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.
The big news of the week came yesterday when Lucasfilm announced that Michael Arndt was out as writer of "Episode VII" and J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan were in. Also buried in the press release was the fact that Ben Burtt is returning. Here's the press release:
As "Episode VII" continues pre-production, Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams have assumed screenwriting duties for the film. Kasdan, who has been serving as a consultant on the film, is a veteran of several classic Lucasfilm productions, writing the screenplay for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and serving as co-screenwriter for "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." Acclaimed director and screenwriter Abrams' credits include "Super 8," "Mission: Impossible III," "Fringe," and "Lost."
"I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script," states Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. "There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a "Star Wars" story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production."
Location scouting, production design, casting, and costume design are already underway on "Episode VII." A team of gifted artists are working to bring the latest installment of the "Star Wars" saga, including director of photography Dan Mindel ("Mission: Impossible III," "Star Trek"), production designers Rick Carter ("Lincoln," "Avatar") and Darren Gilford ("Oblivion," "TRON: Legacy"), costume designer Michael Kaplan ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"), special effects supervisor Chris Corbould ("Skyfall," "The Dark Knight Rises"), sound designer Ben Burtt ("Lincoln," "Star Wars: Episodes I-VI"), re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom ("Jurassic Park," "Saving Private Ryan"), supervising sound editor Matthew Wood ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "The Master") of Skywalker Sound, and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End") of Industrial Light & Magic. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper ("Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "Star Trek Into Darkness") and Jason McGatlin ("Tintin," "War of the Worlds") serving as executive producers.
John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.
Shooting is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios for an expected 2015 release.
It's a bit of a surprise, but with Kasdan on board it is certainly encouraging. By why the change? Eric Vespe comments
I've heard from sources that those who read Arndt's EpVII draft thought it was pure Star Wars and fantastic. Apparently Abrams disagreed.
A couple of months ago I reported that I heard there was tension inside the production, and that JJ Abrams had been making noise about leaving. That got picked up (erroneously) by other outlets saying Abrams WAS leaving. My understanding is that the tension was about a lot of issues, including release dates and schedules, but also about the script. Abrams wasn't satisfied with what Michael Arndt had written and wanted to take a crack at it. While it was announced today, I heard they scrapped the entire Arndt script as early as July, but I didn't know that meant they were scrapping Arndt as well.
What's the big change? My sources tell me that the focus of the story has changed in a big way, that it's a whole new set of characters being followed than in the Arndt script. I don't want to say much more than that, because I just don't know how in flux things are and I'm sick of being misquoted on this stuff, but it seems like there's a complete overhaul. Top to bottom. This isn't a rewrite, this is a completely different movie with different main characters.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Harrison Ford about "Episode VII" and he finally spilled the beans on it. Just kidding. He followed the company tap dance as you would expect:
Your next film, Ender's Game, opens Nov. 1. How did you find working in a big visual effects movie has changed since you did the first Star Wars?
Well, I don't know if it changes the experience of playing a character. The capacity to generate effects is very compelling. The danger of so much visual excitement is that you lose the human story, which is what connects emotionally to the audience. But all the people involved were very passionate about the ideas in the film. It was more ambitious than just another kinetic exercise.
So what's the status of you playing Han Solo in the new Star Wars sequel?
I think even to say it's unresolved is kind of an enhancer. I prefer not to have to be confronted with that.
I've been paying attention to your press tour a bit. It reminds me of when you were promoting "Blade Runner" and people kept asking you about "Return of the Jedi." I know "Ender's Game" means a great deal to you, do you get annoyed by the "Episode VII" questions? Or is that just part of the deal and you don't care?
I don't care. I'm trying to always rope 'em back into concentrating on the task at hand. But, most writers have editors and I can tell when a responsibility is generated by the editor.
Total Film tried to get info out of Harrison Ford as well:
They also got Ben Kingsley to respond to rumors about auditioning for "Episode VII":
Harrison Ford's "Ender's Game" co-star Asa Butterfield is trying to put the good word in for a role according to Hypable:
"I’m trying to slip a word in," said Butterfield at his Beverly Hills suite. "I’m writing him little notes and whispering into his [Harrison Ford's] ear when he’s asleep." He cupped his hands around his mouth and mock-whispered, "Asa Butterfield…Han Solo Junior…"
Latino Review teased a potential new character:
Speaking of EPISODE VII, looking forward to who gets cast as the baddie "She Sith."
Empire Online - Star Wars Episode VII Title Generator - What will J.J. Abrams call the Star Wars sequel? The answer is bound to be here somewhere...
Jedi News UK got their hands on a brochure handed out at the European Brand Licensing Show which details the plans for Star Wars through 2015. There were a couple of surprises, mainly some Darth Vader TV specials:
This is a page from the Disney brochure given out to the attendees of the European Brand Licensing Show. This is the detailed current calendar plan from Disney for the Star Wars brand. Plenty of little bits of info that will stir much debate and discussion:
Star Wars Mobile LEGO games following on from successful app releases of the Batman and Harry Potter platform ports. Coming in Spring / Summer 2014.
A Star Wars Digital Library is to launch in Autumn / Winter 2014.
Confirmation that the plan remains for Star Wars Episode VII to be released in the Spring / Summer of 2015.
But perhaps the most surprising, exciting and fast approaching news is the release of "Darth Vader Themed TV Specials."
ARS Technica - Short that aired pre-Empire Strikes Back will come to Netflix, iTunes in 2014
The Yoda Chronicles Episode 3 Trailer:
Around The Web
Will Ferrell as Boba Fett in "The Internship" - Warning - Adult Language!
CNN - 'Star Wars': Visit Tatooine, before it's swallowed by the Sahara.
George Lucas Interview: C-3PO and Darth Vader - In this interview from the Lucasfilm archives, Star Wars creator George Lucas discusses the voice acting provided by Anthony Daniels and James Earl Jones for C-3PO and Darth Vader, respectively. Originally, Lucas wanted a different style voice for C-3PO, but could not find a better performance than Daniels', who also played the physical role. For the voice of Darth Vader, Lucas felt he needed a "top class actor" to pull it off, which led him to Jones.
ZOMBIE WARS - Episode V: The Living Dead Strike Back
Han Solo vs. Indiana Jones - Harrison Ford was honored at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala with the "Hollywood Career Achievement Award." To celebrate his award, celebs weighed in on the Han Solo vs. Indiana Jones debate, including Harrison Ford himself!
Screen Daily - UK Culture secretary Maria Miller meets Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros, HBO.
Revenge of the Jedi: Teaser Trailer - Watch the original teaser trailer for Revenge of the Jedi, which appeared in theaters before Star Wars creator George Lucas changed the name of the film to Return of the Jedi. This trailer features the completed Revenge of the Jedi logo, shows Luke wielding a blue lightsaber (in the final film, his Jedi weapon would have a green blade), and features a quick shot of Obi-Wan Kenobi before "spirit" effects were added.
Decision time is quickly approaching for another Bay Area museum: The amazing Lucas Cultural Arts Museum! Learn... http://t.co/TOGlFGDWTD
Yahoo! Movies - Exclusive: 'Making of Star Wars' Clip Is a Little Hot for a Stormtrooper
Star Wars Bridge Swing Behind the Scenes - Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher fend off stormtroopers before their famous "bridge swing" in rare, behind-the-scenes footage exclusively provided to Mashable.
Entertainment Weekly - Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill in exclusive behind-the-scenes 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi' video.
StarWars.Com - The Making of the Original Trilogy eBooks Video/Audio — Complete Contents Revealed
Star Wars: Frames - Book Trailer - Get an inside look at the making of Star Wars: Frames, a new two-volume box set release from Abrams, featuring individual frames -- selected by George Lucas himself -- from every Star Wars film. According to Lucasfilm's Howard Roffman, Lucas had the idea to look at the Star Wars films one frame at a time, an idea that evolved into this collection. Indeed, Lucas went through every film, selecting iconic shots but also including some unexpected imagery. Taken together, these books present the Star Wars story in an entirely new, beautiful way. Lucasfilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler calls Star Wars: Frames "a truly unique work of craftsmanship and an essential part of the Star Wars saga."