We know, we know. All the details of Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney, and the resulting news that new Star Wars movies will be produced, have been scrutinized with the fine tooth comb of Rebel Alliance battle strategists poring over Death Star schematics. What new intel could there possibly be to learn?
Well, an in-depth new feature in Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek magazine shows that, actually, there is still quite a lot to be gleaned about the mega-merger, what prompted George Lucas to hand over the reins to his multi-billion dollar company, and how exactly J.J. Abrams was convinced to make the jump to lightspeed. Here are seven things we learned from reporter Devin Leonard’s fascinating piece:
1. George Lucas May Really Be a Jedi MasterAt the May 2011 opening of the Star Wars: The Adventure Continues attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, Disney CEO Bob Iger and former Lucasfilm chairman Lucas engaged in a duel with plastic lightsabers. Iger quickly found himself outmatched. “[George] just has this way of carrying that light saber,” Iger recalls. “He was more adept at using it than me.”
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2. Lucasfilm’s Official Database of Star Wars Lore Is Called the "Holocron"Now diehard fans of the saga already know about the Holocron, a database named after a crystalline Jedi/Sith data storage device that keeps track of over 17,000 Star Wars character, over 2,000 planets, and some 30,000+ years of Galaxy Far, Far Away History. What they might not know, given the ubiquity in Star Wars fandom of Wookieepedia, is just how extensive Lucasfilm’s official Holocron is. Need to know exactly with whom Yoda visited during his 22 years of exile on Dagobah? The Holocron (curated by the affable Leland Chee, whose official title is “Keeper of the Holocron.”) can tell you!
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3. George Lucas says that Lucasfilm had been deep in talks with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, even well before the Disney deal was finalized“We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison — or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation,” Lucas said. “So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them…I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.” For a major casting announcement like that, Lucasfilm’s history is never to let any one media outlet announce it for them. They would insist upon announcing news that major directly through StarWars.com.
4. J.J. Abrams Did Not Lie When He Said in November 2012 He Wasn’t Involved With Episode VIIFans were happy when he officially signed on to the project in January, but there definitely was a little bit of bickering about why exactly he was so adamant just two months before that he would not be involved. Well, he wasn’t lying to us, if that makes you feel any better. Abrams did not want to helm Episode VII as he thought it would be too similar to his work on the Star Trek franchise. But Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy stopped by Bad Robot’s Santa Monica production headquarters for a two-hour meeting in late December, and that two-hour meeting caused him to change his mind.
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5. Disney’s Purchase of Lucasfilm was First Discussed at a Disney Theme ParkSpecifically, the Brown Derby restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May 2011, when Lucas was on-hand to open Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Disneyphiles can tell you that the Brown Derby is a faithful recreation of the original Hollywood landmark (immortalized in a classic I Love Lucy episode in which Lucy Ricardo stalks William Holden), the kind of place where lots of wheeling and dealing would happen. What better venue for an entertainment merger as significant as the Disney-Lucasfilm deal to take place than at its facsimile?
6. Steve Jobs Let Disney CEO Bob Iger Know How He Really Felt About Some of the Studios’ MoviesThe Apple co-founder was the largest shareholder on the Disney board of directors. Maybe that’s why he felt he could call Iger to say, “Hey, Bob, I saw the movie you just released last night, and it sucked.” (No specific titles were mentioned in the article, but we choose to believe he was referring to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.) Despite that criticism, Iger says that his relationship with Jobs was “additive rather than the other way around.”
7. That Star Wars Live Action Series Could Still HappenThough he’s not quoted directly in the BusinessWeek article about this, Iger has apparently confirmed that discussions about the long-rumored live-action Star Wars TV series, tentatively titled Star Wars: Underworld, are still taking place.
You see, Padawan readers, much to learn there still is.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Todd Anderson/AP Photo/Disney]
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In the ever-changing west of 1882 city marshal Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are two tough dudes out to clean up lawless towns a mission that takes them to Appaloosa. This small mining town has been taken over by a ruthless power-hungry land baron Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) who along with his band of thugs has run the place into the ground. Although their initial efforts are met with some success Cole and Hitch run into personal and professional conflict when a pretty mystery lady Allison French (Renee Zellweger) blows into town. She complicates the picture walking on the gray line between good and evil and generally making the Marshal and his No. 2 overcome unwelcome obstacles in their fight to bring Bragg and his boys to justice. The film based on the novel by Robert B. Parker smartly details the unique problems inherent in bringing law and order to an unruly West. Guiding his co-star Marcia Gay Harden in 2000’s Pollock to an Oscar Harris the director once again shows he has a natural affinity for steering his fellow actors at least most of them into superlative performances which includes himself. In fact the actor doesn’t seem to be the least intimidated in playing the leading role in a movie he also co-wrote directed and produced. Harris comes off as the embodiment of a dedicated lawman who quietly goes about his business determined to clean up the wild wild West his way with the help of a loyal deputy. Mortensen is wonderfully authentic as Harris’ partner in stopping sagebrush crime looking like he’s lived in those boots his entire life. Mortensen’s demeanor and style in the role of Everett Hitch evokes a true feel for a place and time long gone. Together these two do not seem fake or awkwardly contemporary but instead come off as the real deal. Irons is slippery and fun to watch as the devious outlaw Bragg proving as he did in his Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune there’s nobody as good at playing subtle shades of bad. Zellweger on the other hand lets her acting show at every turn. To be fair her character rarely adds up but she does nothing to give any dimension beyond the obvious to a woman courting both sides of the law. In only his second outing behind the camera in a decade Harris shows Pollock was no fluke. Clearly enamored with the era he nobly honors the great American western tradition crafting a film that fits in with some of the best examples Hollywood has turned out. Some may complain that Appaloosa is long on talk and short on action but the time director Harris devotes to letting his characters develop is far more satisfying than a lot of pointless violence that many Westerns wallow in. Like Howard Hawks’ 1959 classic Rio Bravo this is an honest tale of the camaraderie between a pair of lawmen simply trying to do a job. This is a director whose emphasis is focused on his cast and he’s picked them very carefully right down to the smallest roles surrounding himself with a lot of terrific character actors. Just as impressive are the top notch production values including cinematographer Dean Semler’s stunning New Mexico landscapes.