Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rumor Overload

Is it just me, or does it seem like almost every website will publish just about anything nowadays to get page hits?  I mean, there have always been rumor sites for film, TV, technology, etc., that much has never changed, nor do I really want it to.  A good film rumor is the equivalent of walking into a grocery store and seeing the latest, preposterous headline on The National Enquirer.  It's fun and can sometimes make you chuckle, but it seems we've gotten to a point with film rumors and websites that even just a rumor becomes a big internet tidal wave that almost every single film website posts, as if it's breaking news.  What's inspired this post is the mass of rumors that have emerged over the past nine months or so surrounding the elusive Star Wars: Episode VII.

I see no reason to be ashamed in saying that I'll be one of the first people in line to see the new Star Wars.  I'm a fanboy, I love Star Wars and always will, and a new cinematic installment is a seemingly impossible dream come true.  What has frustrated me more so than the lack of news that has come from Disney and Lucasfilm since they announced Star Wars: Episode VII, is the amount of rumors that pop up on almost every website I go to that used to only ever post facts, not rumors.  The problem with this is that these websites with respectable pedigrees, or at least I thought, are posting these stories, sometimes not even saying their rumors, talking about these stories as if it's almost a done deal, and they either worry fans, or get our hopes up for something that doesn't happen.

Here's a perfect example.  Back around the end of July there were countless internet reports that director J.J. Abrams was close to dropping out of the film only a few months after officially signing onto the project.  While I do believe that there is almost always truth to just about any rumor in Hollywood, posting this and treating it as if it's the truth nearly gave thousands of fanboys heart attacks.  Soon after, Lucasfilm and Disney came out and officially said that this was completely false and that J.J. was excited about directing Episode VII, but the damage had already been done, creating hours of fret for nothing.  As I said earlier, is it possible that J.J. might have been mulling over the idea of departing the film?  Yeah, it's entirely possible, in fact I think it's only logical that in some way shape or form, J.J. had possibly mentioned to an anonymous person that he was still unsure about directing the film.  Of course, when this gets to the internet, it turns into, "J.J. Abrams is Quitting Episode VII!"  This is my problem with the rumor culture we're in right now, and it's not just Star Wars.

There are so many rumors flying around the films of Marvel Studios right now, most of which exaggerating a small nugget of truth or dreamy-eyed comment, transforming these little pieces into rumor.  Recently actress Katee Sackhoff said she had met with Marvel Studios about a job.  Immediately people were saying a Ms. Marvel movie was in production because she's blonde and could play the part.  People are so quick to jump the gun, because they want to be the first person with the scoop.  They all want to be like Latino Review breaking the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker before anyone else, so what do they do, they try to find any tiny little clue and try to solve the mystery before there is sufficient evidence.  Say an actor offhandedly mentions to an interviewer that they'd love to be in the new Star Wars movie and that they've talked to J.J. Abrams about how much they love Star Wars, I can guarantee you that the story would read, "So-and-So Is Cast in New Star Wars Movie."  So how do we remedy this?  By only posting the things that come straight from the mouths of Lucasfilm producer Kathleen Kennedy, execs at Disney, or J.J. Abrams himself.

Here's what we actually know about Star Wars: Episode VII, officially confirmed by the above mentioned people:

*  There will be a Star Wars: Episode VII and it will be released at some point in the year 2015.    

*  Episode VII is based off of story treatments for a new trilogy of Star Wars films taking place after Return of the Jedi.  These treatments were written by George Lucas and supplied to Disney when he sold Lucasfilm to them last year.  However, Lucas will only be a creative consultant this time out.   

*  Episode VII is being written by Toy Story 3 writer, Michael Arndt, with The Empire Strikes Back writer, Lawrence Kasdan, and X-Men: First Class writer, Simon Kinberg, working as consultants on the film.

*  The new head of Lucasfilm and famed Spielberg producer, Kathleen Kennedy, will be producing the film alongside Bad Robot's Bryan Burk.

*  The film is a joint production between Disney, Lucasfilm, and Bad Robot.

*  J.J. Abrams is directing.

*  Frequent Abrams' collaborators, costume designer Michael Kaplan, editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, and cinematographer Daniel Mindel, are all signed on to work on Episode VII (they all previously worked with Abrams on his Star Trek films and Mission: Impossible III).

*  Composer John Williams was confirmed by Kathleen Kennedy herself during the recent Star Wars Celebration Europe fan event.  For those who have lived their cinematic lives under a rock, Williams was the composer of every single live action Star Wars film that's ever been released, so this is exceptionally great news.

*  Cinematographer, Daniel Mindel recently confirmed that the film will be shot on actual 35mm film, rather than on digital cameras.  Seeing as how Abrams is a film-lover and has never used digital, I don't really see how that's a story, but there you are.

*  The films will be primarily shot at Pinewood Studios in London, England, similarly to how every other Star Wars film has ever been shot.

And that's it, as far as what's been officially confirmed by the head honchos.  While Kennedy herself mentioned that they're trying to do more practical effects work and on-location shooting than what was featured in the CGI-heavy prequels, that's no real confirmation on anything, and the story is definitely being kept tightly underwraps.  People are just assuming that the film will be based on the books and comic books that take place in the Star Wars timeline after Return of the Jedi.

For the record, there is no confirmation yet of the returns of Han, Luke, and Leia.  Am I pretty much certain that them and their children will be the focus of these new films?  Yeah, but until it's official it's all just rumor.  Once we know anything for sure, then I'll talk about whether or not I think the subject is a good or bad thing for the Star Wars franchise, but until then, don't freak when you hear Leonardo DiCaprio might play Luke's son, or that Zac Efron might be Han Solo's (these are real rumors folks).  At the end of the day, while these might be names that Disney would want to attach to Star Wars, as well as these actors and their agents, the real casting will come from Abrams and Kennedy, and I can guarantee you that we probably haven't even heard of the names yet that are actually in serious contention for the major roles.  That's just my opinion, seeing as how the Star Wars franchise has always had a pension for casting unknowns in the leads and well known character actors in the supporting roles.  So till then...

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