Category Archives: streaming media

Brace Yourselves; More STAR WARS is Coming

By Tom Holste

Feb. 7, 2018

Since I blog a lot about Star Wars, I really intended for my next blog post to be about something else. But every so often, a crazy story breaks where you just have to drop all your other plans and focus on the new thing.

Yesterday, Lucasfilm astonished fans around the world by announcing that a new series of movies was on its way from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show runners of HBO’s immensely popular and acclaimed fantasy series Games of Thrones.

david-benioff-db-weiss

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, two of the happiest guys in the galaxy.

Why astonishing, you ask? These two writers/producers have a great track record, after all. (Indeed, Thrones has made such a cultural impact that I know the catchphrase “Brace yourselves; winter is coming” even though I haven’t seen any episodes.)

Well, it’s astonishing because one would think that Lucasfilm would wait for one trilogy to be done or at least partway through before announcing the next one. We’re not even done with the current sequel trilogy; director Rian Johnson hasn’t shot one frame of his follow-up trilogy; and now we’ve got another series of films announced beyond that. (And note that Lucasfilm does say “series of movies,” therefore not limiting it to just a trilogy.)

After the negative fallout from many fans regarding Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, one would be excused for thinking that Lucasfilm had removed Johnson from heading up the new trilogy, yet the press release clearly indicates that Benioff and Weiss’ films are completely separate from Johnson’s upcoming saga.

Even more baffling is that we still don’t have any official confirmation of the next standalone Star Wars movie. Variety announced back in August that they had heard rumblings of an Obi-Wan movie. Variety has a very good reputation for accuracy, but the “sources” that they mentioned never made an official announcement.

We were expecting to hear an announcement about Obi-Wan or whatever the next standalone film turned out to be either way, but we just got crickets chirping. And then this news — which no one was expecting — gets a straight-up confirmation on StarWars.com.

Mind you, none of this is bad, just surprising.

I am starting to wonder if the next standalone has just simply been canceled at this point. It seems like it would have made more sense to continue doing standalones in between the trilogy installments. But maybe all the production problems that Rogue One and Solo went through have caused Kathleen Kennedy (the head of Lucasfilm) to swear off any more standalones.

Of course, as with anything, one can see potential issues, which are not the same as real concrete issues, just fun/interesting things to speculate about:

1) Rian Johnson is already known for turning in dark and gritty stories. Both Last Jedi and his earlier film Looper fit that bill. I presume his new trilogy will be more of the same. Does it make sense to hire another creative team also known for making dark and gritty stories? It seems like it would make sense to do a different movie (or series of movies) with a lighter, more crowd-pleasing tone, since a lot of people associate that with Star Wars more than the darker stuff.

It’s possible that the GoT producers want to break from tradition and not be pigeonholed, deliberately choosing to do something lighter. But I assume part of the reason why Lucasfilm hired them in the first place is so they could basically market the movies as “Star Wars done Game of Thrones-style,” which should pack people in the theater.

2) On that same note, I initially assumed that Benioff and Weiss understood that Star Wars is more family-friendly than GoT. But considering the fact that Marvel has done some TV-MA stuff with the Marvel brand (albeit only on Netflix), a few people I’ve talked to have expressed concern that these producers were brought on board specifically to bring R-rated content to Star Wars, which I certainly hope is not the case.

3) StarWars.com cites Benioff and Weiss as the creators of Game of Thrones. While it’s true that they developed the TV series, the actual creator of GoT is, of course, author R. R. Martin, who wrote the books on which the series is based. Benioff and Weiss have shown that they know how to adapt a story in a way that makes the fans happy, but this wouldn’t be adaptation, it would be creating something new (although admittedly playing within a very well established fictional universe). I wonder how much difference that’s going to make in the final product.

4) If they had been hired as the showrunners of the upcoming live-action TV series coming to Disney’s new streaming platform, that would be less surprising to me. But apparently these movies are going to exist in addition to Johnson’s movies, plus a live-action TV show on Disney’s streaming service, and another animated TV series following Rebels.

In fact, the same day as yesterday’s announcement, Disney also announced that they have several TV shows currently in development.

Star-Wars-All-Films

Hold on to something — we’re just getting started. (Source: Reddit)

As an old-school fan who’s used to having to wait three years between installments and then decades between trilogies, I am a little concerned about viewer burnout. This feels like the Avengers effect: Because Marvel has been so successful at having multiple movies and TV shows on all at once, every other franchise feels like they have to do the same thing. But Star Wars is special, and I’m concerned that this abundance of media will make it less special. (To be fair, though, it used to feel like there weren’t enough Star Wars movies, and that certainly won’t be a problem now.)

I do think / hope Disney means that they’re developing multiple ideas and trying to figure out which one they want to take all the way to the finish line, rather than saying we’ll have 20 Star Wars shows on the air at the same time.

I must again heavily emphasize that these things pique my curiosity, but I’m not an angry raging fanboy about them. In the world of fandom, there’s probably nothing bigger than Game of Thrones right now, so Lucasfilm has really gone all out and gotten the top people to work on these new movies. Metaphorically speaking, I just got told that Michael Jordan got hired for my favorite basketball team. That’s a good thing, and I want to show a proper level of gratitude for that.

My concerns are small, and hopefully none of them will be realized. I plan to keep an open mind. These are just my initial thoughts.

Finally, there have been many Tweets weighing in on the news, but this one was by far the funniest: (SPOILERS for The Last Jedi ahead!)

 

Blake Schultz‏ 
@AsAlwaysBlake

What are the Game of Thrones writers going to bring to Star Wars?  The siblings already kissed, and the beloved characters are dead…. #starwars #GameOfThrones

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More STAR WARS News Than You Can Shake a Gaffi Stick At

By Tom Holste

Nov. 10, 2017

Yesterday was an unexpectedly busy news day for Star Wars fans.

First up was the announcement that Rian Johnson, writer-director of the upcoming film The Last Jedi, has been given the greenlight to develop an entirely new Star Wars trilogy after the current one. The trilogy will be the first to go in a new direction in this universe and not be tied to the Skywalker-Solo family saga.

As I said back in September, I’m really surprised that Lucasfilm is putting so much faith in Johnson without yet seeing how the fans react to Last Jedi. I don’t doubt that he’s talented, but is it wise to give so much power and creative control over such an important franchise to one person before we see one Star Wars film completed by the guy? If the movie is well-received, I could see this announcement being made in January. But this seems a bit premature.

22-rian-johnson-star-wars.w750.h560.2x

Yeah, if I was Rian Johnson, I’d be jumping up and down with excitement, too.

I am grateful that the new trilogy won’t just rehash what’s been done before. The poor Skywalkers and Solos have been through enough misery already. (Weirdly, many people are speculating that the new trilogy will be an adaptation of the Knights of the Old Republic games. Seeing as how the press release went out of its way to say that Johnson is being given a “blank canvas,” and that he would “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored,” I don’t see how anyone could think that this is going to be an adaptation of any previous material.)

As if that all wasn’t enough for us, an hour or so later brought the announcement that Lucasfilm is finally moving forward with a live-action Star Wars TV series for Disney’s upcoming streaming service. Fans have waited a long time for such a series, since George Lucas announced in 2005 that he was developing a live-action series called Underworld. That long-gestating project never got off the ground, and it’s unlikely that this new series is in any way related to it.

I’m intrigued by the idea, and having waited so long to see new Star Wars, I certainly don’t want to complain. However, considering all the behind-the-scenes difficulties that Lucasfilm has been dealing with over the last few years, with multiple directors getting replaced, I would almost think it would be smarter for the company to step back and get their bearings for a minute before rushing into other projects.

This all feels very much like the post-Avengers effect. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the powers that be at the studio continue to turn out great movies and shows. Unfortunately, as with any success in Hollywood, everyone rushes to imitate them, usually to significantly lesser effect. (This is no different than the rush of lesser outer-space movies released after the success of the first Star Wars.) In this case, Marvel has been able to keep so many plates spinning at once, everyone else thinks they need to do the same thing with their franchises. And so Lucasfilm keeps greenlighting one movie after another, and multiple TV shows (counting their animated output).

I’m keeping an open mind. I don’t have a problem with a lot of Star Wars. I just really, really want it to be good more than I want it fast and plentiful.

Gaffi Stick

This is a Gaffi stick, in case you were wondering.

Mickey Mouse to Leave Netflix

By Tom Holste

Aug. 9, 2017

This news story has been making the rounds on Facebook, and I thought it might be interesting for discussion here.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/disney-to-pull-its-movies-from-netflix-including-s/1100-6452383/?ftag=GSS-05-10aab8d&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=598a81bd3ed3f00007aca3d8&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

This comes just a year after Disney’s content went exclusively to Netflix for the foreseeable future. Apparently, that deal will end in 2019.

I, for one, am getting really tired of every entertainment company pulling out of Netflix to start their own service, or in some cases, multiple services. Warner Bros. has put all their classic cartoons (including Hanna-Barbera and MGM content) on the Boomerang app, and they intend to release another app for all their DC Comics content. And if one wants to watch Doctor Who on streaming, one has to pay Britbox for the classic stuff and Amazon Prime for the new stuff.

Disney has already announced that they’re going to have a separate streaming service for ESPN content. If they have a separate service for animated classics, and a separate service for Marvel, and one for Lucasfilm, Pixar, etc., people are not going to go for that.

Part of what’s great about Netflix is its affordability. But studios seem to think that if we’ll pay Netflix $8 a month, we’ll be willing to pay them $40 a month for multiple different mini-Netflixes. That’s an incorrect assumption.

This strategy may drive some consumers back to physical media, which may in fact be part of the goal of the studios. Even though the rest of the planet moved on to streaming media 10-ish years ago, I’ve seen multiple doom-and-gloom articles from Hollywood experts about how the industry is doomed if consumers don’t keep buying physical media (ignoring the many decades in which the industry did just fine without that).

Nonetheless, having said all that, if enough companies do pull out of Netflix, it may become worth my while to invest our $8 a month in one of these other companies. Much of what my family watches comes from one of Disney’s many divisions; in addition to what’s mentioned above, my kids are big fans of anime from Studio Ghibli, which has been distributed by Disney for a long time. While I don’t want to jump ship — I’d rather pay Netflix a little more to have more content — there may come a point where loyalty to them doesn’t make sense.

I’d also be interested if the Disney streaming service has multiple classic versions of characters instead of just the latest version. For instance, if they have just the new DuckTales and the latest version of Spider-Man, that doesn’t seem very interesting to me. But if they have those in addition to the old DuckTales and the ’90s Spider-Man and so forth, that could be fun. I would also be excited if they would finally release all episodes of The Muppet Show. (The DVDs stopped after Season 3, leaving two seasons unreleased.) They would need to dig in their archives a bit and come up with interesting things.

Anyway, the industry continues to change and evolve, and it’s fascinating to watch the permutations.