Disney Projects 40 Years of ‘Star Wars’ Content
(hypable.com) A long time from now in our own galaxy…
Disney will still be producing Star Wars content.
When Disney purchased LucasFilm back in 2012, many (but not all) fans were upset. The upset fans did not like the idea of Disney coming in and messing with the franchise that they held so dear.
Those fans will have time to get used to it.
Yesterday, the Disney 2013 Financial Report and Shareholder Letter was sent out, and in it Disney gave this piece of information about their plans for the Star Wars franchise (via JediNews):
Intangible assets primarily consist of intellectual property based on the Star Wars franchise with an estimated useful life of approximately 40 years. The goodwill reflects the value to Disney from leveraging Lucasfilm intellectual property across our distribution channels, taking advantage of Disney’s established global reach.
This should not come as a huge surprise. Disney paid $4.05 billion to acquire LucasFilm, and they were definitely going to get their money worth.
If Disney were to continue on their proposed path of releasing a new episodic Star Wars film every two years, that would mean we could potentially see 19 or 20 sequels or prequels, depending on when Disney is counting as the start of their 40 year stretch.
Mark your calendars now. Star Wars: Episode XXVI will hit theaters Christmas 2055.
If you’ve begun to break a sweat, you don’t need to worry. It’s probably not all that likely that they will actually continue to release one every two years. To continue to be successful, they’ll need to have a smart 40 year plan, and that doesn’t sound like a very smart plan.
Luckily, 40 years of content means much more than just movies. It should also include TV shows, comics, books, online content, video games, and media that doesn’t even exist yet.
Note: A smart commenter below pointed out that Disney comments actually means that they project they will cease to earn profits on Star Wars 40 years from now, not that Star Wars movies will be released until that time. Still, Disney won’t be too hasty to stop putting out films that are sure to make them money. See: Marvel.
‘The Lego Movie’ is Looking at $40M Open
(Variety.com) Warner Bros. and Lego look to be constructing a blockbuster brick by brick as the toy brand’s first full-length feature film is building huge buzz before an opening weekend predicted to hit more than $40 million at the domestic box office.
Though films and TV shows based on toys and boardgames have come under fire for weak storylines (ahem … “Battleship”), “The Lego Movie” may turn that perception on its head with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — a strong hook for unattached adults.
That’s huge, because the potential for a sizable upside depends greatly on just how broadly Warners is able to expand the audience beyond families. Depending on how severe the weather is on the East Coast, some observers say strong word of mouth could lead to a opening of $50 million-plus or higher.
The key building block for the PG-rated, $60 million-budgeted “Lego Movie” has always been kids — mostly boys — and their parents. But adults — both the globally fanatical gang of Lego collectors and adults nostalgic for their favorite childhood playthings — are the other cornerstone of Warner’s marketing efforts.
“The movie is a very unique proposition,” said Warner marketing maven Sue Kroll. “First of all, the movie is wildly imaginative, but it also has extremely relatable characters.”
Warners worked with Lego to connect with 19 of the 21 regional domestic Lego User Groups, called “LUGs,” which participated in building in-theater Lego displays, and starting building buzz across the various Lego-themed social-media outlets. Producer Dan Lin also attended the 2008 edition of fan event BrickCon in Seattle, where more than 10,000 adult Lego fans gather to display models, as well as buy, trade and sell parts.
“We know the fans well, so we made it a priority to reach out to those groups,” said Jill Wilfert, VP of global licensing and entertainment for Lego.
The strategy is working so far: Tracking among young adults has been growing steadily each day. The film also represents 67% of Wednesday’s online ticket sales, according to Fandango, a fact underscoring the film’s popularity with fanboys since they are the ones who usually pre-buy tickets.
Jurassic World Lines Up Shooting Locations in Hawaii and Louisiana
(comingsooon.net) One of 2015’s most highly anticipated blockbusters, director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is getting ready to enter production and has today revealed plans to lens in both Hawaii and Louisiana. MidWeek reports that the production will shoot for four weeks on Oahu in April and then two weeks on Kauai. Then, as revealed today by The Times-Picayune, the shoot will head to New Orleans, Louisiana for 11 weeks beginning in June.
Trevorrow also posted on Twitter that the movie will be shot both on 35mm and 65mm.
Set to star Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson and Irrfan Khan, Jurassic World will be directed by Trevorrow from a draft of the screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly. Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are producing.
Jurassic World will be shot in 3D and is scheduled for a June 12, 2015 release.
BAFTA to Host First-ever Inside Games Showcase
(mcvuk.com) New pre-awards event will give consumers an early-look at the latest releases.
Taking place on the same day as the British Academy Games Awards on Wednesday, 12 March, the event is the first of its kind by BAFTA and will be a public showcase of the newest games on the horizon.
Consumers can look forward to early hands-on sessions with the likes of Titanfall and Dark Souls II, in addition to some of the most popular current releases including Deep Silver’s Metro: Last Light, RuneScape, Football Manager, Company of Heroes 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Valve will also be in attendance with its first-ever Secret Shop – a pop-up store offering merchandise and exclusive digital in-game items for the publisher’s titles including Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2 and Portal.
In addition to these hands-on sessions, Inside Games will also host BAFTA-curated talks with developers and the Inside Games Arcade – a showcase of upcoming indie games.
Harvey Elliott, Chair of BAFTA’s Games Committee, said: “After a review of last year’s Awards activity, the committee believed it was time to broaden the ways in which BAFTA celebrates games and to enable the industry to engage more directly with gamers.”
“Our Inside Games event has been curated by BAFTA to give gamers unprecedented access to the developers behind some of the best new titles of 2014. Also opening our Awards to the public for the first time is another way in which we are helping them have a better connection with the industry.”
Tickets for this year’s British Games Academy Awards, which includes access to the Inside Games showcase are available now at the BAFTA website.
Presidio Asks Filmmaker to Try Again
(nytimes.com) National parks are open to everyone, even to the filmmaker George Lucas. That is the message from the Presidio Trust in San Francisco, which this week rejected proposals by Mr. Lucas and two other finalists to build “a cultural institution of distinction” on prized bayside parkland and then turned right around and invited him back.
Nancy Hellman Bechtle, the 76-year-old philanthropist who is the chairwoman of the Presidio Trust, said Tuesday that she had urged Mr. Lucas, the creator of the “Star Wars” movies, to consider putting his Lucas Cultural Arts Museum on a less prime spot in the Presidio, just west of his own former film studio.
“I am really excited about the prospect of this,” she said. “I’m a glutton for punishment.”
Mr. Lucas, through a spokesman, said he was weighing the new offer as well as the possibility of moving his museum to another city, presumably a more hospitable one. He has hinted at a tantalizing invitation from Chicago, where he lives part time. As he describes it, his museum would champion the visual arts in their most popular and critically ignored form — from long-ago comic books and magazine illustrations to the latest experiments in digital animation — and nurture the next generation of graphic artists.
In a telephone interview last fall from his home in Marin County, he expressed frustration with the board and staff of the Presidio Trust, which manages most of the 1,491-acre national park and former Army base. The trust, he said, had stalled for four years on the project and dismissed his museum’s architectural design as an exercise in “mimicking.”
Ms. Bechtle is the first to admit that she does not care for Mr. Lucas’s proposed building. An architectural sketch portrays it as an imposing two-story structure silhouetted against a pink-dappled sky and festooned with Beaux-Arts-style arches, columns and a copper dome. She said the design was unsuited for the eight-acre site on Crissy Field, a former airfield with a commanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“We wanted to have a building that fitted more into the surroundings, and George wanted a building that looked more like a museum,” Ms. Bechtle said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “And I think that’s where the difficulty lay.”
While Mr. Lucas revised his plan to lower the height of the museum’s roof, “it was still too big” for Crissy Field, she said.
Nonetheless, Ms. Bechtle telephoned Mr. Lucas on Monday, right before the trust held a news conference announcing the rejection of the bids, and urged him to consider alternate sites in the Presidio. She said there are two, both less glamorous and politically sensitive than Crissy Field. One site, to the west of his old studio in the Letterman Digital Arts Center, is on land now occupied by a parking lot and “some buildings that are not historic,” she said. The second site, just west of that in the Thornburgh area, is a flat stretch of land with vacant warehouses.
Should Mr. Lucas agree to a new site, he would not have to reduce the size of his proposed building, Ms. Bechtle said. “He could even make it bigger,” she said.
All in all, the goal is to avoid of a repeat of 2009, when Don and Doris Fisher, founders of the Gap, abandoned their plan to build a museum of modern art in the park amid opposition from preservationists.
Mr. Lucas’s proposal, she added, was the leading contender among the finalists, not least because it comes self-funded. He offered $700 million to build and endow the museum, which would be organized around his own idiosyncratically vernacular collection. It includes paintings and drawings by Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell and other newly rehabilitated figures from America’s Golden Age of Illustration.
The other rejected proposals called for a Presidio Exchange, or PX, an all-purpose performing space to be shared by local groups, and a Bridge/Sustainability Institute, which sought to explore issues such as alternative energy and ecosystem services.
“Probably, the Sustainability Institute was never in the running, because we didn’t know who their constituency was,” said Ms. Bechtle, who added that she hoped that the institute and the PX would test their programming ideas in coming years in the park’s existing buildings.
For now, the Crissy Field site is occupied by a retail store, Sports Basement. Its building, a former Army commissary built in 1989, is a generic example of the concrete-box school of architecture. Nonetheless, it is looking newly interesting to Ms. Bechtle.
“It’s fine like it is,” she said, adding that Sports Basement will move elsewhere in the Presidio. “We may just remodel the building ourselves. You can put windows on it. It’s never going to be a beautiful building, but it’s not in your face. You could have a place where people could bring their dogs and sit outside.”
The notion of developing a new dog run might not sound like the height of architectural ambition, but Ms. Bechtle, by her own admission, will be relieved to have the Crissy Field brouhaha behind her. “I was president of the San Francisco Symphony when we had a 10-week strike,” she said. “This was about the same level of intensity and stress.”
Paramount Pushes Back Found Footage Time Travel Film Welcome to Yesterday
(The Hollywood Reporter) Paramount Pictures is looking for a new release date for Welcome to Yesterday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The found footage time travel film, from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, was scheduled for February 28, but the studio is now looking at summer or fall.
Directed by Dean Israelite, Welcome to Yesterday stars Sofia Black-D’Elia, Allen Evangelista, Ginny Gardner, Sam Lerner and Jonny Weston.
The trade says that Paramount will partner with fellow Viacom banner MTV Films for the marketing.
VFX Guru John Knoll on Limiting Waste, Working With Guillermo del Toro
(hollywoodreporter) But John Knoll, chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic, points to another way in which the monsters vs. machines spectacle movie was a rule-breaker: a prior agreement between the VFX guru and del Toro to limit waste by keeping the extensive effects work efficient and cost-effective in postproduction.
“What I tried to do on the picture, in order for us to take this very ambitious picture, with a large number of shots, and a high degree of complexity, and with a limited budget, the pitch I made to Guillermo was, ‘We can do this by making this the most efficient show we’ve ever done,’ ” Knoll tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Knoll, who is set to give a keynote speech at the Spark FW 2014 conference in Vancouver on Saturday, said waste was minimized by limiting changes during postproduction when it came to completing complex character animation, lighting, digital environments and advanced fluid simulation work.
STORY: Who Is J.J. Abrams Eyeing for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’?
That frugality is rare in Hollywood, where a virtual environment offers directors endless flexibility in postproduction.
“A lot of filmmakers understand that the work is done digitally, and it’s technically possible to change it late in the game. And so they do, because it’s something you can do, and they’re used to being able to do it,” Knoll says. “It is very wasteful.”
The irony is that directors limit changes in live-action moviemaking — where a set will be built once, for example, not four times — owing to the sheer expense.
“So what Guillermo did, which is relatively unique in this business, is make a commitment to the (VFX) work and treat it more like it’s live action,” Knoll says.
For del Toro, the master of the creature feature, a willingness to limit VFX costs is made easier by his traditional reliance on physical effects, whether through makeup or life-size models.
“The visual effects need to be the last resort,” del Toro said Wednesday from Pinewood Toronto Studios, where he is currently directing The Strain TV series for FX and is soon set to begin shooting Crimson Peak for Legendary Pictures. “Sometimes it’s the last resort that you know you will try right away, like in Pacific Rim, where it’s impossible to build a robot that is 25 storys high, or create a monster in a suit, which was not the effect I wanted.”
Pacific Rim, where the endless action saw Godzilla-like monsters called Kaiju clash with skyscraper-sized robots steered by human pilots, required extensive visual effects.
But The Strain, a TV series long on character development, marks more of a return to Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth for del Toro in its use of macabre physical effects.
“We have a balance between makeup and physical effects, and we also use visual effects,” says the Mexican cineaste.
The Spark FW 2014 conference, which kicks off Wednesday night, runs through Saturday in Vancouver.
$7.4B: Amount Disney Paid for Pixar in 2006
(Bloomberg) –- In today’s “BWest Byte,” Jon Erlichman reports on the amount of money Disney paid to acquire Pixar in 2006. (Source: Bloomberg)
Square Enix: Game industry undergoing “major changes”
(gamespot.com) The game industry is currently undergoing “major changes” due to the proliferation of smart-devices and the “increasingly competitive” console market, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix said today as part of its latest financial report.
“The business environment surrounding [Square Enix] is in the midst of major changes, where smart devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs are spreading rapidly, while the console game markets in North America and Europe are increasingly competitive and concentrative.”
Square Enix’s comments follow those from Just Cause creator Avalanche Studios founder Christofer Sundberg, who told GameSpot this week that AAA development–in its current form–is unhealthy and unprofitable. Avalanche is currently making a AAA game for Square Enix that is believed to be Just Cause 3.
In light of these “environmental changes,” Square Enix said it plans to reform its business structure and organizations in an effort to reestablish revenue bases for “substantial earnings improvement.”
Part of this effort is releasing more mobile games. To that end, Square Enix Montreal is “fully focused” on making mobile games based on the Hitman series, Square Enix said last month. On the console front, Square Enix explained last summer that it had “walked away” too early from past games like Sleeping Dogs, and in the future it will invest in games with more persistent online worlds to keep players engaged.
Overall, Square Enix posted revenue of ¥102 billion ($1 billion) for the nine-month period ended December 31 and a profit of ¥5.2 billion yen ($49 million). Sales were down just .3 percent, while profit showed major improvement, rising from a loss of $56.7 million last year.
However, Square Enix’s game group–Digital Entertainment–saw revenue fall 2.2 percent to ¥56.5 billion ($558 million), but many titles performed well during the period, the company said.
Square Enix said console titles in North America were “strong” during the period, while Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is currently making “favorable progress.” On top of that, Square Enix said content for smart devices and PC “continued to build upon its already solid growth” during the quarter.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Becomes An Animated Musical
(darkhorizons.com) Elton John’s Rocket Pictures has scored the rights to produce an animated musical film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
Based on the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis, the musical has been both a critical and commercial success over the past three decades after humble beginnings as a pop cantata penned for schools.
John will executive produce with Rice and Webber, but no writer or director is yet.
UK Screen Slams BECTU’s VFX Survey
(televisual.com) The facilities trade body UK Screen Association, which represents vfx companies, has issued a formal letter to BECTU following the publication of BECTU’s Vfx Working Time Charter.
UK Screen has no problem with the charter itself (which lays out eight requests to vfx companies to improve the working conditions of staff), however the trade association takes major issue with a survey BECTU conducted, the results of which were published as part of the Vfx Working Time Charter.
Specifically, UK Screen says the survey data has been misrepresented through the rewording of survey questions in the reported output. Furthermore, UK Screen is concerned about the general validity of the survey as it claims BECTU can’t guarantee all the respondents even work in UK vfx houses.
So, Sarah Mackey, UK Screen’s CEO has issued a formal letter to BECTU’s General Secretary Gerry Morrissey, which includes the following concerns:
Page one of this Charter quotes a number of statistics from your 2013 vfx survey. My concerns are as follows:
1. Your survey contains no identifier questions and was promoted and distributed via a global social media site. As a result you can have no firm evidence as the source of your respondents, whether they are of UK or ex-UK origin, and whether they work in film, television, commercials, corporate or games vfx. Despite this you present the data as if it relates to the UK sector and, more specifically, to film vfx houses.
2. In presenting your outputs the three original questions have been reworded, hence:
‘Do you know vfx artists who have left the industry due to insecurity and/or workloads’ – is reported as ‘77% of people know someone who has recently left the industry because they couldn’t keep up with the workloads, overtime and poor working conditions’.
‘Have you ever been pressured by managers or supervisors to work longer hours for free?’ – is reported as ‘81% of people have felt pressured or bullied into working overtime for free on films’
‘How difficult do you think it is for people with children or caring responsibilities to make a successful career in vfx?’ – is transposed into ‘83% of people said it was difficult or very difficult to raise a family while working in vfx’. ‘
Mackey has requested the union withdraw and correct the vfx Working Time Charter. “Although I understand BECTU needs to grow its membership it should not do so at the expense of fairness and accuracy. This kind of messaging can be very damaging the UK film industry and the vfx sector,” she says.
Disney’s Game Business Surges, but Layoffs are on the Horizon
(gamespot.com) The media giant announced today that Disney Interactive revenue increased 38 percent to $403 million for the quarter ended December 28, while operating income increased $46 million to $55 million. The uptick in sales was attributed to the success of Disney Infinity and growth from Disney’s Japanese mobile business.
Disney Interactive performed better, on a percentage basis, than all of the company’s other divisions by a significant margin. Its 38 percent revenue surge was better than Studio Entertainment (23 percent), Consumer Products (11 percent), Parks & Resorts (6 percent), and Media Networks (4 percent).
During an earnings call this afternoon, Disney CEO Bob Iger said (via The Wall Street Journal) that future iterations of Disney Infinity will include a “broader set of our more popular characters,” believed to be Star Wars and Marvel characters.
It’s not all good news, however, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Disney Interactive will cut “hundreds” of jobs beginning as soon as today. Disney has yet to confirm the news, but The Wall Street Journal’s sources have been accurate before.
Overall, Disney posted revenue of $12.3 billion (+9 percent) for the quarter and a profit of $1.8 billion (+33 percent).
“Noah” Gets Converted To 3D Overseas
(darkhorizons.com) While Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic will only be released in 2D in the U.S, the U.K., Australia and France, Paramount Pictures is currently crafting a 3D version of the movie to pull in audiences in other overseas markets.
Up to 65 foreign countries will get the 3D version of “Noah,” with 32 of those also scoring IMAX releases. The conversion adds $10 million to the film’s already pricey $125 million budget.
The studio reportedly tested multiple cuts of the film in order to score the broadest possible audience, and have reached agreement with Aronofsky as to the final version which premieres in the United States on March 28th.
Film Industry Expert Says it’s Risky to Replace Actors with CGI But It Can Be Done
(mirror.co.uk) How will Philip Seymour Hoffman’s work be completed?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was reportedly just seven days from filming his final scenes before his death on Sunday – and a special effects expert has revealed how the movie can be completed without him.
Film studio Lionsgate have said that although Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee was a major character in the films, his death will have ‘no impact’ on production and the series will be able to be released.
And according to The Hollywood Reporter, CGI is being considered to complete the final shots of head gamesmaker character Heavensbee.
A film special effects pro has said that the manner in which the deaths of Heath Ledger, Oliver Reed and Brandon Lee during other productions were handled may hold the secret to finishing the series.
Will CGI play an even bigger role in The Hunger Games?
Reed, who died during the filming of Gladiator in 1999, had elements of his role replaced with CGI – as did Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 while working on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
In 1993 Brandon Lee was fatally wounded in an accident on the set of The Crow but the Alex Proyas-directed film was released the following year after rewrites of flashback scenes that had yet to be completed.
Different techniques are believed to have been used to complete production. In Reed’s case, the script was partially rewritten and a body double was used in conjunction with wide-angled shots and a digital replacement of the actor’s head.
“When he died we had to make sense of the whole end of the film,” Gladiator’s Rob Harvey told the BBC. “It’s a very weird thing to have to do – particularly then, when the technology wasn’t really there at all.”
Somehow, his team managed it. Harvey detailed of how he sat down with the team to work out which parts would be removed, what had to be reshot completely and when a double would be used, following Reed’s death in 1999.
Harvey also worked on Terry Gilliam’s Parnassus.
Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law were called in to replace Ledger, all appearing as different versions of the star’s character Tony.
After a short break in production Gilliam saved the project by rewriting the script so that Ledger’s character could magically change his appearance.
So when it comes to ensuring The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 gets out of the door, Lionsgate seem to have many options of ensuring Hoffman’s sad loss does not sink the project. Harvey believes that bosses should steer clear of anything that looks ‘too CGI’.
Harvey adds: “Doing a digital version of somebody other than [in] a very wide shot is a bit of a strange one. They’ve got a problem to solve and I guess it’s up to them how to solve it.”
Following the death of the Hollywood actor it was previously reported that a number of top actors were in the running to replace the star in The Hunger Games series.
Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, William H. Macy and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston are all rumoured to be earmarked by studio bigwigs as possible replacements.
But will Hoffman’s sad death resolved silver screen issues or ultimately overshadow the film, as with Ledger, Reed and Lee?
* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is due for release in November 2015