Walt Disney Picture’s decision to buy Lucasfilm knocked the Internet’s collective socks off last year; however, the announcement that Kathleen Kennedy will usher in the new generation of Star Wars live-action movies, did not. After all, the eight-time Oscar-nominated producer has been instrumental to Steven Spielberg’s career for over three decades (going back to her days as an “associate” on 1941 and Raiders of the Lost Ark).
Kennedy proved her dedication to getting Star Wars: Episode VII right, after she devoted more than a month to simply buttering up J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) in order to secure him as director. The man prefers to keep fans out of the loop during production, be it on Cloverfield (which Abrams produced), both installments in the rebooted Star Trek continuity, or the sci-fi love letter Super 8; so, will the filming process for Episode VII be equally secretive?
“I think the whole issue of confidentiality is gonna be fascinating as we move into making the movie. If we’re shooting anything outside, it’s almost impossible to not have things end up on the Internet. So my feeling is, you need to embrace that, especially with the fans around something like Star Wars. You need to recognize they’re important to the process and acknowledge there are things you’re gonna want to make sure they get to know. So I think that’s something we’re going to monitor, pay attention to and think differently about.”
We’ve been able to document the filming process for major superhero blockbusters in recent years, thanks to the fans snapping photos and videos from the sidelines (which are then made available online). Directors Marc Webb and Bryan Singer are currently taking advantage of people’s interest in analyzing virtually every aspect of production on their forthcoming comic book movies, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, by Tweeting various images from the set on a daily/weekly basis.
Hence, Kennedy is wise to recognize that embracing and, in fact, encouraging fans to be interested in watching principal photography on Star Wars: Episode VII unfold from a distance, is the way to go. It’s just too difficult to control and monitor the flow of information online – something Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan learned the hard way while filming The Dark Knight Rises back in 2011 – and the sheer amount of Episode VII tie-in merchandise that will soon pour into stores, will make it even harder for Kennedy/Abrams to keep anything Star Wars related secret.
Besides, as Webb and Singer have realized, keeping your fans preoccupied actually helps to keep a lid on the really important elements of your film before they reach theaters; it also tempers the general public’s expectations for the final result to deliver mind-blowing surprises. That dangerous combination of too much buildup for a tentpole, coupled with not enough delivery to justify it all, is something that resulted in a pronounced fan backlash to Prometheus in 2012.
Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness could prompt something of a similar response – an issue that was raised during the ‘2013 Summer Movie Preview’ episode on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast – if the truth about the film’s narrative and the mysterious antagonist (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) prove disappointing, coming after so many interviews and trailers that have propped them up as being something truly brilliant and unanticipated.
That shouldn’t really affect box office ticket sales but, if that happens, then fans will be more than happy to voice their displeasure online (just ask Into Darkness and Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindelof about that). So, all in all, Abrams stands to save himself more than a few headaches by yielding to Kennedy and not trying to keep everything about Episode VII a secret (not to mention, how George Lucas has already let one cat out of the bag well ahead of production starting).
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters in Summer 2015.
Source: Screen Slam