Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ron Howard Signs on for Han Solo Movie

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Ron Howard has agreed to take over the director reigns of the Han Solo movie after the previous directors were fired for "creative differences" after nearly completing principle photography. The director, known for Apollo 13 and a directing Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, has suffered multiple expensive box office misses over the last decade so he is probably looking forward to adding this probable mega hit to his resume. I would not be surprised if it immediately becomes his most successful film ever box office wise.

Howard's task seems easy since in theory he only has to do a month of filming and monitor post production work that has already made significant progress. Instead he has to try to effectively re-film the entire movie to meet what Lucasfilm and Disney want for the production while not actually re-filming the entire movie. That means using movie magic, creative editing with existing footage and creative filming to re-create moments for events and sets that have probably long since been taken down or re-purposed during production over the last few months. Considering his decades long directing career, he is probably one of the few directors with the experience to take it in stride.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Han Solo Movie Directors Fired

It seems the "A Star Wars Story" films just can't catch a break director wise. Rogue One basically did a re-write of the movie with re-shoots, post-production changes and a re-edit that effectively turned the movie over to directing by committee. What was going to be a Boba Fett film had to fire its director due to what could only be described as alleged incompetence and indecisiveness. The replacement film, the Han Solo movie, seemed on track to avoid the problems as it completed its pre-production process without any problems and started principle photography. Instead we learn that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) have been fired over "creative differences."

Via The Hollywood Reporter from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy: "Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon."

"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project," a statement from Lord and Miller read. "We normally aren’t fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."

"Creative differences" probably occurs way more often then the public is aware of but is caught early enough in the pre-production process to not make the news. THR tries to down play it as just part of the movie making process (and it is) but to occur months into principle photography that started in February and when the movie is probably less then a month from being finished indicates that something went seriously wrong. The site says:
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the style and vision of Lord and Miller clashed with that of Lawrence Kasdan, the legendary screenwriter behind the classics Empire Strikes Back and ‪Raiders of the Lost Ark, who also wrote, with his son, Jon Kasdan, the script for the Han Solo stand-alone set (for now) to be released in 2018.

Lord and Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) have a comedic sensibility and improvisational style while Kasdan favors a strict adherence to the written word — what is on the page is what must be shot.

The creative clash, according to one insider, also came down to differences in understanding the character of Han Solo. “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish,” said that source.
Despite THR's attempt to shrug it off, this is a major problem and considering the director's likely would have (and may still get) a piece of all the Star Wars action, quitting and/or getting fired is no small thing. We are talking potentially tens of millions of dollars once the dust settles either in payouts, lost residuals, re-shoots, and more. The money involved makes this a massive problem. If this wasn't a Hollywood production you would be hearing talks of CEOs, VPs and other high level management "moving on to other opportunities."

As for what is next, no one knows yet. The current rumor is Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) or Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America) could take over but most director's at their level tend to loath taking over other's people project. Then again this is Star Wars money and working on one of these movies in a major role basically means retirement if so desire.

While my initial impression of events comes down to "what are we missing?" it does sound like a good call as treating Han Solo or most of the key Star Wars characters as just comedic would be a disastrous tone and everything about the directors' background indicates that is what they know how to do. They probably can do serious but they were hired on the strength of the critical and box office results of The Lego Movie so they probably reasonable assumed that is what Lucasfilm wanted from them - essentially a comedy set in the Star Wars universe. However they seemed to miss two red flags: a) Star Wars isn't comedy, it just has humorous elements and b) Kasdan has never written a comedy in his life. Again this assumes that we are not missing very important details which I think we are.

Since the film is currently in production for for a 2018 release, any day not filming is money being burned so Lucasfilm is going to be highly motivated to get the train back on schedule and its going to cost them dearly to do it. Good thing they have all those Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and Marvel bucks to make it easier.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy 40th Birthday Star Wars

Today Star Wars turns 40 years old as May 25, 1977 was the day that Star Wars: A New Hope premiered. Happy Birthday to one of the largest, most important franchises in the world. Below is the current Hamilton cast singing Happy Birthday to Star Wars.

Vanity Fair Reveals Last Jedi Tidbits, Characters

Vanity Fair has posted their Star Wars: The Last Jedi article and it includes some great images from behind the scenes of the film. Per usual, the cone of silence on the film was in full effect but a feel details about the film were revealed as highlighted below. You can read the full article and view all the images here.


Highlights:
- The Force Awakens end meeting between Luke and Rey was "painstakingly" re-staged a year later for The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson since lines were to be delivered. Mark Hamill was not pleased about having to go back since its a big of a hike to get to the top were the scene was filmed on near Ireland's County Kerry atop Skellig Michael island.

- Hamill also was not pleased that the story didn't allow for Luke to be there to witness Han's death but figured the popularity of the film means his take was wrong (personally I suspect history will not be kind to The Force Awakens).

- Finn begins movie still recovering from Kylo Ren's lightsaber injuries in a "bacta suit" aka a tank that heals.

- Part of the movie does focus on relationship between Luke and Rey but it is not a "one-to-one correlation between Yoda and Luke as "There's a training element to it but it's not exactly as you would expect."

- The gallery link above includes first look at Benicio Del Toro's "DJ" character (not named in filmed, called that as point of reference) and Resistance officer Vice Admiral Holdo played by Laura Dern.

- Other new character include Resistance maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who goes behind enemy lines with Finn and Lieutenant Kaydel Connix (Billie Lourd).

- Rose and Finn's story takes them to Canto Blight which is "a glittering casino city" and "a playground, basically, for rich assholes."

- Leia would have had a prominent role in Episode IX (similar to how Han was featured in Awakens, Luke in Last Jedi) but Carrie Fisher's had to abandon those plans. The backlash over the CGI Grand Moff Tarkin character in Rogue One also meant it couldn't be possible. Not said is what they settled on but I imagine they wrote the character out of the film and will just use other characters referencing her as a coda to the character.

- Anakin Skywalker's light saber is officially considered to be Rey's lightsaber, at least by Lucasfilm's marketing department. Safe to say that Luke only temporarily regains ownership of the saber when Rey was holding it out to him at the end of The Force Awakens.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Force Awakens Detail Changed for The Last Jedi

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson revealed a story tidbit.
“Yes … The big [favor] was, I asked if R2 could come with Rey, and if BB-8 could stay behind with the Resistance,” Johnson says. “Originally it was BB-8 who went with Rey, which makes sense for the story in a way. But I asked, ‘Can you do me this solid and switch the droids?’”
He also revealed the central point of the movie:
“Figuring out where his head was at was the very first thing I had to do when writing the movie. I had to crack this. And it had to be something for me that first and foremost made sense. Why did Luke Skywalker go off to this island?” Johnson says. “That was the starting point, and that’s what the entire movie explores.”
So while light on details it is interesting that Johnson's story relied on making sure R2 was with Luke. Makes since if considering the previous films where R2 is (almost) always with a Skywalker. It also neatly returns BB-8 back to his original owner Poe Dameron.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mark Hamil Pranks Fans in Force for Change Video

In a new video to promote the Force for Change charity raffle, Mark Hamill pulls a prank on some fans. To enter a chance win a chance to meet Mark Hamill, go to the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and more click here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Star Wars: Rebels Final Season Trailer

At Star Wars Celebration convention, it was revealed that the season four of Star Wars: Rebels will also be its final season. Below is trailer with the season debuting on Disney XD this fall. As for what will replace Rebels, I am guessing that will be revealed at next year's Celebration.

Star Wars: Battlefront II Trailer

Star Wars Celebration continues in Orlando, Florida which means the reveals continue as the trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront II was released. As showing the trailer, the single-player story line picks up right as the Death Star explodes in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and follows the aftermath as the Empire tries to maintain control. If the main character, Inferno Squad Commander Iden Versio looks familiar it is because the motion capture and voice is via the gorgeous Jania Gavankar (Sleepy Hallow, True Blood). The will launch on PS4, XBox One, and PC on November 17. Even if not a gamer you will likely find the trailer enjoyable.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Poster

Along with the trailer, here is the poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi that seems to focus on the potential candidates of the title assuming there is only one since the plural of Jedi is Jedi.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser Trailer

Here is the official teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, released as part of this weekend's Star Wars Celebration convention in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Star Wars Video Tribute To Carrie Fisher

With the start of Star Wars Celebration this weekend, the official Star Wars account posted the below touching tribute to the late great Carrie Fisher. The video shows behind the scenes footage, interviews and more that shows her wonderful personality that fans loved. She is missed. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Honest Trailer for Rogue One

The Screen Junkies guys have posted their "Honest Trailer" For Rogue One. Per usual, they provide an amusing spot-on thrashing of a film.

New Force for Change Charity Announcement

Muck like they did with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a new Force for Change charity drive has been started for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley explains the details in the video below. If interested in donating (and getting a chance to win three "epic Star Wars Experiences Ever" head over to Omaze.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rogue One Director Talks Darth Vader Attack Sequence

With the upcoming release of Rogue One on home video it means the director is a bit more free to talk about the behind the scenes decision making of the film. One such part was the late decision to add a Darth Vader scene into the movie. You know the one, but if not its included in the video below as director Gareth Edwards talks about the decision to add the scene and other tidbits about it. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Han Solo Movie To Cover Six Years

Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke a little about next year's young Han Solo movie. The details are not much but more then we have now. He said the story will cover Han Solo from age 18 to 24 and show how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando, meets Chewbacca and "getting his name." The phrasing is odd but likely referring to Solo's reputation as a smuggler. In addition, a theory was Woody Harrelson would play Garris Shrike in the movie since the name is from the old Extended Universe in a story about Solo's mentor as a child and already vetted for any legal issues that might arise. However in a Tonight Show appearance the actor said "I play a guy named Beckett who’s kind of a criminal and a mentor to Han" so that theory is out the door.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rogue One Blu-Ray Trailer

The date has been set for the home video release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Digital release is set for March 24 with the Blu-ray editions coming April 4. You can pre-order now via Amazon. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.


Special Features
A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept – and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.

Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.

Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseverance and passion.

K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.

Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.

Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.

The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary…and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time.
Visions of Hope: The Look of “Rogue One” – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.

The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of “Star Wars: A New Hope” – as well as one of her most memorable foes­ – back to the screen.

Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.

Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect “Rogue One” to the Star Wars universe.

Photo Introduces Cast to Young Han Solo Movie

A cast photo from the Millennium Falcon cockpit provides the first full look at the core cast of the currently unnamed Han Solo movie. The movie is starting principle photography for a May 25, 2018 release date. The cast in the photo from left to right is Woody Harrelson (name unverified, Solo's mentor), co-director Chris Miller, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (character unknown), Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Emilia Clarke (character unknown), co-director Phil Lord, Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. Not sure why the actor is in the Chewbacca costume but he actually first donned the role as stunt double for Peter Mayhew in The Force Awakens and write a message to the fans about taking on the iconic role. Thanks to Feris O. for the heads-up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Behind the Visual Effects of Tarkin

In the latest video from ILM for Rogue One, they give a look at how they created the CGI character of Moff Wilhuff Tarkin since the original actor died decades ago. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Behind the Visual Effects of The Battle of Scarif

ILM has released another new but too short look at how they did some of the visual effects for climatic Battle of Scarif in Rogue One. Thanks once again to Feris O. for the link.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Behind the VFX of Star Wars Rogue One Planets

ILM have released the below video that gives a little bit of a look at how the visual effects for the planets of Jedha and Scarif were created in Rogue One. Hopefully this will be the first of several from the Oscar nominated film for Best Visual Effects Oscar. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Star Wars: Red Cup Begins Production

A tweet from Director Chris Miller that says "Han First Shot" along with this picture (left) reveals that the young Han Solo movie has begun principle photography. The first take includes the movie "title" as Star Wars: Red Cup, a pun reference to the Solo cups. The official title probably will not be revealed until next year. The movie stars Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Donald GloveR (Lando Calrissian), Woody Harrelson (Han's mentor), and Emilia Clarke (probably Han's nemesis/love interest). The movie is being directed by The Lego Movie team of Chris Miller and Phil Lord for release on May 25th 2018 but I would not be surprised if its bumped to Christmas considering how successful that window has been for Disney these last two years.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Harrelson Playing EU Character in Han Solo Movie?

In a video interview with Variety, Woody Harrelson seemed to confirm the role he is playing in the young Han Solo movie. When directly asked if he would be playing Garris Shrike, the actor answered with a simple "yes". The character was first created for the Expanded Universe (EU) back in 1997 in a series of books about the life of Han Solo. The EU was once canonical collection of books, video games, comic book stories about the larger Star Wars universe before Disney made the decision that is was no longer part of canon and no one is allowed to create new stories for this "Legends" take of Star Wars out of fear of confusing new Star Wars fans.

However, the EU is chock full of already vetted intellectual property so it makes sense to mine it for characters that they can introduce (while throwing the occasional bone to EU fans) as new all over again. In that alternate take, Shrike was the man that raised, abused, and trained Han Solo to become the smuggler we all know and love. In the movie we know he is Solo's mentor but to early to say if that extends to father figure. If you are interested in the characters full back story, head over to Wookieepedia. To help with the time line notes, remember that BYY means "Before the Battle of Yavin" as depicted in Star Wars: A New Hope. The destruction of the first Death Star acts as a marker of Year 0 on the Star Wars time line. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Star Wars 8 Gets Official Title - The Last Jedi

The official title of the next Star Wars film in the saga has been revealed. Episode VIII will be called "Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Here is the poster that accompanied the announcement. I assume the title refers to Luke Skywalker since the Star Wars universe changed almost not one iota in the 30 years that passed and what Force users were born seemed to have been killed by Kylo Ren. However, if the series follows the example of the previous film, I would not be surprised if Luke doesn't survive it. Since Rey's learning curve and knowledge base is super-human, her ending the 8th film as the last remaining Jedi would not surprise me in the least.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Rogue One Secrets Explained

In an interview with the Lucasfilm Story Group, the team reveals some of the secrets, details and Easter eggs that are in Rogue One.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Force Awakens Chewbacca Ripping Arm Off Scene

Below is a deleted scene that shows Chewbacca ripping off Unkar Plutt's arm for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans probably would have loved the scene but Disney likely refused to allow the scene since they want Star Wars to remain "all ages". Ironic since the movies all depict a high level of death both on and off screen only with so little blood that the average paper cut produces more then wounds in these movies. One of those weird morality lines that companies and average adults consider a line in the sand. Death is ok...as long as bloodless. Cussing is ok, as long as do not use the F word. Sex and suggested nudity is great as long as no nipples. Never will get it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Woody Harrelson Joins Han Solo Movie

The official twitter account of Star Wars has confirmed that Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) is joining the cast of the Han solo movie in an unspecified role. It seems he will plays a mentor of sorts to young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). The other known members of the cast are Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community) as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in an unknown role.

Harrelson recently started promoting War for the Planet of the Apes and when asked about the casting said:
“It’s mind-blowing. I can’t really…you know, I never would’ve imagined that I’d get this opportunity so I’m really pumped about it. I really like those directors [Phil Lord and Chris Miller], I think they’re really great. You know let’s face it, almost any movie if the director’s great then the movie has a shot, but if they’re not obviously you’ve got very little chance of a good movie. I just feel great to be a part of that. What a cool thing.”

“I don’t think the Force is allowing me to talk about [the role]. They want me to keep pretty mum so I better not say too much about it. They’re pretty top secret about the script and the story… It’ll be cool to be mentoring Han Solo, that will be cool.”

Friday, January 6, 2017

Creating CGI Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin

Below is a video from ABC News that provides a little behind the scenes footage of how Rogue One brought to "life" a young Princess Leia and Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin. They do somewhat discuss the ethics of creating a dead actor's performance but ultimately the legal issues are "does the family give permission" and unless current actors follow in Robin Williams' footsteps of specifically stipulating in their wills that their likeness cannot be used in such a manner, I suspect this will become more common. Personally I don't have a problem with it as long as done for purpose of story and not just theatrics or attention. In this case, showing how Tarkin took control of the Death Star was fine as was using Leia as connective tissue between the end of Rogue One to A New Hope.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Star Wars: Rebels Trailer Shows Return of Obi-Wan

Here is the mid-season 3 trailer for Star Wars: Rebels that will start up on Saturday, January 7 at 8:30pm ET on Disney XD. This second half seems to include the continued built to the more sizable Rebellion that we know and love and hints at a final confrontation between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi.