Disney Spins ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Release Delay


Bob Iger schools Lord Vader.

We fans knew it was coming when the production dramatically shuffled its writing team, but now Disney has come out with an official spin reason for pushing the release of Star Wars: Episode VII from the summer of 2015 to Dec. 18, 2015.

Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, told Bloomberg TV:

“One of the things that was very important to us is that we give the creative team, J.J. Abrams and his writing team, the time to design, write and produce the film so we can optimize quality, so they can create a great film. Very, very important…. At one point we considered the summer of 2015 [but] it felt like, particularly with some changes we made in the writing team that that was going to create a bit of a rush and didn’t think that was optimal for obvious reasons.”

Iger went on to rationalize point out that Dec. 18 “happens to be the date which Avatar, which is the No. 1 movie of all time, was released, so we like that.”

So there you have it: Disney was always interested in the integrity and quality of the movie — not some sticking to some arbitrary release date selected long before there was even a script for the movie. Only optimizing quality.

First Trailer for Maleficent: Pretty Magnificent

Remember last year, when Angelina Jolie started working on that movie about Sleeping Beauty as told from the point of view of the “Big Bad,” the Evil Queen? Well, now we get a taste of that work in the first trailer for Maleficent.

Angelina really looks the part, and although she doesn’t get to do much here, Maleficent does come across as very creepy. I’m not sold on about Elle Fanning‘s pseudo-British accent as Princess Aurora, the soon-to-be Sleeping Beauty, but the rest of the production looks quite good.

Maleficent opens May 30, 2014.

Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones Coming to Netflix

marvelnetflixNetflix has just announced that it is joining with Disney and its Marvel brand to produce and distribute four new 13-episode on-demand TV series based on Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones — and, on the horizon, a Defenders miniseries!

According to the announcement:

“The epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, 13-episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s The Defenders miniseries event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.”

The whole plan will kick off beginning in 2015, and it is expected that entire series will be in the can before Netflix releases the first episodes.
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Star Wars: Episode VII is Now in Big, BIG Trouble!

J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams

When scriptwriter Michael Arndt (of Toy Story 3 fame) left Star Wars: Episode VII last week — it remains to be seen whether he jumped ship or was pushed — I was more than a little concerned, but with word this week that Disney executives will not allow the highly-anticipated project to be pushed from its previously announced May 2015 release date, I’m starting to stare nervously at the panic button.

Arndt’s departure paved the way for director J.J. Abrams to take a hand in penning the screenplay (not a strength of his), and he had the sense to upgrade “consultant” Lawrence Kasdan to co-screenwriter. Kasdan, of course, wrote the shooting script for The Empire Strikes Back (as well as Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark), so that bodes well for the project. However, the new screenwriters are not going to be building off Arndt’s script, but rather starting from scratch!

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John Carter Marketers: You’re Doing It Wrong!

Yesterday, Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke reported that early tracking numbers on John Carter are pointing toward a box-office flop of mammoth proportions. “The tracking for John Carter is shocking for a film that costs over $250 million,” Finke claims a rival studio executive wrote. “This could be the biggest writeoff of all time,” possibly as much as $100 million.

That’s bad news for those of us who have already tossed our swords at John Carter‘s feet, hoping for a film trilogy. Especially because the news gets worse: Finke further reports that studio exec claimed, “Women of all ages have flat-out rejected the film.”
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Up (2009)

As I mentioned in my entry Movies I Loved (and Hated) in 2009, I missed seeing the heralded animated feature Up in the cinema. Well, it finally floated to the top of my Netflix queue, so I cued it up. Here is my review…

Up, up, and away!

Up certainly is an uplifting animated film, but I have to confess that I think it’s overrated. Highly overrated, in fact. There is plenty to like about it: Mr. Fredricksen is a more complicated character than one usually sees in animated movies, and his personal history included more than a little melancholy.

The story sees 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen finally fulfill a lifelong dream to travel by air to South America (His reasons are succinctly explained, and sufficiently tear-jerking.) – by floating his entire house there using more than 20,000 helium balloons. Once up in the air, he realizes he has a reluctant stowaway in Russell, an 8-year-old budding Wilderness Explorer working on a merit badge for “helping the elderly.” Once in South America, Fredrickson and Russell get tangled up in strange events that include lost animals, talking dogs, skyships and a face from Fredrickson’s past.
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