Out of this world: (from left) director/writer J.J. Abrams, builders Lee Towersey
and Oliver Steeples, and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
Photo: Twitter: bad_robot
The first installment of the third trilogy of Star Wars films will start shooting in London in May, Disney has announced.
Production on the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel – presently known only as Star Wars, Episode VII – will kick off in May.
Disney chief Bob Iger revealed the shooting date at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Although his audience was composed primarily of shareholders, very few of whom are likely to be declared Star Wars geeks, he also threw a few more choice morsels their way.
The film, Iger revealed, would pick up the story 30 years after the events depicted in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
In that film, which was released in 1983, the rebel alliance destroyed the second Death Star space station and, with the death of Emperor Palpatine, effectively toppled the Galactic Empire.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the film, A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strike Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), producer George Lucas chronicled the struggle between the rebel alliance, led by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the tyrannical Empire.
Lucas subsequently produced the early history of the saga, the so-called “prequels”, The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), which examined the collapse of the Galactic Republic, the fall of the Jedi Knights and the rise of the Galactic Empire.
Iger said the seventh chapter would feature “familiar faces including a trio of young leads” but noted that the only official cast member is the “astromech droid” R2-D2.
Lucas has previously said the only characters he wanted to span across the trilogies were R2-D2 and his counterpart, the “protocol droid” C3-P0.
There is intense speculation, however, that the three stars of the original trilogy – Hamill, Ford and Fisher – will reprise their characters in the new film.
Iger told shareholders that the movie “really looks amazing,” though presumably he was referring to pre-production material as principal photography has not yet commenced.
The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
Kasdan was co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and the much-loved George Lucas/Steven Spielberg collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Disney purchased LucasFilm, which owns the Star Wars saga, in 2012 for $US4.05 ($4.48) billion. One of the most anticipated projects to come out of the acquisition is the prospect of a new Star Wars trilogy.
Lucas had, in the saga’s early life, flagged the possibility of a nine chapter story, but had later pared it back to six.
Star Wars: Episode VII is slated to open on December 18, 2015.
Source: Michael Idato, Star Wars 7 details emerge from Disney meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 20, 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/star-wars-7-details-emerge-from-disney-meeting-20140320-353ob.htm.
Yesterday’s “casting announcement” for Star Wars: Episode VII shouldn’t come as any shock to those who’ve keeping track of every single bread crumb that director J.J. Abrams – along with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy – has dropped for fans to snack on, in lieu of a proper meal (read: human casting news).
Nevertheless, Disney/Lucasfilm has deemed the news that plucky astromech droid R2-D2 will appear in Episode VII to be worthy of an official confirmation announcement, what with the robotic character – alongside his golden counterpart C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) – being one of the rare citizens of a galaxy far, far away to have shown up in all six of the previous live-action Star Wars movies (with Kenny Baker behind the wheel… er, under the dome, rather).
What’s far more interesting than this “reveal” is the story of the two gentlemen who have produced a fully-functioning R2 unit for Abrams’ film. The creative and talented men in question are Oliver Steeples and Lee Towersey, a pair of longtime Star Wars fanatics and members of the global R2-D2 Builders Club (Star Wars fans of the world unite!). Both of these fellows were featured in the first official Episode VII pre-production image that dropped online last week, along with Abrams, Kennedy and R2 himself at the Bad Robot studio’s workshop (appropriately enough).
Here is the official story of how Steeples and Towersey became official members of the Creature Effects team for Episode VII:
“It all started when Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Celebration Europe this past summer in Germany,” says Steeples, who finished his first R2-D2 in 2007, after 10 years of collecting parts and researching. “She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary. I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation.”
Steeples, from Berkshire, England, and Towersey, from Middlesex, England, are working full-time on Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios (where the Twitter photo was taken), focusing solely on astromech-building — for now. Keeping an astromech droid in working condition throughout the production of a film is a challenge, as it’s filled with gears, lights, and electronics; Steeples and Towersey were chosen because of their expertise and experience, both having worked on Star Wars-themed commercials for the UK appliances megastore Curry’s. “We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot,” says Towersey, who built the droid seen in the tweet. “We have a good knowledge of Artoo, with a large stock of parts for reference and drawings, plus we know what is involved throughout the whole building process, as well as potential problems we need to avoid.” Despite their impressive understanding of how to construct an astromech droid and keep it functioning, Steeples and Towersey still have a goal for Star Wars: Episode VII: to build a better R2-D2.
You have to give Kennedy and the other Episode VII producers credit, they have put together an impressive crew of craftsmen and filmmakers who grew up loving George Lucas’ space opera. That includes self-admitted Star Wars lover Abrams – whose visual approach on the rebooted Star Trek franchise reflects that influence – and co-screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3). Of course, Abrams is also collaborating on the Episode VII script now with a celebrated alum of the franchise, in the form of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi scribe Lawrence Kasdan.
Does this guarantee that Episode VII will have the same wondrous spirit that made the original Star Wars movie a delightful celebration of genre, more than thirty years ago (or even the dramatic complexity of later installments)? No, but so far it’s reason enough for us (or me, at the least) to stay optimistic about the future of this series.
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.
Disney has just confirmed that it has agreed to acquire George Lucas‘ Lucasfilm Ltd, and that includes rights to the Star Wars franchise that will now continue on. The companies have targeted a 2015 release for Star Wars: Episode 7, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow as the the long-term plan is to release a new feature every two or three years. “The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith– and we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand”, Disney said. The deal also includes rights to the Indiana Jones franchise.
The stock and cash transaction is worth an estimated $4.05 billion, and the companies have scheduled a conference call today to discuss the deal, which was approved by the Disney board and Lucas, the sole Lucasfilm shareholder. (UPDATE: Disney’s Iger: Three New ‘Star Wars’ Movies Mapped Out; TV Plans Too)
As for the new Star Wars installments, the companies said Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy would be executive producer on Episode 7 and any additional Star Wars movies, and Lucas would serve as creative consultant. There was no indication about where the story would pick up, though technically in the franchise’s chronology it would follow Star Wars: Episode 6 — Return Of The Jedi, the third film in the initial trilogy that came out in 1983.
As part of the deal, Kennedy will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Kennedy, who was made Lucasfilm co-chairman June 1 as heir apparent to Lucas, will also serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, whose feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date. That doesn’t take into account the franchise’s massive merchandising clout that Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said will generate in 2012 close to the $215 million in consumer product revenue Marvel had when Disney bought that comics business in 2009.
Disney has built its business under chairman and CEO Bob Iger around such major acquisitions as Marvel, Pixar, ABC and ESPN.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Iger said in a release announcing the deal. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
Disney is paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing based on Disney’s stock price on October 26. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm chairman and founder Lucas.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
Lucasfilm’s businesses include live-action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio postproduction. Disney also acquires the technologies from the San Francisco-based company, which operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light + Magic, and Skywalker Sound.
Los Angeles, CA (July 2, 2012) – Huckleberry (booth# 3449) has partnered up with their friends at Toddland to put together an amazing array of exclusive goods, meet & greets and FUN for the San Diego Comic Con 2012!
Sid & Marty Krofft
Sid & Marty Krofft are back this year with a whole new panel and a rare glimpse into never-before-seen network footage of their classic show Land of the Lost, on Saturday July 13, 2012 upstairs in Room 23ABC. After the panel, the Kroffts will be in the Huckleberry booth at 2:30PM for a signing. In honor of their Land of the Lost presentation, Huckleberry has created some exclusive San Diego Comic Con merchandise for the occasion.
We have a very limited number of cool sleestak skull shirts ($20), embroidered hats ($25) and buttons ($2) that will be for sale. Artists Tom Whalen and Dave Perillo have created some amazing limited edition hand-pulled silk screen poster prints. Tom Wahlen’s Land of the Lost 6 color print will come in a numbered edition of 125pcs and sell for $60. The 6 color variant version will be a numbered edition of 75 pcs and sell for $85. Dave Perillo’s H.R.Pufnstuf 7 color print will come in a numbered edition of 125pcs and sell for $50. The 6 color variant version will be a numbered edition of 75 pcs and sell for $75.
San Diego Comic Con 2012 Exclusive #23: Quantum Mechanix Firefly Little Damn Heroes Maquette #7 – Book
Gentle Giant reveals their Comic-Con 2012 Mars Attacks Martian bust exclusive to NerdistNews. Apparently, Topps is celebrating their 50th anniversary of the Mars Attacks trading cards and will be releasing a lot of new merchandise–cards, t-shirts, toys, etc. The edition size of this limited release is only 550 which will only be available at Comic-Con. The following photos from NerdistNews’ photographer Dan Casey might make you run to the Gentle Giant booth in July to get one.
The Wookie-hunting, Jedi-tracking, lizard-faced Bossk is one of the most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy. When you need to track down your precious data, turn to your limited edition SDCC 2011 exclusive Bossk Star Wars Series 7 MIMOBOT USB Flash Drive! Han and Chewbacca may not forgive you, but you’ll be amply rewarded for your loyalty when Bossk rises up to seize control of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild!
This exclusive is a must have for Transformers and GI Joe fans as the popular Awe Strike gets repainted to look like GI Starscream. Cobra Commander is the pilot and comes with an in scale gun version of Megatron. Revealed at Toy Fair was the packaging that reflects the four issue Transformers/GI Joe comic form Marvel comics by creating a “never before seen” fifth issue.