Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII rumor or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn confirmed what many have suspected about the release schedule for Disney’s Star Wars films when he announced at CinemaCon in Las Vegas that Disney plans to alternate Sequel Trilogy films with standalone movies beginning in 2015. Like their Marvel property, Disney will use Lucasfilm intellectual property to produce one new film every year, with the stories weaving together around a central narrative carried by the Sequels. No word yet on who will star in the spinoff films –– or the Sequel movies, for that matter –– but if Disney executives give Lucasfilm the same creative freedom to spin their intergalactic yarns that Joss Whedon and the other Marvel directors have had, we should be in for one heck of a franchise expansion in just two short years.
One disappointing story that broke in the middle of last week was another round of layoffs at Lucasfilm. These layoffs affected Lucasfilm’s licensing, finance, and distribution offices, according to Deadline, and they numbered around two dozen. LucasBooks, which works with Del Rey and other literature publishers, was not affected. Deadline had a source tell them that “this latest round of cuts is presumed to be the last.”
Last week in the HoloNet Digest, I wrote about a supposedly-leaked story treatment for an animated TV series called Star Wars: Reclamation. At the time, I was skeptical that the document was real, due to the many bizarre elements, too-familiar names, and glaring omissions. A few days later, I got word from Lucasfilm’s Tracy Cannobbio that the story treatment was indeed fake. There is no such thing as Star Wars: Reclamation in the works at Lucasfilm. “This is something we’ve never seen before,” Cannobbio told me.
Personally, I’m not all that disappointed. Reclamation wasn’t just jarringly different from what we’ve come to expect from the Expanded Universe. It was strange, silly, and altogether inconsistent with the tone and style of the Original Trilogy. So relax, Star Wars fans. Disney has already confirmed that they’re working with The Clone Wars show-runner Dave Filoni on an animated TV project. We just have to wait and see what becomes of that.
Reclamation may be history, but we have a new rumor to chew on this week. Variety reported in its article on the legacy of Disney CEO Bob Iger that one of the candidates to replace him in 2015 is none other than Lucasfilm president and hand-picked caretaker of the Star Wars brand Kathleen Kennedy. If Kennedy moves into the corner office at Disney headquarters in California, it would certainly bode well for Disney’s treatment of Lucasfilm. George Lucas selected her to oversee the franchise he created, and he did so for a reason: he trusted her. That trust will be of magnified importance if Kennedy suddenly finds herself in a position to control not just the Star Wars empire but the entire future of Lucasfilm as a company.
First-time Star Wars author Martha Wells shared the name of her debut EU novel on her personal blog last week. The book will be called Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge, and it will star Leia Organa in a story set in the Original Trilogy era. Razor’s Edge is set for an October 15th release. The Empire and Rebellion series will also include books about Han Solo and Luke Skywalker written by James S.A. Corey and Kevin Hearne respectively. In other book news, Del Rey shared a third micro-excerpt from Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void on their Facebook page. Into the Void will be out on May 7th. They also announced yesterday that the release date for The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by J.W. Rinzler will move up one week to October 1st.
Celebration Europe II keeps getting more and more exciting as the attendee and event lists continue to grow. This week, we learned that Amy Allen, Kenny Baker, and Jerome Blake will be making the trip to Essen, Germany in late July for the second European Star Wars Celebration. They played Aayla Secura, R2-D2, and Greedo, respectively. We also heard about the Celebration Ink-Fusion Tattoo Festival, hosted by my Rebelscum colleague Shane Turgeon. Although I’m not a tattoo man myself, I make sure to stop by the tattoo area at every Celebration to watch Star Wars fans show their dedication (and their tolerance for pain) with a new patch of ink from a galaxy far, far away.
Patton Oswalt made a big splash in Star Wars fandom last week when the YouTube channel for the NBC TV show Parks and Recreation posted an unused take from Oswalt’s guest appearance on the show. Oswalt played a citizen of the town of Pawnee, Indiana, where the show is set. His character tried to block a town council decision by filibustering their proceedings using a speech about Star Wars Episode VII. Oswalt’s monologue about how J.J. Abrams could incorporate both Star Wars and Marvel characters and situations into the first sequel film is nothing short of surreal, and the fact that he improvised the entire speech makes it that much more fantastic. Entertainment Weekly added to the fun by creating a poster for the movie that Oswalt described in his geeky filibuster.
Star Wars Day is on May 4th, and if you can’t figure out why that is, say this sentence out loud to yourself: May the Fourth Be With You. That’s right, it’s a pun, the most creative kind of humor. To help you get in the spirit of May the Fourth, Former Lucasfilm web editor and eternally-awesome Star Wars geek Bonnie Burton put together a video celebrating the event with everyday Star Wars fans, people who had no idea what she was talking about, and one hilarious San Francisco cab driver. Check out Burton’s May the Fourth video blog here.
Finally, congratulations are in order to George Lucas and Melody Hobson, who have set a date of June 29th for their wedding. The private ceremony will take place in Chicago, where Hobson works and where Lucas has been spotted on numerous occasions since the two began dating several years ago. Congratulations to Mr. Lucas and Ms. Hobson! Best wishes for many, many happy years together!
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He also co-hosts The ForceCast podcast. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.