Month: July 2016

Happy B-Day: Harrison Ford turns 74 today

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The scruffy-looking nerf-herder and the most famous smuggler of the galaxy far, far away, is turning 74 today. So, happy birthday, Mr. Ford.

As he’s turning 74 today, Harrison Ford was born back on this date in 1942 at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his parents Christopher and Dorothy, Harrison was their oldest child as his younger brother Terence was born in 1945. The then aspiring actor got his first taste of drama when he entered college and took an acting class during his senior year to overcome his long-held shyness.

Fans should be infinitely thankful that Harrison took the class as he did. After all, what would the film industry be like today without him? While much of Harrison’s early resume finds the actor in small-time films, his eventual work on American Graffiti landed him his first starring role as Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy.

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Star Wars, of course, now stands as a pop cultural monolith that has spawned millions of fans as the franchise has essentially come to define the best of science fiction. And, recently, Harrison returned to the franchise in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as he reprised his role of everyone’s favorite space pilot.

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Some might think 74 is getting up there in age but that hasn’t stopped this superstar, who is set to reprise his roles as Dr. Jones in the next installment of Indiana Jones and Deckard, the replicant hunter, in Blade Runner the sequel.

Source: ComicBook.Com

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Star Wars: Hasbro Comic-Con figures first look images

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Source: ScreenRant.

Disney’s go big or go home mantra will be fully realized this summer as the company prepares to bring its Star Wars mega-brand to the people. Fans in Europe will have the chance to attend a 3-day Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 that takes place in London from July 15 – 17. This event will see several exclusives including the premiere of the third season of Star Wars Rebels and a huge presence from Star Wars video games.

For those of us who can’t make it across the pond, some panels will be streamed, including the Rogue One panel, where we should be in for a new trailer for the spinoff film. Folks heading to San Diego Comic-Con can also get their Star Wars fix from July 21 – 24. If you plan on attending SDCC later this month, make sure to swing by the Hasbro booth (#3213) and have your fill of some new Star Wars figures. Hasbro will also have a panel on Friday, July 22nd at noon to introduce their latest line of exclusives.

Star Wars can be consumed on every medium imaginable, and soon collectors will have the chance to expand their action figure sets. Whether adding to an existing collection, or starting from scratch, this medley of Star Wars figures is sure to be a great jumping off point. Nerdist revealed that Hasbro will be feature five figure sets that include characters from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. See for yourself:

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Speeder Bike (also includes BIKER SCOUT™)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens REY (JAKKU)™

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Star Wars Rebels 12” ELECTRONIC DUEL™ KANAN JARRUS™ (STAR WARS REBELS™)

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Star Wars Rebels HERA SYNDULLA’S A–WING™

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Star Wars Rebels 12” ELECTRONIC DUEL™ DARTH VADER™ (STAR WARS REBELS™)

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As noted above, the Darth Vader, Kanan Jarrus, and Biker Scout figures are 12″ models while Rey and Hera Syndulla are just under 4″ tall. Kanan and Vader also have “electronic touches” which could mean their light sabers actually glow. These figures will be on display at SDCC, but fans will have to exercise some patience because they won’t be available for purchase until fall 2016 — just in time for Christmas.

Game of Thrones Art depicts characters as Star Wars Heroes

Source: ScreenRant.

Fans of science-fiction and fanatsy genre series have been on a bit of a lucky tear of late when it comes to the release of premium content – in the form of both the original HBO series Game of Thrones and director J.J. Abrams’ revival of the Star Wars brand with The Force Awakens. Both feature properties have seen respective success over the last year, and neither shows any sign of stopping in the near future (though, admittedly, Game of Thrones is expected to wrap up after two more seasons).

Even if some viewers might not be quiet as enthralled with one production over the other, it can stated with certain conviction that the two productions have become the source of monumental success and acclaim within their respective fan bases. On that note, the latest bit of fan art has married the characters of Game of Thrones to the thematic world of Star Wars in an original series of character stills.

Courtesy of Canadian artist Andrew D. Tran, an original series of custom pieces depicts several characters from Game of Thrones as they might appear within the Star Wars universe. With such eye catching featured players as the Night King depicted as “The Sith Knight King”, as well as Tyrion Lannister giving his very best Han Solo impression, the series dubbed “Game of Star Wars” is a thrilling bit of fan service for those who adore both genre properties with equal abandon.

Check out the original “Game of Star Wars” artwork series below:

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Seeing Daenerys Targaryen play the role of “Mother of Rancors” is an unusually bizarre treat that will surely titillate both Game of Thrones and Star Wars fans, as will Arya Stark’s striking Padawan pose, with lightsaber in hand. Likewise, Melisandre plays the “Sith Lord of Light” with all of the enigmatic menace that she comparably exudes in Westeros, and Jamie Lannister looks the part of the “Sith Slayer” with surprising heroism and spirit.

It should come as no surprise that such an original piece of fan art might arise that would seek to marry the two well beloved genre franchises with one another, and with any luck there should be a brand new series in the near future featuring Star Wars characters as Game of Thrones heroes. Independent artist Andrew D. Tran has really outdone himself with his “Game of Star Wars” pieces, so here’s to more cinematically inspired pieces of fan art from him in the near future.

10 things we want to see at Star Wars Celebration 2016

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Source: ScreenRant.

This July, San Diego Comic-Con isn’t the only major pop culture event that’s taking place. Star Wars Celebration 2016 will be held in London from July 15 – 17. Since it’s roughly a week before SDCC kicks off, there’s a strong possibility fans will have to rely more on Celebration than Hall H for the latest on the happenings in a galaxy far, far away.

Celebration has taken a whole new meaning in the years since Disney purchased Lucasfilm and ushered in a new era of Star Wars mass media. Nowadays, it’s more than a chance for people to come together and share their love of the franchise with others; it’s a potential hub of information for all the films, television shows, video games, and books that have launched the brand back to the very top of the zeitgeist. Everyone has their own wish list of possible reveals and announcements, and that of course includes us. Here are 10 things we want to see at Star Wars Celebration 2016.

SECOND ROGUE ONE TRAILER

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It’s all but a given this will be the centerpiece of the convention, as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will have their own panel to kick off the festivities. The first spinoff will obviously have a large presence at Celebration, making this a better time than ever to unveil the second trailer to whet the appetites of moviegoers. Last year’s Celebration featured the famous “Chewie, we’re home” preview for The Force Awakens, so it would be quite surprising if this year’s Star Wars film didn’t get a new trailer as well.

With the recent confirmation that Darth Vader will be making his (hopefully) triumphant return to the big screen in Rogue One, the expectation is that the villain will be showcased in new footage, teasing his brief, but impactful, role in the new movie. Fans wouldn’t even have to hear the voice of James Earl Jones. All it would take is Vader looking over a battlefield, lightsaber in hand, as his iconic breath booms through the speakers. Everyone would lose their minds, and all the hullabaloo surrounding the reshoots would be swiftly forgotten.

ROGUE ONE RESHOOTS DISCUSSION

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Speaking of those pesky pickups, it would be nice to receive an update from Edwards during his panel. The worst rumors (half the film had to be redone) have thankfully been debunked, with more recent reports suggesting the team will be completely wrapped by the time Celebration begins. If that’s the case, Lucasfilm would be wise to announce that’s the case, as it would be the perfect way to quell any fears and doubts about the reshoots. Members of the cast and crew have all been saying the right things, but there’d be something comforting about hearing that they’re done and moving on to post.

Given that Rogue One remains on target for its December 2016 premiere, it would seem that the reshoots truly are nothing more than just standard tentpole procedure; only blown out of proportion due to being something as massive as Star Wars. Nevertheless, it became such a huge story in the past month that Lucasfilm almost has to address it in some capacity. They’ve certainly touched on it in EW‘s coverage of the movie, but discussing the topic at length with the Celebration crowd might have a greater impact.

CLASSIC PROPS & COSTUMES DISPLAY

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The show floor at these events always features fun items for fans to check out, including materials that were used during production of their favorite movies. There’s always a great interest in on-screen costumes, and few franchises have outfits that are as instantly recognizable as Star WarsRogue One marks the return of several classic trilogy designs, and it’s time to give the costume department the spotlight by highlighting their work.

Based on the short amount of footage and images available, it’s apparent Edwards’ team put a lot of time and effort into recreating the look of the original films for modern audiences. The so-called “Darth Vader dream team” even made sure to include the red tint around the eyes on the helmet – a feature exclusive to A New Hope. It wouldn’t be out of the question to expect stormtrooper suits, weapon props, and model ships to be on display for people to see up close, admiring the craftsmanship behind the upcoming blockbuster.

NEW VEHICLES & COSTUMES DISPLAY

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Of course, Rogue One wouldn’t truly be a Star Wars movie if it didn’t add to the already expansive collection of characters and vehicles that are part of the galaxy. The EW cover showcased a new TIE Fighter design, and other Rebel vehicles were showcased in the leaked movie manual from a while back. In addition, the Empire’s deathtroopers – soldiers dressed in black armor – have become a primary part of Lucasfilm’s promotional push, executives no doubt envisioning the merchandising opportunities already.

So, like Force AwakensRogue One is going to blend the old with the new to appeal to multiple generations of fans. Theoretically, this means that any displays should contain a little bit of both, giving moviegoers a better look at how the new movie will branch out the universe and add to the pre-existing legacy. Star Wars is known for giving its characters very distinctive appearances that leave imprints in the zeitgeist’s collective mind. It’s time to familiarize audiences with the fresh additions Rogue One will bring, launching a fascination with it all.

EPISODE 8 DETAILS

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Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson is going to take part in the “Future Filmmakers” panel at Celebration, and he’s close to wrapping up principal photography. While the focus is going to be kept on Rogue One (particularly in regards to what gets released to the public), it would be a wasted opportunity if Lucasfilm didn’t have any major Episode VIII announcements or reveals in store. Expecting the first official teaser at this point in time would be a bit much, but more realistic options include a subtitle or still image, perhaps of Luke Skywalker training Rey. Mark Hamill is one of the guests, so anything is possible.

Last year’s Celebration also had what could be considered a short “preview” for Rogue One, though it didn’t contain any actual footage from the film. These kinds of events frequently have some kind of big exclusive to reward those in attendance. There is an outside chance that a sizzle reel for Star Wars 8 is shown to truly send fans into a frenzy. Johnson has obviously shot more than enough to cut a little something together, so it will be interesting to see what he brings with him.

HAN SOLO ANTHOLOGY MOVIE DETAILS

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Joining Johnson at the Future Filmmakers presentation will be Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the dynamic duo responsible for brining the young Han Solo spinoff to the big screen. According to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, the plan is to begin principal photography in January 2017, six months after Celebration takes place. Fans will hopefully learn more about what Lord and Miller have in mind for their movie, namely the story they want to tell and where it fits in the timeline. Out of all the Star Wars movies on the docket, this is the one being met with the most skepticism, so the filmmakers could use the panel to make a convincing sales pitch and win over the naysayers.

Since production will start soon, Lord and Miller have to be getting necessary pieces in place to remain on schedule. It may be too soon for the official title to be revealed, but the identities of Alden Ehrenreich’s co-stars could very well be shared. The Han Solo rumor mill has been awfully quiet, so just about any name would be a big surprise. Whether there’s a new Lando Calrissian tagging along or fresh faces in the supporting cast, announcing the roster of talent would be a smart way to get people buzzing about Han’s solo movie.

THIRD ANTHOLOGY FILM ANNOUNCEMENT

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When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they said that there would be three standalone anthology films in development along with the sequel trilogy. So far, only two of those projects have actually been announced. Everyone is under the impression that a third spinoff film will premiere at some point in 2020, but the studio has been mum on that subject. Compared to other massive franchises, they’re taking things (relatively) slow, focusing on the projects that are in the more immediate future. Still, speculation about the third anthology refuses to die.

Rumors have been running rampant for years. It could be a Boba Fett movie. Maybe Ewan McGregor reprises Obi-Wan Kenobi for a film set after Revenge of the Sith. The possibilities are limitless, and it’s a big question that fans would like answered soon. Besides Rogue One (and possibly Episode VIII) footage, the easiest way to bring the house down is to confirm the concept for the 2020 spinoff movie. Lucasfilm doesn’t have to reveal the director (or even the star), but just the idea for the movie would be enough to start a discussion. The studio does a good job of planning ahead, so they must know what’s coming through the pipeline.

EPISODE 9 RELEASE DATE

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Playing in line with Lucasfilm’s “one thing at a time” strategy, Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX is currently without an official release date. Going by Disney’s pattern, the conclusion(?) to the sequel trilogy will reach theaters at an unspecified point in 2019, though the Mouse House has yet to confirm a window. They may not be ready at this juncture, but Lucasfilm wasted no time announcing that Indiana Jones 5 would debut in July 2019, so maybe they are saving something for Celebration, knowing they’d have the event where all eyes were on them.

Oddly enough, some outlets are already running with a May 2019 premiere for Episode IX, despite Lucasfilm or Disney never discussing the topic publicly. While it hasn’t caused mass confusion yet, it would be smart for the studio to use Celebration to officially give Star Wars 9 its release date – allowing fans to hear straight from the source when they should circle their calendars for another adventure with Rey. Better that than letting falsehoods run wild on the Internet.

STAR WARS REBELS ANNOUNCEMENT

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Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni has previously stated that he has something special planned for this year’s Celebration. Something big is going to happen that I think people really, really want, and I know that I’ve wanted it for a while. We’ve figured out a way to do it. It’s a very important moment in Star Wars and a very important moment for Star Wars fans,” was his tease. As one would expect, that has led to all sorts of theories and debates as people try to figure out what exactly Filoni has in store.

There have been rumors suggested fan-favorite Expanded Universe (now Legends) villain Grand Admiral Thrawn will be featured on Rebels. Filoni, an uber Star Wars fan, has used the now-defunct EU materials for inspiration on both Clone Wars and Rebels. A character like Thrawn becoming part of the permanent canon is indeed something many have wanted for a long time. Lucasfilm has developed a great relationship with the fans over the years and are well aware that wiping out the “Legends” books and comics rubbed some the wrong way. While this may not completely make up for that, it would still be a fun way to reward those who supported the works of author Timothy Zahn.

STAR WARS VIDEO GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Celebration is expected to have a large presence of Star Wars video games this year. Titles such as Star Wars: BattlefrontLEGO Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: Commander, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (among others) will be available, creating the “highest volume of gaming content” ever in Celebration. Those who haven’t been inclined to pick up any of the games yet can check them out and perhaps get hooked, leading to more sales later on.

There’s also the chance that there are announcements pertaining to new titles and content. EA is consistently updating Battlefront with new maps and characters, trying to bounce back from the game’s lukewarm reception. A big part of these events is to build excitement for what’s coming down the road, so gamers should expect some kind of reveals to take place.

CONCLUSION

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Those are just some of the things we would like to see at this year’s Star Wars Celebration. The galaxy far, far away is present in just about every form of media, including books and comics, so there will surely be several announcements for fans to keep up on. Since Celebration is being held just a week before San Diego Comic-Con, there’s a chance this is the main source of a Star Wars information dump, with Lucasfilm perhaps bypassing Hall H this year. Whatever the studio has up its sleeves, it’s sure to get people talking.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Rogue One director confirms reshoots were always part of the plan

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Source: ScreenRant.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a major test-case for Disney and Lucasfilm’s ambitious plans for the Star Wars brand going forward. The first theatrical live-action feature to not be part of the main numbered Episodes, it’s the beginning of a bi-annual plan to produce spin-off features set in and around the Star Wars universe but exploring other stories and different genres.

However, the film has been plagued by rumors off poor studio screenings and reshoots, leaving some fans to worry if the franchise future is not as secure as it seems. Now, in a new interview, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has claimed that fans ought not worry too much, as reshoots were long part of the plan.

Speaking to EW about the situation surrounding Rogue One‘s reshoots, Edwards explained:

“I mean it was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn’t know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit. … There’s lots of little things that we have to get, but it’s all little things within the preexisting footage. … Obviously, you’ve got to work around everyone’s schedule, and everyone’s on different films all over the world, and so it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare. That’s why I think it’s been blown out of proportion a little bit.”

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Building reshoots into the production plan for major Hollywood blockbusters is an emerging trend for studios in charge of sprawling multi-production universe brands, and was pioneered by the more recent features in Star Wars’ fellow Disney brand The Marvel Cinematic Universe. As part of this process, studios schedule extra production days and contingency plans in order to “polish” a film into the most desired form based on what has been shot, which can often be a godsend if a production comes back significantly different from what had been hoped for. On the other hand, it can also be a sign of a troubled shoot – or a studio looking to deviate from a director’s vision.

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Speaking to fan concerns that the studio may be looking to adjust the film from the dark war movie tone originally touted as Edwards’ main new contribution to the franchise, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy reiterated that this is not necessarily the case – praising the Godzilla director and his ambitious plans for the film, which is set to tell the story of the Rebellion team who stole the Death Star plans that were later entrusted to R2D2 by Princess Leia in the original Star Wars: A New Hope:

“One of the things we’re doing with these Star Wars stories is embracing the uniqueness of the different genres, and we’re very deliberately leaning into the various styles of directors that we’re approaching so that each of these movies will very intentionally have a very different tone and style from the saga films. Gareth has shown a stylistic preference that’s much more handheld, visceral, inside-the-action kind of feel. He does a lot of handheld, intimate, close-up work. That’s not something you’ve necessarily seen in a Star Wars movie before. And we brought in [cinematographer] Greig Fraser, to shoot it, who had done Zero Dark Thirty. So a combination of Greig and Gareth has been, I think, fantastic, and it just gives it a really unique style.”

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It remains to be seen what the final form of Rogue One will be, reshoots or not. Much of the storyline is still unknown, though it was recently confirmed that the film will feature the return to the screen of Darth Vader and that Forrest Whitaker is playing the first live-action incarnation of Clone Wars character Saw Gerrera.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Star Wars Celebration 2016 schedule revealed

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Source: ScreenRant.

With the global success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars brand, numerous additions to the sci-fi legacy have arrived and continue to arrive on a seemingly daily basis. Expectant fans are sure to be delighted by the expansion of the legendary franchise’s stockpiling of video games, animation, theme parks and of course, films.

Amongst this Star Wars build up, San Diego’s annual Comic-Con expo has typically been the place where fans of franchises such as Star Wars can go to experience a taste of all that’s up and coming, first hand. This year however,Star Wars won’t just be keeping up a presence at Comic-Con, but also for a full three days across the Atlantic in London with Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016.

The event, scheduled to take place the weekend prior to SDCC July 15 – 17, promises to give fans a heavy dose of all things Star Wars and will certainly be the event of the summer for many. With only a matter of weeks to go beforeStar Wars Celebration Europe 2016 kicks off, organizers have now released a sneak peek of the events planned for the Celebration Stage and even this should be enough to get pulses racing. You can see the full sneak peek list of the events planned as well as their daily schedule here.

Among the Star Wars related treats for those lucky enough to be at the event is the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story panel featuring director Gareth Edwards, producer Kathleen Kennedy and some special guests. In addition to this there will be a screening of the first two episodes from the yet to be released third season of Star Wars Rebels, including the appearance of the series’ executive producer and supervising director Dave Filoni as well as more special guests.

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Looking to expand on what was teased at the recent E3 Expo, with the collection of the most Star Wars games ever, EA will have a true presence at Celebration Europe 2016, offering a roundtable discussion featuring the creative leaders behind EA’s Star Wars games and their tales of behind-the-scenes work on games past, present and future. Beyond these events, fans can expect to see Star Wars cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis and the man behind Darth Maul, Ray Park.

Star Wars Celebration Europe comes at a time when Disney is expanding theStar Wars franchise like never before and will surely be welcome by fans in Europe who typically don’t get these sorts of opportunities. Disney recognizes the true value in non-stop marketing, especially considering their plan to make a new Star Wars film every year until at least 2020. What’s more, all eyes beyond Europe will be on London while Celebration unfolds, as its conference is certain to reveal new and exciting Star Wars prospects.

For American Star Wars fans, there’s still plenty to be thankful for however, as a separate Star Wars Celebration expo is planned for 2017 in Orlando. Until that time, American fans will have to remain content hearing the latest Star Wars related news as it comes out of London first this upcoming July.

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 kicks off July 15th, 2016 and runs through July 17th.

Star Wars: Rogue One character names, images & details revealed

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Source: ScreenRant.

There has been much hype – and, it turns out, some trepidation – regardingRogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first-ever Star Wars film to be a standalone adventure, as opposed to a main installment of the Skywalker family’s involvement with galactic history. And Lucasfilm and corporate parent Disney have tried hard to remain mum on the subject, not allowing much information to sneak through (perhaps taking their cue from how director J.J. Abrams built up the suspense to his Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year).

Recently, however, the gates are starting to be slowly lifted. Darth Vader, for example, is now confirmed to be making an appearance in the film. Furthermore, a bevy of background and other biographical details about the film’s characters – including the villains and a new droid character – have been revealed, providing more clues about Rogue One’s plot and possible impact on the greater Star Wars mythos.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is, of course, the protagonist, and we now have confirmation of what many suspected after seeing the first Rogue One trailer (thanks to EW): she’s a prisoner of the Rebel Alliance’s that’s being given the opportunity to commute her sentence. Abandoned at the age of 15, Erso has been on her own ever since, developing both her fighting skills and a knowledge of the galactic underworld along the way. You can check out EW‘s profile picture for Jyn Erso, below.

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The rest of the crew is just as colorful and dynamic as you might expect. Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is a “by-the-book” Rebel intelligence officer and, now, Jyn Erso’s handler.

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Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) is a blind warrior who has devoted himself to the Jedi Code, becoming a fearsome – but still quite spiritual – fighter.

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Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) is Chirrut’s close friend (and self-described bodyguard), using his armor and array of blasters to do the fighting for him.

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Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is the new Rebel team’s pilot – and a “volatile” hot-head.

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K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) is a tough-as-nails security droid that is neither fragile, like the prequels’ battle droids, nor all that concerned with human-cyborg relations, like C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) – instead, he’s seeking to atone for past sins.

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Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), Jyn’s estranged father, is still mostly under wraps, but he is compared to J. Robert Oppenheimer in the article, one of the fathers of the nuclear bomb – doomsday information that both the Rebels and the Imperials are desperately seeking.

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And, finally, the enigmatic baddy has been revealed to be Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who seeks nothing but to gain the good graces of his enforcer, Darth Vader, and his emperor, Palpatine, by using his elite squad of Deathtroopers to quell the Rebellion once and for all.

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Eagle-eyed readers will note that there’s one character missing from EW’s coverage – the one played by Forest Whitaker, who, according to recent news, is the Clone Wars vet Saw Gerrera. Given that the magazine is playing coy with his identity, saying only that SW fans will instantly recognize his name once they see it, we’re now know that he’s from Star Wars Clone Wars television show, making him the first character to be realized on-screen after being originally introduced in the larger canon.

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And, indeed, this is the greatest potential that Rogue One has (beyond establishing the template for what further – and potentially endless – anthologized films can offer): integrating the brand-new backstory that the Disney-owned Lucasfilm has been spinning from the ground up over the course of the past two years, creating a shared cinematic universe model that could match, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe in scope and ambition (and then some, perhaps).

But, then again, this could prove to be the downfall of this mightier, annualized Star Wars empire. If viewers will need to have all of this prior information from the already-formidable collection of television episodes and books in order to fully appreciate or, even, just follow along with these supposedly-standalone movies, the Star Wars Story entries will become more limited in their audience appeal and pop culture impact. You best believe all eyes will be on Rogue One, Lucasfilm, and Disney to see how this film is received, for these reasons.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

How Rogue One ties all of the Star Wars franchise together

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Source: ScreenRant.

When the Star Wars Anthology films were first announced three years ago, everyone expected to have a series of self-contained, one-off adventures that would hop all around the SW timeline and galaxy both, helping to widen the franchise’s tone and style, at the least, or fill in the storytelling canvas by directly showing some long-referenced events, at the most.

This is precisely what Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promised to deliver when it was initially revealed: the Rebel Alliance’s mission to procure the first Death Star’s blueprints, which is what kicks off 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope, would be realized in all its glory on the big screen. But it turns out that this first side story will actually do something much bigger and far grander than what we could ever have imagined: it’s going to tie the entire Star Wars saga – the movies, the television series, the novels – all together in one neat little package.

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This is more than just doing a shared cinematic universe, like what Marvel has been pioneering for the past eight years – this is taking nearly every single medium that SW exists in and attempting to seamlessly integrate it (which is why, after all, the new Disney-owned Lucasfilm opted to jettison the original version of the Expanded Universe [that collection of novels, comic books, short stories, and videogames] and created a new iteration that actively linked to the more recent TV shows and the yet-to-arrive films). Call it a shared multimediauniverse.

If it works, it could pave the way for all future Hollywood meta-franchises – maybe even Marvel’s, which could finally acknowledge its ever-growing television sub-universe.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s first take a step back and see just how Rogue One is attempting to push the narrative envelope.

Meet Saw Gerrera

Originally created for the first-ever SW television series, The Clone Wars (which ran for five seasons on Carton Network, from 2008 to 2013, before getting a final, truncated season on Netflix the following year), Saw Gerrera (voiced by Andrew Kishino) is, essentially, a one-off character, created for a specific run of episodes (that’s 502 through 504) that tell one specific storyline. It’s perhaps best to let the opening blurb of this storyarc speak for itself:

“Separatist takeover complete! Another Republic planet has fallen. Onderon has seceded to the Confederacy of Independent Systems under the rule of a new king. However, a small band of Rebels have taken refuge deep within the vast and savage wilderness.

From an abandoned outpost, they plot to take back the heavily fortified capital city of Iziz and end the Separatist occupation…”

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Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter in the series) has the idea to train these rebels in, essentially, guerrilla warfare, which would then allow the Republic forces to attack an already-distracted Confederate army. The Jedi Council ultimately agrees, albeit reluctantly, as insurgent combat can easily become terrorism, and “terror is a weapon the Jedi never wish to employ.” This immediately sets up the ambivalent, conflicted tightrope that Saw Gerrera, who fancies himself the leader of the Onderon resistance, finds himself walking (and sets him up as something of a reflection of Anakin, who is himself a character constantly attempting to reassess the dual pulls of the light and dark sides of the Force).

Ultimately, Master Skywalker’s plan proves successful; the rebels are able to free the former, pro-Republic king, rally public support, and strike a decisive blow against the Separatist battle droid army stationed there, forcing the Confederacy to abandon the planet. However, the victory comes at a steep cost: Saw’s sister, Steela (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), who quickly emerges as the resistance’s leader and may even have a bright future as a general in the restored Onderon military, is accidentally killed by Saw himself (he fires a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air rocket, which destroys a droid gun ship that then crashes into Steela’s position on a cliff, making her fall to her death).

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The character of Saw is never touched upon again in Clone Wars, although Lucasfilm has been able to partially resurrect the character in the three-and-a-half years since, based mostly off of the narrative designs that the writing staff and Star Wars creator George Lucas had drawn up for future seasons (before Disney abruptly canceled the show). He is first referenced in Star Wars: Rebels, the Disney XD replacement series that takes place just a few years before the original trilogy of films: we learn that Oderon has, unsurprisingly, become a hotbed of resistance against the Galactic Empire, and Saw has become a particularly brutal insurgency leader. He is mentioned once more in the just-released novel Star Wars: Bloodline, which is set six years beforeEpisode VII: The Force Awakens, with (some of) the senators of the New Republic looking back and questioning whether his guerilla cell’s actions should really be labeled terrorism.

Meet Saw Gerrera… again

Marking the first time ever that a Star Wars character will have been introduced first in the Expanded Universe before being seen on the big screen, actor Forest Whitaker will be assuming the flesh-and-blood role of Saw Gerrera in the storyline that takes place before A New Hope. In Rogue One, EW revealed, Gerrera is a man who nominally fights as part of the Rebel Alliance to overthrow the tyranny of Emperor Palpatine’s New Order, but he’s on the extremist fringe, so brutal in his tactics that “the other good guys aren’t sure if he really is one.” He’s forced to work with Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her team of spies in order to achieve the common good of finding a weakness in the Death Star, an instrument of war that can end the Rebels, the extremists and the “lightweights” both, once and for all.

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Although not much of Rogue One’s actual plot has been divulged as of yet, we can be pretty sure that Lucasfilm opted to go for this previously established character instead of creating a new one from scratch for some pretty important thematic reasons. In his original, animated incarnation, Saw is trained in his insurgent ways by none other than Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Learner, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) (who has also been reinserted into the Star Wars mythos by becoming a recurring character in Rebels). The pair, in turn, are overseen by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), who has a vested interest in making sure that his two hot-headed compatriots don’t tumble too far down the slippery slope of combat into terrorism (or hatred or anger, which, as we all know, is the path to the dark side). Although Gerrera is nowhere near a Jedi, it is nonetheless important to note that Ahsoka ultimately feels forced to abandon the Jedi Order, while Anakin, of course, one-ups her by becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith (and, as Vader, will similarly make an appearance in this first Star Wars Story). Obi-Wan’s efforts to monitor and provide a sense of balance for them fails – as it does, obviously, for Saw himself.

It seems as if Jyn Erso, the protagonist of Rogue One (and a character who starts the film off as a criminal thrown in a Rebel cell), might have something of a similar trial to undertake in the upcoming “anthology” adventure, with Rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’ Reilly) acting as the angel on her one shoulder and Gerrera, the devil on the other (or, if you will, the secular, combat versions of a Jedi and Sith Lord). In this way, this supposedly self-contained one-off story could actually continue and build upon the main films’ thematic core – and it might even be that Jyn will have some sort of balancing effect on the battle-hardened Clone Wars veteran, providing him with the closure that he has been lacking since his sister’s death some 19 years prior.

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And this, ultimately, should be the deciding factor in first designing and then implementing a multimedia-wide shared-universe model, particularly on this grand of a scale: telling actual stories with actual characters that progress and grow over time (and through the mediums), instead of force-feeding a narrative element into the main story in order to help sell more copies of the originating DVD set, book, or comic. Should Lucasfilm continue to adopt this approach – coming up with a specific narrative first, and then checking to see if they already have the necessary parts from other, previous releases – then the ever-more-expanding stories of the various Star Wars films and Expanded Universe will be a marvel to behold.

Clone Wars showrunner on his animated character in Rogue One

Source: ScreenRant.

Saw_Gerrera_Rogue_OneAfter Disney purchased Lucasfilm, several changes were made to the way that Star Wars properties were handled. Perhaps the most controversial of these changes was the shift of the bulk of the Star Wars expanded universe to non-canon status. One of the few things outside of the six films to remain canon was Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated series that was intended to fill in the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

Since The Clone Wars was announced as being canon, many fans wondered when ties to the animated series would show up in the other Star Warsproperties. At first it seemed that Star Wars Rebels would be the main source of tie-ins, though we now know that Saw Gererra from The Clone Wars will appear in the flesh as Forest Whitaker’s character in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as well. After the reveal was made, Clone Wars andRebels showrunner Dave Filoni had a few comments about what it’s like to see one of his characters joining up with the Rebellion on the big screen.

Speaking with Comic Book, Filoni talked about how proud he was to see the stories from the animated series and the live-action movies merging together.

“I have always thought of Star Wars: The Clone Wars as an extension of the Star Wars films, and now, here we are, seeing a character come to life in the flesh on the big screen. I think it’s tremendously exciting, because it’s fulfilling a promise to the fans, that this is one story, and the characters you know and love are throughout  it, and influencing the story in many ways. I’m so proud of the Rogue One team, and everyone at Lucasfilm. It’s a great day for Star Wars.”

Though he debuted in The Clone Wars, Saw Gererra was actually intended from the start to be a live-action character. George Lucas created the character for a live-action TV show that never got off the ground because it would have been too expensive to make, and he was eventually added to The Clone Wars for a four-episode story arc in season five. More recently, the character received a mention in Rebels that helped to flesh out his history between The Clone Wars and Rogue One a bit more.

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If nothing else, having Whitaker play a character who debuted in The Clone Wars really helps to unify the Star Wars universe in regard to the current canon. Disney’s Marvel Studios could learn a lesson or two from Lucasfilm in this regard, since Marvel fans have been hoping for years to see characters from the various TV shows be referenced by or appear in one of Marvel’s blockbusters. In having Whitaker portray Saw Gerrera, Lucasfilm has not only done fans of The Clone Wars a great service but also has generated new interest in the old series as the Internet remains abuzz about the character and his story.

Of course, it still remains to be seen how much Saw Gerrera adds to the film or how Rogue One performs as the first non-Episode Star Wars film. Some fans may worry that the rumors about the movie not really matching the Star Wars tone are true, or that Disney went too far with reshoots to try and make the movie lighter in tone. Even if it doesn’t end up being the strongest piece of the Star Wars canon, however, it will still be one of the big pieces that’s helped to tie the various bits together.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Canceled Star Wars TV Show was Emperor’s origin story

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Source: ScreenRant.

What a great time it is to be a Star Wars fan. With The Force Awakens now firmly behind us, and its success a resounding return to form for the saga, the prospect of future movies like Episode VIII and this year’s Rogue One, looms on the horizon like the two suns of Tatooine. To say it looks bright would be an understatement.

But what about the future of Star Wars in other mediums, like television? There were rumblings of a live-action television series being developed for years, persisting in some form or another even after LucasFilm was bought by Disney in 2012. Unfortunately, it seems that any development was for naught, and any live action series that may, in some distant future, come to fruition will be a new idea, with a new focus. That’s a shame, considering what has come to light about the abandoned Star Wars television series.

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Cory Balrog, director of the God of War game series, recently spoke toVenture Beat about the series. There, he briefly referenced his experience at LucasArts, a subsidiary of LucasFilm, and what he knew about the now-defunct idea, rumored to have been titled Star Wars Underworld.

“[We] started looking at some examples from television and movies, mostly television — television is this great format where people can have a relationship with characters for an extended period of time. During that time, a character can go from one extreme to another. They can go from a character you loathe to a character you love and root for.

Probably the really small beginnings of this idea, the germination of this — when I was working at Lucas, I was allowed to go up to the ranch and read the scripts for the [canceled live-action Star Wars] TV show. It was the most mind-blowing thing I’d ever experienced. I cared about the Emperor. They made the Emperor a sympathetic figure who was wronged by this f***ing heartless woman. She’s this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a person. I almost cried while reading this. This is the Emperor, the lightning out of the fingers Emperor. That’s something magical. The writers who worked on that, guys from The Shield and 24, these were excellent writers.”

While that doesn’t get too far into specifics and opens the door to plenty of other questions, the idea of exploring the origins of Emperor Palpatine via a long-form narrative is certainly an intriguing one. From what we know of Darth Sidious from the movies, the emperor was always little more than a power-hungry madman with brilliant, Machiavellian tactics he used to rule a galaxy far, far away. That a character who so embodies the idea of political evil in the minds of many could ever be sympathetic seems too wild to be real, but Star Wars has always been great about exploring the lines between the good and the bad.

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Say what you will about the execution of the prequel trilogy, conceptually there was a lot going on. The fall of Anakin Skywalker was a dark mirror into the trials of Luke in the original series. That thin line which exists between the good and the evil, the Light Side and the Dark Side, was what gave the Star Wars mythos is moral propulsion, cementing the story in the minds of movie audiences.

It makes sense, then, that the live-action TV series would’ve explored the downfall of a young Palpatine and added the same moral grey lines to his character. The added twist of exploring the criminal underground of the galaxy could have propelled the story into new directions only hinted at so far. One can only imagine the excitement of seeing Palpatine attempt to out maneuver the Hutts and their gangster rivals as he moves from bright-eyed young romantic to bitter, power-mad Dark Lord of the Sith.

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With any luck, perhaps Disney will resurrect the idea in one form or another. They haven’t ruled out the idea of a live-action series, and from the sound of things this is a series that would be right at home on Netflix, where Disney also relegates the darker stories of their MCU. Could this compete with the likes of Daredevil or Jessica Jones? Possibly, and it makes sense. If not a TV series, it also stands to reason that the idea can be reworked into one of the standalone movies in the anthology series. Either way, it’s an interesting idea that deserves its day in the sun if for no other reason than it would be nice to not wonder what might have been.

Rogue One: Darth Vader confirmed

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Source: ScreenRant.

As moviegoers wait for the Skywalker family saga to continue next year in Star Wars: Episode VIII, Lucasfilm is keeping their mega franchise alive and well in 2016. The first of their standalone anthology films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is hitting theaters this December. Set 34 years before The Force Awakens, it revolves around the group of Rebel Alliance fighters that stole the plans to the original Death Star – unknowingly allowing Luke Skywalker to become the hero he is today.

Since it is a Star Wars film, Rogue One is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. However, the project was hit with some controversy recently after news regarding its reshoots came out. While those closest to the productioninsist everything is proceeding as planned, the sheer amount of rumors and speculation have given some fans some cause for concern. The onus is on Lucasfilm to turn things around in the six months before the premiere, and the easiest way to do that is with a killer marketing campaign.

The Rogue One teaser trailer was unveiled back in April to a generally positive reception, but now the studio is getting ready for the next wave of promotional materials. As Star Wars Celebration 2016 draws closer, EW is planning a massive rollout of details on the spinoff. To get things started, they’ve released a magazine cover featuring characters Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and droid K-250 (Alan Tudyk). In addition, this marks the first official confirmation that famed villain Darth Vader will return to the big screen in Rogue One.

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EW‘s coverage promises to be very extensive, revealing new information about the scrappy band of Rebels and the Imperial officers tasked with bringing them down. The teases that are currently available are certainly intriguing; Jyn has apparently “clashed with both the Rebellion and the Empire”and as previously reported, Mads Mikkelsen is playing her father. Not much is known about Mikkelsen’s character at this point in time, but he is a scientist who is sought out by both factions of the Galactic Civil War. Earlier rumors suggested he helped design the Death Star before leaving the Empire due to guilt over what he’s done, so he potentially could be one of the more fascinating characters in Star Wars lore.

Check out the cover below:

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Fans will also get to learn more about Jyn’s teammates, played by Luna, Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Weng, and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. EW cryptically says that “one of these has been seen before by Star Wars fans,” without elaborating further as to what they meant. When the Rogue One character names leaked a while back, none of them read as familiar, so this gives moviegoers yet another reason to read up on the outlet’s coverage throughout the week.

Of course, the biggest news here is that Darth Vader is coming back. It has long been rumored that the Sith Lord would be in Rogue One, but Lucasfilm never made any statement on the matter until now. His presence in the film will be a massive selling point, and it’s a safe bet Vader will be shown in the second Rogue One trailer. From the sound of it, he’s going to be dealing mostly with Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic, who is “eager to earn the favor of the Emperor.” Fans know how Vader treats those who fail him, so their dynamic should be a treat to watch.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.