The Disney and Lucasfilm tentpole will open in China on Dec. 20, day and date with its launch in North America.
The ninth Stars Wars feature and the final film in the Disney-produced sequel franchise, Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell. Original Star Wars actors including Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Anthony Daniels C-3PO and Billy Dee Williams Lando Calrissian also return, as does the late Carrie Fisher Leia via previously unused footage that Abrams shot for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Rise of Skywalker's running time is 155 minutes, edging out Star Wars: The Last Jedi 152 minutes to mark the longest feature in the series.
China, the world's second largest box office territory, tends to play a big role in the global earnings of globally geared Hollywood tentpoles Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Endgame earned $614 million there earlier this year, for example. But the Star Wars franchise, hough wildly bankable in the U.S. and most major markets, has been a curious underperformer in the Middle Kingdom.
The Force Awakens piqued curiosity in China in 2016, earning a respectable if not stellar $124 million said to be well below Disney's original expectations. But franchise spinoff Rogue One 2017 and Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi 2018 saw a further tapering off of local interest, earning just $69 million and $42.5 million, respectively.
The original films in the Star Wars franchise never received a wide release in the 1970s and 80s. China's young filmgoers have been known to gripe that the saga's backstory is too complex at this stage, and that the recent sequels' reliance on nostalgia makes the new installments inaccessible to them.
Disney has been working to turn the tide and seduce the Chinese audience in the ways of the force via a series of inventive marketing exercises. In October, the studio went back to the basics by inking a first-of-its-kind distribution deal with Tencent's China Literature, the Middle Kingdom's largest e-books and online reading platform, to license and distribute 40 translated Star Wars novels for Chinese readers.
In North America, of course, there are no such issues. Shortly after The Rise of Skywalker tickets went on sale in October it began smashing pre-sales records.
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...
We may finally know when Marvel's upcoming Blade reboot is going to arrive in theaters. This particular project was a surprise reveal last summer during Marvel Studios' massive Phase 4 presentation at San Diego Comic-Con. Few updates have been provided on the movie since it was announced, but it seems that the studio may have secured a rather appropriate release date for the daywalker's return to the silver screen.
Recently, Disney did quite a bit of shuffling around with its 2020/2021 release calendar. This provided new release dates for all of the announced Phase 4 movies, as well as some new dates for the already announced Phase 5 titles. Marvel updated its calendar through 2022 and they have a previously revealed date set aside on October 7, 2022, for a currently untitled movie. Charles Murphy, who has been surprisingly accurate with Marvel scoops in the past, took to Twitter to state that Blade will indeed be the title filling that particular slot. If this is indeed true, it would make sense for a few reasons.
For one, while we know other projects such as reboots of the X-Men and Fantastic Four are on the way, they are in the earlier stages and don't have any cast attached. Blade, meanwhile, has Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali on board to play the Marvel Comics character. The other important element here is that Blade will almost definitely resemble a horror movie, or at least more so than any other MCU entry has up to this point, what with vampires and whatnot being involved. Bearing that in mind, releasing the movie in October would make sense, as Marvel and Disney could capitalize on the Halloween season.
There are a couple of other titles, most notably Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Ant-Man 3 that could slot into that specific release date as well. Both of these movies are happening and seem to be at similar stages of the development process, give or take. Whatever appears in October 2022, it's important to note that we will now have four MCU movies releasing that year. Thor: Love and Thunder was pushed back to February 18, 2022, with Black Panther 2 previously announced for May 6, 2020. Disney also recently dated Captain Marvel 2 for July 8, 2022. That will make it a massive year for Marvel fans.
Blade previously appeared on the big screen in a trilogy of movies that starred Wesley Snipes as the character. Before the reboot was announced, Wesley Snipes revealed that he was working on two potential projects with Marvel, but it seems the studio decided to go in a different direction. Even so, Snipes has been supportive of the project publically. No director is attached to Blade at this time. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details on the project are made available. This story originated at @_CharlesMurphy on Twitter who has a track record for breaking stories. The topper art comes from iMizurii on Reddit.