WTF is this post? That's not how you spell STAR WARS. It's me, Da7e, basically a waste of carbon, because I spend all my time thinking about things I like and other people who like those things. This is my weekly column where I discuss news, rumors and happenings in the world of STAR WARS
Spoilers? Usually, but not this week.
I thought this was all over two weeks ago, but maybe it isn't.
Here’s a rumbling from the deep behind-the-scenes that I cannot confirm: JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy aren’t done wrestling with Bob Iger to push Star Wars: Episode VII back into 2016 with Batman, Superman and Captain America.
I’ve only heard pieces of this from two sources and they don’t necessarily corroborate each other. Previously in this space, we discussed how Abrams and Kennedy wanted a May 2016 release date but Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, told shareholders that December 2015 was the date and he was going to hold to that. 2016 is Bob Iger’s exit date from the Disney Company and the gentleman wants to have a very specific legacy: Bob Iger bought other companies and let them become super-profitable for Disney. Pixar and Marvel have already crescendoed and proven to be smart business, and his purchase of Lucasfilm looks like smart business, but no one wants to exit with the third piece of their legacy triumvirate teetering on the edge of one’s tenure.
JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, however, have completely different motives.
Kennedy is the overseer of the Lucasfilm Legacy within Disney and doesn’t want to fail connecting this new trilogy of Star Wars films to a classic Star Wars everyone can recognize. The franchise and it’s spinoff films will likely be big no matter what, but the value of owning Star Wars is owning the bottomless well of potential money and that means plugging into nostalgia. Star Wars as a franchise can’t pull a Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and drastically change tones, Star Wars can’t reboot. Star Wars is continuous. Kathleen Kennedy cannot have an Episode VII that botches the handoff between Star Was and Star Is.
JJ Abrams is a mystery box. I can only vaguely guess based on how news has unrolled at the JJ Abrams Experience. But I think it went something like: JJ realizes during Star Trek Into Darkness that he has a shot at Star Wars, which has got to be the dream of a hundred other directors. JJ gets as hesitant as he always is before a project starts because there’s a real fear that Lucasfilm/Disney are going to steam-roll him. Disney/Lucasfilm makes a bunch of promises in the spirit of goodwill and passes off the Michael Ardnt script. Abrams trashes the script, Disney/Lucasfilm start to feel bad about their promises. Abrams re-drafts the script and starts shooting plates earlier than anyone expected because Bob Iger is locking in a 2015 release date regardless. Abrams won’t be booted off, but he can’t stop everything, so he starts a B-roll/plate unit rolling to show some forward motion. Abrams casts the main parts so he can get rolling, leaving some other characters to be cast as they get closer to those characters in the film.
At some point around here, Abrams and Kennedy come to a decision that Abrams isn’t coming back for more Star Wars.
Production starts and the magic of living the dream of directing a Star Wars movie probably reduced the stress of realizing the demanding schedule for a movie of this size. Abrams and Kennedy form a united front against using excessive CGI both because it can play on the nostalgia factor from the original trilogy and to counteract the main complaint about the Prequel Trilogy. This, however, means building sets and many, many costumes the Prequels avoided. Then, Harrison Ford gets hurt.
This is the crack in the facade of production and when reports about when we’ll get to see Star Wars: Episode VII start to split from one another.
Like I’ve mentioned before, it was looking like Bob Iger and Disney were going to hold to the December 2015 release date come hell or high water, and that’s what I assumed was happening because the CEO of Disney who has controlled his legacy well thus far looked to be the biggest dog in the fight.
Then, hidden in a new casting announcement, there’s word that Star Wars: Episode VII will take a 2 week hiatus from filming this fall, and that - THAT FACT - is what sets this new narrative in motion.
I’m told by a very confident person who has given accurate information in the past that Star Wars: Episode VII will be pushed to 2016.
Here’s what seems to be happening - Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams have formed a united front and adopted Harrison Ford’s injury as their main bargaining tool to delay this movie just enough to make December 2015 impossible.
Abrams and Kennedy have been very adamant that they will not hire a body double and blend Harrison Ford’s Hobbled Han with digital trickery. They won’t do it, they refuse to and that might be the only avenue to finishing this film on time. Now they’ve used Harrison Ford’s injury to call for a straight up hiatus (I guess they shouldn’t have started shooting plates so early?).
If this is true, I’m not sure how this showdown plays out. If single rumor source gentleman is so sure that we should start thinking of Star Wars as a 2016 movie...that means that Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams very publicly beat Bob Iger. And that’d have to be the shadow narrative beyond “due to Mr. Ford’s injuries and his importance to the plot.”
This is something that, if true, people will write whole books about (judging from the books like Disney Wars that cover Iger’s beginnings plus the countless Behind the Scenes books of the Star Wars franchise).
Abrams’ only dog in this fight is Star Wars: Episode VII, so my initial reaction is that no one’s going to call Bob Iger a failure, let JJ make a movie he feels is good. Kathleen Kennedy has to survive the Disney administration to shepard more Star Wars, so her siding with Abrams is just as much a stance as a signal to future directors that Lucasfilm is on the filmmakers’ side.
Then, there are the Disney shareholders who were promised something in December 2015. That promise has had so many repercussions as every other movie in 2015 scrambles to find the one weekend between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Episode VII that they can make some decent money. Corporations, as we’ve learned in my lifetime, are entities with feelings, the right to free speech and the right to freedom of religion (sometimes), so in the end Disney is the biggest entity in this showdown, it’s just hard to tell how much Disney cares about when Star Wars is released - if they can hold their horses for 6 months and not completely trash their stock price.
Then again, plopping Star Wars in May 2016, which is what Abrams and Kennedy want to do, puts in the same month as EVERY OTHER MAJOR SUPERHERO MOVIE MEGAFRANCHSIE (except Spider-Man, but Spider-Man’s still in the box office doghouse). Not to mention one of those is also Disney AND there's an Alice in Wonderland Disney movie in that month as well.
It’d be quite the showdown and many many headlines would include the phrase “The Force Is Strong With…”
Though it’d make me laugh if Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice - the Batman/Superman team-up movie we’ve all been waiting for - was once again overshadowed by a bigger deal. Things that make David Goyer mad usually make me happy.
Is Star Wars: Episode VII returning to the Spring? Will Winter 2015 just be, I dunno, Mission Impossible 5? Who knows, but they should move soon so everyone else can re-shuffle their releases accordingly.
POST CREDITS SCENE
I got an e-mail forwarded to me by Kellvin, our EIC, about Harrison Ford's "iWalk." I laughed at it:
Would I like to write what was basically a sponsored ad for medical equipment on this site? No thank you. "Who would bite this crap apple," I thought to myself, "surely no one."
F***in' humanity. I do NOT get you.