The Marvelization of Star Wars

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Love ’em or hate ’em (and just admit that you love ’em already), you have to admit that Disney knows how to run a company. They’re like the Google of the entertainment industry, which is odd to say out loud since they were around long before Google. Founded in the 1920’s, they’ve done nothing but dominate and grow in the fields of film, television, publishing, music, theme parks and more. When Robert Iger took over the helm in 2005, the company took even bigger steps to cement its place as a leader in entertainment by purchasing companies like Pixar ($7.4 billion in 2006), Marvel ($4.24 billion in 2007), and of course Lucasfilm ($4.06 billion in 2012). (more…)

Star Wars News: J.J. Abrams Transitions, Rebels & Underworld, a New Battlefront title?

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There is a special feeling I get during the week leading up to Memorial Day. It’s not because of the unofficial summer kick-off or the three-day weekend, but because I’m always reminded of those special summers of the past when a Star Wars movie was released.This year, the reality of being two years away from a new Star Wars film really sunk in. Soon, those famous yellow letters will crawl their way up the screen and a new chapter of the saga will unfold. The younger generation of fans are quite lucky compared to those of us who had to wait from 1983 until 1999 for a new film. News about this new trilogy is going to start flowing soon but Lucasfilm and Disney are going to keep us plenty busy until then. I’m going to do my best to keep you updated, starting today.

 

J.J. Abrams: From Trek to Wars

Episode VII director J.J. Abrams’ newest movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness was released a short time ago. I won’t get into the plot or critique the film. I will talk about the direction, however. Overall, I felt that Abrams did an excellent job in handling the characters and he kept things moving well with a fairly good balance between action and dialogue. Abrams has said in the past that his true love is Star Wars and I hope he proves it and lets the action scenes build as opposed to the quick-fire editing of Star Trek. In Trek, the edits were very fast with hardly enough time to see what was going on. With Star Wars, I’d like him to allow specific shots to be on screen long enough to take everything in. I feel he did an excellent job with Super 8 so I am hopeful that he will use a similar pacing style.

It’s also been reported that Abrams will have creative control and receive profits from merchandise, spin-offs, television and theme parks. He seems to have taken a page from the George Lucas playbook on that one, and wisely so. It was mostly due to Lucas’ similar deal that he was able to fund future films. Disney has been sending out surveys asking people if they’d be interested in a Star Wars Theme Park. There’s a rumor going around that they might open another new park some time in the next decade out in California and a new Star Wars area might be added to this or perhaps the existing Adventureland. I hope they add a Mos Eisley Cantina restaurant!

 

Rebels & Underworld

The new animated series Star Wars Rebels was recently announced. I wonder if this series will play nicely with the long rumored live action show they’re calling Underworld. The live action show (that doesn’t center on the Skywalkers) also takes place between the two trilogies of films. As of now, the show is being “reevaluated” for development. I wonder if they’ll use some of the scripts for the animated series. Will they develop and produce two shows that take place in the same time line? Will they have crossover references?  The opportunity to bridge the time-frames and use lots of familiar characters is a great way to re-introduce the Original Trilogy to fans old and new while gearing up for Episode VII. What do you think? Leave some comments below.

 

New Battlefront?

Electronic Arts now has a contract to produce video games for Lucasfilm/Disney now that LucasArts has been shut down. This gives me a little hope that we’ll eventually see things like Star Wars: 1313  or maybe a next generation version of a Knights of the Old Republic title. It seems that EA knows what the fans want. At a recent Stifel 2013 Technology Conference, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen addressed a certain title fans have been clamoring for for a very long time: a new Battlefront title.  He said, “The opportunity to do a new Battlefront, for example, which is one of a very popular Star Wars games, or some of some of the other traditional games that were made is very exciting.” More updates on EA’s plans will be announced at the E3 Conference in June 2013.

 

That should be enough to get everyone excited and talking for now. Lets hope that at the Star Wars Europe Celebration the new President of LucasFilm, Kathleen Kennedy, gives us a special announcement or two. Leave some comments below and if you have news, feel free to submit it to us.

 

The Empire Strikes Back – First Draft by Leigh Brackett

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Download: Star Wars Sequel by Leigh Brackett

The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980 and even as a 10-year-old, I remember reading about an early version of the script written by a Sci-Fi author and screenwriter named Leigh Brackett. She turned in a first draft and passed away from Cancer in 1978. This draft was based on a story outline from George Lucas.

From there, as the story goes, Lucas tried his hand at a draft or two but then turned those drafts over to Lawrence Kasdan who ultimately penned the script, although Brackett was still credited. It’s unclear as to the reason why, but it’s assumed that this was a professional courtesy since not many people really knew if any of her work ended up in the final version.  Many interviews with Lucas and others who had seen the draft implied that it beared very little resemblance.

For years, this elusive draft seemed like a “holy grail” of sorts to Star Wars aficionados. In 2010, however, I was shown a scanned version of what appeared to be this draft by Brackett. It came complete with handwritten notes, crossed out words, and matched up with just about every description of the actual thing you could think of. If it was a forgery, it was an elaborate one.

At Starwarz.com, I also host a site called Starkiller. This small group of people specialize in Star Wars scripts. Being that I’m a member, we posted the script online and it’s the most popular download on the site.

At first read, you do get the distinct impression that it’s very different, but it’s mostly the dialogue. Many of the concepts and scenes are still intact.

SOME noticeable differences include:

  • Han is never frozen and there are no bounty hunters like Boba Fett
  • Lando has a different last name (Kadar) and a lady friend
  • Planet names are different or changed around
  • Yoda is called “Minch”
  • Han is sent on a “mission” to speak to his powerful Step-father (which is supposed to be part of the next film)

and the biggest one of all…

  • Darth Vader and Luke’s Father are TWO DIFFERENT characters

Luke’s father, simply referred to as SKYWALKER in the script, shows up in ghost form along with Ben while Luke is being trained. What’s more is he also tells Luke about his sister – who is not Leia. Her name is Nellith. Luke takes the oath of the Jedi along with his Father, Ben and Minch (Yoda).

It’s clear that Lucas wasn’t sure on the direction he was going with the whole Anakin/Vader story yet. It makes you think about Lucas’ explanation of how the whole saga was always supposed to be about Anakin Skywalker. When Empire was being made, it seems he had no idea about this. Nor did he know that Leia would be Luke’s sister, which explains his non-reluctance to having them romantically linked in the film. Was he shooting from the hip then, and is he now rewriting history?

Other than that, you’ll see that the general framework and outline from Lucas is pretty much there. Not much of Brackett’s dialogue remained but some of her spirit did.

For fans, this is a great find and a great read so I’m happy to be able to share it here as well as over at the Starkiller site.

Enjoy reading it and please leave some comments.

Download: Star Wars Sequel by Leigh Brackett

 

Episode VII: The Original Dream Team Is (Probably) Returning

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In an article on Businessweek.com, George Lucas dropped the closest thing to confirmation that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher will reprise their roles as Luke, Han, and Leia in Star Wars: Episode VII.

Here’s an excerpt:

Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

The rest of the article details the selling of Lucasfilm to Disney. It contains a lot of history you may already know, but it’s worth a read if anything to see how things operate behind closed doors at big companies.

It also talks about how Lucas was on the fence about whether or not to hand over his outlines for a sequel trilogy – outlines he has claimed many times never existed.

At first Lucas wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Wars films. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him. “Ultimately you have to say, ‘Look, I know what I’m doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.’ I’ve worked at this for 40 years, and I’ve been pretty successful,” Lucas says. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Fine, well, I’ll just sell the company to somebody else.’ ”

Once Lucas got assurances from Disney in writing about the broad outlines of the deal, he agreed to turn over the treatments—but insisted they could only be read by Iger, Horn, and Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president for corporate strategy. “We promised,” says Iger. “We had to sign an agreement.”

When Iger finally got a look at the treatments, he was elated. “We thought from a storytelling perspective they had a lot of potential,” he says.

So, I’ll be the first to say it: Here’s where the fun begins!

 

Order 66 Numerology

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When I first heard about Order 66, the number intrigued me. Why would George Lucas choose the number 66 to represent this genocidal order? Let’s take a look a possible explanation.

In Biblical numerology, the number 6 can be used to represent spiritual imperfection in man, the devil, or the spirit of the devil in mankind. It is an imperfect number. Hence, the reason 666 is considered to be the Number of the Beast (well known to Iron Maiden fans).

The number 666 (originally 616 in early texts) in Biblical terms is the “Unholy Trinity” or also the perfection of imperfection, just as 777 represents the “Holy Trinity” or actual perfection and holiness.

The number 11 in Biblical terms represents disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration. So 6 X 11 (imperfection X destruction) equals Order 66. The evil in man (The Sith/Darth Sidious) combined with destruction (of the Republic) is exemplified in this number.

This same formula can be used to represent the 66 books of the King James Bible but without as serious an end result. The spirit of Satan (6) X  destruction (11) = Satan destroyed by God’s Word (66).

Lucas has been known to reference all kinds of historical, spiritual and religious imagery throughout his career. It would not surprise me to find out there was something behind the number 66.

On the other hand, it could all just be a freaky coincidence and the number 66 could refer to the year of a car or something.

 

Jedi Master Yoda

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There’s no doubt that Yoda was one of the greatest Jedi Masters of all time. A lead Council member, instructor and a fierce yet reluctant fighter, he went toe to toe with the most formidable of opponents. Unfortunately, Episode III saw him retreating into exile to bide his time until an opportunity arose to set things right. Let’s take a look at some of Yoda’s deleted shots and scenes.

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