We will mention once in this article that Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was significantly divisive to the fandom despite its box office performance, and we’ll leave it at that. Anyway, we finally have one key development to report on the road to the production of Episode IX.
Last Wednesday evening at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS, J.J. Abrams made a guest appearance. The director of Episode VII: The Force Awakens then dropped the big news when asked for Episode IX updates. “We have a script,” Abrams declared, “which is a big deal for me.”
The celebrated sci-fi director (Abrams also directed the 2009 Star Trek film reboot) remarked at his luck in having a script prepared in advance for one of his directorial projects. He also spoke about his collaboration for the new Episode IX script with Chris Terrio, who worked on Oscar-winner Argo.
Colin Trevorrow had originally been tapped by Disney and Lucasfilm in 2015 to direct the last segment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. However he was let go by the studio, which then turned to Abrams. The 51-year-old filmmaker junked the script written by Trevorrow, Derek Connolly and Jack Thorne.
Of course, just because a script has been done doesn’t mean Abrams would be in the mood to drop even the smallest hint of spoilers, save that filming could start in July. The fact still remains however that the story will pick up from the events of The Last Jedi.
With the original trilogy main characters unlikely to return due to in-universe or real-life actor deaths, only next-generation cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are sure to reprise their roles. Star Wars Episode IX will premiere December 2019, with spinoff Solo coming later this May.
For the moment it doesn’t seem to get old, reminding time and time again that Black Panther from Marvel Studios is a box office darling and record-breaker, with its $235 million US-Canada earnings over an extended four-day weekend. It’s such a feat, director Ryan Coogler appears to be left speechless.
Perhaps that’s why he resorted to writing an open letter to the fans in gratitude for the extremely warm reception for this most recent film in the MCU. He even leads off said letter by saying just how wound up he is trying to say the right words of thanks.
One of his talking points was addressing the African-American element in the production of Black Panther. “Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent,” Coogler wrote.
Accordingly, Coogler feels humbled by the enormous audience turnout for his work, along with a swell of cultural pride for whatever backgrounds said viewers came from, all inspired by the Afro-futurist setting and national pride displayed by the characters from the nation of Wakanda. He mentions being moved to tears.
Towards the end of his letter, the director expressed his gratitude for “the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world.”
Black Panther can be considered a history maker for Coogler’s career in the director’s chair, as it has become the current record-holder for the biggest cinematic opening for a film with an African-American at the helm. As expected, voices from both Marvel and Disney came out to extend their congratulations.
A lot has been reported by us here regarding the upcoming Disney theme park expansion area Galaxy’s Edge, soon to open in Disneyland, Anaheim and later at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, Florida. While the Disneyland version is opening first, the Disney World iteration has an extra advantage.
Said advantage is in the form of a hotel connecting to the Galaxy’s Edge area, themed after the same franchise as the expansion itself: Star Wars. Disney Parks and Resorts have really outdone themselves in developing this new themed area, which invites guests to an even deeper level of immersion.
In order to hype Disney park-goers and Star Wars fans, the House of Mouse has recently released a couple of mini-videos showcasing concept art of the Star Wars Hotel’s interior. Said videos touch up the “realism” of the location by portraying some moving images to simulate the hotel in “reality”.
The first video above shows a mock-up of a family-size hotel guest room. Forget the pampered luxury of most accommodations; this hotel plays up the Star Wars motif to the hilt, with bunk-beds that evoke Japanese capsule hotels and a monitor disguised as a window, displaying breathtaking views of space.
Next is a look at what appears to be a hotel passageway. Even here, the video-screen “windows” are in evidence, providing the illusion that the hotel is a spaceship travelling to space, meeting other vessels in its course like that Rebel blockade runner above. Imagine the production work regarding that.
The Disney World Star Wars Hotel will be connected by exclusive passageways to Hollywood Studios’ Galaxy’s Edge area when both attractions are finally open. It will feature park “cast members” portraying characters constantly, and playing out unfolding storylines day after day. Guests will thus experience Star Wars like never before.
On March 5, the last three episodes for season 4 of Star Wars Rebels will air on Disney XD. And with that, the much-beloved CG animated series that chronicled the early struggles of the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire (before the Battle of Yavin) will come to an conclusion.
But that many not be the end of all animated Star Wars; Disney and Lucasfilm couldn’t possibly let go of such a popular mainstream story media. This might be the rationale for a recent trademark filing by the company, encompassing a multimedia range that could only mean a new series.
The trademark in question is named Star Wars Resistance. From the title alone, one can guess that this potential new animated cartoon will now chronicle a new time of conflict in the Galaxy far, far away: the low-intensity war between the Imperial remnants of the First Order and the Resistance.
News of the trademark filing was brought up on Twitter by Jordan Maison, though he also opined the possibility that rather than an animated thematic sequel to Star Wars Rebels, Resistance would be the title of the new live-action Star Wars series being developed for Disney’s upcoming online streaming service.
One bit of information supporting the animated nature of Star Wars Resistance is that according to Maison the filing took place shortly after Lucasfilm Animation posted a job listing for talented animators to join their studio team, with references to Rebels and its prequel trilogy-era predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars.
In addition to the already-ending Star Wars Rebels, Lucasfilm Animation is also working on season 2 of the short animated web series Forces of Destiny, which features the female characters of the franchise. A CG-animated spinoff, LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, is apparently getting new episodes in the future.
So, Black Panther is showing in cinemas (and making a killing at the box office). While it continues its theatrical run, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are already looking at the near future, namely the month of May. That’s when the next “chapter”, Avengers: Infinity War, makes its premiere.
But before we get there, Marvel Studios has time to promote and hype interest in the third Avengers film of the MCU. The very first trailer of Infinity War came out at the end of November last year, illustrating the approaching threat to MCU Earth in the form of Thanos.
A follow-up recut of the original trailer aired during Super Bowl LII followed by a special feature shown on the Disney Channel back in February 16 The next trailer for Avengers: Infinity War is set to be shown next week on the Tuesday (February 27) airing of Good Morning America.
The scheduled first showing of the new trailer on ABC’s morning show coincides with the appearance of three of Infinity War’s massive superhero cast. Sebastian Stan, who portrayed Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Paul Bettany/Vision from Age of Ultron, and Karen Gillan as Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy are expected guests.
It wouldn’t be the first time Marvel Studios gave Good Morning America the first showing of an MCU film’s trailer. Last year they aired one for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 which was premiering on May 2017. It’s hoped that this new Avengers trailer will finally feature new footage.
Infinity War, the second MCU movie for 2018, is setting a record for the biggest cast of characters in any MCU installment to date. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige however promises equal plot relevance for everybody regardless of screen-time, which would be remarkable if true. The film premieres May 4.
There’s no stopping the Disney multimedia juggernaut now as it proceeds apace in setting up its own exclusive digital online streaming service, which they have set to launch by 2019. Aside from past content pulled from other streamers like Netflix, Disney is also developing new original programming for their platform.
Streaming TV series for Star Wars and High School Musical are but a few of the possibilities that Disney brought up in terms of original programming. But in line with making their service family-friendly, they’re also prioritizing reintroductions of some of their iconic children-appropriate properties like the famous Muppet characters.
It should be recalled that Disney acquired The Muppets Studio back in 2004, and with it came the rights to famous TV puppet personalities like Kermit T. Frog, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and so much more. The studio is planning a rebooted series with the Muppets, available for streaming.
Disney had once attempted to broaden the Muppets audience base by creating a primetime TV comedy starring them on ABC. Mediocre critic reviews however led to its cancellation after one season. This reboot being planned for the Disney service comes across as a re-conception of the ABC show, but family-oriented.
No date in 2019 has been pegged down yet by Disney for the debut of its service, though it’s probably not going international until it makes a footprint locally first. No price point estimates have been given either. The yet-unnamed service is being headed by OTT programming Chief Agnes Chu.
We gave a warning about the possible eventuality of it back in early January, regarding the resumption of the final season of Star Wars Rebels this month. We knew Rebel General Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) would be rescued from the Empire, but at the cost of one of her teammates.
Season 4 of Rebels continued this Monday with a double episode airing, “Jedi Night” and “DUME”, where the Rebel unit of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) launch a rescue of the captive Hera, spearheaded by Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), her second-in-command and now lover. They even admit it freely now.
Unfortunately, death predictions were spot on, and in the climactic sequence of “Jedi Night” Kanan dies when he remains to Force-manipulate the Rebels’ escape craft while standing on an exploding fuel depot. His tragic passing serves a dual purpose though.
As revealed in the next episode “DUME”, Kanan both ensured the escape of his friends and the destruction of the depot, which holds fuel for the TIE Defenders, saving the Rebel organization and Imperial fighter-craft production. Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) tries to downplay this with a victory parade for the death of a Jedi, though her superiors are unconvinced.
Meanwhile, Hera and Ezra are devastated by the loss of Kanan, though Ezra finds renewed motivation upon meeting the unusually intelligent Loth-Wolf DUME, inspiring him to return to the Lothal Jedi Temple for helpful secrets. Thankfully Hera recovers from her own grief, and the stage is set for future confrontations.
The next couple of episodes in the final season of Star Wars Rebels (“Wolves and a Door”, “A World Between Worlds”) will air on Disney XD next Monday, February 26. The last three episodes will come on an epic 1.5-hour season and series finale to air next month, March 5.