Kathleen Kennedy confirms Carrie Fisher won’t be in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

ORLANDO — Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy put to rest rumors Friday that Carrie Fisher could have a potential role in Star Wars: Episode IX.The late actress's brother, Todd Fisher, told  the New York Daily News earlier this month that she would appear in the 2019 movie written and directed by Colin Trevorrow, but Kennedy told a group of reporters at Star Wars Celebration that she had "no idea why he said that."Kennedy confirmed in a Good Morning America interview that Carrie Fisher would not reprise her iconic The Force Awakens character, General Leia Organa, in Episode IX but that she has a big role and is "absolutely phenomenal" in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters Dec. 15. (Fisher finished her work on the upcoming film before her death last year on Dec. 27.)"We have not read a script yet" for Episode IX, Kennedy told press Friday. "Obviously, when Carrie passed away in December, that was a huge blow for all of us and it caused us to sit with Colin and really rethink where we’re headed with Episode IX. Carrie was a significant part of that story — that was something she very much wanted and we very much wanted. But given the circumstances, we would not carry on with that."Disney CEO Bob Iger said in March that the filmmakers were "not changing (The Last Jedi) to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it is," and that they would not use a digital version of her as they did to show a young Princess Leia in Rogue One. Continue Reading

Why J.J. Abrams is the right choice — and a safe pick — to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

This was the director they were looking for. Again.For the second time, J.J. Abrams has been tapped for the biggest film gig in Hollywood: first to write and direct 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the huge return of the storied movie franchise (and what would become the top-grossing film of all time) and now to helm the finale for the trilogy he launched, Star Wars: Episode IX.The job opened up last week when Lucasfilm and writer/director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) parted ways. That Abrams is taking over as Ron Howard replaces Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie) on the young Han Solo spinoff makes it clear the Star Wars galaxy wants veteran filmmakers and is no longer willing to gamble with a massive project like Episode IX. Having Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson continue the saga seemed to me the smartest course of action last week, but he's probably still in the throes of post-production. It would have been very cool to have a history-making moment and hire a woman like Ava DuVernay, Lorene Scafaria or Kathryn Bigelow to direct, or tap Guillermo del Toro or Alfonso Cuarón to end the parade of white guys. That day will come; Star Wars isn't going away anytime soon.  More: We're a little worried about Han Solo, guys Related: J.J. Abrams will return to 'Star Wars' to direct 'Episode IX'  But with the tumult around recent choices, Disney and the House That George Lucas Built couldn't afford to take a risk with Episode IX, the one that will wrap up the three-movie tale that launched Daisy Ridley's Rey, John Boyega's Finn and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron into pop culture and put Star Wars back on the map in impressive fashion. With the clock ticking down to its new Dec. 20, 2019, release date and shareholders to please, it's understandable.So, yes, Abrams was the safe pick. Extremely safe. Many will say too safe. He's also a visionary who Continue Reading

Mark Hamill: Carrie Fisher was meant to be ‘more prominent’ in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

NEW YORK — Carrie Fisher's death has left a void in a galaxy far, far away, as well as our very own. The beloved actress/writer, who died from sleep apnea and other factors last December, reprises her role of princess-turned-general Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (in theaters Dec. 15), the franchise's eighth installment. But according to Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the sci-fi saga, her character was meant to be an even larger part of the action in Star Wars: Episode IX (out Dec. 20, 2019), which has a new director in J.J. Abrams, who replaces Colin Trevorrow. More: Why J.J. Abrams is the right choice — and a safe pick — to direct 'Episode IX'"You’re going to really love her in (The Last Jedi)," Hamill said during a fan event at New York Comic Con Saturday night. "I know they’re going to try and find a way to close her story in (Episode) 9 that gives her the respect she deserves, because (Han Solo) was more prominent in 7 (The Force Awakens), Luke’s a little more prominent in 8, and certainly Leia was meant to be more prominent in 9."Worldwide, everyone feels that gap she left," Hamill added. "But we all have to hang in there. And if she’s out there somewhere, we have to give her the one-finger salute. Come on everybody, for Carrie," he said, imploring the crowd to raise middle fingers in the air as a tribute to Fisher, who was 60. Earlier, Hamill got emotional discussing his longtime friend and co-star, whose mother, screen legend Debbie Reynolds, died one day after Fisher from an intracerebral hemorrhage at age 84. They are survived by Fisher's daughter, actress Billie Lourd, who described their deaths as "surreal and impossible to deal with" in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres last month.  Related:  Harrison Ford's response to Carrie Fisher affair questions is classic yet awkward"Ordinarily, (Carrie's) timing was exquisite, Continue Reading

“Star Wars” Episode 7 coming in 2015, Walt Disney Co. announces after purchasing Lucasfilm

The Force is strong with Disney. In a development that even Yoda couldn't have foreseen, the Walt Disney Co. has agreed to purchase Lucasfilm, the production studio behind the "Star Wars," movies for $4.05 billion in cash and stock. The studio immediately announced that it would release a "Star Wars" Episode 7 in 2015, the first of what is expected to be a new trilogy. George Lucas, the franchise's creator, had long said he originally envisioned having nine "Star Wars" movies - but recently announced his retirement from big budget movie making after only two trilogies. (Including his much maligned prequel trilogy that started with 1999's "The Phantom Menace.") “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucas said in a statement. “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." That  transition will be supervised by Kathleen Kennedy, the long time producer of Lucas pal Steven Spielberg, who was recently tapped to head up Lucasfilm before the announcement of the sale. Kennedy got the job with an eye towards shepherding three new "Star Wars" movies, a source close to the negotiations told the Hollywood Reporter. The blockbuster acquisition of Lucasfilm is just the latest front on Disney's all out conquest of geek culture, having already bought Pixar in 2006 and Marvel Studios - which gave them the No. 3 grossing film of all time with "The Avengers" earlier this year - in 2009. "This is another jewel in the crown of the Disney empire," says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com, who added that the studio could have a stranglehold on the multiplex in 2015 with a new "Star Wars" movie and an "Avengers" sequel both scheduled. "It seems like they own all Continue Reading

Carrie Fisher confirms she’s on board ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ reprising Princess Leia role

Break out the old metal bikini. Carrie Fisher confirmed that she’ll be reprising her role as Princess Leia in director J.J. Abrams’ upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII” film during an interview with Palm Beach Illustrated. When asked point blank by the newspaper if she was going to again don the trademark “bagel bun” hairstyle of the iconic part, Fisher answered “yes.” “She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home,” the 56-year-old actress said. “I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.” Fisher’s confirmation follows last month’s report on Latino Review that Harrison Ford is set to don Han Solo’s trademark vest for the first time since 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” Like Ford, Fisher has long voiced a love-hate relationship with the character and movies that have overshadowed much of the rest of her career. “Star Wars” fans, however, have been eagerly speculating if those actors — as well as Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill — would return since Disney announced in October that it was purchasing Lucasfilm. Disney bought the production studio behind the "Star Wars" movies from creator Lucas for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and immediately put an "Episode VII" in production for a 2015 release date. Though Kathleen Kennedy told the News in January that she was nervous about finding the right director that would satisfy the franchise’s notoriously fickle fans — the newly minted Lucasfilm chief announced the hiring of “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams just two weeks later. "To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor," Abrams said in a statement at the time. "I may be even more grateful to Continue Reading

JJ Abrams officially confirmed as director of ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

Help us JJ Abrams, you're our only hope. Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy officially announced that the 46-year-old geek icon has been tapped to direct the "Star Wars: Episode VII," the first installment of a brand new trilogy in the biggest sci-fi film franchise in history. "To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor," Abrams said in a statement. "I may be even more grateful to [creator] George Lucas now than I was as a kid." Abrams, himself a die-hard fan of "Star Wars" since his childhood, has already proven an adept space traveler after having successfully having rebooted the "Star Trek" franchise in 2009. His followup, "Star Trek Into Darkness," beams into theaters in May. "He's smart. He's talented. He's a fanboy. And he's proven himself repeatedly," Leonard Maltin, critic for "Entertainment Tonight" and movie historian, told the News. "I don't see how fans can complain." Fans have been ready to complain ever since the Walt Disney Co. announced in October that it was purchasing Lucasfilm. Disney bought the production studio behind the "Star Wars" movies from creator Lucas for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and immediately put an "Episode VII" in production for a 2015 release date. Lucasfilm also announced Friday that "Empire Strikes Back" screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan would be a consultant on "Episode VII," ensuring that the Force would be strong indeed on the project. He joins Michael Arndt, the screenwriter behind 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine," 2010's "Toy Story 3" and next year's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," who has been tapped for the script. And it doesn't hurt that the greatest of all Jedi masters gave his own endorsement to Abrams. "I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," Lucas said in a statement. "He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."  Continue Reading

Harrison Ford to return as Han Solo in ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’: report

Is Harrison Ford going Solo? According to Latino Review, Harrison Ford is set to reprise his role as Rebel Alliance Captain Han Solo in "Star Wars: Episode VII." Ford has historically been wary of returning as Solo, turning down potential reunion events. But sources reported to Entertainment Weekly last November that Ford, 70, was softening to the idea of returning to the part. He's not the only former "Star Wars" star who might be involved in the coming trilogy. In October, Mark Hammill told Entertainment Weekly that he and Carrie Fisher met with George Lucas to speak about the new episodes--meaning that perhaps Luke and Leia Skywalker may be back in the mix as well. Though casting rumors are flying, details on the plot of the new film have not been released. Disney did, however, officially confirm J.J. Abrams as the director of the upcoming flick. The company, which recently completed their acquisition of Lucasfilm, also announced that "Empire Strikes Back" screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan would have a hand in "Episode VII." The sci-fi blockbuster, with or without Ford, is due out in May 2015. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ coming in May 2017

Star Wars fans, break out your day planners for the next few years, and maybe even your X-Wing pilot action figures from the toybox.Rogue One, to be directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and written by Chris Weitz (Cinderella), was named Thursday as the first in a series of standalone Star Wars films that will blast into theaters Dec. 16, 2016.Also, writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII — to follow J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, out Dec. 18 — is now scheduled to arrive on the big screen May 26, 2017.Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger made the announcements as part of a shareholders meeting at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.Starring recent Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rogue One begins filming this summer in London. Oscar-winning visual-effects supervisor John Knoll, also a chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic, came up with the story and is one of the executive producers. The title likely reflects the Rogue Squadron conceit of the former "Expanded Universe" Star Wars canon — in comics, novels, and video games, it was the most elite X-Wing Fighter group led by Wedge Antilles, who went on the raid against the Death Star with Luke Skywalker and other flyboys, says Devin Faraci of BadassDigest.com. "An X-Wing pilot movie makes a lot of sense — Top Gun in Star Wars."Uproxx entertainment writer Mike Ryan thought Felicity Jones was fantastic in Everything, "so I'm sure she can handle whatever the task here might be," he says, adding that Oscar-worthy folk like Alec Guinness and Liam Neeson have always been interested in the franchise.Plus, Harrison Ford and Natalie Portman were each nominated after their first Star Wars movie, and last year's Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o is a cast member in The Force Awakens."Oscar-type people make dumb movies all the time," Ryan figures. "Why wouldn't they want to make a movie that a lot of people like, like Star Wars?"And Continue Reading

‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’ 3-D release has fans of George Lucas’ universe still divided

The Force is still strong on both sides of "Star Wars" fandom split over the contentious legacy of "The Phantom Menace" nearly 13 years after the first installment of George Lucas' prequel trilogy. And with Friday's release of the 3-D refurbished edition of "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," there is no sign yet that any order will be brought to the universe to end the destructive conflict. For the nongeeks who will be seeing "The Vow" this weekend, the heart of the anger of the fans who grew up with the original "Star Wars" trilogy — the 1977 original, 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" and 1983's "Return of the Jedi" — is that the new series aimed for kids who were the same age that they were when the original movies hit theaters. PHOTOS: 'STAR WARS', THEN & NOW "I’m really happy to see them coming back again," Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor, told The News last month. "The thing is we can’t feel the same way we felt about the films as kids because we’re grown up. And we different attitudes towards them. "But children love them and the kids that come to speak to me about them are just as full of wonder about them as we were for the first three and I’m really happy to be part of that." Happy is not an adjective that a large number of old-school fans who spent hours or days before the midnight showings of "The Phantom Menace" on May 19, 1999, standing in line and swatting each other with light-sabers. Euphoria turned to outrage over the young Anakin Skywalker, the kid who would grow into the greatest movie villain of all time, Darth Vader, being a whiny little brat. And don't get them started on Jar Jar Binks.... "The first time sitting through it, you're still kind of holding on to the hope that it's going to get better," says James Walker, a graphic designer who attended one of the midnight shows in New York City. "The part of you that's a kid that remembers what 'Star Wars' means to Continue Reading

Oscar Isaac hits the A-list hyperdrive with ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

Oscar Isaac in involved in two sci-fi movies — but they’re from galaxies far, far apart. The 36-year-old Guatamalan-born actor, who attended New York’s Julliard School, hits the A-list hyperdrive this December with “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.” Details haven’t emerged yet, about the latest from director J.J. Abrams, but clue-hungry fans surmise his X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron may be a Han Solo-ish good guy. That’s not all for Isaac. He’s currently starring as a Steve-Jobs-meets-Frankenstein science genius in the drama “Ex Machina.” Co-starring is Domhnall Gleeson, best known as Harry Potter’s chum Bill Weasley. And the Force is strong in this movies, since Gleeson also has a starring role in the new “Star Wars” adventure. Isaac says “Star Wars” was part of his family tradition. “We would have ‘Star Wars’ parties with my uncle, cousin and little brother, and dress up,” Isaac recalls. “I was a Gonk Droid, basically a gray box with little feet. It was the easiest to make. We had to make our own costumes and I was lazy.” While filming “Force Awakens,” the original “Star Wars” trilogy wasn’t on the minds of the actors as much as you might think. Abrams never referred to the classics as shorthand while directing the new film. “It didn’t come up,” Isaac insists. “[The new ‘Star Wars’] was its own thing. We dealt with the script we had.” Continue Reading