As Hollywood and fans began to train their focus on Comic-Con tonight, Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder fired off a head-scratcher of a tweet — apparently from a galaxy far, far away. He sent out this shot of his Man of Steel Henry Cavill with #SuperJedi. OK, two questions: 1) Why so serious, Hank? 2) Captions, anyone?
Fans hoping to catch footage from Star Wars: Episode VII or autographs from its casts will have to wait. Director J.J. Abrams and the Episode VII cast, who are knee-deep in production over at Pinewood Studios in London, will not be heading to San Diego’s Comic-Con this month sources close to the production and at Comic-Con told Deadline. Instead, Star Wars fans at Comic-Con can elbow their way into the Disney XD’s panel for its animated Star Wars Rebels series on Thursday, July 24 from 6-7 PM in Room 6BCF. Executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg along with actors Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan), Steve Blum (Zeb), Taylor Gray (Ezra), Tiya Sircar (Sabine) and Vanessa Marshall (Hera) will be on hand showing exclusive content.
This is the second no-show for Episode VII since Disney’s D23 last August, when fans were expecting any type of announcement (final cast was announced back in April). Most of the buzz for Episode VII has been mounted online with TMZ posting photos from the Tatooine set in June as well as Abrams’ @bad_robot Twitter feed. Two days ago a photo was tweeted out (see below) of the new IMAX cameras being used to shoot the film … the photo gave a sneak peek of the camera shooting footage over the Tatooine dunes.
— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) July 8, 2014
It’s taken a fair few years, but Pinewood Studios now finally has the greenlight to grow. That’s welcome news at a time when the UK is bursting with film and TV series jockeying for stage space and tax breaks. The UK’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government today offered his positive decision on the Pinewood Studios Development Framework which will double the existing facility in South Buckinghamshire. The studio is currently host to Star Wars: Episode VII and is awaiting the next James Bond movie. In total, 100,000 square meters of new studios, stages, workshops and production offices will be added. CEO Ivan Dunleavy recently told me that if the expansion permission was granted, Pinewood would “hope to have the first phase under construction in the first year.” Today he said, “We want to begin construction as soon as possible.”
Pinewood has been ready for this expansion for some time, but it’s been a tough road getting here. The studio originally applied for permission to grow back in 2011 and was rejected in early 2012. The local council took issue with part of the original plan that included building residences on adjacent greenbelt land. The residential aspect was removed from the proposal and Pinewood resubmitted the plans. But they were again rejected in May 2013. A public inquiry …
BREAKING: Casting on Star Wars: Episode VII under JJ Abrams continues. Joining the group is 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie, currently starring in the HBO’s hit series Game Of Thrones as Brienne of Tarth. She is also in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. ”I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”
John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow were the first batch of stars joining Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film. Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams wrote the script and Kennedy, Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.
J.J. Abrams has a message from the desert set of Star Wars: Episode VII. He’s offering fans a chance to appear in a cameo in the movie via a $10 contribution to Star Wars: Force For Change. The new initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm, in collaboration with Bad Robot, is dedicated to finding creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. The first Star Wars: Force for Change campaign will benefit UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and its programs aimed at helping the world’s most vulnerable children. Disney has committed $1 million to the project. Fans can contribute directly at Omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to appear in the film. For each $10 contribution, eligible participants will be automatically entered for a chance to win the cameo. The campaign runs through July 18. It looks like this is how Star Wars will be marketing itself in the social media era after tweeting out first cast photos and Abrams’ video on Star Wars Day on May 4. Pic is slated to be released December 18, 2015. Check out Abrams’ pitch:
J.J. Abrams has set his final Star Wars VII cast with a mix of up-and-comers, new faces, veteran thesps, returning favorites, and the Big Three – Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. Take a look at the full line-up of Star Wars Jedis and Dark-siders, including Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Adam Driver (Girls), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, About Time), Oscar-nominated Max von Sydow, and UK actress Daisy Ridley as well as franchise returnees Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker. Click on images to launch the slideshow below.
‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Cast Finalized: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson & Max Von Sydow
Rumor Mill Wild As ‘Star Wars’ Cast Revelation Gets Close
The producers have their eye on Maisie Richardson-Sellers, an Oxford-trained actress whose credits seem to range from local stage plays to, well, more local stage plays. With the scarcity of real Star Wars: Episode VII casting news, any hints from the London set have fans and media making the jump to light speed. Six weeks ago, the rumor mill had Adam Driver out front for a lead villain role. And with production set to start next month on the Disney/Lucasfilm tentpole, it’s high time for some facts. But not tonight. Well, at least R2-D2 is confirmed. Meanwhile, the franchise pic is due to touch down in theaters December 18, 2015.
Catch up on the top film stories you missed this week:
Third Installment Of ‘Ghostbusters’ A Go For Early 2015; Death Of Pal Harold Ramis Prompts Ivan Reitman To Turn Over Directing Reins
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start in New York on its next installment of Ghostbusters. There is a major change, though. In the wake of the death of his close friend and original Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman has decided he won’t direct the film, after all.
2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament Tip-Off – #1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’; #8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: Oscar crowned a Best Picture winner two weeks ago, but which 2013 film deserves to be called the profitability champ?
Horror Hit ‘The Grudge’ Going Reboot Route
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: The Grudge, the Takashi Shimazu-directed 2004 film that helped establish the viability of low-cost genre films, is getting a reboot.
BOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ No. 1 On Track For $56M+ Weekend; ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ Very Soft; Faith-Based ‘God’s Not Dead’ Surprises In Top Five And ‘Budapest Hotel’ Another Strong Per Screen
By Anita Busch – EXCLUSIVE: More for Divergent. $19.75M and higher for the Lionsgate film — $56M+. (56.7M when all is said and done?) Nicely positioned for international. They will likely have at least another good weekend before Captain America swoops in to do battle.
Jason Blum, Scooter Braun Prods & Jon M. Chu Team With Hasbro On ‘Jem And The Holograms’: Video
By The Deadline Team – Hasbro, Blumhouse Prods, Scooter Braun Prods and Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are partnering to bring Hasbro’s 1980s cult classic cartoon series Jem And The Holograms to the big screen.
Even Darth Vader is now snapping selfies. The official Star Wars site tweeted last night that it has joined the Instagram bandwagon. Saying “It is useless to resist,” the tweet urged fans to follow the account (72,000+ already are). Lucasfilm has set up its production offices for Star Wars: Episode VII at the UK’s Pinewood where it will start shooting next year for a December 18, 2015 release. The production unveiled its first photo last month and confirmed that R2-D2 will be in the new movie. Does the one below mean that Darth Vader is the next character from the previous Star Wars films that will appear (resurrected? in flashback?)? Here’s the erstwhile Anakin Skywalker taking the first Instagram snap:
Obama Set For DreamWorks Animation Visit Next Week
By Dominic Patten – EXCLUSIVE: The last time President Obama was in town back in early August he had a private dinner with Jeffrey Katzenberg – now the Commander-in-Chief is heading over to his top bundler’s DreamWorks Animation Glendale campus for a very public pre-Thanksgiving visit.
Universal, Malcolm D. Lee In Talks To Make ‘The Best Man Holiday’ Sequel After Monster Opening
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: After a rousing opening weekend that saw his sequel The Best Man Holiday gross over $30 million domestically, Malcolm D. Lee is negotiating a deal with Universal to write, direct and produce another installment of the hit ensemble romantic comedy.
OSCARS: Why A Documentary Nomination Could Be Game-Changer For Gay Love Story ‘Bridegroom’
By Pete Hammond – The steady, emotional journey of award-winning documentary Bridegroom continues with its availability for sale beginning today on iTunes and Amazon. But it is an Academy Award nomination — or even just making that shortlist – that filmmakers Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and husband Harry Thomason really want in order to carry their message of love and tolerance for gay couples worldwide.
Box Office Top 10: ‘Catching Fire’s Global Opening Gross Will Hit $307.7 Million
By Mike Fleming Jr. – International numbers for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are pouring in now, and they are as good as the domestic numbers. The film has grossed $146.6 million in 63 territories, which puts its global opening weekend gross at $307.7 in 65 territories.
UPDATE, 1:20 PM: He wasn’t just hanging around posing after all. Disney confirmed today that R2-D2 will be in Star Wars: Episode VII. A staple of every Star Wars pic, the little droid “will indeed be in the film”, the company said online Tuesday. This is the first character from the previous Star Wars films that we know for sure is returning for the J.J. Abrams-directed movie. Episode VII, the first of three new Star Wars movies, is set to hit the big screen in December 2015.
PREVIOUSLY, NOV. 14: First Disney finally announces a release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, now a week later we get the first photo of the production. Guess the filmmakers don’t have to worry about divulging any top-secret plot details via this so-so-natural shot that Bad Robot tweeted today with the caption, “Hi from the workshop!” Apparently this is the droid they’re looking for.
It’s going to be a happy Christmas two years from now for fans of a galaxy far far away away. The new J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars movie will open on December 18, 2015, Disney announced today as it unveiled strong fourth-quarter earnings. “We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” Disney Studios chair Alan Horn said in a statement Thursday on StarWars.com. When Disney bought Lucasfilm in October 2012 for $4 billion, CEO Bob Iger said that three more Star Wars films would come out — with 2015 as the release date for the first new one. It’s a date Disney will now make by a hair. The new Star Wars movie is set to start filming early next year in the UK with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams, and his bad Robot partner Bryan Burk producing. Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin will serve as EPs. The December 18, 2015 date is the same day that Warcraft, the first pic under Universal and Legendary’s new deal, and Sony’s Inferno are presently set to be released as well.
Abrams was named as director on the first new Star Wars pic since 2005′s Episode …
Miss Deadline’s best film stories this week? Catch up here:
Heard It Here First: Tom Hardy To Play Elton John In ‘Rocketman’
By Mike Fleming Jr. - As Deadline reported in June when FilmDistrict paid $10 million to acquire U.S. rights to the Elton John film Rocketman, Tom Hardy has been set to play Captain Fantastic himself in the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film.
Oscar-Buzzed ’12 Years A Slave’ In Top Ten, ‘Jackass: Bad Grandpa’ Opens #1 For $32M, All-Star ‘The Counselor’ Bombs With $8M
By Nikki Finke - The most interesting news of the weekend, at least to me, is that New Regency’s financed and produced Best Picture Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight is only playing in 123 theaters (up from 19 last weekend) yet jumped into the Top Ten.
J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan Take Over As ‘Star Wars’ Scribes
By Dominic Patten - The new Star Wars movie has a new screenwriting team. It was announced online today that Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan will take over as scribes for the upcoming Disney project which is set to be released in 2015.
Disney brass thinks Star Wars is so important they went to Germany of all places this weekend for Star Wars Celebration, the global Star Wars fan convention that began in 1999 to celebrate the release of the first prequel. Today at the confab Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that composer John Williams will return for JJ Abrams‘ Star Wars: Episode VII after scoring all six previous films. Joining Mouse House execs in Essen, Germany are franchise stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Jeremy Bulloch, Warwick Davis, and Peter Mayhew, flown in for a Return of the Jedi reunion. Disney is set to unveil more for fans stateside at next month’s D23 Expo in Anaheim.
Pinewood Shepperton has had its share of good and bad news of late. The home of the James Bond franchise is reporting a significant increase in operating profit for the fiscal year, has a steady stream of productions on its stages and is growing abroad. But, it’s still facing a stubborn local council that’s twice rejected its UK expansion plans, most recently in May. A public inquiry into the matter begins November 19. CEO Ivan Dunleavy notes, “Our customers are concerned that the company has sufficient capacity to meet their needs… The need for further, effective infrastructure to meet demand for the UK is a priority.”
Revenue for the 2012/2013 fiscal year ended March 31 was £63M ($96.3M) with operating profit of $8.25M versus $4.13M in the previous period. Among recent films to shoot at Pinewood are The Muppets… Again! and Maleficient. Upcoming are Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy and Star Wars: Episode VII.
We already knew that, like its six predecessors, Star Wars: Episode VII was going to shoot in the UK where expectations were that it would end up at Pinewood Studios. Now we know for sure. Pinewood isn’t talking publicly about the news that was first reported by Screen, but a source close to the production tells me the movie will indeed set up camp at the iconic facility that’s also home to James Bond. Director J.J. Abrams recently said production would start at the beginning of 2014 and that “Most likely we are going to be moving to London at the end of the year” for the film. Pinewood currently has Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella in residence along with Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy. Along with those two films, Star Wars will mark the latest in recent collaborations between Disney and Pinewood. Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent shot there earlier this year. But it’s not all Disney business. Fox’s Exodus, the biblical epic from Ridley Scott, will also shoot at Pinewood later this year. With all those movies in residence, will there be enough room? I’m assured that even with a massive project like Star Wars moving in, Pinewood will be able to have two or three other films at the same time.
As the launch of Star Trek Into Darkness approaches, J.J. Abrams will be asked a lot of questions at screenings and junkets, many of which will be about his plans for Star Wars VII. Abrams was more of a Star Wars fan than a Trekkie, and he hasn’t done so badly with that. (Feel free to disagree or agree.) Empire recently asked Abrams what he has in mind for a new Star Wars adventure. Here, excerpted from the Empire interview, is part of what what Abrams had to say:
I don’t know because we’re just getting started. … Even though I was never a Star Trek fan, I felt like there was a version of it that would make me excited, that I would think ‘that’s cool, that feels right, I actually would want to see that’.
… With Star Wars … I feel like I can identify a hunger for what I would want to see again and that is an incredibly exciting place to begin a project. The movies, the worlds could not be more different but that feeling that there’s something amazing here is the thing that they share.
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill On Board For ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’? George Lucas Suggests They Are
George Lucas was asked by Bloomberg Businessweek if the three members of the original Star Wars cast would return for Episode VII. His response — “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” Pausing, he said “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.” But he did add, “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.” Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported yesterday that Fisher told Palm Beach Illustrated magazine on the record that she would be back as Princess Leia. We’ll see. Disney confirmed in January that J.J. Abrams would direct Star Wars: Episode VII. Abrams, his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are producing along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney/Lucasfilm banner.