When Disney purchased Lucasfilm last December for a reported $4.05 billion, the entertainment conglomerate had big plans for Lucasfilm's flagship franchise. It's no surprise that Disney, responsible for the string of Marvel movie mega hits, would immediately enact plans to capitalize on the Star Wars franchise, fast tracking a new film into development as soon as humanely possible.
Soon after the announcement, Disney and Lucasfilm signed on J.J. Abrams to herald a new era of Star Wars, rebranding the universe as both relevant and exciting to a hungry audience that sat through three tiresome prequels. While it won't start production until 2014, here's five facts bout the latest Star Wars film.
1.The New Film Will Honor, But Not Revere The Franchise
Just as J.J. Abrams' latest film, Star Trek: Into Darkness tells an original and compelling story while respecting the lore of the Wrath of Kahn Star Trek film, J.J Abrams fully intends to bring fresh life to the characters and storytelling of the Star Wars universe rather than become a caretaker of the franchise. While Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) all have signed on to play roles in the new film, we wouldn't expect their parts to be more substantial than that of the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in Abrams' Star Trek films.
Rather than become beholden to the lore of the Star Wars novels, comics and other associated media, we wouldn't expect a clone of Darth Sidious, a galactic war with the Vuuzhan Vong or the fall of Jacen Solo to have any effect on J.J. Abram's Star War Universe.
2. J.J. Abrams Wasn't Originally Interested
Although J.J. Abrams is now firmly attached to the Star Wars franchise, initial inquiry by Disney and Lucasfilm was purely rumor. Everyone from David Fincher, to Guillermo Del Toro to Ben Affleck were all mentioned by the rumor mill at some point, and J.J Abrams was merely a contender among a long list of directors. In fact, just weeks before the announcement of his official involvement, Abrams vehemently denied the rumors of his now confirmed director status in an interview with Empire Magazine:
“I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.”
While we'll never know exactly why he ultimately signed on, the likely answer is insanely fat stacks of cash, or Disney holding the director's family for ransom, only releasing them when the new Star Wars film finishes production under his direction.
3. The Scribe of Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine Will Be Behind the Writer's Desk
While it's been confirmed that Micheal Ardnt, the writer of Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine, would be taking on the latest installment in the space opera epic for some time, no plot details of the script have been leaked as of yet.
While Ardnt is a relative newcomer to the Hollywood screenwriting world, he has been involved in the entertainment world for some time. Ardnt was initially a personal assistant to Hollywood icon Matthew Broderik, and was also a script reader. Having had plenty of experience giving notes on screenplays, Ardnt didn't transition to screenwriting full time until 2000, when he wrote the script for Little Miss Sunshine and sold it to Focus Features for a reported $250,000. From there, Ardnt has received more than his share of work, being the only writer to be nominated for both Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay for Toy Story 3 for his first two screenplays.
Additionally, Ardnt has also done revisions on the screenplay for the recent sci-fi box office hit Oblivion and has also co-wrote the script to the upcoming sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. A recent talent to the Hollywood pool of writers, Ardnt's already extensive credentials make him more than a match for the new era of Star Wars.
4. There Will Be An On Screen Romance
Romance is a hallmark of the Star Wars franchise, with both Han Solo and Princess Leia's romance and Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala's taking center stage in the original trilogy and the prequels. While Padmé wasn't exactly a strong female character, and the contrived romance between her and Anakin was arguably the bane of the prequels, J.J Abrams hopes to revitalize the power of the romance from the original trilogy.
Speaking to the French Newspaper Metro News, Abrams confirmed that romance will play a central role to the film's development:
"No doubt, even if I already know I want to approach this project in a different way ... We're only in the initial stages [of making the film] and it's difficult to talk about it other than to say it's very exciting."
5. Principal Photography Will be in London
J.J Abrams is known for directing all of his features in Los Angeles, where he lives with his family. Abrams has gone as far as covering costs out of his own pocket to remain local for Star Trek: Into Darkness, and him and his family clearly have a love for the area.
However, Abrams will be making the move with his family to London for principal photography on the new Star Wars film. Speaking at the Produced By conference in LA, Abrams admitted that the decision to shoot in London "really does make me insane". He also mentioned about his children's reaction: "When you're 13 and 14, it's like, fuck that, I don't care what the movie is."
While the move will be tough for the Abrams family, the hope is that the London locale will add immensely to the film, and that J.J. Abrams' Star Wars Universe will rival the original trilogy.