Star Wars

It’s still one of my favourite Star Wars films!!!

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at 40: How the sequel launched ‘Star Wars’ into the future

“The Empire Strikes Back” hit theaters forty years ago, on May 21, 1980. And no Jedi mind tricks are needed to make the case that without the groundwork laid by one of the best sequels ever, “Star Wars” wouldn’t be the force that it is now.

“Empire” premiered three years after “Star Wars,” which was later subtitled “A New Hope.” With one line, “I am your father,” the second movie brought a mythic grandeur to George Lucas’ far-away galaxy, while elevating the lightsaber battle to a high art and turning the villain, Darth Vader, into the pivotal figure in the story.

The movie also introduced Yoda, the tiny Jedi master; the Emperor, establishing the master-apprentice relationship that would define the villainous Sith and their descent to the dark side; the bounty hunter Boba Fett; and Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, addressing the conspicuous lack of diversity in the original film. (After “Star Wars” opened, actor Raymond St. Jacques notably published a letter in the Los Angeles Times lamenting the “invisibility” of people of color in that film in particular, and the futuristic science fiction in general.)

Lucas didn’t direct “Empire” (that task fell to Irvin Kershner), and enlisted Lawrence Kasdan to work on the screenplay, beginning a long association with the writer-director of “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat.”

Although Lucas had plotted the story, Kasdan’s involvement helped shape and add depth to “Empire,” as it went in more mythological directions.

As Kasdan told Wired before “The Force Awakens” launched the most recent trilogy, “Nothing could be more fun than ‘A New Hope,’ but in ‘Empire’ the characters could be more interesting, more complex.” While Lucas had famously envisioned a multi-part story, as Kasdan noted, there was “no reality” to that idea until “Star Wars” became a sensation, creating the possibility of transforming the concept into a sweeping narrative.

Those heightened ambitions weren’t lost on the cast at the time. In a 2018 interview with, Mark Hamill recalled that “Empire” was “so much more challenging to the audience and, of course, so dark and so shocking that it ended with us defeated. … I thought, ‘This is sort of the make or break.’ If this one doesn’t resonate with the public, the future of the franchise — and at that time I was only thinking the trilogy — it’s pivotal that this movie connects.”

“Empire” connected on virtually every level, from the continued evolution of the special effects to the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia (“I Love You.” “I know”) to composer John Williams’ “The Imperial March” (a.k.a. Darth Vader’s Theme), a piece of music every bit as iconic as the opening theme.

The movie also included what can be seen, in retrospect, as the granddaddy of spoilers — shrouding all future iterations in secrecy — before that term was commonly used.

The intervening decades have yielded a mixed bag creatively speaking for Lucas’ universe, now under the stewardship of Disney. The overarching “Star Wars” name has not only generated billions in revenue, but birthed a fan base with a proprietary feeling about the source material that they can share, for better and ill, through social media channels that were as much the stuff of science fiction in 1977 as holographic chess.

Yet most of what’s best about “Star Wars” has roots in “The Empire Strikes Back” — including key characters in the latest offshoot of it, “The Mandalorian” — in the same way “The Godfather Part II” turned its predecessor from a great movie into a “saga.”

At the moment, the future of “Star Wars” is, as Yoda would say, in motion. The linchpin of its past, however, runs straight through “Empire” and the summer of 1980.

Star Wars

Very, very cool casting!!

Rosario Dawson cast as Ahsoka Tano in ‘The Mandalorian’

inally something to get excited about: Rosario Dawson has been cast in Season 2 of Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”

Dawson, 40, will guest star as Ahsoka Tano, Variety confirmed. In the animated “Star Wars” series “The Clone Wars,” the character is Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice. The role has been voiced by Ashley Eckstein and is a favorite among true “Star Wars” fans.

Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” is slated to drop on Disney+ this fall. The live-action show’s creator Jon Favreau also shared that Carl Weathers, who plays Greef Carga in “The Mandalorian,” is set to direct an episode of the second season.

The first season, which stars Pedro Pascal as a helmeted bounty hunter, ended with his character fleeing to find the home planet of a creature now colloquially known as Baby Yoda — the show’s most adorable and viral export.

Timeline-wise, it’s unknown how Dawson’s character will fit into the storyline. However, “The Clone Wars,” which features Ahsoka heavily, takes place before “The Mandalorian” plot begins.

Dawson’s also been in the news for her relationship with New Jersey senator and former presidential candidate Cory Booker, 50.

Star Wars

This is awesome!! Baby Yoda is double awesome!!!

‘Baby Yoda’ toys coming for ‘Mandalorian’ fans in time for Christmas

Get ready for fights over Baby Yoda toys on Black Friday.

Disney is said to be launching merchandise of the Child — the adorable, big-eyed new character that captured everyone’s hearts in “The Mandalorian” — just in time for holiday shopping, CNBC reports.

Dubbed by adoring fans as “Baby Yoda,” the newcomer all but lends itself to mass-market appeal, so Disney plans to cash in on its popular newbie.

Apparel and accessories are slated to become available as soon as Friday, hitting stores like Amazon, Zazzle, Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Hot Topic and, of course, the Disney Store, ShopDisney and Disney parks. Pre-sale purchases of the toys will be available in the next few weeks, but it’s not clear when they will ship.

The newest character in the “Star Wars” universe who resembles infamous Jedi master Yoda debuted in the first episode of the new Disney+ show, completely outshining the titular main character played by Pedro Pascal.

While there’s still mystery surrounding the species of the cute little green bundle of joy and where it came from, one thing is for certain: All eyes are on the Child. Jon Favreau, creator of “The Mandalorian,” tweeted original concept art for the fan-favorite character Tuesday and the tweet already has over 214,000 likes.

News of “Mandalorian” merch comes just after the show’s executive producers Favreau and Dave Filoni told Entertainment Tonight the character was kept under wraps to avoid spoilers.

“We really wanted to have it be that you had to watch it yourself, so that every time you watch the show, there are new twists and secrets that come out,” Favreau said. “Part of that was holding back on some of the merchandise and holding back on some of the characters.”

A fourth episode of “The Mandalorian” is set to air Friday on Disney+.

Star Wars

Very, very, very, very, very cool!!!

‘The Mandalorian’: Jon Favreau Confirms a Familiar Robotic Bounty Hunter Will Appear

Things are slowly but surely falling into place for The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau‘s live-action Star Wars series for Disney+ that stars Pedro Pascal as “a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy.” The cast is getting wider and wackier (Nick Nolte! Werner Herzog!), Black Panther composer Ludwig Göransson will provide the score, and now, Favreau has confirmed that IG-88—a robotic bounty hunter who first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back—is getting in on the Fett-family action.

The director confirmed the news in an Instagram post along with a photo of the infamous droid bounty hunter, who gained a Fett-like cult following after his brief Empire appearance. IG-88 notably showed up in Darth Vader’s bounty hunter job interview alongside the likes of Bossk, Dengar, and the disintegration fiend himself, Boba Fett. He also notably looks like a walking tea kettle who will straight up murder you, and that’s pretty dang cool.

What’s intriguing is the fact that, if the photo Favreau shared is from set, we’re looking at a practical IG-88 and not CGI. The Lion King filmmaker has been teasing a very hands-on, very unique experience in a galaxy far, far away, something that Infinity War directors The Russo Brothers hinted at when we talked to them last month.

“Jon is always at the forefront of cutting-edge tech,” Joe Russo told us, “and he is shooting this in a way that no one has ever shot anything ever before. It’s pretty astounding.”

Here is the official synopsis for The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

Star Wars

Cool. Very cool!!

Star Wars: Episode IX Is Bringing Back Billy Dee Williams As Lando Calrissian

Lando Calrissian has been a fan favorite character ever since he was first introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and that legacy has continued through the character’s many appearances over the years. Most recently we saw him portrayed by Donald Glover in Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, but now new reports say that Billy Dee Williams will be back to reprise the role in the untitled Star Wars: Episode IX.

Rumors of Billy Dee Williams’ potential return have been floating around for months now, but sources are now telling The Hollywood Reporter that Lando Calrissian will indeed be back in action for J.J. Abrams’ next Star Wars movie. The blockbuster is going to be going into production later this summer, and it seems that its getting its pieces in order. It was recently reported that Keri Russell has signed on to the film in a mysterious role (creating a Felicity/Mission: Impossible III reunion with Abrams), and now Williams appears to be the second big new addition.

When you consider how the most recently trilogy of Star Wars movies has operated to this point, the inclusion of Lando Calrissian in the third chapter is an interesting move. When you look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi side-by-side, you start to see what the filmmakers had in mind for the structure: have each movie shine a spotlight on a protagonist from the original movies and conclude their story in a meaningful way. The Force Awakens is a goodbye to Han Solo, The Last Jedi is a goodbye to Luke Skywalker… and Episode IX presumably would have been a goodbye to General nee Princess Leia. Sadly all those plans had to change with the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher, so this situation makes one wonder if Lando might be getting the same kind of legacy treatment in her place (while presumably honoring Leia in a different way).

While there are many Lando Calrissian stories that are now non-canon (a.k.a. have the designation “Star Wars Legends”), the character has been a key part of the universe for years. In addition to being an important character in both The Empire Strikes Back and The Return Of The Jedi, he has also had his own Marvel Comics miniseries, appeared on the beloved animated series Star Wars Rebels, and is considered to be the best part of the aforementioned Solo: A Star Wars Story (with plenty of due credit going to Donald Glover). Thanks to the secrecy surrounding the Star Wars franchise we have no idea what Lando will be up to when we catch up with him in Episode IX, but at the very, very least we expect a lot more space capes.

As mentioned, Star Wars: Episode IX will be going into production in a few weeks time, which means that we should be hearing more reports about the pre-production process very soon. Stay tuned for more updates, and take all the time you can to prepare for the blockbuster’s December 20, 2019 launch.

Star Wars

I’ve enjoyed all of the new films so far. I have no idea why others have not.

Exclusive: Future ‘A Star Wars Story’ Spinoffs on Hold at Lucasfilm

It may be a while before we see any more movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story out of Lucasfilm. Sources with knowledge of the situation tell Collider that Lucasfilm has decided to put plans for more A Star Wars Story spinoff movies on hold, instead opting to focus their attention on Star Wars: Episode IX and what the next trilogy of Star Wars films will be after that film. Sources tell us that the previously rumored Obi-Wan movie was in active development, but those who were working on the film are no longer involved. It was recently reported that Logan filmmaker James Mangold was in early talks to write and direct the Boba Fett film, but that was before Solo’s release.

This news comes in the wake of the disappointing launch of Solo, which was only Lucasfilm’s second A Star Wars Story spinoff, but which received mixed-positive reviews and fell short of box office expectations. The film scored $84.4 million on opening weekend and has grossed $192.8 million domestically (and $339.5 million worldwide) in four weeks, which is nothing to scoff at but is far, far lower than the performance of other Star Wars movies at this benchmark. For comparison’s sake, Rogue One opened to $155 million and had grossed $424 million domestic by Week 4. To put it simply, while Solo did fine by blockbuster standards, it wasn’t the “event” that Lucasfilm expected out of a brand new Star Wars movie.

Of course the May release date could have had something to do with Solo’s disappointing performance. As opposed to Rogue One or the episodic films by J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, Solo went head-to-head with a slew of summer blockbusters in May, opening mere weeks after box office juggernauts Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. One wonders how the film would have fared had Lucasfilm pushed Solo’s release to December instead.

Regardless, we’re hearing that plans to revisit this A Star Wars Story format have been put on hold for the moment. Initially announced as “anthology” movies, the spinoffs got off to a rocky start and haven’t exactly been smooth sailing. Josh Trank (Chronicle) was developing a Boba Fett movie around the same time Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) was prepping Rogue One, but Trank was subsequently removed from the project and Lucasfilm lost a film off its planned slate. Then story issues led to extensive reshoots on Rogue One that reworked the third act, with Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy) overseeing the new scenes. And then of course Solo saw directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired during production, with Ron Howard coming in to replace them and reshoot a number of scenes.

In addition to Episode IX, Lucasfilm has officially announced development on a new Star Wars trilogy focused on new characters from The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson, as well as a new series of films written by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. These projects continue to be in development and are not part of the paused spinoffs we’re hearing about. But Lucasfilm’s main focus at the moment is planning the next trilogy after the Abrams-directed Star Wars 9, which is expected to conclude the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) that began with The Force Awakens.

As with everything in Hollywood, it’s always possible that some filmmaker could come in and pitch an idea for a Star Wars Story spinoff that makes Lucasfilm rethink its approach, or opt to greenlight that idea as a one-off, but as of right now we’re hearing the studio’s focus has moved away from these spinoffs for the time-being and is squarely intent on getting Episode IX to the finish line and figuring out what the next trilogy of films will be.

Star Wars

Now that they know SOLO isn’t a horrible mess, Disney announces their next Star Wars films.

James Mangold to Write and Direct ‘Boba Fett’ for Lucasfilm

James Mangold is set to write and direct a “Star Wars” standalone movie based on popular bounty hunter “Boba Fett,” according to a report by the Hollywood Reporter.

Stephen Daldry is also in talks to direct an “Obi Wan” movie, although no writers are working on a script.

Boba Fett is a Mandalorian warrior who was trained by his father-figure Jango Fett and became a notorious bounty hunter throughout the galaxy. His travels led him to work for the Empire, collaborate with Darth Vader and take assignments from figures such as Jabba the Hutt, for whom he once captured Han Solo.

Star Wars

Very cool.

How Solo: A Star Wars Story Is Crediting Phil Lord and Chris Miller

In Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for a director to leave a movie before production begins, but rarely does it happen in the middle of when the cameras are rolling. Alas, that’s what went down last summer with Solo: A Star Wars Story, as Phil Lord and Chris Miller exited the movie due to creative differences with Lucasfilm. With Ron Howard being quickly brought aboard to assume directing duties, the question arose of how Lord and Miller could be credited when the movie finally arrived. Now we have the answer: they’re being labeled as executive producers. Miller said:

“We were really proud of the many contributions we made to that film. In light of the creative differences, we elected to take an executive producer credit.”

Phil Lord and Chris Miller revealed their new status on Solo: A Star Wars Story while speaking at the third annual GLAS Animation Festival Friday (via Variety). Lord and Miller first boarded the Han Solo movie back in July 2015, and by the time they departed the spinoff movie two years later, approximately 75% of the movie had been shot. While Ron Howard subsequently added his own unique touches to Solo: A Star Wars Story during the remaining weeks of principal photography and the extended reshoots (like reworking the Dryden Vos character), Lord and Miller’s fingerprints are still all over the movie, so them being credited as executive producers seems more than fair.

Publicly, Phil Lord and Chris Miller attributed their departure from Solo: A Star Wars Story to simply wanting to make a different movie than what Lucasfilm had hired them to make. However, shortly after the news of their exit first came out, it was reported that among the issues that popped up during their time on Solo: A Star Wars Story included the duo taking an improvisational approach with shooting scenes and butting heads with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on the London set. In the end, it just wasn’t a good fit, but at least Lord and Miller are being properly recognized for the work they poured into the project.

Taking place in the early years of the Empire’s reign across a galaxy far, far away, Solo: A Star Wars Story follows Han Solo making a name for himself in the seedy galactic underworld, and along the way, he’ll meet Lando Calrissian, obtain the Millennium Falcon pull off a dangerous train heist and more. The main cast includes Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo and Paul Bettany.

Solo: A Star Wars Story blasts its way into theaters on May 25. As for what else this year has in store for the silver screen (which includes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which Phil Lord and Chris Miller wrote and executive produced), you can find release date information on our 2018 premiere guide.

Star Wars

It’s a great scene, Mark.

Mark Hamill can’t watch emotional final scene with Carrie Fisher

Mark Hamill can’t watch his final Star Wars: The Last Jedi scene with his longtime movie sister Carrie Fisher – because it really was the last time they saw each other.

Hamill’s character Luke Skywalker is reunited with his sister, Princess Leia Organa, for a touching scene towards the end of the sequel, which was filmed shortly before Carrie’s death at the end of 2016.

And when the film came out a year later, suddenly the siblings’ fond farewell on the big screen took on an emotional new meaning.

Hamill admits he still has no idea why he kissed Fisher on the forehead in the scene – as it wasn’t in the script.

“I didn’t decide it and say, ‘Can I do this…?’” he explains to Entertainment Tonight. “I don’t know if we rehearsed it or not, but it just happened. I was standing up and they weren’t ready for it. They said, ‘No, do that again’. And we did it for a second take, and like I said, it was just spontaneous.”

That scene has now become “really momentous” for him as he was literally kissing Carrie goodbye – as well as his character’s sister.

“I can’t watch that scene,” he adds. “It’s just, you know, takes me out of the movie completely. I’ll get over it, but she’ll be forever missed and she’s irreplaceable.”

Fisher died in December, 2016 after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

Star Wars

Loved that STAR WARS movie! THE LAST JEDI was amazing!!

Hollywood has another huge year thanks to ‘Star Wars’

The ­“Star Wars” force is on track to hoist North American box office receipts above $11 billion for the third year in a row.

That’s if the final six days of 2017 come close to matching the $408 million in ticket sales generated over the same period last year, according to comScore.

The total gross of $11.1 billion forecast by comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian would make 2017 Hollywood’s third-best year ever — 2.5 percent below 2016’s record $11.38 billion and 0.3 percent behind 2015’s $11.13 billion.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” contributed $408 million to the 2016 total after its Dec. 16 opening, while “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” jolted Hollywood’s 2015 take by $652 million after a Dec. 18 release.

This year’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opened on Dec. 15, has already added $400 million alone to exhibitor coffers and is expected to deliver $100 million more.

The strong finish will save the industry from a disastrous summer, when receipts fell below $4 billion for the first time in 11 years.

Experts blamed the summer doldrums on franchise fatigue, noting that Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” were ­in their fifth iterations.

Hollywood was ­pleasantly surprised by an 11 percent uptick in the fall’s box office. ­“It” from Warners Bros. led the turnaround by generating a worldwide gross of $700 million on a budget of $35 million.

This holiday season, which Box Office Mojo defines as the first Friday in November through New Year’s weekend, already boasts five $100 million-plus openers — “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Justice League,” “Coco” and “Wonder,” in addition to “The Last Jedi.”

Two more are almost certain to join this exalted club: “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” each with receipts in excess of $99 million and counting.