News

The Star Wars News Roundup - 1.10.14

Source:   Scott Chitwood
January 10, 2014


The purpose of this roundup is to put the highlights of all things Star Wars from the last week in one location. If you read this each week, you should be able to converse fluently with any Star Wars fan on everything from the latest Star Wars: Episode VII developments to the latest toys. And maybe you'll even share with them something that they might have missed.

Let's get to it!


Image from Jake Parker



Episode VII News and Rumors

The "Episode VII" rumor mill has continued to be quiet. But until it starts up again, here are a couple of fun "Episode VII"-related tweets:







Television


Star Wars Tumblr - One of Kilian Plunkett's concepts for the Ghost, our protagonists' ship in Star Wars Rebels.

Groove Bricks discovered the names of several of the new characters from "Star Wars: Rebels" based on descriptions from upcoming LEGO sets:

Phantom (75048) – 234 pieces
Take on evil Imperial forces in The Phantom with opening cockpit, 2-way spring-loaded shooter, rear cargo compartment and more.

Fly The Phantom into battle against the evil Empire!

Join the Rebel resistance against the evil Empire in The Phantom attack shuttle, as seen in the exciting Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series! Place young Rebel hero Ezra Bridger in the detachable cockpit and store his cadet helmet and blaster in the carg Fly The Phantom into battle against the evil Empire!

The Ghost (75053) – 929 pieces
Pilot The Ghost with 2 cockpits, 360-degree rotating gun turret, spring-loaded shooters, detachable escape pods, Holocron and more.

Join the Rebel heroes aboard The Ghost!

Get ready to battle the Empire with the Rebel heroes' awesome starship – The Ghost – as seen in the thrilling Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series! Stay on course with Rebel minifigures in the two cockpits and put Zeb on patrol in the 360-degree rotating Join the Rebel heroes aboard The Ghost!



Wonder what will happen with the remaining episodes of "The Clone Wars"? Well, they are appearing in comic form as announced at Newsarama:

The ending of Star Wars' Clone Wars is shrouded in mystery, both in-story and in real life. In March 2013 Lucasfilm announced that the long-running animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be cut short, robbing fans of the intended finale of that CGI series. Since then, various personnel at Lucasfilm have talked about potential outlets the final episodes' story could be told, either as televised episodes, online content, or possibly a DVD release. But now in an exclusive to Newsarama, Lucasfilm has told us the finale to Star Wars: The Clone Wars is being told as a comic launching this May. This doesn't preclude the fully produced episodes from still airing somehow, but does let fans jump right to the ending and the unproduced final arc.

In this last year of Lucasfilm's epic decades-long partnership with Dark Horse Comics, the Oregon-based publisher will be releasing a four-part limited series titled Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir that will adapt the screenplays for what would have been the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Written by seasoned Star Wars comics scribe (and former editor) Jeremy Barlow with an artist to be announced, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir sees the full-scale return of Darth Maul to the Star Wars universe and into a head-to-head battle with his former master Darth Sidious – aka, the Emperor. Barlow promises to fully delve into the world of Dathomir, as well as some of its inhabitants like Nightbrothers and even a new character called Brother Viscus. Barlow spoke exclusively to Newsarama in our "Galaxy Far Away" Star Wars column.


TheForce.Net further reports that these would have been the series finale of "The Clone Wars," not simply the season finale. Hit the link for details.



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Books & Comics


Late last week it was announced that the Star Wars license would be returning to Marvel where it originally began. Considering that Disney nows owns both Lucasfilm and Marvel, this should have been no surprise to anyone. But The Hollywood Reporter had one of the more interesting post-announcement analyses. It noted that Marvel has a reputation for not giving their movie adaptations the star treatment recently.

Not only have the various licensed Disney titles failed to set the sales charts alight, but the publisher has been criticized for a seeming lack of focus (or interest) on the material, despite what would appear to be customer demand for it.

As Chris Butcher of the respected Toronto comic store the Beguiling wrote in 2012, "At the height of production, BOOM! Studios had been publishing as many as 10 comics a month featuring the Pixar and Disney characters. During their tenure with the license from January 2009 through December 2010 (2 years), they produced roughly 200 comics, and more than 30 trade paperbacks of that material… In the two years since Marvel acquired the license (January 2011-December 2012), they will have produced approximately 8 comic books, 8 magazines, and near as we can tell, 4 graphic novels (only 2 in 2012)."

Of those releases, Butcher noted, some reprinted from the Boom! material or earlier material from other publishers. "What you're seeing there is a 90% drop in production on highly salable product," he wrote. "Books with international name recognition that we were selling a ton of, and those sales basically evaporated."

Last month, Dark Horse Comics published five separate Star Wars series (Star Wars, Star Wars: Legacy, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadow and the adaptation of the original screenplay, The Star Wars), almost the equivalent of Marvel's core X-Men franchise, which boasts six core titles bearing the X-Men name. Even without a track record of reducing the amount of licensed material published under independent publishers, what would be the likelihood of Marvel maintaining Dark Horse's level of output on a regular basis?

(Worth noting: Marvel's cancellation level has traditionally been around 20,000 orders in the U.S. direct market, which means -- looking at the November order estimates, the most recent estimates available today -- that only two of those five Star Wars series would survive.)


Visit the link below for much more of this excellent article.



Dark Horse posted their response to the news:

All things come to pass. So too, do all licensed deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades.

For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy's Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I'm not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That's a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.

Mike Richardson


Editor Randy Stradley also responded as pointed out at Comic Book Resources

"[If] Dark Horse must lose the license, this is probably a good time for it."

"From my perspective, the upcoming films will mean less freedom to do what we at Dark Horse have always done best: expanding the universe," Stradley, who has served as senior editor of the Star Wars line since 2002, wrote Sunday on his Facebook page. "With a new film scheduled every year, and a new television series, it is likely that there will be a lot of comics pages devoted to adaptations and direct spin-off stories in support of the films and TV shows. That's not where my interests lie, and it has never been Dark Horse's strong suit. That would be too much like real work to me. Probably, the coming years will be a great time to be a Star Wars fan (especially a *new* Star Wars fan), and I hope you all enjoy the ride, but I think I'm going to be glad to not be in the mix."


Read more at the link.

Another question that has been lingering about what will be considered canon in the Expanded Universe once the new movies are released. While it was announced at Celebration Europe that a "Story Group" would be making those decisions, the Hollywood Reporter just picked up on the story:

Leland Chee, who works with Lucasfilm's story group, has been tweeting about changes to the way that Lucasfilm approaches Star Wars canon in the future. "Star Wars Canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group which [Pablo Hidalgo] and I are both a part of," Chee tweeted on Sunday.

The story group, he explained, "has a hand in all facets of Star Wars storytelling, including movies, TV, games and publishing." When asked what the change meant, he wrote that "a primary goal" was to ensure that there was no hierarchy between the movies and spinoff material, but instead one cohesive canon across the entire franchise, adding that "more so than ever, the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy."


Visit the link for more discussion. You can also see more at the following link:





Cosplay


On the RPF Forums, Lucasfilm's Mary Franklin announced an update to their costume policies:

Heads Up: Star Wars Costumed Fan Appearances

We are extremely fortunate at Lucasfilm to have such devoted fans and we appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm of the worldwide Star Wars fan-organized clubs. In my role as head of fan relations, I am grateful that I get to work with you so frequently.

Now that we are part of a larger organization, I want to make sure you know that my role has not changed. I will still be your point of contact for all activities relating to Lucasfilm as well as The Walt Disney Company and our licensees or promotional partners.

As you can imagine, there is huge enthusiasm in the worldwide Disney offices and with our licensees and promotional partners to engage with Star Wars. Fans and fan organizations will continue to receive invitations to our Star Wars-themed events, such as baseball games, Star Wars Weekends, etc. And, as has been done in the past, there will be times when we call on your groups for what we call Featured Character Appearances.

In short, to help channel the genuine enthusiasm so that that it best benefits Star Wars and your groups, here is what we have communicated inside Disney, Lucasfilm, and to our licensees and promotional partners:

o All requests for Star Wars costumed characters will be coordinated through me (mary.franklin@lucasfilm.com), regardless of whether the source of each request is a licensee, a promotional partner, The Walt Disney Company or Lucasfilm.

o When specific costumed Star Wars characters are required by Disney, Lucasfilm, or licensees and promotional partners for Featured Character Appearances, they have been directed to treat any individual involved as project employees.

If you receive any request from an outside group for a commercial activity that is associated with Lucasfilm or Disney and have not heard from me first, please give me a call or send me an email.

Finally, please take note that we understand that your members participate in non-commercial, community and charity activities through your organizations, which are independent of us, and do not require contact with me. Except hoped-for reports for Bantha Tracks!

We appreciate everything that you do in your communities and for the Star Wars brand. Thank you again for all you do!

Mary Franklin
Lucasfilm
mary.franklin@lucasfilm.com




Attractions

Mice Age reports that the Star Wars renovation of Tomorrowland that was put on hold has been started up again, but on a smaller scale:

While no exact date has been set for the project to begin, the current plan will see the complete reskin and remodel of the main Tomorrowland buildings flanking the entry walkway off the Central Plaza. The theme for the opening act of Tomorrowland will be a futuristic looking "space port", that frames the existing attractions nicely while setting up the environment for all the new Star Wars experiences planned for the back half of the land whenever they finally get approved...

But the real substance of the Star Wars Land project, the new rides and shows, are all backfilled into phase two of this Tomorrowland project. And phase two is all still on temporary hold for Disneyland, and appear to be simply cancelled for Disney's Hollywood Studios out at WDW. The optimists at Imagineering however are using this additional time stuck in limbo to their advantage. The Imagineers assigned to the Star Wars Tomorrowland project have now been debriefed on the characters and plotlines coming for Star Wars Episode VII that opens in theaters in about two years. The original plan for Disneyland's Tomorrowland relied heavily on characters and plot points from the first three Star Wars films, with attractions like a Millenium Falcon walk-thru on the old PeopleMover platform, a wild Tatooine cantina replacing Tomorrowland Terrace, and a speeder bike ride through an Ewok village where Autopia currently sits. Those key attractions are all still part of phase two, but they are being layered or tweaked to include references from Episode VII that will be released in theaters at least 18 months before any of those attractions open.


Visit the link above for more!



Collecting






CES 2014: 50 Cent's SMS Audio™ Unveils Star Wars™ Limited Edition Headphones

At CES 2014, SMS Audio, LLC (www.SMSAudio.com), a premier audio headphone and accessories brand from Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, debuts a line of limited edition Star Wars STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones. Branded with characters and themes from Lucasfilm's Star Wars series, the four new models include Stormtrooper, Rebel Alliance, Boba Fett and Imperial. 50 Cent is revealing the new products for the first time, as well as showcasing the existing SMS Audio line of products, at booth #21313 in South Hall 1.

"I've been a fan of Star Wars since I was a kid, so working with Lucasfilm to create this line of headphones was a really cool experience," said 50 Cent, CEO of SMS Audio. "Star Wars has a huge following of dedicated fans and I'm excited to welcome them into the SMS Audio family."

Available for a limited time, the Star Wars-branded STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones mirror the aesthetic quality, professional sound and functionality as the rest of the SMS Audio STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphone line. They are equipped with passive noise cancellation technology, enhanced bass and custom 40mm drivers that provide users with the same high-fidelity audio 50 Cent hears in the studio.

Lightweight, yet durable, the Star Wars on-ear headphones are extremely portable due to their foldable design and tangle-free, detachable cord. The OVALFIT™ leather memory foam ear cushions and adjustable headband provide users with superior comfort when listing to music anywhere, anytime. Each pair will include a unique 3D emblem on the ear caps depicting its respective character or theme, including:

Star Wars™ Limited Edition Stromtrooper™ Street by 50™ On-Ear Wired Headphone – Echoing the Stormtroopers' high-gloss white apparel, each pair sports the iconic Stormtrooper helmet on its ear-piece emblem. The black, plush leather ear cushions and padded headband have white stitching and provide stylish comfort.

Star Wars™ Limited Edition Rebel Alliance Street by 50™ On-Ear Wired Headphone – Join Luke Skywalker in the fight to restore the ‘Old Republic' with these orange and metal-gray headphones. Similar to Skywalker's memorable orange flight suit and marked with the Rebel Alliance's "Starbird" symbol, the Rebel Alliance-branded headsets feature a gray headband, orange ear caps and white leather ear cushions.

Star Wars™ Limited Edition Boba Fett™ Street by 50™ On-Ear Wired Headphone – Emulating Fett's subdued color palette found in his armor, the Boba Fett headphones are a deep forest green complete with rust-red ear caps and ivory leather ear cushions. Each pair sports the bounty hunter's chest symbol and Mandalorian insignia.

Star Wars™ Limited Edition Imperial Street by 50™ On-Ear Wired Headphone – Made in Imperial black to match its villain, Darth Vader™, the Imperial SMS Audio headphones have a high-shine finish with black leather cushions and red stitching. Also in black, the ear caps show off the emblem of the Galactic Empire in red.

The headphones will come with a Star Wars-branded removable cable with three-click microphone, soft touch cleaning cloth and certificate of authenticity, along with a limited edition Star Wars poster and stickers. The Star Wars STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones will be available for purchase at SMSAudio.com in Q2 2014 for MSRP $199.95.
Through its partnership with Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, each U.S. sale of SMS Audio products, in-store or online at www.SMSAudio.com, will help SMS Audio's commitment to provide 1,000,000 meals annually to food insecure families throughout the United States.

50 Cent is also signing autographs on Tuesday (January 7) and Wednesday (January 8) from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the SMS Audio booth. For more information about any of the SMS Audio headphones, visit www.SMSAudio.com. To be among the first to see the new SMS Audio products, visit the SMS Audio booth #21313 in South Hall.


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