The future of Star Wars on the big screen largely remains uncertain following The Rise of Skywalker. Lucasfilm has yet to officially confirm any specific titles, but we know that they're going to steer away from the Skywalker story we've been following for four decades. Now, we have word that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is set to be a big part of that future, as the studio is developing not only a movie set during that time period, but a TV show as well.
Before diving in, we must caution that this information hasn't been corroborated by Lucasfilm just yet, so it's still in the rumor camp for now. That said, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy did previously reveal they have a Knights of the Old Republic project in the works, so this would seem to make sense. According to a new report, both a movie and TV show based on the popular video games of the same name are in development. Few details are available, so we don't know for sure who may be involved on the creative side, or which characters could be slated to appear.
Previously, we heard that screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis Alita: Battle Angel was set to pen a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic movie, so it's possible this could be her baby. It was rumored that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were going to make a trilogy that took place in the Old Republic era. However, the duo parted ways with Lucasfilm last year over creative differences. It seemed possible that the studio would scrap the idea, which is partially why this new report is important. Plus, if this turns out to be true, there will be a tie-in TV show, which is no small thing. Especially considering how successful The Mandalorian has been. It's not clear at this time if the show would tie-in directly to the movie, or if both projects will tell independent stories taking place in the same era.Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, commonly referred to as KOTOR, started life as a video game released in 2003. At that time, what is now known as 'Legends' material contributed additional stories to the Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm reset the canon following the Disney purchase in 2012, but the studio has pulled lots from Legends into the new canon. The story takes place roughly 4,000 years before the events of the original trilogy. The player is tasked with battling a Sith uprising which is being headed up by the evil Darth Malak.
The Rise of Skywalker visual dictionary, it's worth mentioning, made Darth Revan, a famous figure from the Old Republic, canon. So that could be part of planting the seeds for storytelling in this time period. We've also heard Lucasfilm is planning stories set in the High Republic era, which is roughly 400 years before the events of the original trilogy. So it's tough to say what will come first, if indeed both sets of stories are happening. The next Star Wars movie is dated for December 2022, so we should be finding out more at Star Wars...
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...
The Third Floor, the industry's busiest visualization company in tackling superhero movies “Black Widow,” “Avengers: Endgame”, already had an advantage working remotely with real-time tools and virtual workflows when the coronavirus pandemic struck early this year. Turns out, though, that the COVID-19 epicenter was too close for comfort.
“When this crisis began, we initially faced the challenge of protecting our staff in Beijing, who were in the midst of launching our first permanent office in China,” said CEO and co-founder Chris Edwards. “When the virus started spreading beyond Wuhan, the first thing we did was send everyone home and connect them virtually...we learned a lot about the procedures for mitigating the risk of spreading the virus that we began to apply to our other offices in London, Atlanta, and LA [headquarters].
“Time was of the essence to put a highly secure, remote-working infrastructure in place,” he said, “and we needed to leverage the company infrastructure to bolster communication and function as a support group for all of our employees and their families.”
Back in LA, The Third Floor TTF found the resilience of its Beijing crew instructive. The company, which has become the go-to visualization specialist for the MCU performing rough previs of scenes, more elaborate techvis breakdowns of camera lenses, set construction, and stunts, and postvis enhancements during crunch time, used video conferencing and other methods of digital collaboration to significantly advance preparations and stay on schedule. Despite the physical isolation, however, everyone started relying on the video calls for more than just work-related advice.
“At our [LA] hub, we didn't want to take the risk of being unprepared, so we authorized our IT team to increase our internet band tenfold, and build an advanced remote login system that could enable our artists to work fluidly and securely from home,” said Edwards, who worked with IT chiefs at major studios such as Disney for advising and approving their comprehensive work-from-home solution.
But the two-week transition to a completely virtual studio only became possible with the help of industry colleagues and suppliers when California Governor Gavin Newsom and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the stay-at-home order. And, as part of its mobilization effort, the company launched a TTFaid program as a resource for more than 100 employees and their families with supplies, aid, and emotional support.
“With this early foresight in February, we were prepared to roll out a set of guidelines, which I called the TTF Health Vigilance Plan, across our other studios in LA, Atlanta, and...