J.J. Abrams Confirms “Star Wars IX” Is “Still Being Worked On”

With less than one month before “#StarWars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker” is supposed to open in theaters, director J.J. Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that the film is “still being worked on”:

“We always knew we were going to have three fewer months to postproduction this film,” says Abrams. “So much is still being worked on. It’s literally a practical race to get it finished.”

J.J. Abrams then claims that he’s feeling better about “The Rise of Skywalker” than his work on “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens”, saying,

“We had more reshoots on Episode VII than this one,” Abrams says. “We had more story adjustments on VII than this one. We didn’t know if these characters would work, if the actors would be able to carry a Star Wars movie. There were a lot of things we didn’t know. On this, we knew who and what worked, and everyone is doing the best work I’ve ever seen anyone do. But the ambition of this movie is far greater than Force Awakens. What we set out to do was far more challenging. Everything is exponentially larger on this.”

Rumors about “The Rise of Skywalker” indicate there are multiple cuts of the film with radical changes to the story in each of the different cuts. In fact, one of the cuts reportedly brought in George Lucas to introduce a new “secret Skywalker.” One rumor from the middle of October detailed that Lucasfilm and Disney had to rework almost the entire film. Abrams’ quotes will more than likely not settle any fears fans might have that the film is a complete mess. In fact, he appears to be confirming those fears noting they are crunching to get the film finished.

Rey in Ep. IX

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RIP Michael J. Pollard

#RIP: actor Michael J. Pollard has died at the age of 80. He played Jahn in “#StarTrek: #TOS”, the boy in #LostInSpace, Herman in #Scrooged, Aeolus in #TheOdyssey (1997 miniseries), & much more, including Bug Bailey in #DickTracy. His breakout role was playing C.W. Moss, the accomplice-turned-snitch, in the 1967 film #BonnieAndClyde that starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. He also played Stucky in the 2003 horror film #HouseOf1000Corpses.

Our condolences to his family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.

Michael J. Pollard

Michael J. Pollard (1939-2019)

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Premier of Disney+ & “The Mandalorian” Not Correlating to Increased Interest in “Star Wars”

With the Disney+ streaming service in operation as of Nov. 12, 2019, the amount of interest for “Disney” on Google spiked considerably, showing that there is broad interest in the new service. However, even with the premiere of the much touted #StarWars Internet show #TheMandalorian on the new service, the show’s premier and the launch of the service itself has not correlated to an increase in overall interest for “Star Wars” raising the possibility again that “Star Wars” is in trouble, as we previously posted. While “Star Wars” fans are giving “The Mandalorian” overall positive reviews, the public at large doesn’t seem to be interested.

In the weeks leading up to the releases of “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens” in 2015, “#RogueOne: A Star Wars Story” in 2016 and “Star Wars VIII: #TheLastJedi” in 2017, interest in “Star Wars” would always begin to increase about 4-6 weeks before the actual movie release date. Now, with the release of the ninth movie (“Star Wars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker”) just over 5 weeks away, no similar increase in overall interest for “Star Wars” is occurring according to “Google Trends”. (There was also a very small increase in interest for “#Solo: A Star Wars Story” in May, 2018, but it was very small as compared to the peaks that occurred for the previous movies.)

Google Trends for "Star Wars"

Google Trends for “Star Wars” over Past 5 Years as of Nov. 14, 2019

Now, if we include the search trends for “Disney” with “Star Wars”, you can see that historically, when interest in “Star Wars” was peaking, there were similar small increases in interest for “Disney”. However, with interest now spiking rapidly for “Disney” due to the premiere of the Disney+ streaming service on Nov. 12, 2019, there is no corresponding increase in interest for “Star Wars” even though “The Mandalorian” is getting a lot of attention on social media.

Google Trends of "Star Wars" and "Disney"

Google Trends of “Star Wars” and “Disney” for the Past 5 Years as of Nov. 14, 2019

What these trends also show is that on average, interest in Disney averages much higher than for “Star Wars” overall; but while an increase in interest for “Star Wars” appears to correlate with a small increase in interest for Disney, that correlation is not two-way. Disney may own “Star Wars”, but that ownership alone has not lead to an overall increase in interest in the brand, except during movie releases and only until shortly after the release of “The Last Jedi”. This suggests that “The Last Jedi” may have damaged overall interest in the “Star Wars” brand, which is not what Rian Johnson probably intended when, in “The Last Jedi”, he wanted to “destroy the past”.

Additional evidence that the “Star Wars” franchise may be in trouble due to lost interest is demonstrated by recently taken video showing hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes containing unsold “Star Wars” toys being put into an industrial shredder to be trashed, as shown at the end of the following video.

 

Only time will tell when interest for “The Rise of Skywalker” begins to reveal itself.

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Box Office Flop “Terminator: Dark Fate” Might Lose Over $100 Million

Things are not looking good for the #Terminator franchise as its latest film, “Terminator: #DarkFate”, opened this past weekend to a measly North American box office take of $29-million and only $94.6-million overseas, for a worldwide total of just over $123-million. With a massive $185-million budget, combined with another $80 to $100-million in global marketing and distribution fees, experts are predicting that the film could lose as much as $100-million.

Since Paramount, Skydance and Disney (through 20th Century Fox) co-financed the movie, any potential damages will be broken up among the Hollywood companies, which each put up 30% of the budget. China’s Tencent contributed the remaining 10%. Box office experts say the film needs to earn around $450-million to break even, but predict that “Terminator: Dark Fate” will end its box office run with an uninspiring $180- to $200-million globally.

Paramount and Skydance (the companies responsible for releasing “Dark Fate” domestically) hoped that it would kick off with over $40-million in North America, but after it fell short of expectations, insiders at rival studios suggest it’s unlikely “Dark Fate” will hit triple digits in the U.S. It might not even pass $70-million domestically over the course of its entire theatrical run, which is rather sad.

The film’s predecessors, 2009’s “Terminator Salvation” and 2015’s “Terminator Genisys”, were both panned by critics and failed to recoup their pricey budgets. So, in spite of the return of James Cameron as producer and original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, “Terminator: Dark Fate” failed to reignite moviegoers’ interest.

Media analyst Eric Handler with MKM Partners said,

“This is an aging franchise with aging actors, and the reviews were mediocre. As good of a franchise as this might have been, it doesn’t have the same appeal now.”

“It is time to let this franchise finally go to the great beyond.”

Adds Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations said,

“This is definitely the end of the line for the Terminator franchise in its current iteration. That said, IPs are harder to kill off than Jason Vorhees these days. So, expect a new series in five years on CBS All Access. Probably animated this time.”

The fan reaction thus far isn’t great either with the film only earning a 6.6 score on IMDb and a Metacritic score of only 54%.

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