Episode 1: The force gets ahead of itself
While anticipation mounts for Episode VII’s release in December, Disney are busy preparing two stand-alone Star Wars films, as well as Episode VIII (2017). Apparently they’re no longer able to produce a franchise one film at a time.
The first stand-alone, Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One (2016), is set to start filming in the next few months at London’s Pinewood Studios. Australia’s Ben Mendelsohn is being considered for a role as one of the rebels who tries to steal plans for the Death Star. The movie will also star The Theory of Everything star Felicity Jones as the lead. Gareth Edwards will direct, having proven he can balance sci-fi action and intimate character-study with the DIY epic Monsters (2010). He also successfully handled a major studio blockbuster with last year’s Godzilla.
Someone who apparently could not handle a major studio blockbuster: Josh Trank. The Chronicle (2012) director was meant to helm the second in the Anthology series, due for release in 2018. It is yet to be given a title, but has been confirmed as the backstory of jet-pack bounty-hunter, Boba Fett, presumably somewhere between his father’s decapitation in Episode II and being swallowed whole by the Sarlacc pit in Episode VI.
Trank stepped down at the start of this month to “pursue some original creative opportunities”. However, subsequent reports suggest that he was dropped by Lucasfilm because of problems in the production of the new Fantastic Four (2015). The claims include: his “erratic” and “very isolated” behaviour on set; producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker having to help wrap up last-minute reshoots; and his dogs allegedly causing $100,000 worth of damage to a house rented for him by the studio.
Rumour has it that feminist/sexist Joss Whedon is being groomed as Trank’s replacement. It’s his for the taking, thanks to the huge success of the Avengers films. Whedon aficionados, however, would cite him as the creator of cult-series Firefly (2002) and director of the follow-up movie Serenity (2005). Both follow the adventures of Mal Reynolds, a wise-cracking smuggler with a heart of gold who sneaks through the galaxy on a rickety spaceship, pursued by various shady characters and the ruthless authorities. Sound familiar?