New Hollywood hope: 'Star Wars' from Disney merits top-tier director at helm
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Friday, November 02, 2012
11/02/12 at 4:08 AM
Now we know that at least three new "Star Wars" movies are coming in the future, which is why Disney has agreed to pay more than $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm. The first film - "Episode VII" - has been scheduled for 2015, which means choosing a filmmaker is a fast-track decision.
But who will helm what is now one of the most anticipated movies of the next few years? Who should it be? The one person we know it won't be: George Lucas.
The decision will surely come sooner rather than later, and a number of factors will be considered. The fact that previous Disney deals to purchase Pixar and Marvel have resulted in a stable of directors who have dealt with big-budget movies will likely play a role in choosing a filmmaker.
So will the fact that Kathleen Kennedy - the co-chairwoman of Lucasfilm and the longtime producer of most of Steven Spielberg's films - will be producing the upcoming "Star Wars" movies.
The options may include the following:
Disney respects the filmmaker who first put Marvel movies on the map with "Iron Man" in 2008 and followed up with "Iron Man 2," infusing his action movies with a solid dose of humor. He's been a fan of "Star Wars" since childhood, and Favreau even provided voice work on five episodes of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" TV series. His "Cowboys & Aliens" didn't work out as a franchise, and now he's attached to take "Jersey Boys" from Broadway to the big-screen, but that's only been in pre-production for a short time.
He worked with Marvel to direct "Captain America" to both box-office and critical success. He worked with Kennedy as director of "Jurassic Park III." Johnston, 61, would hardly be among the "next generation of filmmakers" that Lucas said he's handing the series off to, but he does have "Star Wars" experience: Johnston worked on art direction and visual effects on the original series of films. He designed the armor suit for bounty hunter Boba Fett, one of the series' most popular characters.
For those who feel the last three "Star Wars" movies left them cold emotionally, Bird is the man who made Pixar's heartfelt Oscar-winners "Up" and "The Incredibles." Then he moved to live-action films, and with "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," he breathed fresh life into a lifeless series. He has written and plans to direct a San Francisco earthquake movie "1906," but it's only in pre-production and has not yet been cast.
This is more of a fanboy choice, but it's worth noting that though "Star Wars" was the first science-fiction film involving aliens that was nominated for a best picture Oscar, the last nominee in 2009 (along with "Avatar") was 33-year-old Blomkamp's "District 9." That film's combination of a political storyline and excellence in special effects and alien creations created a box-office hit on a budget. Now his 2013 sci-fi film "Elysium" with Matt Damon and a $100 million budget - which is nearly complete - is generating substantial buzz.
Steven Spielberg/ Joss Whedon
Neither option is likely to happen, but then the chance to direct a "Star Wars" movie may be too good to pass up for the right person. Kennedy and Spielberg are a team, and Spielberg reportedly wanted to direct one of the early "Star Wars" films, but Lucas declined. Now he's deep in planning for his own mega-budget sci-fi film, "Robopocalypse." As for Whedon, Disney already has him under contract to direct the sequel to "The Avengers" and create other projects, but he certainly would thrill the "Star Wars" fan base if selected for "Episode VII" duty.
Original Print Headline: Hollywood hope
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Clockwise from top left, Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, Brad Bird, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau and Neill Blomkamp Associated Press file photos; Tulsa World illustration