Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Young Jedi Episode 5.06 "The Gathering" Preview Clip #1


First preview clip for TCW Episode 5.06 "The Gathering" released.

Ahsoka doing some Jedi babysitting. The Wookiee Jedi is so cute.



SOURCE: Youtube

Disney Investor Conference Call Announcing Purchase of Lucasfilm via Jedi Mouseketeer


The terrific geek site Jedi Mouseketeer posted a copy of Disney's Investor Conference call discussing the purchase of Lucasfilm, it's divisions and it's crown jewel franchise Star Wars.

The conference call included Disney President Bob Iger and CFO Jay Rasulo.



The prepared text of Mr. Iger and Mr. Rasulo was included in the press release announcing the sale, which can be found HERE.

SOURCE: Jedi Mouseketeer

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Future of the Star Wars Franchise After it's Sale to Disney


Image Source
Now that Star Wars fans both the hardcore and the casual of exhausted themselves in celebration, like a 10-year old on a Halloween candy binge or an Ewok hopped up on Stormtrooper blood, it is time to take a step back and look at how Lucasfilm's sale to Disney could shape the future direction of the franchise.

Films:
"The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there's substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we're planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We're very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films and that Kathleen Kennedy, the current Co-Chair of Lucasfilm, will executive produce. George handpicked Kathy earlier this year to lead Lucasfilm into the future. She'll join Disney as President of Lucasfilm, reporting into Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and integrating and building the Star Wars franchise across our company." ~Disney CEO and Chairman Robert Iger
Oh boy, oh boy. I guess we know what Ms. Kennedy meant when she talked about focusing on Lucasfilm as a film company.  Not only are we getting a new Sequel Trilogy (Episodes VII, VIII, & IX) but there is also the promise of future potential Star Wars films.  That sound you hear is Director Joe Johnston calling his agent to try to get a Boba Fett film green lighted.

Much like it's use of the Marvel franchise, Disney could branch out and focus on films set around other characters than the "big three." We could also see them delve into the Expanded Universe either forward or backward in the timeline.

With Lucasfilm Animation and Pixar both in the Disney corporate family, it would not be surprising that at some point we see Star Wars animated films.  This may be a better option if they want to tell stories either original or from the early SWEU set after Return of the Jedi.

There are two ways they can really go with the new Sequel Trilogy.  Either they recast the roles (ugh!) and set it at some point not to far after Return of the Jedi or they move it far enough forward on the timeline that the old actors can return to their roles even if they are not the "stars" of the trilogy.

Lucas revealed in his comments about the sale that he has written story treatments for Episodes VII, VIII and IX and that he will be serving as a creative consultant, but not directing or writing the films.  So it seems likely that while there will be writers hired that they will at least initially be working off of Lucas' ideas.

In the end I am very excited to be able to experience new Star Was adventures on the format that they are  meant to be told, the big screen.

Television:

This is where things get interesting.  We have one television property currently airing in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, one property pretty far along in development in Star Wars: Detours, and one project in mothballs in the Live Action Series.  We also have a back catalog of Droid and Ewok cartoons and the well hidden Star Wars: Holiday Special. I have the feeling Lucas included a clause in the contract forcing Mickey to hunt down and destroy any copy of the Holiday Special in existence.

Disney owns a number of TV channels including the ABC Networks, Live Well Network, A+E, Lifetime, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and ESPN.

In all seriousness, with The Clone Wars (TCW) we have a series that is currently airing on Cartoon Network and in syndication.  TCW was renewed for Season Five on Cartoon Network, but it may be headed to a Disney owned channel like Disney XD in Season Six.  It is hard to imagine TCW lasting past Season Seven at the latest, but you never know.

The new corporate parent may also find a home for the new animated spoof/comedy series Star Wars: Detours by Seth Green and Matt Senreich. In fact IGN was on the Disney-Lucasfilm conference call and quotes Bob Iger as saying, "We intend to do more and create a strong Marvel block,” before adding, “We really like Star Wars‘ potential on TV as well and we think Disney XD will be a strong home for that."

The Live Action Series was something that Lucas and Producer Rick McCallum have developed a season's worth of scripts for but have been unable to get off of the ground because of production costs.  It will be interesting to see if Disney goes forward with this series in some form or not.  The resources are their to make it, but conversely the potential desire to do it because of high production costs may not be there now.

In the future I think we see more dramatic Star Wars animated series in the mold of TCW.  I think that this style of story telling could work in other time periods and the animated format gives the creators of such stories more flexibility than film or live action television.  An animated X-Wing series perhaps.


Home Video: 

The dreaded Disney Vault. This is the biggest concern for me as a fan who wants others to also embrace the franchise that I love. I hate the fact that Disney artificially restricts the market for its films. This allows them to charge a higher than normal price for their films and creates an expensive secondary collecting market for their home video releases.  I and other fans will be fine if we have multiple editions on multiple formats, but for the virgin Star Wars fans I hope Disney-Lucasfilm keeps some version of the films on sale at all times. I would note that it is common industry wide for home video releases to go "out of print" either due to lack of interest or for popular films in anticipation of a pending re-release.

Books:

Del Rey is the current licensee for the main line of Star Wars published novels and related books.  While there are other publishers for some specialized books, for young readers and various types of children's books, the main focus of my thoughts here will be on the story telling books intended for the adult audience.

I don't believe we know the firm end date of the current publishing contract between Lucasfilm and Del Rey, most likely it is sometime between late 2014 and 2015 as we have books scheduled into 2014 already announced.  So in the immediate future there isn't going to be any changes.

Long term is another matter, but as Dunc discusses at Club Jade, Del Rey is a big player in adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy publishing and I am not aware of any major threat to poach the line within Disney's corporate umbrella. Disney owns Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) and their focus is on books geared more towards children.


Comics:

"Dark Horse and Lucasfilm have a strong partnership which spans over 20 years, and has produced multiple characters and story lines which are now part of the Star Wars lore. Star Wars will be with us for the near future. Obviously, this deal changes the landscape, so we'll all have to see what it means for the future." ~Dark Horse President Mike Richardson

I am not a huge comic reader, but overall I am impressed with the product that Dark Horse puts out.  They also have a long and rich history with Lucasfilm and in recent years have tied their licensed work in closely with the book publisher Del Rey.  This working relationship no doubt is a good thing and short term at least it seems like things are not going to change, however long term it looks like Dark Horse will be one of the biggest losers from Lucasfilm's sale.

Marvel is also owned by Disney and it makes to much sense for Disney to leverage it's newly acquired property Star Wars to help drive profits for Marvel as well.  It is only a matter of when and not if Marvel will get the Star Wars license.

Theme Parks:

The popularity of the renovated Star Wars: Star Tours II no doubt was noticed by Disney.  It seems beyond doubt that their will be an expanded Star Wars footprint at the various Disney parks and resorts.  This is a good thing for Star Wars fans. The fact is that it was never going to be economically feasible for Lucasfilm to construct a Star Wars theme park on it's own dime.  That leaves aside the issue of whether or not Lucas would have been inclined to green light such a massive investment in the first place.  Disney already has the facilities and experience delivering a theme park experience.  This part of the sale seems to be a tremendous fit.  It also means that we are likely to see Disney's Star Wars Weekends continue in perpetuity.  Perhaps we will even see more Star Wars events at Disney Land in California, which would probably be enough to convince me to buy a pass.

Merchandise:
Image Source: Rebelscum


"However, we believe there is great opportunity to further expand the consumer products business. Today, Star Wars is heavily skewed toward toys and North America. We see great opportunity domestically to extend the breadth and depth of the Star Wars franchise into other categories. We also plan to leverage Disney's global consumer products organization to grow the Star Wars consumer products business internationally.
Let me note that in 2012 Lucasfilm's consumer products business is expected to generate total licensing revenue that is comparable to the roughly $215 million in consumer products revenue Marvel generated in 2009, the year in which we announced our acquisition. With renewed film releases, and the support we can give the Star Wars property on our Disney-branded TV channels, we expect that business to grow substantially and profitably for many years to come." ~ Jay Rasulo, Sr. Executive VP and CFO of Disney 

This news will make completest collectors and Steve Sansweet smile and cry as they will be getting more Star Wars merchandise both domestically and internationally.  It may mean Steve needs to put another addition on Rancho Obi-Wan though.

Video Games:


 "We're likely to focus more on social and mobile than we are on console..."We'll look opportunistically at console, most likely in licensing rather than publishing, but we think that given the nature of these characters and how well known they are, and the storytelling, that they lend themselves quite nicely, as they've already demonstrated to the other platforms." ~Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger

I am a big fan of Star Wars console games and occasional player of PC games such as Knights of the Old Republic, but I am far from a serious gamer these days.  There has been a great deal of turnover at LucasArts in recent years. We have a less than stellar performance of the Star Wars MMORPG, The Old Republic recently.  Coming soon we have Angry Birds Star Wars and in development we have the awesome looking Star Wars: 1313. There are a number of other video game products in development by LucasArts. At this point I have no idea how the sale of Lucasfilm will effect gamers.


Concluding Thoughts:

In the end we knew that the Star Wars franchise would have to deal with the departure of George Lucas as it's guiding force at some point.  I like to think it is a good thing that Lucas is handing over control of his company and taking a consulting role at a time of his choosing.  It would be sad to lose Mr. Lucas without having a succession plan and vision for the future of the franchise in place.  This is what you call responsible corporate governance and taking care of a franchise for fans who have provided so well for Mr. Lucas and his family financially.

The reason that I love Star Wars is the story telling.  The sale to Disney excites me because it ensures that we will be getting a steady stream of new Star Wars stories.  It is natural that some trepidation exists with the change.  I would like if I didn't worry about seeing Star Wars turned into a direct to video cash cow like Disney did putting out sequels to many of it's successful animated features.  I just hope that Kathleen Kennedy and the institutional memory in place at Lucasfilm retains the high bar of quality that George Lucas has established in his story telling vehicles.

If you are a serious Expanded Universe fan like myself, I can see a few major concerns with this sale. Do they reboot the EU? Do they cannibalize the EU for story material for films and TV instead of creating new stories? What becomes of continuity?

It is too early to know for sure, but I think it is likely that we will see a clear delineation in continuity.  The film and television properties will exist as the primary canon.  This would merge G-level canon with Mickey canon.  They could also create new published stories in novel and comic form that fit in with this canon.  They could also maintain the published continuity separately.  The complicated part would be if they would publish stories in the two separate continuities at the same time.

I am sure we will get further clarification on continuity and canon as the new Disney-Lucasfilm plans it's future. In the end to those readers who obsess over continuity, it is time to take a deep breath and enjoy the stories you enjoy. Focus on enjoying the moment, life is to short to be that "obnoxious continuity guy".

Finally, I'll leave you with this Anakin Skywalker montage produced by Lucasfilm for their Star Wars Youtube Channel.






New Star Wars Trilogy: Episodes VII, VIII, IX Announced!

From Pablo Hidalgo's Notebook: October 30th for the rest of us.

In conjunction with the announcement today that Lucasfilm has been purchased by Disney, it was also announced that under that under the guidance of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Disney-Lucasfilm will produce at least three new Star Wars films starting with Episode VII in 2015.

Kennedy will serve as Executive Producer on the new Star Wars films and George Lucas will be a creative consultant for the film.

Lucas also revealed that he had given Kennedy and Disney story treatments for Episodes VII, VIII and IX, but that he would not be writing or directing the films themselves. How true Disney-Lucasfilm stays to Lucas' story outlines will remain to be seen.



Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger on the future of Star Wars films:

"The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there's substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we're planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We're very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films and that Kathleen Kennedy, the current Co-Chair of Lucasfilm, will executive produce. George handpicked Kathy earlier this year to lead Lucasfilm into the future. She'll join Disney as President of Lucasfilm, reporting into Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and integrating and building the Star Wars franchise across our company."

Also worth reading are some StarWars.com blog posts about the future of the film franchise:


  1. J.W. Rinzler's "The Long, Winding, and Shapeshifting Trail to Episodes VII, VIII & IX"
  2. Steve Sansweet's "Lucasfilm + Disney = More Star Wars and Great Times for Fans"
  3. Pablo Hidalgo's "On the Brink of the Future"
  4. Lucasfilm's Announcement on Starwars.com
Look for my full thoughts on Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm and the fact we are getting new Star Wars movies just as soon as I can gather the pieces of my brain that are strewn about. 


SOURCES: StarWars.com, Youtube, and The Walt Disney Company



Disney Purchases Lucasfilm: Disney's Press Release

Image Source: Walt Disney


October 30, 2012
DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD.

An investor conference call will take place at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 p.m. PDT today, October 30, 2012. Details for the call are listed in the release.

Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.

Acquisition continues Disney's strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world's best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.

Lucasfilm to join company's global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and "evergreen" Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney's global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm's legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world's top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney's strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney's very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company's unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney's portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company's ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world's highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

Note: Additional information and comments from Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, and Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, regarding Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, are attached.

Investor Conference Call:

An investor conference call will take place at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 p.m. PDT today, October 30, 2012. To listen to the Webcast, turn your browser to /investors/events or dial in domestically at (888) 771-4371 or internationally at (847) 585-4405. For both dial-in numbers, the participant pass code is 33674546.

The discussion will be available via replay on the Disney Investor Relations website through November 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST/2:00 PM PST.

About The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media, and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with revenues of over $40 billion in its Fiscal Year 2011.

About Lucasfilm Ltd.

Founded by George Lucas in 1971, Lucasfilm is a privately held, fully-integrated entertainment company. In addition to its motion-picture and television production operations, the company's global activities include Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, serving the digital needs of the entertainment industry for visual-effects and audio post-production; LucasArts, a leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software worldwide; Lucas Licensing, which manages the global merchandising activities for Lucasfilm's entertainment properties; Lucasfilm Animation; and Lucas Online creates Internet-based content for Lucasfilm's entertainment properties and businesses. Additionally, Lucasfilm Singapore, produces digital animated content for film and television, as well as visual effects for feature films and multi-platform games. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

# # #

Contact:

Zenia Mucha
The Walt Disney Company
818-560-5300

Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain statements in this communication and the attachments may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements relate to a variety of matters, including but not limited to: the operations of the businesses of Disney and Lucasfilm separately and as a combined entity; the timing and consummation of the proposed merger transaction; the expected benefits of the integration of the two companies; the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical fact. These statements are made on the basis of the current beliefs, expectations and assumptions of the management of Disney and Lucasfilm regarding future events and are subject to significant risks and uncertainty. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Neither Disney nor Lucasfilm undertakes any obligation to update or revise these statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Such differences may result from a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

legal or regulatory proceedings or other matters that affect the timing or ability to complete the transactions as contemplated;
the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully;
the possibility of disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships;
the possibility that the merger does not close, including but not limited to, due to the failure to satisfy the closing conditions;
any actions taken by either of the companies, including but not limited to, restructuring or strategic initiatives (including capital investments or asset acquisitions or dispositions);
developments beyond the companies' control, including but not limited to: changes in domestic or global economic conditions, competitive conditions and consumer preferences; adverse weather conditions or natural disasters; health concerns; international, political or military developments; and technological developments.
Additional factors that may cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements are set forth in the Annual Report on Form 10-K of Disney for the year ended October 1, 2011, under the heading "Item 1A—Risk Factors," and in subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K and other filings made with the SEC by Disney.



ROBERT A. IGER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY REMARKS FOR ANALYSTS REGARDING DISNEY'S ACQUISITION OF LUCASFILM LTD., AS PREPARED

As we just announced, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and its world class portfolio of creative content – including the legendary Star Wars franchise – along with all of its operating businesses, including Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.

George Lucas is a visionary, an innovator and an epic storyteller – and he's built a company at the intersection of entertainment and technology to bring some of the world's most unforgettable characters and stories to screens across the galaxy. He's entertained, inspired, and defined filmmaking for almost four decades and we're incredibly honored that he has entrusted the future of that legacy to Disney.

Disney has had a great relationship with George that goes back a long way – with Star Wars theme attractions in our parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo. This acquisition builds on that foundation and combines two of the strongest family entertainment brands in the world. It makes sense, not just because of our brand compatibility and previous success together, but because Disney respects and understands – better than just about anyone else – the importance of iconic characters and what it takes to protect and leverage them effectively to drive growth and create value.

Lucasfilm fits perfectly with Disney's strategic priorities. It is a sustainable source of branded, high quality creative content with tremendous global appeal that will benefit all of Disney's business units and is incredibly well suited for new business models, including digital platforms. Adding the Lucasfilm IP to our existing Disney, Pixar and Marvel IP clearly enhances our ability to serve consumers, strengthening our competitive position -- and we are confident we can earn a return on invested capital well in excess of our cost of capital.

Star Wars in particular is a strong global brand, and one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with hundreds of millions of fans around the globe. Its universe of more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years offers infinite inspiration and opportunities – and we're already moving forward with plans to continue the epic Star Wars saga.

The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there's substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we're planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We're very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films and that Kathleen Kennedy, the current Co-Chair of Lucasfilm, will executive produce. George handpicked Kathy earlier this year to lead Lucasfilm into the future. She'll join Disney as President of Lucasfilm, reporting into Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and integrating and building the Star Wars franchise across our company.

Our successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel prove Disney's unique ability to grow brands and expand high-quality creative content to its fullest franchise potential and maximum value.

We've leveraged Pixar's terrific characters and stories into franchises across our company – from feature films to consumer products online games, major attractions in our theme parks, and more.

The 2006 Pixar acquisition delivered more than great Pixar content -- it also delivered the means to energize and revitalize the creative engine at Walt Disney Animation – which was crucial to our long term success. Animation is the heart and soul of Disney and our successful creative resurgence will be on full display this weekend when Wreck-It-Ralph opens in theaters across the country.

Our acquisition of Marvel three years later combined Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and an integrated business structure that maximizes the value of creative content across multiple platforms and territories. Our first two Marvel films – Thor and Captain America grossed a total of more than $800 million at the box office. This year, Marvel's The Avengers grossed more than $1.5 billion to become the world's third highest grossing movie of all time – and an important and lucrative franchise for us.

We're looking forward to a robust slate of new Marvel movies – starting with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World next year, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014. And, as we announced previously, Joss Whedon is writing and directing Avengers 2 and developing a Marvel-based series for ABC.

Pixar and Marvel both fit our criteria for strategic acquisitions – they add great IP that benefits multiple Disney businesses for years to come, and continue to create value well in excess of their purchase price. The acquisition of Lucasfilm is in keeping with this proven strategy for success and we expect it to create similar opportunity for Disney to drive long-term value for our shareholders.

We're clearly excited about this move forward. We believe we can do great things with these amazing assets….we have a proven track record of maximizing the value of our strategic acquisitions…. and we're poised to do the same with this one.



JAY RASULO, SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CFO, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY REMARKS FOR ANALYSTS REGARDING DISNEY'S ACQUISITION OF LUCASFILM LTD., AS PREPARED

Lucasfilm, and more specifically the Star Wars franchise, fits perfectly within the Disney portfolio of intellectual properties and the strategic and financial implications of this acquisition are compelling. Our team has spent a tremendous amount of time evaluating this deal and we have concluded we are uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Lucasfilm's IP in a manner that can generate substantial value for our shareholders above and beyond the purchase price.

In this transaction we will acquire rights to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, a highly talented and expert team, Lucasfilm's best-in-class post production businesses, Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound, and a suite of cutting edge entertainment technologies. Our valuation focused almost entirely on the financial potential of the Star Wars franchise, which we expect to provide us with a stream of storytelling opportunities for years to come delivered via all relevant platforms on a global basis.

There are a number of ways our company will derive value from Lucasfilm's intellectual property—some of which can be realized immediately while others will accrue to us over time. George and his team have built Star Wars into one of the most successful and enduring family entertainment franchises in history, as well as one of the best selling licensed character merchandise brands in the U.S. and around the world. However, we believe there is great opportunity to further expand the consumer products business. Today, Star Wars is heavily skewed toward toys and North America. We see great opportunity domestically to extend the breadth and depth of the Star Wars franchise into other categories. We also plan to leverage Disney's global consumer products organization to grow the Star Wars consumer products business internationally.

Let me note that in 2012 Lucasfilm's consumer products business is expected to generate total licensing revenue that is comparable to the roughly $215 million in consumer products revenue Marvel generated in 2009, the year in which we announced our acquisition. With renewed film releases, and the support we can give the Star Wars property on our Disney-branded TV channels, we expect that business to grow substantially and profitably for many years to come.

We also expect to create significant value in the film business. We plan to release the first new Star Wars film in 2015, and then plan to release one film every two to three years. These films will be released and distributed as part of our target slate of 8-10 live-action films per year, and will augment Disney's already strong creative pipeline for many years to come. Lucasfilm has not released a Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. However, adjusted for inflation, as well as growth in both international box office and 3D, we estimate the three most recent Star Wars films would have averaged about $1.5 billion in global box office in today's dollars. This speaks to the franchise's strength, global appeal and the great opportunity we have in the film business.

We also expect to utilize Star Wars in other businesses including Parks & Resorts, in games and in our television business. These initiatives were also considered in our valuation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Disney will buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, consisting of approximately fifty percent cash and fifty percent in Disney stock. Based on Friday's closing price of Disney stock, we expect to issue approximately 40 million Disney shares in this transaction. We continue to believe our shares are attractively priced at current levels and therefore, we currently intend to repurchase all of the shares issued within the next two years-- and that's in addition to what we planned to repurchase in the absence of the transaction.

Our valuation of Lucasfilm is roughly comparable to the value we placed on Marvel when we announced that acquisition in 2009. Our Lucasfilm valuation is almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise, so any success from other franchises would provide upside to our base case. I realize it may be a challenge for you to quantify our opportunity given the limited amount of publicly available information. But to give you some perspective on the size of the Lucasfilm business-- in 2005, the year in which the most recent Star Wars film was released, Lucasfilm generated $550 million in operating income. We've taken a conservative approach in our valuation assumptions, including continued erosion of the home entertainment market, and we expect this acquisition to create value for our shareholders.

In terms of the impact on our financials, we expect the acquisition to be dilutive to our EPS by low single digit percentage points in fiscal 2013 and 2014 and become accretive to EPS in 2015.

Our capital allocation philosophy has been consistent since Bob took over as CEO. In addition to returning capital to shareholders, we have invested, both organically and through acquisitions, in high quality, branded content that can be seamlessly leveraged across our businesses. Our acquisition of Lucasfilm is entirely consistent with this strategy, and we're incredibly excited by the prospect of building on Lucasfilm's successful legacy to create significant value for our shareholders.

SOURCE: The Walt Disney Company

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Young Jedi Arc Announced and Season 5 Episode Order Shuffled


 To quote Master Yoda, "Always in motion is the future."

When it comes to TCW this is true and the will they or won't they air the Young Jedi episodes that where screened on a limited basis at Celebration VI has finally been resolved.


The four episode Young Jedi arc will be aired in Season 5 and will air immediately after the Onderon arc in November.


So we have Master Yoda and Ahsoka leading a group of younglings that includes a Wookiee, a Rodian, a Nautolan, and an Ithorian.  It looks like we are returning to Ilum, home of Crystal Caves, where Jedi would go to seek naturally growing crystals for their lightsabers.  

According to Pablo Hidalgo on the Star Wars Blog, the Young Jedi arc will be four episodes and they are being moved into the November slot previously scheduled to feature the return of Rush Clovis.

The Young Jedi Episodes are:


  • 5.06: The Gathering
  • 5.07: A Test of Strength
  • 5.08: Bound for Rescue
  • 5.09: A Necessary Bond

I look forward to seeing this "lighter" episodes in what promises to be a season full of drama.  Additionally Yoda is awesome so more Yoda is great and well a Wookiee Jedi gets bonus points.

I wasn't at Celebration VI so I have not yet scene these episodes. I do wonder if the Rodian and Nautolan younglings are Wee Dunn and Zinn Toa who was saw as infants in episode 2.03 "Children of the Force." I don't think it works age/time wise but it is an interesting coincidence.



SPECULATIVE TCW SEASON 5 EPISODE ORDER:

It looks like at this point all we are missing is the season finale trilogy arc.  Of course it could also be three stand alone episodes scattered through the second half of season 5.


  • 5.01: Revival
  • 5.02: A War on Two Fronts
  • 5.03: Front Runners
  • 5.04: The Soft War
  • 5.05: Tipping Points
  • 5.06: The Gathering
  • 5.07: A Test of Strength
  • 5.08: Bound for Rescue
  • 5.09: A Necessary Bond
  • 5.10: An Old Friend
  • 5.11: The Rise of Clovis
  • 5.12: Crisis at the Heart
  • 5.13: Secret Weapons
  • 5.14: A Sunny Day in the Void
  • 5.15: Missing in Action
  • 5.16: Point of No Return
  • 5.17: Eminence
  • 5.18: Shades of Reason
  • 5.19: The Lawless
  • 5.20:
  • 5.21:
  • 5.22:




SOURCES: STAR WARS BLOG and CARTOON NETWORK BLOG   

Preview: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Tipping Points (5.05)


This Saturday, the Rebels on Onderon arc comes to a conclusion as the droids introduce a new droid gunship into the war and the Rebels are forced to turn to a strange ally in Pirate Hondo Ohnaka for missiles to counter this new threat.  The episode also promises to have someone meet their fate.


"Disobedience is a demand for change."
As a full-scale revolt embroils Onderon, the rebels strike a decisive blow against the planet's Separatist-aligned king. Unfortunately for the rebels, such victory comes at a high price.

Preview Clip #1: Ahsoka Going Native



Preview Clip #2: Beasts Versus Droids




Tune in this weekend and see who survives Onderon and if Luxsoka survives the battle.


SOURCES: StarWars.com and YouTube

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "The Soft War" Episode 5.04


Clone Wars you had me at ElectroGuillotine. Of course I think we finally found a Clone Wars episode that old Dr. Joe Guillotin would oppose.

This week on Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

"Struggles often begin and end with the truth."After a rebel attempt to rescue Onderon's true king, Ramsis Dendup, an unexpected ally steps forward to halt Dendup's execution and aid the rebel cause.



Summary:

As the rebels campaign inside the walls of Iziz intensifies, they attempt to win the hearts and minds of the population though well coordinated attacks and holo-speeches to the populace. Saw and Steela disagree on strategy and Saw is captured in a solo attempt to break King Dendup out of his imprisonment. Meanwhile Ahsoka is ordered by the Jedi Council to take a less active role in the rebellion, so that the Jedi can accurately assess the rebels success or failure.  The rebels stage an assault on the public execution of Saw and King Dendup, with the help of General Tandin and Onderon's army they are able to escape the clutches of the Separatists but only once again with the intervention of Ahsoka is General Tandin able to escape and unite his army forces with the rebels.

Analysis:

This episode presents lots to digest.  Of the three episodes so far in the Onderon arc, this is clearly my favorite.  I was hoping we would get a richer development of General Kalani because the character model is so cool, but the fact that he wasn't really the focus of the episode is probably a good thing when you look at what we did get in the episode.

I think the easiest way to look at this week's story is to take some of the main characters individually.


With Saw we see him really struggling with subordinating himself to his sister's leadership. He is headstrong and always thinks he is right.  His ill advised attempt to rescue King Dendup results in his capture and almost his along with the King's execution.  We also see Saw's strength in his ability to resist torture and maintain his convictions.  His debate with General Tandin is a pivotal moment for Saw's character and for the episode as a whole.  For the entire arc Saw has been deriding the use of "words" to win their war.  With the defection of General Tandin, which Saw was the catalyst for we see Saw potentially recognizing the value of words over violence and a potential major step forward for his character.


With Steela we see the strains of leadership. To quote Shakespeare, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."  Steela not only has to make the decision to potentially sacrifice the life of her brother to focus the rebels' resources on rescuing King Dendup. She also has to deal with her own feelings for Lux.  In a quite scene between Lux and Steela, we have Steela push away Lux's romantic attraction.  Is this Steela attempting to isolate herself to keep her judgment from being influenced by her emotions? Is she trying to play Lux into turning his romantic attention back on Ahsoka, in the hopes that it will draw Ahsoka deeper into helping the rebels?


With Ahsoka we have her struggling with her duty and following orders versus her instinct to help.  Eventually she gives in to her desire to help and rescues General Tandin.  This comes after she almost intervenes to help the rebels as their initial assault on the execution fails and they are captured. The best part about the way Ahsoka's internal conflict was written in this episode is that the focus was not on her feelings towards Lux. She wanted to intervene to help the rebels and then she did intervene to save the life of General Tandin.  We also see the episode end with a potential rekindling of the Luxsoka romance as Lux appears to turn his flirtatious attention from Steela to Ahsoka.


As I noted in the introduction I really thought the ElectroGuillotine was very cool.  It is also worth noting that King Rash has a nasty habit of wasting fruit.  My biggest quibble with the episode when I first watched it was the rebels failing to assassinate King Rash given multiple opportunity's. Steela could have taken him out with her sniper rifle when the rebel's assault began, any of the rebels could have killed him after the smoke bombs went off, General Tandin could have killed him.  Of course I also thought the droids would kill him to shoot through his body and get to General Tandin before Ahsoka intervened. As a friend pointed out on Twitter, the cold blooded killing of King Rash would have been a morally questionable act for the rebels.  I can see this and it makes sense.  The problem is that realistically the only thing legitimizing the Separatist presence on Onderon is King Rash's approval of it. Removing King Rash makes the Separatist occupation illegitimate and makes clear to the people that the Separatists are their for their own reasons.

In the end it's a small criticism for an episode where we got some really interesting character development and a very tight story packed into 22-minutes.

Rating:

The Soft War gets a 8.5.  Great story, lots of character development and sets the stage for an action packed final episode in the story arc.

Direct Link to Watch The Clone Wars: The Soft War on Starwars.com


Next Time on The Clone Wars: Tipping Points (5.05)

From TV Guide's blurb of the episode: "The rebels take control of Onderon as the king falls, but their victory comes with a sobering cost."

Predictions time, both King Rash and King Dendup die. General Tandin becomes King and Steela relinquishes her control of the rebels to Saw  who becomes the new commander of Onderon's army.  Steela and Lux get together and Ahsoka returns to the Jedi trying to deal with the happiness of victory and confusion over her relationship with Lux.

SOURCES: Starwars.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Soft War 5.04 Preview


This Saturday's episode of TCW, "The Soft War" takes the Onderon arc up a notch.

"Struggles often begin and end with the truth."After a rebel attempt to rescue Onderon's true king, Ramsis Dendup, an unexpected ally steps forward to halt Dendup's execution and aid the rebel cause.

Lucasfilm has released two preview videos as well as a special broadside written by King Sanjay Rash.

Preview #1: Saw the Action Hero




Preview #2: Meeting with a King




Broadside: Royal Proclamation


SOURCES: StarWars.com, Facebook, Youtube #1 and #2 .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 Blu-ray/DVD Bonus Feature Preview: Cade Bane


Lucasfilm has released a short clip from the upcoming home video release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 4.

This clip has Dave Filoni (Supervising Director), Joel Aron (Visual Effects Supervisor), Kilian Plunett (Lead Designer) and another crew member.

Check it out as they discuss Cad Bane and his toothpick.


SOURCE: YouTube Star Wars Channel 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Front Runners (5.03)


"What you're up against is simply the will of the people, it is up to the King to embrace, bend or break it." ~ Ramsis Dendup

Sometimes the sum is greater than it's parts and sometimes the sum ends up being less than the parts.  I can't help but feeling that despite some cool story elements and impressive animation that this week's episode was just slightly off.

"To seek something is to believe in its possibility." Supervised by Ahsoka, the Onderon rebels infiltrate the capital and carry out a series of strikes on targets throughout the city. As the Separatist-aligned king comes under increasing pressure to deal with the growing rebellion, the rebels choose a new leader.

This disconnect may be the downside of these larger four episode arcs.  I much prefer story arcs or serialized story telling over the sort of one shot stories that were more prevalent early in the series.  These larger four episode story arcs allow for more subtle, yet deeper character development and more nuance to the plots.

When these four episode arcs are cut together into 88 minute movies, the weak episodes or sections of episode feel more natural and are less obnoxious.  When the stories are broken up and aired in four 22 minute episodes, these lulls in action or set up episodes become more of an issue.

Summary: 

Onderon's rebels step up hit and run attacks on droids across Iziz. The King Sanjay Rash attempts to pressure his imprisoned predecessor Ramsis Dendup to call off the attacks.  Dendup makes the critical point that the rebels are not under his control and that the Rash is responsible for dealing with them.  After seeing the rebels in action and confident that they have the tools to succeed Obi-Wan, Anakin and Rex return to Coruscant leaving Ahsoka on Onderon to advice the rebels.  Lux develops a plan to use a droid tank to destroy the city's power generator, leaving the droids unable to recharge and thus vulnerable to defeat.  Following their victory in destroying the power generator the rebels celebrate and elect Steela their leader. 

Analysis:

I really enjoyed the Rash-Dendup scene. The appearance of the once and (likely) future king Dendup gives the audience the knowledge that this wise old leader still exists and promises some sort of stability if the rebels are successful.  Dendup also provides a nice leadership lesson with his embrace, bend or break line.  Though my favorite part of the scene is the flammable fruit that Rash takes a bit of and tosses into the fire by his throne, very cool animation.

We see some character growth with Lux and Steela as they both seem to be really coming into their own as leaders, while it seems like Saw's growth is more in terms of pure martial skills and less as a well rounded leader.

We also sawed physical contact between Steela and Lux and even Steela calling Lux a "handsome senator" during their celebration.  This leads me to my next point.


There was definitely an Endor portion Return of the Jedi vibe to the episode. We have the victory in destroying the power plant, followed by the celebration, and we also have the interpersonal relationship issues that crop up between Ahsoka, Lux, Steela, and Saw.

This was kind of a cool but I think StarWars.com stumbled in terms of the relationships. The revelation that Steela and Saw are brother and sister should not have been made on-line before this episode aired. If you simply leave the characters without last names then you maintain the possibility that their may be romantic feelings between the characters and this plays better not only into the Ahsoka/Lux/Steela triangle but also plays in better to Saw's storming off and Steela's announcement that he is her brother. This is clearly meant t to be a call back to Leia's revelation to Han on Endor, but it didn't work the same way because the Steela/Saw relationship wasn't developed in the same way that the Luke/Leia relationship was in Episodes V and VI. Lux has been on Onderon training, planning and fighting alongside Steela and Saw for who knows how long and the fact they are brother and sister hasn't come up once? If Lux knows they are brother and sister than the line only serves to inform the audience but then it doesn't really serve much point for the characters.


I really liked the assault on the power generator, it was a cool idea to take that out to prevent the droids from re-charging. It was also a featured cool animations for the explosive wave and smoke/electric effect post destruction.

It is interesting to try to draw parallels to the Onderon rebellion and the Rebel Alliance.  An EU fan could almost see the Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, Garm Bel Iblis in Steela, Lux and Saw.  I wonder if in next week's episode we see Saw strike out on his own personal more aggressive campaign against the Separatists. It also once again shows that in the Star Wars universe the like a strong female leader.

The more we see of this arc, the more I think Luxsoka is doomed and the barring someone dying, Lux and Steela are on a romantic trajectory.

This final scene also has my favorite and least favorite Anakin scenes in a while.  The side conversation between Ahsoka and Anakin where he reveals he knows how she feels regarding her attraction to Lux and her surprised response serves a number of important purposes. It makes clear that at this point she is totally unaware of Anakin's marraige to Padme even though she spends so much time with him.  This also further explains just how tightly Anakin keeps this secret even if his Padawan isn't able to detect it. The revelation that Anakin knows what Ahsoka is going through also marks a potential depending at the emotional level of the Master-Apprentice relationship. It also sets up the curiosity in Ahsoka's mind about what exactly is Anakin referring to.  I would love for a sub-plot to develop throughout season five that Ahsoka is doing a little digging into Anakin and finds out about the relationship with Padme.  This would lead to a very important conversation between Anakin and Ahsoka.  

There was some early criticism over the performance of Matt Lanter in the series as Anakin.  When you hire someone who is primarily an on screen actor for a voice over roll, it is not necessarily surprising that it may take them some time to grow into this new skill.  In season three and four Lanter has really improved in his performance as Anakin.  In this week's episode however, the speech he gave to the rebels in the final speech came off as very stiff and flat.  I am sure they where going for a serious and profound tone, but it just fell flat for this viewer.

I think my biggest criticism of this episode is that the action and battle scenes largely fell flat for me.  There where a few moments like the Commando Droid attack that I thought was interesting, but largely the Onderon rebels shooting clankers left me indifferent. I can only see a droid popper go off so many times in 22 minutes before I tune it out.  And as cool as Steel's sniper rifle was, when she was shooting Super-battle droids they kept being hit in the same spot and it looked like they kept repeated the same damage animation each time.

The Clone Wars animation has come a long long way, the one area I think they still stumble occasionally is in large numbers of human background characters.  Whether it is Mandalore or Onderon when we see multiple human background characters they often feel like Season one level animation instead of being at the same level as the rest of the show, which is terrific at this point.

The episode title has me wondering what it was referring to. Is it referring to Steela, Lux and Saw being the three front-runners for the leadership of the rebels? Was it referring to Steela and Ahsoka being the front-runners for Lux's feelings? Was it referring to the general population of Iziz being front-runners and supporting whoever they thought was going to win in the battle between the King and the rebels?

Finally we got a sneak peak at a new villain that we should see next week, the Droid General Kalani, a super tactical droid. He looks pretty awesome.


Rating:

Front Runners gets a 7.0.  Not a bad episode, lots of elements I really liked in this episode but it just didn't "wow" me. The funny thing is as I wrote this review my opinion of the episode improved as I remember just how much of it I enjoyed.

Direct Link to Watch Front Runners (5.03) on StarWars.com

Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Soft War

It's like shooting droids in a barrel.



SOURCES: StarWars.com


Friday, October 12, 2012

New Book Announced: Star Wars: Rebels: Han Solo Novel by James S.A. Corey


Completing the "Big Three" set of novels in the "Rebels" sub-series, today at NYCC it was announced that James S.A. Corey would be writing the Han Solo novel in the series.

It was previously announced at Celebration VI that Kevin Hearne would be writing a Luke Skywalker novel and that Martha Wells would be writing a Princess Leia novel. 

I am not familiar with The Expanse series by Corey.  The interesting thing is that we get two authors for the price of one as James S.A. Corey is the nom de plume of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. 

This interview has discuss their writing process a bit, burritos are involved.


For more about James S.A. Corey and The Expanse series visit Daniel Abraham's website.



Star Wars: Sword of the Jedi Featured Characters Revealed at NYCC


It looks like Star Wars: Sword of the Jedi the Jaina Solo focused novel trilogy, could be also be called Star Wars: The Next Generation.

We know that the "Big Three" will have a major torch passing stand alone novel, Crucible written by Troy Denning.

We also already knew that Sword of the Jedi (SotJ) will focus on Jaina Solo and the new Mr. Solo, Jagged Fel.

At NYCC Del Rey's Star Wars book panel revealed other characters that will be featured in the series.


Jag is obvious, Ben and Alana make sense as they are set up to be the next two central characters in the modern EU.  The interesting one and one that I really like is Tahiri.  I have had a soft spot for Tahiri since NJO even though she kind of went a bit wacky in Legacy of the Force.

Last we saw Tahiri she was serving Jag and the Empire and then paroled back to the ranks of the Jedi. What will she be up to now?

SOURCE: Twitter @DelReyStarWars

New 2013 Star Wars Novel Announced: Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Image Source: Star Wars Books

WIZARD! Crazy wizard that is.

"Luke: Well, I stumbled across a recording while I was cleaning him. He says that he belongs to someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought he might have meant old Ben. Do you know what he's talking about?
Uncle Owen: Uh-uh.
Luke: I wonder if he's related to Ben.
Uncle Owen: That wizard is just a crazy old man. Now, tomorrow I want you to take that R2 unit to Anchorhead and have its memory erased. That'll be the end of it. It belongs to us now.
Luke: But what if this Obi-Wan comes looking for him?
Uncle Owen: He won't. I don't think he exists anymore. He died about the same time as your father.
Luke: He knew my father?
Uncle Owen: I told you to forget it." 

Today at New York Comic-Con it was announced by Del Rey that author and comic book writer John Jackson Miller is penning his first hardcover novel.

From Del Rey's Announcement on Facebook:

NYCC Del Rey Star Wars panel announcements:
-New Han Solo classic era novel written by James S. A. Correy. Part of the new "Rebels" series of stand alone novels set in the Classic era.
-New novel by John Jackson Miller tentatively titled KENOBI. Novel is set after the events of Episode III. Promotional artwork seen here by Chris Scalf.

From Faraway Looks (John Jackson Miller's Website): 

At New York Comic-Con, Random House/Del Rey announced my next novel — and it’s big: Star Wars: Kenobi! It’s a hardcover release tentatively scheduled for late 2013. Check out the promo artwork here, by Chris Scalf! 
Kenobi is a sweeping story that’s part epic western, part high-stakes drama, part romance — but it’s all Star Wars, taking place in the early days of Obi-Wan’s exile to Tatooine. I shouldn’t expand too much beyond what Random House said on its panel and Facebook page, but I can say this. I’ve been working on this concept for years — I’ll talk more about that process later on — and the basics are pretty simple. The greatest hero in the galaxy faces his toughest challenge yet: He must stop being Obi-Wan — and learn to live as Ben. 
My other works are still in development, including my own novel and a fiction series — but as my first hardcover, this is a pretty big deal, and I thank everyone who helped make it come together. I have a landing page for the book now up here at the site, and will list preorder information when it’s available.
My Reaction:

This announcement has me probably the most excited I have been since we first heard about James Luceno's Darth Plagueis novel being resuscitated. Why am I so excited? The reason is simple, Obi-Wan is the exemplar of Jedi virtue. Kenobi's mixture of character and accomplishments create a very interesting and compelling character who you cannot help but root for.

The most emotionally gripping moment of any in the Star Wars films is that moment of Obi-Wan and the lava river bank on Mustafar.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. You were to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness.
Anakin Skywalker: I HATE YOU!
Obi-Wan Kenobi: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.
To EU fans Obi-Wan in many ways straddles two worlds, he is both the best of the old Jedi Order and at the same time the godfather of Luke's New Jedi Order.

How does a person deal with their entire world coming down around them? The three constants in Obi-Wan's life, the Republic, the Jedi Order, and his brother are all destroyed at nearly the same moment.  For Obi-Wan everything changes and he is stuck with the guilt of feeling like he created the monster that destroyed the Jedi and doomed the Republic.

How many times does he replay in his head every minute spent with Anakin as a Padawan, every lesson taught, every battle fought. What could he have done differently? What did he do wrong?

How could the boy who risked his own life to help strangers be the same man who slaughtered helpless  younglings?

Not only does he have to come to grips with this, but how does he adjust to his new self-imposed exile?

How does he plan the eventual training of Luke to avoid making the same mistakes as with Anakin? Is it to dangerous to train Luke?

There is just so much interesting internal conflicts within Obi-Wan to explore that I hope in telling his "western" style story Miller gets a chance to really dig into what is going on inside of Ben.

I look forward to hearing more about this book as it moves along the production schedule.


SOURCES: Facebook and Faraway Looks




Thursday, October 11, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5 Episodes 9-15 Titles Revealed


Star Wars Insider #137 reveals the episode order and title of the 9th through the 15th episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5.

The Episodes:

5.09: Secret Weapons 
5.10: A Sunny Day in the Void  
5.11: Missing in Action  
5.12: Point of No Return 
5.13: Eminence  
5.14: Shades of Reason 
5.15: The Lawless 

It is also revealed that the planet Scipio and the InterGalactic  Banking Clan will feature in a story arc in November. This location and the Banking Clan should be featured in the Clovis/Padme/Embo arc, which I believe are episodes 5.06: An Old Friend, 5.07: The Rise of Clovis, 5.08: Crisis at the Heart.

Episodes 5.09-5.12 look to me like the R2-D2 and Republic Commando Gregor story arc as the droid team would be the "Secret Weapons" and Gregor would be the focus of "Missing in Action."

SOURCE: Star Wars Insider

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Clone Wars: "Front Runners" Episode 5.03 Preview


Part two of the Onderon arc debuts this Saturday as Lux, Steela, and Saw take the fight against the battle droids to the streets of Iziz.
"To seek something is to believe in its possibility." 
Supervised by Ahsoka, the Onderon rebels infiltrate the capital and carry out a series of strikes on targets throughout the city. As the Separatist-aligned king comes under increasing pressure to deal with the growing rebellion, the rebels choose a new leader.
Lucasfilm has posted two preview clips on their YouTube Channel.

Clip #1: Ahsoka In Charge



Clip #2: Rebel Ambush


It is interesting that Anakin and Obi-Wan leave Ahsoka alone to "advice" the rebels.  Anakin again questions Ahsoka in a subtle way about her emotional clarity and asks if she wants to return to Coruscant.

We also get to see a bit of what looks like Lux assuming leadership of the rebels during an assault/ambush mission to capture a Separatist tank.

SOURCE: Starwars.com

NYCC: Rough Sketch of Essential Characters Guide Book

Del Rey's Facebook page, Star Wars Books posted an image of their display booth.

It was also mentioned that there will be a new book announcement on Friday.

Source: http://m.facebook.com/starwarsbooks?id=67519418712&_rdr

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A War on Two Fronts (5.02)


Prime Directive? We don't need no Prime Directive, this is Star Wars baby. Not some flying chemistry lab in space. We go to planets, blow stuff up and overthrow regimes.


"Fear is a malleable weapon." 
Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Rex travel to Onderon, a world under Separatist control. There, they will train a group of insurgent rebels -- including Lux Bonteri -- to help take back the capital city of Iziz from the rule of a duplicitous king.

Now that is what I call a throne.
This week's episode begins with a plea for assistance from a small band of Onderon rebels who are seeking to overthrow their Separatist installed king.  We see an interesting debate take place among the Jedi Council, as Anakin proposes training and equipping the Rebels as a way to force the Separatists to divert resources from the Clone Wars.  As Ahsoka looks on Jedi Master Windu sides with Anakin and Obi-Wan with the support of Yoda take the opposite side of the debate.  The usually copacetic duo of Yoda and Mace are a bit at odds this week, "We can divide the Separatist forces and press them on two fronts," said Master Windu. "Stop those who spread terror, the Jedi must," said Master Yoda. Ultimately the Council agrees to use Onderon as a test case for Anakin's strategy.  Even Obi-Wan seems to support the idea, so was he just taking the debating position of opposing it to test out Anakin's idea or are his doubts about the strategy real?

Adi is one solid looking Force Ghost. The result of moving up "Revival" in Season 5 is that it makes this arc occur after the season premier.

In this Jedi Council debate we also have some buzzwords and concepts thrown around that will feel very real to today's viewers. Terrorists, insurgents, rebels, all these words will resonate with kids and adults today if they pay attention to the news.  I really enjoy when some of these more substantive issues are introduced to kids.  The issues of the rule of law, self-determination and the distinction between what is a good rebel and a bad terrorist are important issues for us to think about, and the earlier we get kids digging a little deeper and taking that next level of intellectual exploration the better.

The "how you doing," look from Lux.

The key plots that we deal with this week are the training of the rebels and Lux's ladies.

The training is interesting there is a time limit in terms of what they can show on TCW, as such we got  three diverse training exercises. (1) How to destroy a Droideka, (2) How to destroy a Separatist Tank, (3) How to shoot a battledroid in the head.

That is one pretty blaster.
The training scenes served the duel purpose of advancing the rebels story and also created the dramatic tension in the relationship between Ahsoka, Steela, and Lux.  It is clear that Steela has some feelings for Lux, whether this is sisterly and protective and romantic is still up for debate, but I would say it is romantic.  We also have Ahsoka clearly dealing with feelings she is unfamiliar with. The animators did a tremendous job in this episode with Ahsoka's eyes and face conveying emotion in the various scenes. Clearly she has a romantic attraction to Lux, but these are feelings I am not sure she is even capable of fully understanding at this point based on her Jedi upbringing. How she sorts through her feelings for Lux will no doubt be one of the major subplots of this four episode arc.

Lux seems to flirt with both Ahsoka and Steela throughout the episode so his feelings are most unclear, perhaps he is simply doing his best charm offensive on both, the consumate politician that he is.  It does have me wondering about Lux and Ahsoka.  What if Lux is using Ahsoka, sure he may like her but perhaps his devoition to Onderon is the paramount attachment for him. He could know about his connection with Ahsoka and be playing her in an attempt to sway the Jedi to his cause. This cynical view of Lux's intentions would provide for interesting character development for Ahsoka. How would Ahsoka react if her emotions were used against her in such a way?

Ahsoka giving Steela the stink eye.
Then we have Saw's flirtations with Ahsoka. Which could be the result of a few different motivations. Saw views himself as the leader of the rebels, so perhaps he could be cozying up to Commander Tano in hopes that she would support his claim to leadership. Perhaps he finds Ahsoka attractive and has his own romantic feelings for her. Perhaps he is simply trying to make Lux jealous and to get Lux's attention away from his sister Steela, because we know he isn't especially fond of Lux.

One thing is for sure, I think Dave Filoni just created a shipping war on TCW, as Luxsoka and SteeLux supporters will burn fandom to the ground. Alright maybe not, but it's one more thing to argue about.

"Have I told you about my secret marraige?"

I really enjoyed the quiet scene between Anakin and Ahsoka, where he switched to a more paternal/mentor role and called her "Snips."  This show of concern was a window into Anakin's heart, his empathy and attachment.

Finally a few random thoughts.

Jedi Robes! Nice threads.

Just because jet packs are awesome. Jango would be proud.

Probe droid. Always bring a Wookiee to your rebel base to deal with these.
It is also interesting to note the Egyptian and Indian influences on the names on Onderon.


"Saw Gerrera was a loyal follower of King Ramsis Dendup, the benevolent monarch of Onderon who attempted to keep his world apart from the tensions of the Clone Wars. Saw believed firmly in independence, and did not want to see his planet thrust into galactic warfare. But Dendup was ousted by King Sanjay Rash, who committed the world to the Separatist cause. Saw was one of the fervent young loyalists who refused to acknowledge Rash's rule, and openly rebelled against the crown. He and his sister were cast out of the walled city of Iziz and forced to live in ruins amid the jungles of Onderon. There, Saw plotted against Rash's draconian rule, and with trepidation accepted off-world support from the Republic." ~Star Wars Encyclopedia: Saw Gerrera


We also got some cool shots of Ahsoka using the Force.





EU IMPACT: 

Onderon from space

The introduction of Onderon a planet originated in the EU and the introduction of another back story for the beginning of the Rebel Alliance may make some Star Wars fans get nervous.

We are only at the first episode of the arc, but there are some curious elements brought into the story of Onderon. It seems like largely the Clone Wars version of Onderon is staying somewhat true to the ancient comic version of the planet. We have the walled city of Iziz (pronounced like the goddess Isis), we have beasts and beast riders.  We have yet to see if the show will touch upon the moon Dxun.  We also have yet to see if the show will mention the planets ancient history with Freedon Nadd.

The idea that Anakin may have inadvertently created the Rebel Alliance with his training and equipping of the rebels on Onderon is interesting and the easiest way to retcon all the Rebel Alliance origin stories is that it was a group that united a multitude of movements that were opposed to the Galactic Empire.  Much easier to retcon that than the various Death Star plans stories.

The idea of the rebellion on Onderon and Mace's support of the idea also has me thinking about Matthew Stover's novel Shatterpoint and how badly Jedi training rebels Haruun Kal turned out for Master Depa Billaba.

CLONE WARS DOWNLOAD: THE EVOLUTION OF AHSOKA



Rating: 8.0 Clearly an introductory episode to a larger story, but I enjoyed the return of Rex, Ahsoka, and Lux.  The animation of this episode was off the charts, lots of action both in the foreground and background and incredible lighting by Joel Aron and his crew.

Direct Link to Watch "A War on Two Fronts" at Starwars.com


Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode 5.03 "Front Runners"



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