91st Academy Award Nominees

The 2018 #Oscar nominees have been announced and eight #SciFi & #Fantasy films have been nominated in multiple categories, including for “Best Picture”!

The eight sci-fi & fantasy films that have received at least one nomination are as follows:

  • #AvengersInfinityWar
  • #BlackPanther
  • #ChristopherRobin
  • #IsleOfDogs
  • #MaryPoppinsReturns
  • #ReadyPlayerOne
  • “#Solo: A #StarWars Story”
  • “#SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse”

Award Categories Breakdown

For Best Animated Film:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

For Costume Design:

  • Black Panther (Ruth Carter)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)

For Music (Original Score):

  • Black Panther (Ludwig Goransso)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

For Music (Original Song):

  • “All the Stars” from Black Panther
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

For Best Picture:

  • Black Panther

For Production Design:

  • Black Panther (Production Design: Hannah Beachler; Set Decoration: Jay Hart)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Production Design: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim)

For Sound Mixing:

  • Black Panther (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin)

For Visual Effects:

  • Avengers: Infinity War (Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick)
  • Christopher Robin (Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould)
  • Ready Player One (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy)

Total Number of Nominations for Each Film

Here’s how many nominations each sci-fi & fantasy film received:

  • Black Panther: 6
  • Mary Poppins Returns: 4
  • Avengers: Infinity War: 1
  • Christopher Robin: 1
  • Isle of Dogs: 1
  • Ready Player One: 1
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story: 1
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 1

References

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EA Cancels Another “Star Wars” Video Game

#ElectronicArts (#EA) has canceled development of an open-world #StarWars game, which they had originally announced when they had also announced the shutdown of #VisceralGames back in 2017. The video game that had been under development at Visceral, codenamed #Ragtag and under the helm of Amy Henning, was being partially developed at EA’s offices in Vancouver, Canada. After the closure of Visceral, EA Vancouver totally rebooted the Ragtag project and transformed it into the open-world Star Wars game that EA was more interested in. Some of the art assets developed for Ragtag were all that was kept of Ragtag for the open-world game. (EA Vancouver handles support for a variety of the publisher’s games, including FIFA and Battlefront.)

Unlike Ragtag, EA had not shown any of EA Vancouver’s open-world Star Wars game publicly. EA talked about it when they announced Visceral’s demise. “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” the company said at the time. “A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project.”

EA had codenamed the open-world Star Wars game as #Orca, which would have involved playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.

According to insiders, EA canceled Orca so that it could instead focus on a smaller-scale Star Wars project that they could release sooner, possibly late 2020, which coincides with possible new next-generation game consoles will be released.

Reaction to the game’s cancelation has been largely negative, including from “Rogue One” writer Gary Whitta, who said,

“It has been catastrophically mismanaged. If I were Disney, I’d be fucking furious. I saw a bunch of that game, and it looked terrific. It would have been Star Wars Uncharted.”

EA’s record with Star Wars video games is certainly mixed. While Battlefront was good, Battlefront II became highly controversial when news of EA’s micro-transactions built into the expensive game infuriated the gaming community. Only time will tell how the community reacts to the future games.

star-wars-open-world-concept-art

References

“Star Wars Resistance”: Is it Too Lighthearted, Comedic and Juvenile?

With “Star Wars Resistance” now on a holiday hiatus, let’s take a look at how well this new #StarWars animated series is doing as compared with its highly successful and well-loved predecessors: #TheCloneWars and #Rebels. For many, #Resistance is a departure from what many longtime franchise fans expected. For comparison, let’s recap its animated predecessors.

  • “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (which aired from 2008-2013 on the Cartoon Network, then had a shortened sixth season on Netflix) was created by George Lucas with supervising director Dave Filoni. The series focused on primarily upon Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka Tano, various clone troopers, other Jedi, Separatists, etc. during the Clone War between movies II and III. The series featured many battles and encounters between the Jedi and various Sith and other dark Force users.
  • “Star Wars Rebels” (which aired from 2014-2018 on the DisneyXD network) was co-created by Dave Filoni, who was also an executive producer until season 3 when he was promoted to a higher position within LucasFilm Animation. This series began 15 years after the end of the Clone War and start of the Galactic Empire and featured a brand new set of characters to the “Star Wars” franchise: Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus (a former Jedi), Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren (a Mandalorian), Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios and their older droid known as Chopper. The group begins to fight the Empire and helps to create the Rebel Alliance.

While the animation styles for “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” were different, both used high-quality animation. Both series also featured a lot of elements common to the “Star Wars” franchise: fighting with light sabers, space battles, fighting the Sith, the more scummy elements, etc. Thus, both series attracted both children and adults viewers alike.

Both “The Clone Wars and “Rebels” have high ratings from viewers:

  • “The Clone Wars”: 8.1 out of 10 (over 38,000 votes) on IMDb; 94% Tomatometer with 89% audience score on RottenTomatoes.
  • “Rebels”: 8.0 out of 10 (over 21,000 votes) on IMDb; 100% TomatoMeter with 83% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

Now let’s look at “Star Wars Resistance” and what makes it so different:

  • “Star Wars Resistance” (which began airing in 2018 on the DisneyXD network) was created solely by Dave Filoni. The series takes place decades after the events of “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi” and 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” occur. Thus, there is no current war. Part of the galaxy is governed by the New Republic, and part of it under the control of the First Order. Cameron Poe (who is not a regular character) assigns a young pilot named Kazuda Xiono to spy on possible First Order sympathizers. on the independent refueling station named Colossus on the outer rim planet of Castilon. Kazuda is young (maybe early 20’s), but acts more like a teenager. He spends much of his time with mechanics & pilots working on their own ships.

Given that this animated series is supposed to occur only 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII”, its overall lightheartedness and tendency towards comic relief is inconsistent with the seriousness and grave threat that is present at the beginning of “Star Wars VII”. This lightheartedness & overuse of comic relief has given the impression that the series is geared towards a very young audience. It’s use of Japanese-style animation supports this impression. Additionally, the apparent lack of adults discussing this series on social media (unlike when its predecessors were airing) also suggests that the series has low appeal to adults who are long-time fans of the franchise.

Taking a look at the show’s ratings may give more clues:

  • “Resistance”: 4.7 out of 10 (over 1400 votes) on IMDb; 92% TomatoMeter and 77% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

While the scores on RottenTomatoes are not significantly lower for “Resistance” as compared with “The Clones Wars” and “Rebels”, its IMDb rating is and the total number of voters is also significantly low. This low number of voters on IMDb implies fewer adults watching the series than its predecessors.

This reduced viewership by adults can be demonstrated by the average number of viewers watching the first season episodes of “Resistance”: approximately 400,000 viewers per episode. By comparison, “Rebels” had an average number of 825,000 viewers per episode for its first season, and “The Clone Wars” had an average number of 2.75 million viewers per episode for its first season. Thus, the first season of “Resistance” has 48.5% of the viewers that “Rebels” had and only 14.5% of the viewers that “The Clone Wars” had.

Thus, it does seem that the more lighthearted, comedic and juvenile approach that has been applied to “Star Wars Resistance” as compared with its predecessors has not benefitted the series. Had the series applied the same seriousness as its predecessors, it would probably have more viewers and a higher rating on IMDb. Only time will tell how long this series will last.

Star Wars Rebels

References

Theme & Score for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Disqualified from Oscar Consideration

Though “#Solo: A #StarWars Story” did not do well at the box office earlier this year, many fans had hoped that it could get some recognition from the #AcademyAwards. Unfortunately, that is not going to be case.

The Academy’s deadline for submissions to be considered for Best Original Song and Best Original Score was November 15, 2018; and there was no submission for “Solo” for either of these categories was received before the deadline.

Variety described the disqualification as follows:

Solo: A Star Wars Story,” composed by John Powell with themes by John Williams, was nixed by the board as having been entered too late for the competition (deadline was Nov. 15).

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Up For Auction: Lightsaber Used by Mark Hamill in Original “Star Wars” Movie

If you’ve got a few hundred thousand dollars you don’t know what to do with, the lightsaber prop used by Mark Hamill in the original 1977 #StarWars movie is being auctioned.

The prop that taught millions of kids to make “zjoom zjoom” noises is being sold for an estimated value of $150,000 – $200,000 by Hollywood auction house “Profiles in History” as part of a “Blockbuster Hollywood Treasures” auction that includes not only items from the “Star Wars” franchise, but other classic films as well.

Other items up for auction include the following:

  • C-3PO’s hands from “Return of the Jedi,” at an estimated value of $40,000 – $60,000.
  • Imperial Scout Trooper helmet from “Jedi,” estimated at between $100,000 – $150,000.
  • An original “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Stormtrooper helmet signed by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Hamill, Daisy Ridley and other cast, available for an estimated $80,000 – $120,000.
  • The green tunic worn by William Shatner’s Captain Kirk in the show’s third season of the original “Star Trek” TV series, estimated to sell for $60,000 – $80,000
  • The leather Jacket, pants and custom Reebok high-top sneakers, plus the Pulse Rifle and Flamethrower props worn by Sigourney Weaver in James Cameron’s “Aliens,” at an estimated sale price of $300,000 – $500,000.
  • Other props being auctioned are from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Terminator 3,” and the “James Bond” film “You Only Live Twice,” among many others.

The auction is being held from Dec. 11-13, 2018 in Los Angeles.

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40th Anniversary of the Infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special”

Way back in 1978, the only “Star Wars” movie that anyone had ever seen was “Star Wars IV: A New Hope”, which had been released in 1977. But the public hungered for more and, at the time, the release of the next movie installment (“Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back”) was still 2 years away.

According to an article that was published in the Sept.-Oct. 1980 issue #42 of the magazine “Mediascene Preview”, George Lucas and Charles Lippencott (the then head of marketing at the now defunct “Star Wars Corporation”) were approached by CBS Television about doing a “Star Wars” TV special (though there is some dispute about this).

Nonetheless, George Lucas had imagined an un-subtitled “film just about Wookiees, nothing else,” around a family of Wookiees and their celebration of Life Day, when he was outlining “Star Wars”. This concept became the basis for the “Holiday Special” and the man hired to write the special was writer Bruce Vilanch, whose prior experience was predominantly with writing variety TV shows, including the “Donny and Marie” show, “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour”, “The Barry Manilow Special”, “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” and “The Bette Midler Show” (a TV special).

Photo Nov 17, 12 53 56 PM

Sept-Oct 1980 Issue #42 of “Mediascene Prevue”

This above list is rather important in connecting some dots:

  • Among the episodes of “Donny and Marie” that Bruce Vilanch wrote for was the first episode of season 3, which aired on Sept. 23, 1977.
  • Ep. 1 of season 3 of “Donny and Marie” was the episode that was essentially a series of “Star Wars” variety show musical skits strung together as a single story.
  • The episode featured Kris Kristofferson (as Han Solo), Redd Foxx, Paul Lynde (as an Imperial Officer), Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO) and Peter Mayhew (as Chewbacca) as the guests. Thurl Ravenscroft voiced Darth Vader in the skits and acted as the narrator.

Bruce Vilanch wasn’t the only writer brought in for the “Star Wars Holiday Special”. Four other writers were also involved:

What about actors who appeared in the “Holiday Special”? First, all of them had extensive experience acting on various shows that appeared on CBS Television.

  • Harvey Korman was a regular on the “The Carol Burnett Show”. Thus, he had worked with both Pat Proft and Mitzie Welch.
  • Art Carney had previously appeared twice on “The Carol Burnett Show”.
  • Diahann Carroll had also previously appeared twice on “The Carol Burnett Show”. She had worked with Miztie Welch on the second appearance.
  • Bea Arthur‘s long-running sitcom “Maude” had ended earlier that year in 1978. She had also had a lot of previous experience on other variety comedy TV shows.

Now, for anyone who hasn’t seen the “Star Wars Holiday Special”, it can best be described as the un-subtitled Wookie story as originally envisioned by George Lucas combined with various variety-show-esque musical skits.

The “Star Wars Holiday Special” was ever only aired once on Nov. 17, 1978 and the reviews and fan response were very bad. In fact, it’s current rating on IMDb is 2.3 out of 10 stars. Consequently, it was never been released on disk and George Lucas (who isn’t in the credits) prefers to not discuss it. Copies only exist in bootleg form.

As poorly received as it was (and most people who watch it don’t like it), a few things that were introduced in the “Holiday Special” have become part of “Star Wars” canon:

  • Boba Fett (though he was only shown in animated form), who appeared in the next 2 movies (“Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi”).
  • The Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk and its architecture. (This wouldn’t be seen again until “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith”).

Thus, even though the “Holiday Special” is mostly despised, parts of it live on in the “Star War” canon.

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Disney Announces Another New Live-Action “Star Wars” Series

Earlier today, #Disney Chairman & CEO Bob Iger announced that #LucasFilm will begin development of a 2nd live-action series for its direct-to-customer streaming service. The series will be based on the #RogueOne rebel Cassian Andor before the events of that movie, and actor Diego Luna will be reprising the roll.

“Going back to the Star Wars universe is very special for me,” said Diego Luna. “I have so many memories of the great work we did together and the relationships I made throughout the journey. We have a fantastic adventure ahead of us, and this new exciting format will give us the chance to explore this character more deeply.”

diego-luna-cassian-andor-tall-a

The announcement was also released on #YouTube:

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