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.
We begin this week with a rumor about production work on Episode VII. Jedi News reported late last week that Lucasfilm had registered a dummy corporation called Foodles Productions Ltd. to serve as its official presence at Pinewood Studios in the U.K. Jedi News followed up their initial report with another story explaining how fake corporate identities help shield productions from the public spotlight. Their initial source also claimed that Lucasfilm has booked space at Pinewood for the next ten years and that filming on the next Star Wars movie will begin this month. That last bit contradicted what Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said at Celebration Europe II, and indeed, a company spokesman has denied that the movie would begin shooting before next year. However, the spokesman offered no comment on either the length of Lucasfilm’s lease at Pinewood or the Foodles pseudonym.
If the code name checks out, that would make it the “Blue Harvest” of Episode VII. It’s exciting that we are finally getting close enough to honest-to-goodness sequel production that we’re debating rumored code names. That being said, I think it’s already pretty clear that code names and roundabout business practices are not going to fool people in 2013 the way they did thirty years ago when George Lucas was filming Return of the Jedi. The Internet has upended the practice of secrecy in filmmaking, deputizing every fan with a smartphone as an amateur movie set snoop. Expect many more of Lucasfilm’s secrecy techniques to be punctured once production –– and, for that matter, casting –– actually begins.
Speaking of Episode VII, Lucasfilm will be participating in the live-action panel at Disney’s D23 Expo. The description for the panel, which takes place this Saturday from 10:30am to 12:30pm PT, describes it as a “revealing look at our upcoming roster of live-action adventures from Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm.” Promotional descriptions aside, I wouldn’t count on any Episode VII surprises at D23. I have a source who says that no such revelations are in the cards for the event. It’s most likely going to be a routine check-in to remind attendees that, yes, there is a new Star Wars movie coming in two years.
While the wait for the new movies is long, the wait for yet another re-release of the existing six films is not. Amazon listings for Blu-ray/DVD combo packs of the prequel and original trilogies popped up last week, both priced at $41.99 and with October 8, 2013 release dates. For licensing reasons, the sets will still be released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. I reached out to that division of the Fox studio for comment on these sets, but have not heard back yet.
Let’s shift gears from movies to television. Speaking at the 2013 Television Critics Association press tour this week, ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee told IGN that his division was in talks with corporate sibling Lucasfilm about the possibilities for Star Wars live-action programming on ABC. “We’ve started conversations with them,” Lee said. “I would love to go there. I’m a particularly fan [sic] of Lucasfilm. It’s an amazing world.”
What an amazing world indeed! One big question surrounding the idea of a live-action Star Wars series on ABC: Will Disney want to pour money into small-screen Star Wars when they’re already investing heavily in movies? How confident are they, based on market research, that a Star Wars show will perform well enough to justify the expense? George Lucas famously cited the cost and technological complexity of his live-action series concepts as significant hurdles to their realization, and while those exact stories may or may not be on the table any more, Star Wars in any format certainly isn’t cheap to produce. Even animation such as The Clone Wars series ran up large budgets. Then again, Disney is combining live-action television and feature films in its Marvel property, with two movies per year and a show about the fictional S.H.I.E.L.D. agency set to debut this fall. We’ll just have to wait and see if Star Wars follows the same path.
Fans of The Clone Wars will be happy to hear that the canceled series will be staying on television –– for a while, at least. Cartoon Network’s Toonami programing block will air selected episodes of the series beginning on August 17th. They’re skipping what they consider “non-continuity” episodes, which is their unusual way of describing episodes that don’t directly further the main Clone Wars storyline. Toonami did say that they may still air those episodes, “but not for a while.” In addition, Toonami is in talks with Disney about airing the uncensored versions of some of the series’ darker episodes.
There’s been little action on the literature front in the past week. Del Rey did post the first micro-excerpt from Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells. The book is set for release on September 24, 2013, and will include excerpts from both Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber and Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey. Those books are set for release in January and March of 2014, respectively.
Lucasfilm this morning posted information about the Star Wars Celebration 2015 tickets that go on sale today. Regular adult tickets are $60 per day for every day except Saturday, when they cost $75. A four-day pass costs $140. VIP packages sold out in just a few minutes. They were available in two varieties: Jedi Knight at $450 and Jedi Master at $900. In unsurprising news, the Jedi Master VIP package details included a mention of “More Exclusive Benefits to be announced leading up to the Show (With new Star Wars movies in the works, there are surprises we can’t reveal yet).” Celebration 2015 will take place April 16-19, 2015 in Anaheim, California.
Astute readers will have noticed that I called the next Lucasfilm convention “Star Wars Celebration 2015” and not “Star Wars Celebration VII.” That’s because, according to Lucasfilm, the days of roman-numeral-designated Star Wars conventions have come to an end. “Celebration 2015” and “Celebration Anaheim” are Lucasfilm’s two preferred descriptors for the convention. This is happening even though Episode VII and the seventh U.S. Celebration will take place in the same year (perhaps even a month apart if Disney releases the film in May) and even though the eighth and ninth U.S. Celebrations will probably also dovetail with the eighth and ninth films. Lucasfilm wants to start associating the conventions with their year and location, rather than with how many have already taken place. In other words, RIP VII.
That does it for this week. There will be no HoloNet Digest next week, as I’ll be on vacation. Check back in two weeks for my next roundup of –– and commentary on –– all the Star Wars news that’s fit to blog!
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.