Lucasfilm and Disney have decided to officially confirm what we all knew anyway – the J. J. Abrams will be directing Star Wars: Episode VII.
The complete press release the company issued last evening is below, but I would like to point one thing that jumps out to me.
First off, it is noted that screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are consulting on the project. We already know that they are in the process of writing Star Wars scripts that will not be part of this new trilogy but will be spin-off stand alone features. Are Kasdan, Kinberg and Episode VII screenwriter Michael Arndt working as part of some sort of creative committee that will be steering the franchise’s future or are they consulting because their own spin-off films have some direct relation to the upcoming new trilogy?
Star Wars: Episode VII is due in theaters in 2015. Given Abrams’ penchant for secrecy it should be interesting to see how much more we learn about the project between now and then.
J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII
J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”
“To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.
There’s been lots of talk and speculation as to who may eventually wind up with the rather daunting gig of directing Star Wars: Episode VII. And while posts about alleged studio short lists and wish lists have certainly burned up much bandwidth, there are a few of those choices who have already pulled themselves out of consideration.
The biggest name of those who would pass at the chance of directing a Star Wars film is George Lucas’s longtime friend and collaborator on the Indiana Jones franchise – Steven Spielberg. Although scuttlebutt has it that the director is one of the few who should be getting a copy of Michael Arndt’s script crossing his desk sometime soon, he told Access Hollywood that he isn’t even considering the idea of treading into his friend’s territory -
No! No! It’s not my genre, it’s my best friend George’s genre.
J. J. Abrams has earned a lot of cred with movie fans for his reinvention of Paramount’s Star Trek franchise. But as he told the folks at Hollywood Life, it’s because of how he approached his work on the final frontier that he won’t be traveling to a galaxy far, far away –
“Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time,” J.J. gushed. He added, “I frankly feel that – I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more then anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!”
EW caught up with Quentin Tarantino on the subject, and perhaps because of his long friendship with the Weinsteins who have had their own problems with the studio, he seems less than enthused about the idea of Disney-produced Star Wars films.
I could so care less…Especially if Disney’s going to do it. I’m not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars.
For his part, 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder doesn’t envision himself tackling the new trilogy either. As he told the LA Times –
I don’t think I’d be interested in [directing it]… I’m a huge Star Wars fanatic. I just think doing episodes seven, eight and nine is just a slippery slope. It’s a whole other mythological experiment I’m excited to see, but it’s a lot of effort.
We’ve said before that the job would truly be a daunting task for anyone to undertake and I think it says something that big name directors such as these are all at least hesitant about the gig. This begss the question – What combination of courage and hubris will be needed to step up to the plate?
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we discuss how the journey to Superman Returns ended.
J.J. Abrams almost lost me with his treatment of the next Superman film. I never watched Felicity or Alias. I never saw Lost (I know, I know. By the time everyone I knew told me I should be watching it, it was already two seasons into continuity and I didn’t want to invest the time catching up. Sorry). I almost didn’t go see his Star Trek reboot, which was great. And I think his Super 8 was spectacular.
So why did his Superman go so wrong?
Before we get to his treatment, we should talk a little bit about the history behind it. Abrams’ script came in after Paul Attanasio’s and was able to sway director McG to direct it. McG dropped out to film Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and was replaced by Wolfgang Peterson. However, before Peterson could start on Abrams script, Andrew Kevin Walker’s Batman vs. Superman script caught Warner Brothers’ eye. The studio shifted focus (and Peterson) over to that project while Abrams continued to tweak his script.
The poster for Batman vs. Superman as it appears in I AM LEGEND
Batman vs. Superman dealt with the breakdown of the friendship between the heroes after the Joker kills Bruce Wayne’s new bride and sends Batman into a murderous rampage (you can almost hear all the comic book fans’ going apoplectic all at once while reading that statement, can’t you?). Superman has to stop his old friend from killing the Joker, which leads to a knock-down brawl between the two. The film was even scheduled for summer of 2004 before Warners decided to go the solo film route with Batman Begins and Abrams’ revamped script.
Concept art from J.J. Abrams' SUPERMAN script
Abrams’ treatment moved away from the “Death of Superman” adaptations that were proposed up to this point, although Superman does die in his script. But that’s not the only thing he moves away from. In his script, Krypton doesn’t explode. Martha Kent is almost raped by an evil landlord. Clark Kent’s nebbishy neurotic nature isn’t an act, it’s really how he feels because he is a superpowered freak. Lex Luthor is a CIA agent hunting aliens who is secretly a deep cover Kryptonian himself. Lara dies after being tortured by the bad Kryptonians. Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack after Clark makes his debut as Superman. Superman dies trying to rescue Lois. Jor-El kills himself after psychically “feeling” Kal-El’s death so he can convince him to come back to life. And so on.
There is something in Abrams script to piss off every Superman fan. Most fans will hate all of it. Lex Luthor as a Kryptonian? That doesn’t bother me much. Krypton not exploding? That does. The fact that Superman is the last of his race, that his birth parents made the ultimate selfless sacrifice so their son could live was with the character from the first page of his first appearance. It adds depth, pathos and tragedy to the character. Keeping Krypton around just so you can have more Kryptonians for Superman to fight is an irritating reason to lose such a defining characteristic of the character.
I’d like to think the bad parts of the script show the hands of Jon Peters and not Abrams. That could very well be the case. But the fact that the script made it so far into development, first with McG, then with Brett Ratner, then with McG again is simply sad.
The Abrams script died when McG insisted on shooting the film on the North American continent rather than in the cheaper Australia the studio wanted. Bryan Singer, famous for doing the awesome X-Men films we’ll talk about later, was brought on as director and brought a new script by X2 scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris with him. That script became Superman Returns.
It is almost impossible not to be hypercritical about Superman Returns, without all the negative emotions created by the previous attempts to reboot the franchise. Perhaps if this was the only attempt at a new look at Superman, perhaps I would have liked it more. As it is, all I see is the films flaws.
Singer gets points for treating the film as an ipso facto sequel to Superman II. Although, that being the case, it creates the first flaw of the film as the last line of dialogue Superman has in that film is “Sorry I’ve been away so long. I won’t let you down again,” and this film starts with Superman returning from a five-year mission in space. That’s a long time to be away after the character had just apologized for being away so long.
The influence of Jon Peters appears to be kept at a minimum, although elements from his time as a hands on producer are still felt (with Superman’s near death experience and the strained relationship with Lois carrying over from earlier drafts). The fact that Richard White (James Marsden), angle “C “in the Superman and Lois love triangle, is portrayed as a decent, nice guy makes that element pop. Too often the competition to the hero is portrayed as a cad which while making us root for the hero to win the affection of the girl, makes us wonder what the girl saw in the cad in the first place. Having the other man be a better man in many ways than Superman makes the love triangle more complex and more interesting to watch.
However, there are irksome elements too. Luthor’s plan to create a new continent in the Atlantic, killing billions in the process, goes well logically with Luthor’s plan in the first movie to create oceanfront property in Nevada by sinking California into the Pacific. But that scheme was one of the campy elements that took away from the first film. And considering Superman Returns was a darker, more serious film than Superman, that bit of camp is much more distracting.
And this is something that might bother only me, but I have a serious problem with Superman lifting Luthor’s continent into orbit at the end of this film. The first film established that a piece of kryptonite the shape of a person’s fist would be sufficient to weaken Superman so that he can’t even lift the metal chain the rock is attached to over his head. Yet, in Superman Returns, he is able to lift an entire continent composed mostly of kryptonite up into outer space, all while having a chunk of the stuff buried in his rib cage. I’m willing to suspend disbelief a lot, but not when it flies in the face of what was previously established in the franchise.
Superman Returns made over $391 million at the box office worldwide. However, the film cost anywhere between $204 and $350 million dollars to make, depending on who you ask and whether or not they add all the previous failed attempts into the calculation. Warners decided to go with a reboot for the next film instead of a planned sequel to Superman Returns. That reboot, titled The Man of Steel, is being produced by Christopher Nolan, written by David S. Goyer and directed by Zach Snyder, three men with a lot of success in the field of the comic book movie. The one concern with the film is the sense of urgency in its production, as Warners was rushing the film through production to gain a 2012 release date so they could have a film property they couldexploit in the theaters before the Superman copyright permanently reverts to the estates of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 2013. However, the release date pushed back until June of next year. The project was undergoing script rewrites as it was shooting, so who knows what the end result will look like.
If all this behind the scenes talk about Superman was too heavy for you, then look out! Next time, the conversation gets even heavier…and more metal.
Simon Pegg will be returning to the Mission: Impossible franchise when cameras are set to roll on the fourth installment in September. The Hollywood Reporter has stated that Pegg is currently in negotiations to reprise his character of Benji Dunn, lab geek for the Impossible Mission force.
M:I 4 will be directed by Brad Bird, the first live action feature from the helmer of the animated hits The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.
Tom Cruise is returning as spy Ethan Hunt and Mission: Impossible III director JJ Abrams, generally seen as the person who saved the franchise, is returning to produce this new installment and supply the film’s storyline. Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, who worked on Abrams’ Alias television series, are scripting.
Speculation as to what JJ Abram’s top secret project Super 8 continues to swirl around the internet. When the news first broke earlier this week, many thought that this could be a sequel to Cloverfield, a school of thought that was further strengthened by a report from Vulture that “absolutely connected to 2008′s Cloverfield.”
Well, Vulture managed to catch up with Abrams himself and asked him point blank if it was indeed the case that Super 8 was a prequel/sequel to the 2008 monster film. While Abrams complimented them on their reportage, he shot down the story they ran in no uncertain terms, saying that Super 8 “has nothing whatsoever to do with Cloverfield.”
So we do believe Abrams or is he lying to help preserve the surprise of what Super 8 actually is? Who knows? I somehow don’t think we’ll even get a definitive answer when the trailer debuts this weekend in front of Iron Man 2. No matter how the final film turns out, at least the promotion will keep us entertained for a while.
Remember the buzz when the first trailer for the Abrams-produced Cloverfield premiered in front of Transformers? Michael Bay’s big screen adaptation of the popular toy line and cartoon series was nearly eclipsed by talk of what that short, two-minute clip could be about. Not even those of us who trawl the `net for film news knew much about the project beyond some vague rumors.
This weekend Abrams will try to generate some intense buzz with the trailer for a new project Super 8. Drew McWeeny over at HitFix broke the news yesterday that a trailer with this title will be attached to all prints of Iron Man 2, opening this Friday. Studio Paramount Pictures is going so far to insure that no one sees the trailer before the weekend that they have shipped the short reel in an electronically locked canister along with the film’s first and final reels. Theaters won’t be able to open these canisters until Thursday at 3 pm (Eastern), allowing little time for projectionists to build the prints for late Thursday night screenings.
Allegedly, Abrams told the crew who worked on the trailer, there hasn’t been a frame of the actual film shot yet, that it was for a remake of a teen sex comedy, but does something like that really demand this level of security?
So, what is it about?
Damned if we know for sure.
(Possible spoilers to follow.)
There is some speculation that this could be a follow up to Cloverfield. Super 8 is the name given to the film format used in old home movie cameras, so perhaps, these theories suggest, this is a prequel to the told-through-hand-held-video cameras Cloverfield. But was it possible that Super 8 is a fake title, purposely designed to suggest the Cloverfield prequel possibility, deflecting speculation from what it really is? Many people thought that of Cloverfield in the early days of the lead up to that film’s release.
Late yesterday afternoon, Vulture managed to get some additional information on the mysterious project. They state that their sources confirm “that Super 8 is absolutely connected to 2008′s Cloverfield (possibly a prequel, but not a sequel).” -
Insiders familiar with the trailer tell us that it shows a bunch of kids who are shooting a movie with a Super 8 camera in the seventies or eighties. When they develop the film, they notice that there’s an alien creature in the frame.
Of course, with the level of security, Vulture could have been fed a purposely created story to throw people off the trail as well.
At this point, I realize that my own speculation is starting to sound tinged with a bit of “Trust no one!” paranoia. And I suppose that Abrams is probably sitting back, enjoying the fact that he has the internet tied up in knots trying to figure this puzzle out. I suspect we’ll have at least some more puzzle pieces Friday.
Ever wonder what Nero was up to for the two decades or so that passed between his first appearance in JJ Abrams’s Star Trek film and when the main story kicked into gear? Me too. Well, it turns out that the time-travelling Romulan was a guest of the Klingons. And while where we see where the Klingons have been keeping Nero in the clip below might be considered by that warrior race as their version of Club Med, I don’t think I want to be visiting it any time soon.
The clip is just one of nine deleted scenes that will be among the special features that will appear on the two disc DVD set and three disc Blu Ray editions that will go on sale November 17.
1. Star Trek (Paramount, 3,849 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13): If you thought comic book fans were a persnickity crowd to please, imagine Trekkers. They have been exhibiting their love for the mythos for over 40 years. They took a cult TV series that was only on for three years and made it into a cultural phenomenon. They are very concerned with any and all examples of what they love done right.
Enter J.J. Abrams, author of one of the worst attempted reboots of the Superman franchise, and his utter reboot of this franchise. This is, as the ads claim, not your father’s Star Trek, and it shows. You will be getting the first meeting of Kirk and his Enterprise crew, but it will be different than what has come before. Continuity has been changed. Deal with it.
Usually, this would cause an uproar. Instead, we get excitement. Reviews have been fairly positive (to find out what FBOL head honcho Rich Drees thinks about the film, click here.) I hope it will be as good as it looks. But will the longtime fans be happy?
2. Next Day Air (Summit Entertainment, 1,138 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): And for you non-Trekkers, here is an alternative.
This is a comedy about a group of workers at a delivery service for whom quality is job none. They steal packages, beat up boxes, and basically do a crappy job.
However, when a shipment of drugs passes by their way, and their incompetence cause it to not make it to its scheduled destination, all hell breaks loose.
Some times movies are released on the same day as a major blockbuster in hopes of capturing some of the blockbuster’s overflow. Good luck when it comes to this one.
CAUTION: Some possible serious spoilers for the upcoming Star Trek feature. Proceed at your own risk.
Since the release of its trailer, many longtime Star Trek fans have pointed out what appears to be inconsistencies with what has been previously established about the early days of Captain James T. Kirk and the take that director JJ Abrams is taking on the story. Understandably, it understandably caused some controversy among Trek fans and has led some to feel that Abrams is disrespecting the material. (Spoilers after the jump.)
Perhaps the biggest object of speculation over the look of J. J. Abrams new Star Trek reboot was the design of the franchise iconic starship, the USS Enterprise. Paramount Pictures has passed along our first look at Abrams’ re-imagining of the Enterprise to the folks at Entertainment Weekly, and we have posted to the right. (Click to enlarge.)
I have mixed feelings about the design. I like the look of the engine nacelles, for some reason they remind me of old 1950s/60s cars that had those fins on either side on the back. The engineering section looks good and I like how the deflector dish at the front combines the old style “radar dish” look of the original television series with the lightup version of the movies and subsequent television series.
The thing that is really throwing me, though, is the dorsal fin connecting the saucer section with the engineering section. It feels like it is sitting just a bit too far back, losing the sense that the Enterprise looked as if it was leaning or surging forward as seen in the image to the left.
So what are your thoughts? Is the new Enterprise the New Coke of Star Trek?