Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode IX!

It’s official. We reported that Abrams was the top choice to direct Star Wars: Episode IX a couple of years ago.

And then Colin Trevorrow was hired to direct the film. After a couple of years of pre-production on the film, Trevorrow was let go, leaving the director seat empty.

A few days later Lucasfilm announced that J.J. Abrams would return to the trilogy he started to helm the closing chapter of the new trilogy.

It all makes sense to me. Abrams is a steady hand at directing, his first Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, was very well received to the tune of $2 billion at the box office, introduced great new characters to the saga. It was both familiar and new, bringing new ideas to a universe that felt comfortable. The film could have very easily spent a lot of time with the old characters like Han, Luke and Leia, but it took some risks by not bringing in a single recognizable character for the first forty minutes of screen time. Not just that, but fan-favorite Luke Skywalker only briefly appears at the end without a word to say! To claim that the film took no risks is to forget about these very large ones. I would have appreciated another scene with Luke and Han sharing the screen together (and maybe it’ll happen with a surprise flashback scene at some point in The Last Jedi or Episode IX), but we’ll hopefully get a scene with Luke and Leia in The Last Jedi.

Before I can even speculate as to the content of Episode IX, I have to see The Last Jedi. That film is the mid-point that will catapult the cast toward whatever end the trilogy has in-store for us. Will The First Order be defeated? Will they win?

I say this as a fan of the saga and also as a business man…. the only way that smaller, independent or original (re: not sequels or remakes) are made are will the income that comes from the familiar. People buying tickets to Star Wars films in no way detracts from the creation of original films. It inspires the creation of original films. George Lucas was told “no” by nearly every studio in Hollywood until someone that had seen and enjoyed American Graffiti took a chance on it. Even Lucas’ friends thought he was crazy and that his idea wouldn’t work. It became the largest film franchise the world has ever seen, period. Avatar, Harry Potter, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tolkien… All of these put up a decent fight (save Avatar… that is still to be seen if 4 more movies will stand up to the weight of the first film). But Star Wars is a movie saga made for the whole family, and each film is an event. And the dollars that come in help Disney to be able to afford such films as Queen of Katwe, Up, Inside Out, etc. etc. etc. So let’s not lament that tentpole films exist, but celebrate that they do to help the studio continue to bring original IP to the silver screen. As a business man…. original IP is much more difficult to get moving than known quantities. I know from experience. We build a new IP this year and are having difficulties getting the sales up next to our existing IP. It’s not impossible, but it’s harder. It’s not wrong that our existing IP exists and will continue to do so (i.e. Star Wars) because that feeds the engine that makes the new IP possible. Without the existing IP, the new IP would not be possible. I used to believe that studios had run out of ideas, that only original films should ever be released, but now that I own a business of my own, I can see why things are the way they are.

And, for the record, just because we have an existing IP doesn’t mean that we don’t put the same amount of care into the product that we do with new IP. That would be ridiculous, because if we didn’t put the same care into each and every IP, then we would break the trust of our customers. I.E. Disney / Lucasfilm / Pixar etc…. they put the same amount of care into every film that they make… they’re not going to say “Star Wars prints money, so just slap the name onto a piece of junk.” They’re going to say “Star Wars prints money, but only as long as the fans trust us to do right by them, so let’s build their trust (The Force Awakens) and through some curveballs at them from time to time (Rogue One, Han Solo), so that we can properly bring them films that are a happy medium between the old and the new, with some of the best directors working today getting a chance to play in that sandbox. Rian Johnson got a chance, and now J.J. Abrams is getting another turn. I’ve also heard that Rian Johnson may have signed a contract to do two Star Wars films… the next one will, most likely, be a stand-alone Star Wars Story… like Rogue One, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, etc.

The reason that Colin Trevorrow was fired, I’ve heard, is because he started to get an ego that was hard to work with. He’d done quite well with Jurassic World, but then his next film bombed as he didn’t really listen to anyone’s suggestions (as this unnamed producer put it)… so you have to listen to the company and be willing to work with the studio, and not go off-script with your film. (Rian Johnson also said he wished he had more oversight than he did, which is ironic, considering everything that’s been said about him being “forced to make a movie that looks like the other films” in a 90 second teaser. When you’re writing chapter 8 of a 9 chapter book, the language has to be the same or the reader won’t know why it changed so much.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming to Blu-ray 3D!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray 3DWell, this is surprising. To no one. Disney is taking advantage of the December launch of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to cross-promote a new Star Wars: The Force Awakens release. This time it’s Blu-ray 3D.

Releasing on November 15, 2016, which is about a month before Rogue One heads to cinemas, it includes not just the 3D Blu-ray, but the film in 2D as well, on Blu-ray. Also included are the DVD and Digital editions. It’s hard to imagine someone that hasn’t bought the movie yet, but I’m sure there are folks that are waiting for the eventual sequel trilogy box set, or the Skywalker Family edition that could eventually see release.

To add a little more incentive to double (or triple) dipping on this film, they’re also adding a large list of new features to this release:

  • Audio Commentary with J.J. Abrams – Enter the mind of visionary director J.J. Abrams as he reveals the creative and complex choices made while developing the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy.
  • Foley: A Sonic Tale – Foley artists, consisting of old pros and new talent, unite to bring the world of Star Wars: The Force Awakens alive through the matching of sound to action.
  • Sounds of the Resistance – Hear how the epic sound design of Star Wars: The Force Awakens moves the Star Wars legacy forward.
  • Deleted Scenes – View never-before-shared scenes that didn’t make the film’s final cut.
  • Dressing the Galaxy – Costume Designer Michael Kaplan reveals how the costumes of the original Star Wars movies were re-envisioned for a new generation.
  • The Scavenger and the Stormtrooper: A Conversation with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – The two new stars share the thrill of working together on the adventure of a lifetime and becoming part of the Star Wars legacy.
  • Inside the Armory – Take a fascinating tour through the design and creation of the weaponry in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Classic Bonus Features – These offerings from the April release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, include the complete story behind the making of the film, an unforgettable cast table read, insights from legendary composer John Williams and deleted scenes, as well as features that dig deeper into the creation of new characters such as BB-8, the design of the climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren, the film’s remarkable digital artistry and the Star Wars: Force for Change global aid initiative.

Still missing from the features list are the excellent trailers and the Star Wars Celebration Reel that really kicked off the excitement for the film in a way that I’ll never forget.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Blu-ray 3D


Fans can fully immerse themselves in “The Force Awakens” through breathtaking 3D, new bonus features and collectible packaging!

This fall, Star Wars fans around the world, will experience a galaxy far, far away—up close and in eye-popping 3D—through the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” 3D Collector’s Edition, rolling out beginning Oct. 31 and arriving in the United States and Canada on Nov 15.

For the first time—and just in time for the holidays—viewers can bring home Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 3D, encased in stunning, collectible packaging. The exclusive four-disc 3D Collector’s Edition contains the original theatrical release on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™, Digital HD and DVD, along with originally released bonus features and brand-new bonus material, including additional deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes conversations with cast and crew and revealing, never-before released audio commentary by director J.J. Abrams.

Star Wars The Force Awakens film clip available here:
YouTube: https://youtu.be/WdKH-g1IYMs

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray Special Features

Rey - Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe blu-ray disc release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for April 5, 2016 (not too much longer, so see it in theaters while you can).

Now we have a look at what some of the special features are:

  • Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey
  • The Story Awakens: The Table Read
  • Building BB-8
  • Crafting Creatures
  • Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight
  • The Visual Magic Of The Force
  • John Williams: The Seventh Symphony
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Force For Change

Pre-Order Star Wars: The Force Awakens today!

#WheresRey? More like #WheresSabine! Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine Wren is the real problem

The problem with the #WheresRey campaign is that it was exceptionally misleading. I read that Rey was going to be more heavily included with series two of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys and action figures. In those articles, the writers stated incorrectly that this was the result of the #WheresRey protest and that Hasbro is “finally” making Rey toys. This isn’t in any way, shape, or form, true. The fact is: Series 1 included Rey. Anyone that tells you otherwise is frustrated that they didn’t find her at their local toy stores or toy sections before someone else did.

As a slight aside, I’ve been doing some thinking about the situation with the Millennium Falcon playset not including Rey. Oftentimes, toy companies will not include the same characters in multiple vehicle sets. They released Rey’s Speeder, and included her with that vehicle. If someone were to get both Rey’s Speeder and the Millennium Falcon, Hasbro can effectively save money by including Rey in one and not the other. That’s something that I remember happening a lot when I was a kid. I can’t recall any specific examples, but I do remember that happening. Plus, the fact that the vehicles come with action figures at all is something to be thankful for. The Ecto-1 from The Real Ghostbusters didn’t come with any.


“The Real Ghostbusters Hero Action Figures Sold Separately” is printed right on the box.

So is it a problem that the Millennium Falcon playset comes with Finn and not Rey? No.. it also doesn’t come with Han Solo, and the ship belongs to him. Plus, Rey comes with her speeder, and Finn doesn’t come with a ship of his own.

On another note, many of the series two Rey action figures feature her carrying a weapon that we didn’t know she’d be carrying by the end of the movie. Much of the art features Finn carrying that weapon, including the poster! Makes sense that they’d hold those toys back.

Now, onto the very reason that I’m writing this article: Sabine Wren. She’s a mandalorian from Star Wars Rebels with a really cool costume. And yet, there have only been two toys made with Sabine included.


Sabine Wren and Stormtrooper

This is supposed to retail for $9.99. I went to a dozen stores over many months and didn’t see her once, or I’d own it. The only places I ever saw this action figure set were the comic cons that I went to. The lowest price was at least double the MSRP. It would have been one thing if the action figure set was out of print at the time, and I didn’t have a chance of finding it, but at the time, it was supposed to be easy to find. My guess is that collectors snatched every one of her up as much as they could. I did find Hera on shelves a number of times, but never Sabine.

The only Sabine I do own is the Disney Infinity version.

Sabine Wren - Disney Infinity 3.0

StarWars.com took a vote late last year and Sabine came in second, so they’re going to make a Black Series action figure of Sabine Wren, which I hope to be able to find.

Now, here’s the real problem: they’ve released more Star Wars Rebels action figures alongside The Force Awakens action figures. They even come in the Force Awakens branded card-backs. But there is no Sabine.

Seriously. No Sabine. I’ve been looking for a Sabine for what seems like an eternity at this point. Where’s Sabine, Hasbro?

Rey has been available in stores since September 4th if you are lucky enough to run into her (which I have been a lot of times). Sabine? Not at all.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is NOT Fan Fiction

fan fiction (noun): fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc. (Emphasis added.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens IMAX PosterRecently someone claimed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was fan fiction. If it is, then so are The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. All three films share more than just actors. Writer Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote all three. He co-wrote Empire with Leigh Brackett, Jedi with George Lucas and Force Awakens with J.J. Abrams.

When I hear fanfic, I think “wannabe” and “not canonical” rather than acknowledging that it’s a true continuation of the story.

Yes, J.J. Abrams is a fan, but that’s not the approach he took:

But my job wasn’t to be a fan boy or an 11-year-old kid. It was to be a nearly 50-year-old movie director, so I tried to approach this thing from a point of view of obviously acknowledging how much I love what George Lucas created, but understand that being a fan doesn’t make the story work. Being a fan doesn’t make the scene any good. Being a fan is great, but we all had to be storytellers and filmmakers.

I was surrounded by people like Lawrence Kasdan, who’d written the Empire Strikes Back and the Return of the Jedi, and actors who had been there from the beginning, all the way through visual effects and sound of course John Williams, who collaborating with him is like cheating, ’cause he speaks to our soul with music in a way that I think is super-human. So the whole process was really about trying to love it but also be hard on it, so that the story meant something and was emotional and not just a fan film. (via Merlot Mommy)

Part of the argument was that it didn’t break any new ground. That’s simply not true. They introduced a strong female lead that is unlike any seen before in the Star Wars films. She’s basically the Luke Skywalker of this new trilogy in many ways, and it doesn’t even really matter that she’s female. She just happens to be so.

Honestly, I think the rest of the ground that Force Awakens has broken will be revealed by the sequels. It introduced a lot of questions, a new status quo with regard to the heroes and villains, and the repercussions of the destruction have yet to be felt.

Claiming that other fan fiction has been successful isn’t a good argument. Those fan fictions were only successful because they were renamed. They did not become part of the actual storyline. They had to become their own thing or they would never have achieved success.

The Force Awakens is now, forever, part of the Star Wars saga. By definition, fanfic can never do that. It ceases to be fanfic once it becomes an official part of the story.

Where’s Rey? Where to find Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Rey Toys and Action Figures

Rey has undoubtedly won the hearts of millions of Star Wars fans the world over. So much so, that action figures and other toys based around the character are very difficult to find. She’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars universe, and I have a number of Rey toys that have been release so far.

A couple of nights ago I saw people complaining on social media about the lack of Rey action figures. They claimed that they’d asked people at Target who said they’d “never stocked” any Rey toys. Without doing proper research (a little bit of searching) or using logical reasoning (these toys have been available since September 4, 2015 when they were released on Force Friday to HUGE fanfare), they simply believed that Disney hadn’t produced any Rey action figures.

That is simply not true. I’ve not only got six different Rey toys of my own, but I know for a fact that there’s a seventh and an eighth, and likely more to come as more films in this saga trilogy are released.

Update (spoilers if you haven’t seen the film):  Hasbro commented on the lack of Rey in Monopoly: “The Star Wars: Monopoly game was released in September, months before the movie’s release, and Rey was not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance.” (Clearly, they mean Resistance, but whatever.) The spokesperson added that Rey is featured in several Hasbro games, including Hands Down, Guess Who, and chess, and that “fans will see more Rey product hitting store shelves this month, including 6-inch and 12-inch Rey action figures. We are thrilled with the popularity of this compelling character and will continue to look for ways to showcase Rey across all of our product lines.” (via EW)

So, here’s what’s been released and where you might be able to find them! The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This helps pay for server costs.

Rey (Starkiller Base) Rey (Starkiller Base)– 3.75″ Action Figure

This action figure was released with the initial launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens action figures.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Meijer
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Kohls
  • Walmart

Places to find it online:

  • Amazon
  • Entertainment Earth
  • ToyWiz

Rey - Black Series - 6"Rey (Jakku) – 6″ Black Series

Also launched on Force Friday, this is a highlight of my collection.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Meijer
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Kohls
  • Walmart

Places to find it online:

  • Amazon
  • Entertainment Earth
  • ToyWiz

Rey (Jakku) - Black Series - 3.75"Rey (Jakku) – 3.75″ Black Series

I’d never seen this one before I starting making this list. It looks awesome.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Walmart

Places to find it online:

  • Entertainment Earth
  • ToyWiz

Rey and BB-8 Elite Series Die Cast Action Figures - 6''Rey and BB-8 Elite Series Die Cast Action Figures – 6”

These are awesome. Very detailed like the Black Series but made with metal and plastic. Rey is 6″ and BB-8 is 3 1/2″.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Disney Stores

Places to find it online:

  • DisneyStore.com (sold out at time of this writing)
  • Amazon (by resellers, and usually MUCH higher cost than Disney Stores)
  • Toywiz (reseller)

Rey and BB-8 Elite Series Die Cast Action Figures - 6''Rey and BB-8 Elite Series Die Cast Action Figures – 6” (New Version)

Here’s a new edition of the above action figure. “In collaboration with Lucasfilm, we present the Star Wars Elite Series Rey and BB-8 die cast action figures. The resilient survivor comes complete with blue lightsaber! Add her and the spherical droid to your collection for epic adventure.” Rey is 6″ and BB-8 is 3 1/2″.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Disney Stores

Places to find it online:

  • DisneyStore.com
  • Amazon (by resellers, and usually MUCH higher cost than Disney Stores)
  • Toywiz (reseller)

Rey - itty bitty - 4" plushRey – itty bitty – 4″ plush

Itty bittys are a line of plushies that you can only find at Hallmark stores. As soon as Rey was released, I was practically the first in line to get her.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Hallmark Stores

Places to find it online:

Rey - Hot Topic Exclusive Pop! VinylRey – Funko Pop! Vinyl – Hot Topic Exclusive

You can find practically any character you want as a Pop! Vinyl from Funko. Plus, they’re all equally adorable. My wife and I love these and have many of our favorite characters. We couldn’t pass this up, or the other one.

Places to find it in stores:

  • Hot Topic Stores

Places to find it online:

Rey - Funko Pop! VinylRey – Funko Pop! Vinyl

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey – Funko Wacky Wobbler

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey's Speeder (Jakku)Rey’s Speeder (Jakku) with special edition Rey (Jakku) action figure

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey - Disney InfinityRey – Disney Infinity – The Force Awakens Play Set

You can be Rey in Disney Infinity. The best version of this game yet, Disney Infinity has really found a great footing and has tons to explore!

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey's Speeder (LEGO)Rey’s Speeder (LEGO)

You can find a LEGO version of Rey here, and she’s also included in the Force Awakens Lego Millennium Falcon!

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey's Speeder - Black Series TitaniumRey’s Speeder – Black Series Titanium

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Rey Super Deformed PlushRey – Super Deformed Plush

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

The Force Awakens Figurine PlaysetThe Force Awakens PVC Figurine Playset

These figures come attached to bases. They’re approximately 4″ tall (except for BB-8).

Places to find it in stores:

  • Disney Store

Places to find it online:

Rey and BB-8 - HotToysRey and BB-8 – HotToys

HotToys makes the world’s best, highly accurate, fully detailed action figures in the world, and their Rey and BB-8 set is no different. Absolutely beautiful. If HotToys wanted to send me a sample, I wouldn’t complain. It’s available in two variations.. one with and one without BB-8.

Places to find it online:

LEGO Rey - Buildable FigureRey – Buildable Figure (LEGO)

This is a figure that stands over 9 inches tall! It’s part of LEGOs’ new buildable figure line. It is available starting January 1, 2016.

Places to find it in stores:

Places to find it online:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – #SWSpoilerFree

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - PosterTake a pledge to help others see Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoiler free!

I have a friend who had the biggest plot point spoiled for him. A mere day before we saw the movie.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

Here it is… the final trailer (and poster) for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Enjoy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Poster

UCB Comedian to Host “FELICITY”-themed “George Lucas Talk Show”

Felicity - The George Lucas Talk ShowFor the past year and a half, comedian Connor Ratliff has hosted “The George Lucas Talk Show” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre East in New York. Described by The Guardian as “surreal,” it’s a monthly talk show in which Ratliff pretends to be 70-year old filmmaker George Lucas while interviewing real guests accompanied by his sidekick, “Jar-Jar” (played by comedian Shaun Diston.) Now, in anticipation of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Ratliff is preparing to devote an entire episode to Abrams’ late 90s TV series, Felicity.

“The concept behind the talk show is that once Lucas retired from filmmaking he went into stand-up comedy to become a late night talk show host,” said Ratliff. “And since J.J. Abrams is about to release a new Star Wars movie, it makes sense that we’d devote an entire show to Felicity.”

Ratliff, a veteran UCB performer familiar to viewers of The Chris Gethard Show, has done more than twenty shows as Lucas (including a showcase performance at this year’s SXSW) interviewing guests from SNL, Broad City, The Tonight Show, Late Night, VEEP and The Colbert Report, along with musical guests like Wesley Stace, Mike Doughty and Emilyn Brodsky, but some of his most spectacular shows have been “theme” episodes, like when he celebrated “Life Day” (the Star Wars version of Christmas from the notorious “Star Wars Holiday Special“) or a recent episode about the peculiar relationship between Star Wars and M&Ms.

“We just did a whole hour about M&Ms,” he said. “It started as an offhand remark and before I knew it I’m at UCB East tossing over $500 dollars’ worth of M&Ms at the audience. It was insane.”

Ratliff’s version of Lucas is skeptical about J.J. Abrams, but Ratliff himself is a big fan. “The first two seasons of Alias are among the greatest television ever made, and he’s produced so much amazing TV since then, like Fringe and Person Of Interest, which is one of the very best shows on TV right now. And I don’t think you can watch his first Star Trek movie without becoming very excited to see what he’s gonna do with Star Wars. But my Lucas character is a little more threatened. My take on it has been to sort of question every move J.J. makes. That was sort of the origin of this Felicity show.”

For November’s episode, Ratliff is currently binge-watching all four seasons of Felicity so that his Lucas character can devote the whole hour to discussing the show, and he’s hopeful that maybe he can wrangle a surprise guest or two. When he recently did a “Labor Day” show, he went looking for guests who had really worked for Lucas, and ended up interviewing an actual former Industrial Light & Magic employee, a video game designer who had worked on an official Star Wars game, and an actor who had unsuccessfully auditioned for Episode VII. He has high hopes that November’s Felicity show might land a few guests who worked on the show at any point during its four seasons.

“That’s the dream: to get a cast member or crew person who worked on Felicity to come to UCB East and talk to me while I pretend to be George Lucas. If Keri Russell or J.J. Abrams want to come onto the show as guests, please let them know they are welcome. They don’t even need to let me know in advance, they can just show up and walk onto the stage, mid-show.”

The next George Lucas Talk Show (“The FELICITY Awakens”) is on November 6th at midnight at UCB Theatre East.


The George Lucas Talk Show

Celebrity Nerd-Off with Stephen Colbert and J.J. Abrams!

Stephen Colbert and J.J. AbramsJoin Stephen Colbert, host of CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, for an evening of conversation and fun with director J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek, Super 8). This event will feature the pair in a wide-ranging on-stage discussion of their influences, ideas, and creative work. Come and see which geek shall inherit the earth!

WHO: Stephen Colbert & J.J. Abrams

WHAT: Celebrity Nerd-Off!

WHERE: New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)

WHEN: Saturday, November 21st, 2015, 8:00pm

HOW: MFF Member tickets on sale NOW.
Tickets for the General Public go on sale September 11th.

PLUS! The Montclair Film Festival will team up with Omaze to raffle off a special fan experience, with details to be revealed soon.

Proceeds from this event and raffle to benefit The Montclair Film Festival, New Jersey’s leading film non-profit.

We hope you will join us and pass this info on to your fellow fans!

Visit us at: http://montclairfilmfest.org/2015/09/colbert-abrams/
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MontclairFilmFest
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MontclairFF #MFF #ColbertAbrams