After all the build up for The Force Awakens this week thanks to Entertainment Weekly, it wasn’t crazy to wonder just what else Lucasfilm could bring for their portion of the live-action panel at the D23 Expo this morning. They delivered on a scale most didn’t expect, as they announced the Rogue One cast (and stealthily rebranded the Anthology films into A Star Wars Story), a director for Episode IX was revealed, and dropped the bomb that TWO 14 ACRES Star Wars Lands are being planned. I’ll let that last part settle in and when you’re done hyperventilating, continue reading below for the details.
First off, holy cast Rogue One! Felicity Jones is now joined by Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Riz Ahmed. You can see some of them in the first picture released from the film, showing off the grittier look and feel Gareth Edwards said they were going for at Celebration Anaheim. I’m not familiar with some of the cast, but I’m happy they’re bringing such a big chunk of diversity into the galaxy far, far away. However, I do know Forest Whitaker, who I’ve always enjoyed in his films, even as far back as The Crying Game; Mads Mikkelsen, who played Bond villain Le Chiffre in 2006’s amazing reboot Casino Royale and has been killing it as Hannibal in the Hannibal TV show; and of course Alan Tudyk, said to be playing a mo-cap character, who has starred in the classic Firefly series. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the cast can bring! Secondly, the change from Anthology Series to “A Star Wars Story” might sound a little goofy (and a little more Disney), but it’s way more accessible to the general public, which is why they created any type of branding for the spin-offs in the first place.
Episode IX, while still a while off, has received a director in Colin Trevorrow, responsible for the fantastic Safety Not Guaranteed and the box office smash, Jurassic World. Here’s what he had to say:
This is not a job or an assignment. It is a seat at a campfire, surrounded by an extraordinary group of storytellers, filmmakers, artists and craftspeople. We’ve been charged with telling new stories for a younger generation because they deserve what we all had—a mythology to call their own. We will do this by channeling something George Lucas instilled in all of us: boundless creativity, pure invention and hope.
Since so much time was spent on TFA this week, there was only a small segment regulated to it, but they had Luptia Nyong’o, John Boyega, Daisey Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Harrison Ford on stage while revealing a brand new TFA poster from the well-loved Drew Struzan. Not only does it look as amazing as you’d expect from him, it includes a big surprise: Finn holding Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber! So is Finn the Force-sensitive one Luke was talking about in the second teaser? Does this mean Rey isn’t? New information only seems to be giving us more questions, but boy are they enjoyable questions to ponder.
But the biggest news of them of all? Star Wars Land, to be built at both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Orlando, will be 14 ACRES! This is the single biggest expansion to Disney parks ever, and rightfully so! There’ll be a cantina which will feature the band we all love and remember from A New Hope, each establishment will be full of the aliens you’d expect to see there (so they are hiring tons of people!), you can “pilot” the Millennium Falcon, and be part of an epic adventure that puts you in the middle of a climatic battle. That’s all they’ve announced currently, but expect more news at D23’s Parks panel later today. This is just beyond expectations though…I mean 14 acres? I don’t think I’d ever want to leave, let alone ever be able to find my way out. Star Wars Land is a pretty mind-boggeling thing to consider and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to truly believe it until I’m standing in it, but I’m definitely eagerly anticipating it. No word on when it’ll be done or ready, but I can wait for them to perfect it. UPDATE: Here’s a video of the announcement by Bob Iger, which includes some different concept art not seen in the link above.
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