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Mar 192014

jj-abrams-star-wars-episode-viiby Karina Montgomery, contributing writer

New owner Walt Disney Company and doting parent Lucasfilm have announced that Star Wars: Episode VII will begin principal photography in May of this year. With a December 18, 2015 release date, director J.J. Abrams will have his hands full taking the reins of another beloved franchise

What do we know so far?

Not much, but that is to be expected.  We don’t know the real working title, nor do we know the plot.  Abrams is co-writing the script with Lawrence Kasdan (a veteran of the more favored Star Wars films and Raiders of the Lost Ark), and George Lucas is not involved with the script. Abrams’ lens-flare happy cinematographer Daniel Mindel is on board as well.

We do know that the film will be set about 30 years after Return of the Jedi. Disney’s Bob Iger has confirmed that R2D2 will reprise his role.  John Williams is credited as the composer, but whether he will be contributing new music or not is yet to be determined.  The team has been churning out concept art and no doubt ferrying around scripts under lock and key.

 Surely they’ve cast it at least, right?

Casting announcements include Adam Driver from Girls, Ed Speelers from Downton Abbey, John Boyega from Breaking Bad, Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights, and theatre actor Matthew James Thomas (Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark) and photographer Ray Fisher. There are rumors of the original cast (by which I mean the 1970s-1980s movies) being involved, but nothing is confirmed.

Keep your taun taun sleeping bag handy, kids – it’s going to be a long wait until we see the next installation of Star Wars.

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Mar 042014

Disney’s latest princess movie, Frozen, has caused quite a furor among hard-core Disney fans. Some are thrilled to see see Disney step away from the old-fashioned model of the princess being saved by a dashing prince. Others are upset to see that traditional setup replaced with a self-sufficient princess who can save herself. Whichever side you come down on, this video by AV_byte, a musical discussion among spoofed Disney princesses, is hilarious.


Jan 272014

Idina Menzel’s rendition of Let It Go is one of the more amazing songs in any Disney movie ever.  It’s only fitting, therefore, that it should be parodied, and Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir have done a masterful job on Make It So. There is only one Idina Menzel, of course, but she’d better keep checking her rear view mirror, because Deborah isn’t all that far behind her in terms of the quality of her voice.  She even carries the same warm gingersnap purr that Idina has in her lower registers.

Here’s the description of the project from Deb & Errol’s own web site:

“In November or December 2013, Errol saw Frozen in the theatres and thought that “Let It Go” was the most awesome and moving song he had ever heard. He didn’t tell Debs because she generally disagrees with everything he says. A few weeks later, Debs saw Frozen and instantly because freakishly obsessed. Over the next couple of days, she sang the thing over and over and over, all the while complaining to Errol that she could never parody this song because Idina Menzel was just…way…way too amazing for words.

“Unfortunately, this song is just begging to be parodied. Errol came up with “Make It So” and was originally going to sing it which made Debs a sad panda. Then he thought better of it and they decided to spin it so that a female character was singing about Jean Luc Picard. Friends of Debs’s suggested using Lilly Sloane in First Contact, so away they went! Debs recorded at home on the January 3rd. The YouTube video was finished on January 13th and edited by Debs’s friend Adam Richardson, with Debs there and learning about editing. He admitted that she had lots of good ideas! It took a looooong time though, consequently they both had to wait to watch season three of Sherlock which they were kind of sad about.”

You can hear this tune on Krypton Radio if you listen for it.  Well done, Deborah and Errol!


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Jan 042014

imagesby Michael Brown, staff writer

Disney/Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment officially announced in a press release Friday afternoon that Marvel will be given exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels in 2015 , taking it from its current home at Dark Horse Comics. The agreement, which many fans and critics saw coming since the Lucasfilm buyout in October 2012, will return Star Wars to the House of Ideas, where the comic version of the films was first launched. Star Wars #1 was first released from Marvel in March 1977 and the Bullpen would go on to publish the further adventures of the Heroes of Yavin for nine years.

In 1991, fledgling comics company Dark Horse Comics picked up the license and would go on to produce a cornucopia of fan-favorite, award-winning stories from a galaxy far, far away, such as Dark EmpireKnights of the Old Republic, based on the BioWare video game, and the immensely popular Star Wars: Legacy.  Last year, Dark Horse released their new Star Wars ongoing series, written by Brian Wood, set in the period after Episode IV and was instantly met with critical acclaim. More recently, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original, rough-draft screenplay The Star Wars was released, garnering rave reviews and attracting national media attention.

“Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.” 

1925308-2000px_marvellogo.svg“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel worldwide publisher and president, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”

“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.”


Mike Richardson, publisher and owner of Dark Horse Comics, also released this statement:

“All things come to pass. So too, do all license deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades … Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach … I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever… In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.”





Dec 072013

There is so much good stuff in this clip that it’s hard to know where to begin.  The expressiveness of Disney animation is world renowned, but nowhere is it more evident than in this sequence.  Every tiny nuance of emotion can be plainly read in Elsa’s face, in her stance, and in her movements.  Elsa as an animated character delivers the goods. Everything is exactly – exactly – perfect.  And Idina Menzel’s performance as Elsa’s voice is breathtaking, astonishing and thrilling all at once.  If this doesn’t make you want to go see Disney’s Frozen, then nothing will.

You may have heard Idina’s silver voice before.  She originated the role of Ephelba in 2004′s Wicked  (she won the Tony Award that year for that one), and she’s a singer and songwriter with more than half a dozen albums to her credit.

This latest release from Disney animation is a long way from Valiant, an awkward misstep in an otherwise fine tradition of wonderful animated motion pictures.  In fact, it just may be the most beautiful film Disney has ever made.  We have to say Tangled is still right up there, though.

Go see the film if you can.  And especially, see it in 3D. Unlike a lot of movies where the 3D is a spare tire afterthought, Frozen was designed for 3D and it shows in every single scene.

Enjoy this gorgeous musical sequence.

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Nov 072013

daredevil-614x400Burbank, Calif. – Nov 7, 2013—The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) today announced an unprecedented deal for Marvel TV to bring multiple original series of live-action adventures of four of Marvel’s most popular characters exclusively to the world’s leading Internet TV Network beginning in 2015. This pioneering agreement calls for Marvel to develop four serialized programs leading to a mini-series programming event.

Led by a series focused on “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.  Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s “The Defenders” mini-series event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.

Produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Television Studios, this groundbreaking deal is Marvel’s most ambitious foray yet into live-action TV storytelling.

“This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel’s brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty,” said Alan Fine, President of Marvel Entertainment. “This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what’s sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure.”

“Marvel’s movies, such as ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’ are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “With ‘House of Cards’ and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we’re thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude.”

This new original TV deal follows last year’s landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm.  Netflix members can currently enjoy a wide range of Disney, ABC TV and Disney Channel films and shows across the 41 countries where Netflix operates.

About The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $42.3 billion in its Fiscal Year 2012.

About Netflix

Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with over 40 million members in more than 40 countries enjoying more than one billion hours of TV shows and movies per month, including original series. For one low monthly price, Netflix members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any Internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

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