Lucasfilm Launches Development For OBI-WAN Anthology Movie (NEWS)

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Ben there, doing that?

Lucasfilm is officially developing a brand new Star Wars anthology film that will focus on Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi. Rumored to be a possibility for a long time now, in large part due to prequel-star Ewan McGregor‘s outspoken desire to make one, Lucasfilm announced their plans to move forward with the concept.

Although no details were given (not even McGregor was confirmed in the press release), a lead creative has been tapped to spearhead the project: Stephen Daldry, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of movies such as Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader (those last two efforts earned Academy Awards for Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet, respectively). Daldry is also an award-winning theatre director, and recently helmed early episodes of the Netflix series The Crown.

No deal has been finalized, but Daldry is negotiating to direct from a script that he writes (or at least oversees). The likelihood is that this latest Star Wars stand-alone would focus on Kenobi’s time as a hermit on Tatooine, between the events of Episodes III and IV, when the Jedi Master kept a distant eye on the young Luke Skywalker.

If this ends up being the approach, as most expect, it’ll be interesting to see if a young Luke Skywalker would be woven into that narrative as well, and if they’d cast a young boy as opposed to a young teenager. Going younger would allow Lucasfilm to pursue sequels if that first anthology effort strikes a chord.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the story would go much further back to a very young Obi-Wan, perhaps with his master Qui-Gon Jinn, but that seems less likely as that’s not really the story that Star Wars fans are clamoring for. People want to see McGregor’s Kenobi outside of George Lucas’s flat tonal confines. Plus, McGregor would sell more tickets.

Whatever the Obi-Wan movie ends up being, let’s hope it’s some damn fool idealistic crusade.

 

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New LAST JEDI Photos In Big Entertainment Weekly Exclusive (IMAGES/LINKS)

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Now they’re really teasing us.

Actually, it’s more than that. Depending on your aversion to spoilers, Entertainment Weekly’s new multi-article exclusive look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi could provide way more Episode VIII dirt than you’re looking for.

From Luke’s motives to Snoke’s backstory to Finn’s crisis of purpose, the EW scoop gives us more about then next Skywalker chapter than most people were likely expecting. If you want to dive in, click on the following links.

But if you just want a sneak peak at the new photos published in EW’s 2017 Fall Movie Preview (following these recent stills and behind-the-scenes video), you can see them in the gallery below.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15, 2017.

Click on any photo for a larger image gallery.

4K Restoration Of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Hits Theaters This Fall For 40th Anniversary (VIDEO)

They’re heeeeere. Oh, wait, wrong Spielberg joint.

In 1977, the big sci-fi phenomenon was Star Wars, but where George Lucas went mythic his best friend Steven Spielberg went existential. Now for its 40th Anniversary, Columbia Pictures is re-releasing Close Encounters of the Third Kind back into theaters for a one-week run, digitally remastered in a 4K restoration.

Made for $20 million (a huge budget at the time, nearly twice that of Star Wars), Close Encounters earned $303 million worldwide and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, winning Oscars for best cinematography and a special achievement in sound effects editing.

Last year in my Spielberg Retrospective, I ranked Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the Spielberg Canon as his second best movie ever, behind only Schindler’s List.

The short nationwide run will begin on September 1, 2017, followed by its premiere on blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD on September 19.

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Brief Sabbatical For Movie Reviews; Movie News To Continue (UPDATE)

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Just wanted to provide a brief notice as to why you won’t see new Movie Reviews for a couple of weeks at I Cant Unsee That Movie.

Due to scheduling challenges, I won’t be able to screen and write new movie reviews for the next two weeks or so, probably through the end of July. My hope is to return to my regular schedule by the first of August.

Along with picking back up with the latest releases, I also plan to write belated catch-up reviews for titles like Dunkirk, Valerian, War For The Planet of the Apes, The Big Sick, and more.

I will be posting a review of A Ghost Story soon, the experimental low budget Casey Affleck indie that’s been a festival favorite. I’ve already submitted that review to The Tulsa Voice.

Beyond that, I will continue to make posts for movie related news (trailers, images, reports) to the extent my schedule allows.

Surprise Clip Of LION KING Live Action Movie Drops Jaws At Disney’s D23 (VIDEO)

First footage of the live action Lion King just screened at Disney’s D23 convention. It’s not available to the public yet, but the rave reviews from attendees are all over the interweb Pridelands. This one, from Mark Ellis (Collider, SchmoesKnow), is as pure and exciting a fan reaction as you could hope for, and indicative of every other reaction I’ve read. The Lion King (live action) opens in two years on July 19, 2019.

HAN SOLO Directors Fired: It Was The Right Call (ANALYSIS)

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A million voices crying out in terror, but hardly silenced. Padawans across the Twitterverse fear something terrible has happened. Five months into production of the (as yet untitled) Young Han Solo movie, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has fired its directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

The film’s release date of May 25, 2018 remains unchanged, for now.

Following reports by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, each sourced by unnamed insiders, opinions have erupted across professional and social media landscapes. Reactions are overwhelmingly on the side of Team Lord/Miller, the guys behind The Lego Movie, the 21 Jump Street films, and TV’s The Last Man On Earth.

Feeling like a lonely Obi-Wan in Tatooine exile, I find myself siding with Team Lucasfilm, even as I’m entirely perplexed and concerned by the move, especially in its timing. The truth is, Lord and Miller never should’ve been hired in the first place.

I say that as someone who greatly admires their talents and the very specific niche (and voice) they’ve carved out for themselves within the industry. But why on earth Kennedy and writer/Star Wars guru Lawrence Kasdan ever thought the Lord/Miller style of comedy was a right fit for a Han Solo tale (young, old, or otherwise) has always baffled me.

I’ve been skeptical from the start about this mismatch of directors and material, deferring to trust Kennedy and Kasdan based on successes thus far. That trust felt justified with the hiring of a superb cast.

But when I read this statement from a source in The Hollywood Reporter, it nutshelled my concerns from Day One:

  • “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.”

Exactly. And a very dry, laconic version of that personality too. Lord and Miller are great, but they are very off-brand for Han Solo.

So here we are, in the middle of a firing that, while I believe was necessary, is particularly shocking given its timing. How was this shift not made way back in 2016 during pre-production? Why did it take five months of actual filming to finally arrive at this conclusion?

I’ll grant a mulligan for trying something different with the initial hire, but the development process should’ve been more than enough for Lucasfilm to realize that Lord and Miller would not make the kind of Star Wars movie they wanted to produce. I’ve no doubt Lord/Miller could make a smart, clever send-up of the Star Wars mythos, and I’d even love to see it, but I don’t think it should be done in canon. Kennedy came to that same conclusion, too, but well-past due of what is fair to all parties involved (including, especially, the film itself).

Initial rumors of a replacement have zeroed in on Ron Howard as the front-runner, with Joe Johnston (Captain America: First Avenger, The Rocketeer) also a reported possibility. Generally speaking I have my reservations about Howard, but they revolve more around his penchant for Oscar-baiting. When it comes to big budget pop cinema, though, Howard could offer very reliable hands (if not particularly exciting ones), especially given his familiarity with Kennedy and her producer husband Frank Marshall.

(UPDATE: Ron Howard has been confirmed as the new director of the Young Han Solo movie.)

Anxieties could be tempered, too, when realizing that this situation isn’t all that different from what happened on Rogue One. In effect, writer Tony Gilroy (the Bourne movies) was brought in after initial shooting was completed and oversaw extensive rewrites, reshoots, and final edit, relegating director Gareth Edwards to a second-tier collaborator.  The only big difference between the two situations, it seems, is that Edwards was willing to submit to Lucasfilm’s creative authority and, for right or wrong, Lord & Miller were not.

Based on trailer clips that never made it into the stand-alone’s final cut, there’s a very intriguing alternative Rogue One out there that we’ll never see. Even so, it’s hard to complain about its success, both at the box office (2nd highest grossing Star Wars film ever) and overall positive reaction from fans and critics (some even hailed it as the best Star Wars movie since Empire). So as troublesome as this dramatic shift for the Young Han Solo movie is, it’s not without successful precedent.

The Variety and Hollywood Reporter pieces are definitely worth reading. Their references to on-set creative clashes between Lord/Miller and Kennedy, plus the directors’ penchant for improv conflicting with writer Kasdan’s stick-to-the-script ethic, all make for very insightful reportage.

(UPDATE: Another great scoop, from Star Wars News Net, about what led to the firing. The first person to speak up with concerns, it seems, was Han Solo himself – Alden Ehrenreich. #HanShotFirst)

As of now, I feel both worried and relieved. Relieved that a severe miscalculation within the Star Wars Canon has been averted, but worried if anything good can be salvaged at this late stage.

Netflix Original Movies Not Profitable (REPORT)

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That Netflix strategy to conquer the movie world may need to be rethought.

Apparently, buying up every movie in sight and then just dumping it on your cloud to no advertising fanfare isn’t an air tight business model, nor is forking over nearly $100 million with no broader release strategy to earn your money back. (David Ehrlich‘s recent analysis for IndieWire was the best analysis yet about how Netflix is bad for movies – more articulate and insightful than my venting, I’ll concede.)

According to a column on MarketWatch, Netflix had a rather lackluster earnings report this week as fewer subscribers were added than Wall Street had expected this past quarter, causing shares to briefly decline. While the streaming giant is still currently flush with cash and the stock holding well overall, the only originally produced content garnering eyeballs is the slate of Adam Sandler comedies (which also happen to be the only ones given any level of advertising, boosted by a recognizable star).

Conversely, its big budget sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon tanked, in large part because theaters refused to screen it as Netflix had originally planned.

CEO Reed Hastings, who usually touts Netflix with a good deal of bravado, told shareholders that Netflix original movies need more bang for their investment bucks. That’s going to be a challenge as their upcoming Will Smith December release Bright is coming in at the high cost of $90 million.

Hastings original strategy was to recoup those dollars through a day-and-date theatrical release coinciding with its Netflix debut. But now that all major theater chains are boycotting any Netflix feature that streams simultaneously, Hastings is expressing concerns about the situation without conceding any ground to theater owners’ interests, saying to his shareholders:

  • “Since our members are funding these films, they should be the first to see them. But we are also open to supporting the large theater chains, such as AMC and Regal in the U.S., if they want to offer our films, such as our upcoming Will Smith film ‘Bright,’ in theatres simultaneous to Netflix. Let consumers choose.”

In other words, he’s whining.

Comments like “we are also open to supporting large theater chains” is classic passive-aggressive double-speak, trying to make it sound like he’s supporting theaters when, in truth, he’s griping about the fact that they’re not supporting him. Then he throws out populist rhetoric like “let consumers choose”, another lame bullying tactic that attempts (and fails) to make the theater owners the bad guys.

With Netflix expecting to see about $2 billion in negative cash flow this year, MarketWatch rightly surmises that “unless consumers can convince theaters to run Netflix movies in the theater when they are also streaming on their televisions, the economics of making big-budget movies may never add up for Netflix.”

Good. But if you (unlike me) are a fan of what Hastings is trying to do, don’t get upset if his ultimate solution is to jack up your monthly Netflix subscription rate.