Breaking from StarWars.com: The official title for the next episode of the saga, Star Wars Episode VIII, will be The Last Jedi. Rumors had been swirling about a supposedly leaked title of “Forces of Destiny” (similar to a licensed card game), and others that sounded a bit Indiana Jones-ish. This at least seems respectable.
Rian Johnson is writing and directing, to be released on December 15, 2017.
We can now say that the Battle of Axanar is over…Paramount/CBS and Axanar productions have reached a settlement in the suit against the fan-produced Axanar film. With things looking bleak earlier this month when Axanar was denied fair use status, so there wasn’t much surprise that a settlement was reached. It wasn’t much in the film’s favor, but it will see the light of day in a shortened form with major modifications, restricted to two 15-minute episodes released on YouTube sans ads (they will not be allowed to monetize the film), along with Prelude to Axanar with the same restrictions. Producer Alec Peters also admitted that the production “crossed the line” and was not approved by Paramount/CBS.
Axanar wasn’t the only loser here though, as Paramount/CBS lost a lot of the fan love they had by bringing on this suit.
The full text of the announcement is here:
Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar’s film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law.
Axanar and Mr. Peters have agreed to make substantial changes to Axanar to resolve this litigation, and have also assured the copyright holders that any future Star Trek fan films produced by Axanar or Mr. Peters will be in accordance with the “Guidelines for Fan Films” distributed by CBS and Paramount in June 2016.
Paramount and CBS continue to be big believers in fan fiction and fan creativity. They encourage amateur filmmakers to showcase their passion for Star Trek. Paramount and CBS will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional, amateur, and otherwise meet the Guidelines, which can be found at http://www.startrek.com/fan-films. Paramount and CBS would like Star Trek fans, with their boundless creativity and passion, to “Live Long and Prosper.”
I’ve never been a “fan” of the Power Rangers. I’ve watched it in the earlier years, and occasionally since…one of my daughters picked up on a more recent series so saw a bit of that. But the feature movie, due out March 24th, appears to be a step above them all. It appears to take the concept with full seriousness, and brings to bear current heavy hitters Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) as Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Zordon in a reboot of the franchise for the big screen. It will be interesting to see how the serious reboot of the campy adaptation of the Japanese Super Sentai series will work out.
Despite the poor response to 2011’s Green Lantern movie, and no sign of any green-clad characters in the upcoming Justice League movie, it appears that Warner Bros still has the willpower to move forward with a sequel in some form, assigning David Goyer (the Batman Dark Knight movies, Batman Vs. Superman) and Justin Rhodes (Fantastic Voyage) to work on a script according to a report from Deadline.
According to the report, the script, based on a story from Goyer and DC story maven Geoff Johns will focus on two of Earth’s Green Lanterns – Hal Jordan, who was the first human Lantern (and played by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 movie), and John Stewart, Jordan’s backup, a Marine veteran and the first African American superhero in the DC Comics universe.
A director has yet to be announced as would a cast. It would seem doubtful that Reynolds would reprise the Jordan character given the results of the first movie and the fact that he’s currently working on Deadpool 2.
Syfy Films is pleased to announce the release of the anticipated sci-fi thriller Atomica, in theaters on March 17, 2017 and on VOD and Digital HD on March 21, 2017. The film is directed by Dagen Merrill (Beneath, Broken Hill, Murder in the Dark) and written by Kevin Burke (Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Beneath), Fred Fernandez-Armesto and Adam Gyngell. The cast includes Dominic Monaghan (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pet), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down) and Sarah Habel (Hostel: Part III, USA Network’s Rush).
In Atomica, when communications go offline at a remote nuclear power plant isolated in the desert, a young safety inspector, Abby Dixon, is forced to fly out to bring them back online. Once inside the facility, mysterious clues and strange behavior cause Abby to have doubts about the sanity and, perhaps, identities of the two employees onsite.
Atomica is produced by Jaime Burke (The Pact, The Possession of Michael King) and Vahan Paretchan (The Millionaire Tour) and executive produced by Simon Chen, Kieth Merrill (Broken Hill, The 12 Dogs of Christmas), Shawn Sackman, Barry G. Walker (Solara, Finding Harmony) and Dominic Monaghan.
It has been rumored the past several days but it is now confirmed that Woody Harrelson, most famous for his role on the hit TV series Cheers, and more recently as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games, is indeed signed to play an unspecified role in the upcoming Star Wars anthology movie that will follow a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). While Lucasfilm isn’t saying what the role is, sources say that he is some form of mentor to the young scoundrel.
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with an artist with as much depth and range as Woody,” according to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who released a statement. “His ability to find both humor and pathos, often in the same role, is truly unique. He is also very good at ping pong.”
The new movie, which does not yet have a title, is scheduled for release late in 2018.
It’s been a while since we last reported on it, but the crowdfunded production called Axanar received a setback this week in its defense against the lawsuit from CBS/Paramount, which is still going on.
Axanar, being produced by Axanar Productions, is essentially a fan-made prequel film to the original Star Trek series, telling the story of Garth of Izar, who appears as a character in the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy”, a former starship fleet captain now held in an insane asylum after he ordered the genocide of an entire species who had helped heal his maimed body, when they refused his offer to help rule the galaxy. Axanar tells the story of the Battle of Axanar, where Garth was pivotal in the victory over the Klingons and his tactics became required reading at Starfleet Academy. Additional backstory for the character appears in licensed novels.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Axanar Productions request for dismissal, on the grounds that the suit was premature because the film is unfinished and falls under fair use, saying that Axanar would need to prove in court to a jury that their production is substantively different from the copyrighted material. Given that they are using a character and situation that is established in Star Trek canon and within the licensed universe, Judge Klausner ruled that Axanar were using copyrighted works, but a jury would need to decide whether they would be confusion to a “lay person” over whether it was a production of the copyright holders.
Last time we reported on the situation, Star Trek movie producer J.J. Abrams claimed he and Star Trek: Beyond director Justin Lin asked for the suit to be stopped, and stated on stage “it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project”. But as it turns out he apparently ad-libbed the segment at a Star Trek fan event, fell on deaf ears at CBS/Paramount.
Just a quick roundup on end-of-2016 events…most notably that it’s been the biggest U.S. box office year for movies ever, taking in $11.13 billion with a few days of strong tracking to go. Leading the pack was Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory at $486 million, followed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which had $424M, and Captain America: Civil War at $408M, giving Disney’s divisions the box office trifecta for 2016. Rogue One also looks to keep running into 2017, as it reached it’s mark in only 16 days!
While slower at gaining a box office following, Arrival, which cost much less to make than Rogue One and faced a lot of competition after its release, passed $150 million in the global box office, which is not bad for a “thinker” science fiction movie.
What happens when you mash up a superhero story with Doctor Who on Christmas Day? You get the most watched program in 2016 for BBC America. “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” had 1.7 million viewers in the Live+3 ratings and topped all the key demographics, as well as being the channels most active program on social media. Still not sure when the upcoming season will begin, but we are thinking around April.
Carrie Fisher, who suffered from a cardiac event on a flight home to Los Angeles from London on Friday shortly before landing, has passed away, according to her daughter Billie Lourd’s publicist. She was 60 years old.
An outpouring of thoughts and prayers started on Friday and continue today, with many people, celebrities and fans, saying how much she has meant to them over the years. For me, she was the first “movie crush” I can recall. I had Star Wars trading cards, and me and my friends fought over a particular card of her. She was the prototype Strong Woman, busting the “princess” stereotype. She may have been the damsel in need of a rescue, but she took part in her own rescue and wasn’t afraid to get dirty doing it. All the boys wanted to be Luke, because back then everyone thought Luke would get the girl in the end.
Carrie wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and even played up the “Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan feud” tongue-in-cheek with fellow actor and “rival” William Shatner. Shatner tweeted this afternoon, “I’m deeply saddened to learn of the death of Carrie Fisher. I will miss our banterings. A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.” More recently, with her re-appearance in her iconic role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she spoke out against the body-shaming “fans” who criticized her looks on how she aged since she last appeared as Princess Leia some 32 years previously. “Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings. My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have,” she wrote on Twitter.
She was very open about her struggles with alcoholism and mental health, even writing a semi-autobiographical book about a substance-addicted actress called “Postcards From The Edge” that became a movie starring her friend Meryl Streep, and then in 2009 wrote her memoir, “Wishful Drinking”.
Regretfully, we were supposed to meet Carrie last year at a convention, but she had to cancel due to an illness, and she wasn’t able to attend this year.
We miss you already, Carrie.
Update 12/28: Just a day later Debbie Reynolds, her mother, passed away after being rushed to the hospital this afternoon, according to her son, Todd Fisher. Her and her son were reportedly working on funeral arrangements for Carrie.
2016 has been full of such sadness. 2017 cannot get here fast enough.
If you are a Star Wars fan, and haven’t seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story yet, I don’t know what you are waiting for. As much as this was touted as a standalone story, it really is as much a part of the saga as any of the others – you could call it “Episode III.9” – it just lacks major roles for the well known characters. And that may be its strength.
Rogue One took in a massive $155 million domestically in its opening weekend, and $290 million globally, helping Walt Disney Studios to be the first to ever pass the $7 billion mark in a calendar year. And despite some competition attempting to take a piece of the box office this coming weekend (Passengers has been getting a lot of buzz), the studio may have yet another juggernaut which may leave other studios battling over second for several weeks.
Here forward be SERIOUS SPOILERS, as I can’t comment on things without revealing plot points, GO WATCH THE MOVIE, and then come back here…