all-time box office champions.
One immediate effect of these 3D-converted releases is the fact that a number of benchmarks will be arbitrarily altered as a result of these successful re-releases. If Titanic earns $161 million in the US during its 3D-release this April, it will swap places with Avatar (now at $760 million) at the top of the domestic box office chart. We all witnesses how The Lion King added $166 million to its international coffers to leapfrog several places up the domestic and worldwide list, ending as the biggest-grossing cartoon of all-time on both fronts. Should this September’s 3D release of Finding Nemo proved as popular (if not more-so), we could again see another rearranging of the list for top-grossing cartoons. Hell, if Warner Bros cares (they probably don’t), they may try to do some kind of Dark Knight re-release in early July to get fans pumped for the third installment, which may allow the film to make up whatever ground its lost to the Star Wars prequel.
What if Warner Bros. decides to invest in [...]

‘The Vow’ breaks records, ‘Safe House’ opens huge

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Wow. Just wow. Four major releases debuted this weekend and every single one of them opened with superb numbers. On one hand, that means that every respective demographic was ably served this weekend. On the other hand, one can only wonder how much cash was sacrificed by opening these four movies on the same weekend. Anyway, the top film of the weekend was the Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum romantic drama The Vow. The $30 million Screen Gems drama, which by the way is NOT based on a Nicholas Sparks novel (it’s a true story), debuted with an eye-popping $41 million, a record for the studio. That’s well-over $10 million more than the $30.4 million debut of Dear John, which was the previous record-holder for an opening weekend for a pure romantic drama. The film played 55% under-25 years old and 72% female. Obviously everything clicked on the marketing for this one, and Channing Tatum is now the official king of the romantic drama, having headlined the first one to open with more than $30 million and now the first one to open with over $40 million, while Rachel McAdams is the queen, now holding the first and fourth-biggest opening weekend for an unfiltered romantic drama ($18 million for The Time Traveler’s Wife). Where it goes from here is an open question, as Dear John did not have the strongest legs, topping out at $80 million (or just below the $81 million gross of Rachel McAdam’s The Notebook). On the plus side, The Vow doesn’t have the same-demo blockbuster Valentine’s Day nipping on its heals like Dear John did. Plus, even if The Vow has the same quick-kill performance (2.6x weekend-to-final multiplier), it will become the first pure romantic drama (no explosions, no action scenes, no mass-disaster in the third act) to cross $100 million since Jerry McGuire in 1996.
The second major opener was the Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House. The R-rated film opened with $39 million, which is one of the biggest non-sequel/non-animated openings in Universal Studios history. This is Denzel Washington’s second-biggest opening, behind the $43 million debut of Universal’s American Gangster (which also starred Russell Crowe) while it’s Reynold’s third-biggest debut, behind Green Lantern ($52 million) and his glorified cameo as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($85 million). The ads [...]

Defending Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Like so many who read and write about movies, I saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on Wednesday, May 19th, at 12:01am. Like many who read and write about movies, I did not think it was the greatest film of all time. But like the majority of the movie-going public, I also did not think it was the worst film of all time, nor did I find it to be some kind of glorious affront to cinema as an art form. And 13 years later, it is what it always was: a Star Wars movie through-and-through. It has problems unique to itself, unique to the prequel trilogy, and even some problems that have existed in the series right at the start. Taking away the fact that one film was a cinematic breakthrough an launched the fandom of a hundred-million would-be movie lovers and the other was released under the crushing expectations of two generations of film fans, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is really no better or worse than Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
One is overly revered because it was the first film in the series and had the benefit that comes with discovery. The other was crushed by the weight of impossible expectations. Objectively speaking, they are both fine introductions to their respective trilogies which pave the way for arguably superior sequels (you may prefer Star Wars to Return of the Jedi, I happen to prefer The Phantom Menace to the somewhat pandering but admittedly more entertaining Attack of the Clones). They both suffer from campy acting, stilted dialogue and inconsistent pacing. The Phantom Menace lacks a rouge-ish Han Solo character, even if the film (by virtue of being the fourth entry in a long-running series) doesn’t need a cynical ‘audience surrogate’ this time around. Natalie Portman was always unfairly derided for not playing Queen Amadala as a clone of Carrie Fisher’s Princess Lea. Her somewhat cold, Elizabethan portrayal is both her best performance in the prequel trilogy and a prime example of fans objecting primarily because it wasn’t identical to the previous Star Wars universe (Lucas’s apparent cave in Attack of the Clones, making Padme ‘sexier’, is one reason Episode II is the weakest of the series). That The Phantom Menace (and by proxy the [...]

“Star Wars” Blu-rays break global sales records

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: As was expected, the Force was extremely strong with the new “Star Wars” Blu-rays that FOX and LucasFilm recently released.
The studios revealed that “Star Wars” is the bestselling catalog Blu-ray Disc of all time, with worldwide sales totaling one million units, including 515,000 units sold in North America in its first week alone. According to a release, this represents $84 million in worldwide consumer spending, including $38 million in North America — unprecedented for a nine-disc Blu-ray collection at a premium price.
“Once again our fan’s enthusiasm to celebrate Stars Wars continues to amaze us,” said Kayleen Walters, Senior Director, Marketing, Lucasfilm. “Our goal was to deliver a premium product that they could enjoy with their family and friends and we are thrilled that they are enjoying it as much as we hoped they would.”
“Star Wars is a franchise with universal stories that resonates as much today as it did 30 years ago,” said Mary Daily, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Vincent Marcais, Senior Vice President of International Marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “With the Blu-ray, audiences can go deeper into the mythology than ever before and reconnect with everything they love about the Saga in the best possible quality.”
More from the release:
The thirteen-month campaign to launch the SAGA Blu-ray and engage consumers around the globe began in August 2010. From Darth Vader at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a first look at San Diego Comic Con, a first-of-its-kind partnership with eBay, to creating the world’s largest lightsaber in the UK, the power of the Force continued to resonate around the world as fans came out in droves to have fun with that galaxy far, far away.
The comprehensive collection includes the six movies with unparalleled high-definition picture and sound quality, and features numerous deleted, extended and alternate scenes, new documentaries and a cross-section of the countless Star Wars spoofs that have appeared in pop culture over the past three decades. Marking the first time ever that the full Saga is available in one complete collection, STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY also features a coveted peek into the making of the Saga with vintage documentaries, audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, prop and costume turnarounds, retrospectives and more.
Episodes I-III and IV-VI are also available as distinct Blu-ray Trilogy collections. Additionally, the Ask Vader app [...]

Star Wars: review of the complete saga

HollywoodNews.com: This will not be an exhaustive breakdown of the set, as I do not have the time to watch and critique each bonus feature. But I will offer a few words for those who are inexplicably on the fence about the set. Point being, I’m guessing you’ve either already ordered or purchased this, or have decided for whatever reason (not the original versions, already like the DVDs, etc) not the pick up this HD upgrade. Anyway, all six films look varying degrees of spectacular.
I’d argue that the prequels look shinier and what-not, while the original trilogy looks more impressive in relation to its age and relative production value. There has been talk that The Phantom Menace looks lousier than the others, but I had no real objections as I scanned to a few highlights (Duel of the Red Shirts looks super). As you all know, my sound system is whatever my Samsung DLP TV offers, so I can only say that the audio sounded fine, with a clear distinction between dialogue, the score, and various sound effects with a generally even volume level at all times (offhand, the big screw-up with the music during the ‘Battle of Yavin’ has been fixed).
But of course the real appeal of the set are the copious extra features included for all six films. If you count the two commentaries (one from the DVD releases, one newly comprised of various interviews and what-not from cast/crew), you get about 40 hours of material. The remaining 16 hours is comprised of three discs.
The first two bonus discs are the mostly new bonus material archives. Disc one has the prequel stuff while disc two has the original trilogy material. It’s technically organized by location (IE – Naboo, Tatooine, etc.) but easily accessible otherwise. Under the PLAY ALL option, you can separately access the interviews, deleted scenes, art galleries, interactive 360-degree models of various props and costumes and the like (two hours worth for the original trilogy and 2.5 hours worth for the prequels), and about thirty minutes of art galleries for each trilogy.
Photo by 20th Century Fox
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“Star Wars” Blu-ray set unveils new trailer

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We are weeks away from the Sept. 16 release date of “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” on Blu-ray for the first time, and Lucasfilm continues to drum up attention.
The studio has released a new trailer on Yahoo’s UK and Ireland site (via ComingSoon), which we’ve posted below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DANIetVmRIw
Having the six “Star Wars” films on Blu-ray should be enough for rabid fans. But Lucasfilm apparently is ready to cram the multi-disc set with tons of extras. We ran full specs on the box months ago, but we’ll repost them below, just to get fans excited for the Sept. 16 release.
Special Features:
STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY is presented in widescreen with 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Special features include:
DISC ONE — STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC TWO — STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC THREE — STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC FOUR — STAR WARS: EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC FIVE — STAR WARS: EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC SIX — STAR WARS: EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI
– Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
– Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC SEVEN — NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES I-III
– Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more
DISC EIGHT — NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES IV-VI
– Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more
DISC NINE — THE STAR WARS DOCUMENTARIES
– NEW! Star Warriors [...]

“Star Wars” teases Blu-ray deleted scenes

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It wouldn’t be San Diego Comic-Con without some news from George Lucas and his cherished “Star Wars” galaxy. Though we’re still weeks away from the launch of Lucas’s two trilogies on Blu-ray for the first time, Fox Home Entertainment used the opportunity to tease fans in Southern California with footage of some coveted deleted scenes that they will see as part of the DVD package. Fox was good enough to share that sizzle reel with us, and we’re posting it below:

The clip, which runs about one minute, was shown at the Star Wars Fan Movie Awards in anticipation of the Blu-ray release of the “Star Wars” saga on Sept. 16.
You can pre-order the set right now on Amazon. Outside of that, young Jedi, there isn’t much you can do but wait. And watch your original, substandard versions of Lucas’s films.
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