Team Star Wars has been making a big deal out of the alleged finality of The Rise of Skywalker — how it’s bringing another trilogy to an end, how it’s ending a story that began 42 years ago, how maybe Finn and Poe will hook up. Of course, we are supposed to be getting Star Wars movies even after many now living have died. In a new interview with LA Times, Lucasfilm honcho Kathleen Kennedy seemed to suggest the new, young gang — Rey, et al. — may be coming back at some point in the future.
The piece’s key bit, as singled out by Entertainment Weekly, is buried in prose and not a direct quote, but its meaning seems fairly unambiguous. The article talks about her future plans for the franchise, which seem to be up in the air, what with the recent departure of Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from whatever they had been planning for the Star Wars-verse. One thing she’s sure of, according to the profile: “While the Skywalker saga is ending,” the piece reads, “the company won’t abandon the characters created in the most recent trilogy.”
Does that mean they’ll play some role in a trilogy — say, the one in the works from Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson? Will they get spin-offs? Will they be movies or Disney+ shows? All solid questions, but you’ll have to wait for official answers. Anyway, don’t cry for Rey and team. Something tells us we’ll be hearing from those kids, and we don’t mean a postcard.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
When the still-untitled Indiana Jones 5 was officially announced, its targeted release date was July 19, 2019. Since then, Disney has pushed back its release date several times, and though we haven’t gotten an update in several months, it sounds like director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford are still on board and the project is slowly inching toward production.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy offered a quick Indiana Jones 5 update from the BAFTAs red carpet, which you can read below.
“We’re working away, getting the script where we want it to be and then we’ll be ready to go,” Kennedy told an interviewer from the BBC. “Harrison Ford will be involved, yeah. It’s not a reboot; it’s a continuation. He can’t wait. He absolutely is [up for it.]”
Considering all the delays, I suppose there may have been a chance that Lucasfilm had altered its approach to another Indiana Jones movie. After all, Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger. If the film actually opens on its current release date of July 9, 2021, Ford will be just four days shy of celebrating his 79th birthday when audiences begin pouring in to see the movie. But Kennedy’s comment confirms that Lucasfilm is not interested in rebooting the franchise, and instead are committed to giving Ford one last ride as the famed archeologist/adventurer – and it sounds like the actor is eager to put the fedora on again. Sorry, Chris Pratt.
Back in 2016, Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked whether Indiana Jones might get its own full-fledged cinematic universe, akin to Lucasfilm’s other top-shelf franchise. “Not like Star Wars, no,” he said. “But we hope…right now, we’re focused on a reboot, or a continuum and then a reboot of some sort…we’ll bring [Harrison Ford] back, then we have to figure out what comes next. That’s what I mean.”
The fifth film has gone through the hands of several writers, including David Koepp, Jon Kasdan, and Dan Fogelman – and last we heard, it was back in Koepp’s hands. “I’m working on it again,” Koepp said in September. “We’re still trying. And I think we’ve got a good idea this time. We’ll see.”
Some fans still feel burned by 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Spielberg is definitely aware that he didn’t hit all the right notes for everyone that time around. “I think [Indiana Jones 5] is straight down the pike for the fans,” Spielberg said of the upcoming sequel a few years ago. “The one thing I will tell you is I’m not killing off Harrison [Ford] at the end of it.”