J.J. Abrams sees Episode IX as the end of the Skywalker saga

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From Rolling Stone:

“[…] This trilogy will end with Abrams’ Last Jedi sequel, and after that, it sounds like the main thrust of the franchise will move into Johnson’s mysterious new movies, which look to be unconnected to the previous saga. As far as Abrams is concerned, that will be the end of the Skywalker story. “I do see it that way,” he says. “But the future is in flux.” […]”

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ILM’s David Weitzberg: ‘Everyone was very excited to be a part of the Prequels’

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From StarWars.com:

“As a young kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland, David Weitzberg was interested in computers and photography, but it was Star Wars that really drew him into the world of special effects. Years later while studying computer science at MIT, Weitzberg traveled across the country to California to start an internship with the company whose work had captivated him. Fast forward, and Weitzberg is now a 19-year veteran of Industrial Light & Magic, living in San Francisco with his wife and three children. StarWars.com sat down with Weitzberg to discuss his start at ILM, his contributions to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest additions to the missions in Star Tours, and most importantly, explosions.
(Note: Weitzberg often refers to films as “shows.” That’s how we talk in the biz!) […]

StarWars.com: So the prequels were announced in ’94, and you started in ’96. Was that kind of a driving force for you for wanting to come back to ILM?

David Weitzberg: Absolutely. When I was an intern, they were shooting the Special Editions at ILM. I still remember seeing the actors in costume walking around and the filming call sheets. There was just something really magical about being here and seeing a Star Wars call sheet. At the time, too, just when I was finishing up school, I could have stayed in school and focused more on graphics research but the prequels were coming and at the time the technology in the industry was moving much faster, and I wanted to get in as soon as I could. I came back here and worked on Episode I — I think it was the second or third movie I worked on when I got back.

StarWars.com: What did you do on the prequel films? What’s one of your favorite scenes that you worked on?

David Weitzberg: Well, I worked on the opening shot of Episode III.

StarWars.com: And you got a VES [Visual Effects Society] nomination for that.

David Weitzberg: I was nominated, and we lost [Laughs], but it was an honor to be nominated. It was a really fun project, we developed the look of the space battle. It was a 2,000-frame long shot or so. John Knoll created the title crawl, and then handed it over to us and we followed the Jedi fighters flying through the battle, with more ships in the background and the planet below, just all kinds of cool stuff.

StarWars.comWhat’s the process for doing all that? Where do you even start?

David Weitzberg: You have to break it down into sort of meaningful chunks. What helps is that there are amazing teams here. First the shot may be storyboarded or shown in an animatic, a rough moving version of the shot that establishes the timing, where someone’s already blocked out roughly, “This thing happens here, this thing happens there.” Then it goes through a camera polish in the layout department, where they refine the camera moves and make sure everything is in the right place. Animation makes all the ships and characters move just right, sometimes another group adds physical simulations to the movement, and then it gets handed off to one of the groups I work with. That’s where you add lighting and different effects. For example, as the little ships fly by the giant Star Destroyer, you might get some bounce light so it glows just a little bit on that side. We add details to make it feel like it fits in the scene better. Then there’s all the particle effects and destruction, which is more what I’m specializing in now. Something blows up, there’s a laser fire, dust clouds, water splashes, whatever is needed in the scene. It’s about breaking up the complicated shot into smaller pieces and refining them all along until the whole shot is assembled.

StarWars.com: What was the atmosphere like during the prequels? Was everyone super excited that they got to work on the new Star Wars?

David Weitzberg: It really was exciting, there was definitely a buzz around it. It was a very popular show to be on and everyone was very excited to be a part of it. There is so much in that universe that can be done, so to be able to be a part of it was really something. For example, I worked on the Mustafar landing platform and I loved going out to the stage and seeing big practical models with the thick goop they used for the lava and the under-lighting effects. […]

StarWars.com: What’s your favorite scene that you’ve worked on in a Star Wars film?

David Weitzberg: There’s a lot. [Laughs] I think the opening shot of Episode III really stands out, just because it’s such a long shot and so much happens in it that we really got to do a lot. And it’s a Star Wars space battle! It’s a common thing, but I may or may not have put my head in for one of the pilots. You’ll never see it, but I know it’s there. […]”

BuzzFeed changed a headline which said ‘the Star Wars Prequels are actually amazing’

Yesterday, we shared a BuzzFeed article titled ‘Sorry Haters, But The “Star Wars” Prequels Are Actually Amazing’.

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Since then, BuzzFeed changed the headline. The article is now titled ‘If You Hated The “Star Wars” Prequels You Probably Weren’t Paying Attention‘.

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This is not the first time BuzzFeed has changed a headline clearly sympathetic to the Prequels. A month ago, the title  ’21 Photos That Prove 1999 Was The Greatest Year For Star Wars Fanswas changed to ’21 Epic Pictures From The “Star Wars: Episode I” Premiere in 1999′.

BuzzFeed: ‘Sorry Haters, But The Star Wars Prequels Are Actually Amazing’

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From BuzzFeed:

“Sorry Haters, But The “Star Wars” Prequels Are Actually Amazing

Two words: Ewan McGregor.

If you were born between 1987 and 1993, you were the prime age to see The Phantom Menace in theaters.

You were old enough to remember it and young enough to think it was an example of good filmmaking.

From there, you were invested and had no choice but to continue your journey of unabashed love.

I truly… deeply… love these movies.

In honor of my prequel-loving Millennial brethren, here is a list of reasons why these FANTASTIC films deserve some damn credit.

My allegiance is to the PREQUELS… to STAR WARS.

1. Darth “Man Candy” Maul.

Do you know what happens to a Dathomirian when it gets cut in half? The same thing that happens to everything else. Unfortunate death aside, Darth Maul was kickass. You have to be one skilled Force master to avoid decapitating yourself with such extreme weaponry.

2. Padmé’s whole vibe.

These outfits and hairstyles were B-A-N-A-N-A-S but we’re not mad about it. Who hasn’t gone through a gothic, space dominatrix phase?

3. Ewan. Fucking. McGregor.

Ewan’s portrayal of young Obi-Wan is so universally well-liked, that even the vilest prequel haters want to see him back. Also, his smile could melt the ears off a gundark.

4. Yoda’s badass fight scene.

Sure, compared to puppet-Yoda, CGI-Yoda is trash. However, it paved the way for one helluva fight scene between him and Saruman. […]”


Read the whole article at Buzzfeed. It was written by Jamie Jirak (@JamieCinematics).

Welcome to Batuu: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge planet revealed on Star Tours

From StarWars.com:

“There’s a new planet to visit in a galaxy far, far away: introducing Batuu.

As detailed on the Disney Parks Blog, Batuu — the location of the upcoming Star Wars-themed land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — was revealed this morning as a surprise addition on Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland park.

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Batuu is described as follows:

This remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but its prominence was bypassed by the rise of hyperspace travel. Now home to those who prefer to stay out of the mainstream, it has become a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. It’s also a convenient safe haven for those intent on avoiding the expanding reach of the First Order. While Batuu may be new to us, it is clearly already familiar to many characters from the Star Wars saga as a stepping off point for epic adventures.””

George Lucas had a conversation with Rian Johnson but wasn’t involved in The Last Jedi

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The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson talked about George Lucas during a press conference in France (at 8:44).

“I had a conversation with Lucas at the beginning of the process. It was just very general. He was very supportive. He wasn’t involved in the process of actually making the movie. I went to USC, the film school I went to, because I’ve read a book about George Lucas. I grew up with him as a hero in my mind.”

Rian Johnson confirms that the running time of The Last Jedi is 150 minutes

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During a press conference in France today, The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson confirmed that the running time of the movie is 150 minutes.

Translation:

“Rian Johnson confirms the running time of The Last Jedi: “Yes, it will be the longest Star Wars, it will be 2hrs 30mn credits included, we believed it was the right running time.””

Before The Last Jedi, Attack of the Clones was the longest Star Wars movie (142mn).