2015: The Year Of Star Wars Continues
When we started the year, we forecasted the Star Wars goodness that was set forth in front of us at the time. With just under 125 days to go until The Force Awakens arrives in theaters and we all drop our jaws and stare on in awe. In the interim, let’s take a look at where we’ve come from so far this year, and what remains down the road.
The year arrived with the most anticipated teaser trailer in history just in our rearview mirror. Speculation abounded – who are these characters, what are their purposes, why does someone have a lightsaber with mini saber blades coming out of them? The trailer ended with a familiar site, the Millennium Falcon, once again soaring through the skies and bringing back a sense of familiarity. We were hooked…
Mid-January brought us the return of Star Wars to Marvel Comics, a move that made sense given the synergy with both brands now belonging to Disney. Set within time periods of the original Star Wars trilogy, these new comic stories were now to be considered canon (fact) and injected into historical lore. The main Star Wars comic sold well over one million copies and has gone on to be one of the most successful comics in many years. Marvel added additional titles to their Star Wars line in 2015 as well based on Princess Leia, Darth Vader and newer Star Wars Rebels standout, Kanan.
Star Wars Celebration returned to the states in April, with fans converging in Anaheim for the bi-annual event. The opening ceremonies of SWCA were first class, with The Force Awakens director, J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm President, Kathleen Kennedy, and the cast of the movie (minus Harrison Ford) watching the first full trailer of the upcoming film on the big screen. Needless to say, it left everyone breathless and wanting to watch it again (which we did…again and again over the weekend).
SWCA also provided an initial look into the props and wardrobes of the characters of The Force Awakens in an exhibit that some folks lined up for hours to see.
In addition to all of the new movie goodness, SWCA also provided a look into the upcoming season of Star Wars Rebels, the amazing first person console game from EA, Star Wars Battlefront, and a sneak peek at the next “solo” Star Wars movie in the pipeline, Rogue One (scheduled for a 2016 release).
We’ve uploaded a YouTube playlist with all of our content from SWCA for your viewing at home:
Following SWCA, the annual Star Wars Weekends made its annual return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This year’s event saw some changes (not for the best) with stage shows being moved to the outdoor area where Beauty and the Beast is normally run, and Darth’s Mall being split into 2 locations for limited and “regular” merchandise. SWW brought 2 long sought after stars in for their Stars of the Saga show this year in Frank Oz and Ian McDiarmid, with both being crowd pleasers with their candid question and answer sessions. Additionally, with the removal of the sorcerer’s hat at DHS, the fireworks and stage show looked amazing this year.
While Star Wars had a presence at SDCC this year, no major additional reveals were made. Instead, Disney waited until their bi-annual D23 event to really pull out all stops in their final push for Star Wars domination. With the cast of The Force Awakens on hand again (with Harrison Ford this time), the official Drew Struzan created movie poster was released. While no new footage was shown, the poster alone includes enough of a conversation piece to last for some time. Additionally, Harrison Ford seemed genuinely happy to be back within the Star Wars fold, after many years of seemingly wanting to distance himself from the franchise.
D23 also provided a peek into the next movie up for release in December 2016, Rogue One. We saw a full cast poster and new details that describe the movie as sort of a Star Wars based Black Hawk Down, with the story revolving around how the rebels stole the plans for the initial Death Star.
Disney also reiterated the timeline for future Star Wars movies, alternating each year between Episodes VII-IX and movies with the subtitle of A Star Wars Story (formerly known as Anthology). Additionally, to add to the previously announced director for Episode VIII, Rian Johnson, Episode IX will be directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World).
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of D23 was that Disney was hard at work to bring Star Wars Land to both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Land was announced to rousing cheers across the galaxy with details including the size (twice the geography of Universal’s Diagon Alley), rides (Millennium Falcon Secret Mission & New Era Battle), and that it will be completely immersive (no outside world artifacts to be seen). Also included is a personal dream come true in the form of a cantina, replete with aliens and blue milk.
The planet geography used for this expansion is yet unknown (from an upcoming movie) and timing was not made available. It is known that Disney would like to have something ready in time for the next bi-annual stateside Star Wars Celebration event, next scheduled for 2017. While it is most certain that even the most herculean effort wouldn’t meet such a rapid turnaround time, it will be interesting to see what is available for the yet unannounced event.
Also in the works at Disney parks is an update to the popular Star Tours ride, which will add voyages to new destinations featured in The Force Awakens. Timing for these updates is also not yet available, but I’m sure the push will be on to meet the demand for the end of year movie release date. Additionally, Disney plans to repurpose the Magic of Animation building at Hollywood Studios for use as Star Wars Launch Bay, an interactive experience with photo ops, prop exhibits, and a store (what else). It is believed that this will be open in time for the opening of The Force Awakens, most likely with a kick off event to be included as well. Finally, both coasts will get an annual event, Seasons of the Force, which appears to be a revamped version of the popular Star Wars Weekends. The Disneyland version of SOTF will include a reimagining of Space Mountain as Hyperspace Mountain and Hollywood Studios will receive a nightly fireworks spectacular on SOTF weekends.
Still on the horizon for the remainder of 2016 is “Force Friday”, the midnight release of all new Star Wars products at Toys “R” Us (and other stores) on September 4th. Collectors will surely be calling in sick the following morning after spending the night hunting down new plastic treasures.
EA is also scheduled to release their much anticipated Star Wars Battlefront on November 17th, and has continued to hype the masses with amazing game footage.
Lastly, the biggest anticipation of the year remains centered around December 18th, as the first step into the sequel story that we’ve waited years for is finally released and we all get an early holiday present.