A little over a year after Disney’s shocking purchase of Lucasfilm, and with it the Star Wars franchise, we’re finally seeing more specifics about the studio’s big plans for George Lucas’ fictional universe. We’ve known from the beginning that we’d be getting a new trilogy of movies, as well as standalone spinoff films, but in recent months we’ve gotten a glimpse at other projects across various media, including the new animated series Star Wars: Rebels. Now we can add another project to the slate: an upcoming free-to-play PC space shooter called Star Wars: Attack Squadrons.
Perhaps even bigger news than the announcement of Episode VII, and the rest of the new trilogy to follow, was the news last year that Disney also wanted Star Wars spinoff movies to help expand George Lucas’ onscreen universe in a major way. Since then, it’s become clear that Disney will be taking “the Marvel approach” to that galaxy far, far away, creating new interconnected movies and possibly TV shows to spawn an even-more-connected multi-media universe. While nothing has been confirmed about the storylines or characters those spinoffs will focus on, there was word that they will be origin stories involving the likes of Yoda or Boba Fett. Now some more fuel has been dumped on that fire, with hints that we might get a Han Solo origin film in 2016, the year after Episode VII is slated to hit.
The Las Vegas Guardian Express is reporting on an investor’s conference in Beverly Hills where Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo allegedly got specific about the spinoff films, saying a Han Solo flick will be slated for 2016, with — assuming it’s successful — films focusing on Yoda and Boba Fett to follow in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Assuming they stick with the plan of releasing the origin films in between the Episode entries, that would suggest they plan for us to get Episode VIII in 2017 and IX in 2019. This obviously isn’t the same as a Disney confirmation via press release, but it does suggest that the company isn’t sitting on its hands when it comes to moving forward with broadening the onscreen Star Wars universe.
It’s hard to go wrong when you combine Star Wars and Legos. After all, they’re two of the greatest things to ever grace this humble blue rock we call home, and when you put them together, magic happens. And that is exactly what you get in this new collection of still photographs that bring together the little plastic building blocks and George Lucas’ epic space opera.
Photographer Vesa Lehtimäk has created a new series of painstakingly beautiful photos, and the set up is truly impressive. Granted, I know little to nothing about photography, but I have no idea how he went about staging these. The composition of the images is fantastic, down to the position of the figures, the snowflakes, and the lighting. There are a few pictures that don’t actually include Legos, but they’re so we’re letting that slide for the time being.
As work continues to ramp up for a spring 2014 production start on Episode VII, Star Wars has been ramping up its social media presence in a major way, from launching an Instagram account to packing the official YouTube channel with all manner of goodies. We’ve seen vintage trailers for the films, as well as unused or deleted footage. Lately the channel has been on a bit of a behind-the-scenes rampage, courtesy of Star Wars visual effects maestro Dennis Muren. We love the one up top, especially, because it shows how old-school methods can be used to create timeless effects — in this case, how stop-motion animation brought to life the massive AT-AT walkers that tromped across the ice world of Hoth.
Believe it or not, production on Star Wars: Episode VII is expected to begin in spring 2014. Although the Star Wars movie has been in pre-production since October 2012, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, a completed script has yet to materialize, over a full year later. Should Star Wars fans be concerned that a full screenplay has yet to be produced? The chairman of Walt Disney doesn’t think so.
According to /Film, Disney chairman Alan Horn, while speaking at a Variety event Friday morning, said he expects to read a full script for Episode VII in January. The budget for the film also can’t be completed until the script is finished. Horn believes Episode VII should cost upwards of $200 million, but that figure is just an estimation until it’s finished on the page. Variety reporter Marc Graser (@marcgraser) tweeted the following:
Disney expects to get script for Star Wars 7 in January. No budget for movie although studio wouldn't be surprised if it costs $200 million.
— Marc Graser (@marcgraser) December 13, 2013
Over the last five years, Marvel Studios has been re-defining the summer blockbuster with its Cinematic Universe. With superhero movies like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel Studios built a complete universe of films that directly play into each other as they build toward the team-up super-events that are the Avengers movies. Now Marvel Studios is positioning itself to re-define the television model with another TV innovator, with new series based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist coming to Netflix, all leading up to a Defenders mini-series in 2015. Considering Disney’s reach with all of its properties, could the same thing work for Lucasfilm and Star Wars?
According to Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, Disney and Lucasfilm might indeed follow the Marvel model, perhaps even partnering with Netflix for a new Star Wars TV series. While speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Rasulo said that Lucasfilm could follow the same template Marvel has built. Here’s Rasulo:
‘You know obviously when we bought Marvel, and now I think everything I say about Marvel you can take a couple of years down the road and substitute the word Marvel for Lucasfilm,’ said Rasulo. ‘But we really wanted to take this treasure trove of content and deliver it throughout the Disney ecosystem. That was our strategy. Buy this great content, use the existing ecosystem to deliver it all over the world in everything that we do. So of course we started with films.’