Steve Sansweet, Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm, took the dais Saturday at Wizard World Chicago, ready to answer questions about upcoming Star Wars projects. With the Clone Wars movie this fall and the tv series soon to follow, Lucasfilm wants Star Wars at the front of fans’ minds. The Force Unleashed, a video game coming this fall was also on the docket.
Jedi, a couple Sith, plenty of bounty hunters and a plethora of Storm Troopers filled the conference room. “My name is Steve, and I’m a Star Wars-aholic” was met to much applause. Steve, genuinely excited, told a story about George Lucas saying he was finished with Star Wars altogether about 25 years ago, after Return of the Jedi had come out. He spoke of the intervening years between then and the premier of the newer trilogy.
Then, in 2005, the “last Star Wars movie ever” came out. Well, August 15th brings a computer animated movie into theaters. This re-announcement was followed by a short movie.
The film showed conventions past, specifically 1976, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007; they showed fans, actors, and costume-wearers galore all celebrating the phenomenon. From panels to interviews to a Jedi Training Academy, fans were shown enjoying the conventions.
Sansweet transitioned to the video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The bad guys “will be helpless against the force” when the game is released on September 16, 2008. A trailer for the game was shown next on the big screens. It opened with an Imperial Destroyer flying over a planet, then being tugged somehow toward the ground. We see someone in a robe slamming it down, then lighting up his saber. The trailer is well circulated and well known to fans, but received large applause. Sansweet promised the huge action will be supplemented by vital story points that connect Episodes III and IV. There are revelations and character developments that will help make the stories fit together.
SPOILERS FOR THE GAME PLOT FOLLOW
Next up was a video showing more gameplay, and Hayden Blackman, Project Lead on the game talking about his work with it. Footage of Darth Vader from within the game was shown, and Vader is promised to be “central to the story.” Players will control Vader in the first mission of the game. A little boy force pulls Vader’s light-saber from his hands, and Vader then makes him his secret apprentice. When you control the apprentice a few years in the story later, you’re instructed by Vader to hunt down a rogue Jedi and kill everyone, even the Emperor’s people.
The start of the entire Rebel Alliance will be shown within the game. There will be choices the player must make along the dark and light side of the force, as well.
Sansweet is impressed and expressed LucasArts’ enjoyment of fan movies, including ones they recognize each year. He then, to much laughter, showed Robot Chicken’s Star Wars parody, including a George Lucas action figure complaining about bad tv parodies. The DVD with extras comes to stores July 22nd, 2008.
After this, several Clone Troopers came to the floor, as Sansweet trumpeted the upcoming movie and tv show. A trailer for the movie was shown, followed by a video of Dave Filoni, supervising director of the movie, discussing the film. The trailer showed scenes familiar to fans that watched the Clone Wars animated shorts previously shown on Cartoon Network. They seem to contain much more dialogue than the shorts, along with the high quality CGI. More footage was shown both of the movie and series, and of George Lucas taking a lot of personal involvement in its production. Anakin gains a padawan named Asoka Tana, who is the female “touchstone of the audience.” General Grievous and Asaz Ventris are both featured heavily as well.
While Star Wars is known most for its epic battles, but the personal moments are important as well. Dave Filoni was shown once again, to talk about the epic battles in the new movie. A walker that can scale sheer walls was shown, implying a vertical battle. The human element will be focused on in the midst of battle, as it is “very important to George.” A new trailer for the film was shown directly after.
A flying vessel heads toward a planet. Anakin is shown, along with Obi-Wan, and the mission to find the renegades that kidnapped Jabba the Hut’s son is mentioned as a mission for Anakin. Palpatine is implied to be behind it, in order to engineer a war between the Huts and the Jedi in the midst of the already ongoing clone wars. Tons of Light Saber battles, lots of blasters and clones filled the screen. Steve assured fans that this is definitely Star Wars. The floor was then opened to questions, and throngs of fans lined up.
Highlights from the Q&A:
A fan joked about Steve’s collection, then asked about when “Star Wars Celebration 5” would take place. Steve said Celebration Japan and Comic-Con have to go on first, then they’ll be deciding when in 2009 or 2010 the next Celebration would be. Chicago, Baltimore, Orlando and Minneapolis were mentioned as possibilities. No decisions have been made, but will begin in early fall.
The next fan was told that the new trailer shows scenes from only the movie. The movie will not have Grievous, though the series will. There may not be a Star Wars scroll, but if there is there won’t be a number assigned (no 2.5).
The Fan Club and associated activities have gotten busier every year, even though the live action movies concluded 3 years ago. There will be a Star Wars Breakfast at Comic-Con.
A fan dressed as Catwoman was asked by Steve “What episode were you in?” She then gave her ideas for some storylines. Steve mentioned the live action series that will follow the animated ones as a source for more Star Wars.
A self-styled “continuity nut” asked about how the new movie and series will link with the aforementioned Cartoon Network series. George Lucas apparently lets “the gnomes in the back” worry about continuity. The fan was also assured that the directors and producers have this at the top of their minds. However, the battles will be closer to those in the live action films than those in the previously animated show.
Warner Bros. is releasing the new film because “they brought these giant suitcases of money.” While Fox was an “amazing partner” for the live-action films, LucasFilm felt Warner made better business sense. The fan asking about distribution pointed out what he thought was a continuity error in the trailer, to which Steve said there will be explanations.
Steve couldn’t elaborate much on the live-action tv series. There are writers working on the series now, and his best guess has it coming out 2011.
As far as he knows, Indiana Jones 4 will be released on Blu-ray as well as regular DVD.
The Indy comic will not lead to an animated series at this time, but anything’s possible.
As far as a continuation of Knights of the Old Republic or another Star Wars Role Playing video game, LucasArts is aware of fans desires, and he said it’s “on the list.”
Disney has talked with Lucas about updating “Star Tours.” Stay tuned for more on that.
Any possibility of an Indiana Jones Celebration? Maybe if there’s an Indy 5 announced, but probably not.
No new Monkey Island games are on the list as of this time, though it is fondly remembered. And with that, the panel drew to a close.