This past weekend was the annual Star Wars Celebration Europe, which was held in Germany. Star Wars Celebration gives Star Wars fans the opportunity to meet their favorite actors, artists, and filmmakers involved in George Lucas’ iconic universe, all in one three-day weekend event. This year, the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII was one of the biggest sources of excitement for fans who want to know more about the upcoming sequel trilogy. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was in attendance this year, and she shed some new light on the seventh installment in the Star Wars film franchise.
As reported on IGN, Kathleen Kennedy revealed that she’s dividing her time between Lucasfilm and Bad Robot Productions, where she has been having extensive story meetings with Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and the film’s writing team, which includes Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back). Kennedy admitted the biggest obstacle facing Episode VII is breaking its story and fleshing out its characters, and emphasized that this will be the focus, not flashy CGI. Kennedy explained:
The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now. We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing. I do think making huge popular culture — and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot it — is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again.
It’s very refreshing to hear that Kennedy and Abrams want to focus Episode VII on telling a story rather than just showing off the latest filmmaking mafic. That would certainly be a change from George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. It seemed like he was only interested in progressing CGI technology instead of actually telling a compelling story.
When Kennedy talked about delivering a great story for Episode VII, she also mentioned using practical effects blended with CGI, rather than going full CGI like in the prequels. The production team wants to make Star Wars: Episode VII tangible with real props, characters, and costumes. Kennedy continued:
‘So we’re going to find some very cool locations that we’re going to use in support of Episode VII,’ promised Kennedy. ‘And I think we’re probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies…. It’s using model makers; it’s using real droids; it’s taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that’s what will make it real.
During the Episode VII discussion moderated by actor Warwick Davis, Kennedy also confirmed that composer John Williams would score all three movies in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy. While this news is refreshing for some Star Wars fans, others feel that Williams’ work on the prequel trilogy was not up to par with his work on the original trilogy. Early speculation wondered whether Abrams would bring on on one of his longtime collaborators, composer Michael Giacchino, to score the new Star Wars film. But for better or worse, John Williams will remains the master behind the music of the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Episode VII will hit theaters everywhere during the summer of 2015.