Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Force is strong with Disney+

When Disney+ launches on 12th November, US-based Star Wars fans have much to look forward to. The original, prequel and sequel trilogies (not including The Last Jedi) will be available from day-one alongside the first live-action series The Mandalorian, executive produced by Jon Favreau.

However, due to existing distribution deals, Disney+ will, initially, be lighter on Marvel content. Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man and Iron Man 3 will be available with Avengers: Endgame premiering in December.

Fellow true believers will be looking further ahead to exclusive series Loki, Hawkeye, Falcon & Winter Soldier, WandaVision, What If...? and much more.

In the wake of Disney buying Twentieth Century Fox film and television assets, every season of The Simpsons will be available. It's also worth noting Seth MacFarlane's The Orville has been moved to Hulu.

Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services - Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month starting on 12th November, CEO Bob Iger announced today. This is a serious mission statement and undercuts many of its competitors including Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO.

"Disney+ marketing is going to start to hit in later this month, later in August.... you will see marketing, both in traditional and non-traditional directions, basically digital and analog," Iger said. "And of course, all the touchpoints that the company has, whether it's people staying at our hotels, people who have our co-branded credit card, people who are members of D23, annual pass holders."

Will you be subscribing to Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Kevin Conroy's Bruce Wayne in Crisis on Infinite Earths

The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths is shaping up to be the biggest Arrowverse crossover event yet with much speculation surrounding it, including a merger with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This would finally put DC Comics on par with Marvel in terms of transmedia storytelling. DC Comics continues to play second fiddle to Marvel, and Disney+ will only serve to widen the gap with its roster of exclusive live-action series from Loki to WandaVision.

From Brandon Routh (DC's Legends of Tomorrow) reprising the role of Superman (he was great in the underrated Superman Returns) to rumours Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Burt Ward (Batman) and Tom Welling (Smallville) will all appear in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Now, Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) is officially confirmed to be playing "future" Bruce Wayne. To say I'm stoked about this would be a gross understatement. For a generation of animation and video game fans, Conroy is Batman.

During the seventies and eighties, Marvel UK monopolised my comic book reading (with the occasional diversion into 2000 AD, Eagle and Battle Action Force) and DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths passed me by. So, I've bought a digital copy of the reissue to catch-up before the crossover is broadcast later this year.

Are you looking forward to Crisis on Infinite Earths and who would you like to see make a cameo? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

George Lucas advised Jon Favreau on The Mandalorian

Executive producer Jon Favreau (The Lion King) recently talked to GQ and revealed what George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, advised him during a set visit to The Mandalorian live-action series:

“We had a long talk with each other,” said Favreau. “One thing he said to me was, ’remember, Jon, the real audience for all stories and all myths is the kids that are coming of age’, because he’s really a Joseph Campbell adherent. We enjoy the stories as adults, but really, storytelling is about imparting the wisdom of the previous generations on to the children who are becoming adults, and giving them a context for how to behave and how to learn the lessons of the past without making the mistakes on their own. That’s the hope, that you can teach them how to avoid all the hardship but garner all the wisdom.”

Whilst The Mandalorian is the first Star Wars live-action series, Lucas originally planned to follow-up Revenge of the Sith with a live-action television series: Star Wars: Underworld. Scripts were prepared and one of those treatments, penned by John Knoll, was used for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.

Back in the seventies, author Alan Dean Foster, the ghostwriter of the original Star Wars novelisation, wrote Splinter of the Mind's Eye for television, but the unprecedented box office success of Lucas' space opera meant movie sequels would take precedence.

The Mandalorian, set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, premieres 12th November on Disney+. Presumably, the $120 million dollar 8-part series will be shown on the Disney Channel outside the US. However, stay tuned for further news.

Favreau is already hard at work on a second season.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

B&M's 2019 Doctor Who sets from Character Options

One of my earliest memories, growing up in the seventies, was being gifted Doctor Who action figures from Denys Fisher (in collaboration with Mego: best known for Micronauts, "World's Greatest Super Heroes" and Star Trek lines) and Palitoy. Alas, neither UK-based toy companies released a Sontaran or, fourth Doctor companion, Harry Sullivan.

Fast forward forty years or so and Character Options has announced its official 2019 Doctor Who sets (exclusively available from B&M).

"Al Dewar presents the 2019 line of Doctor Who collectable figures and sets from Character Options."

The latest collection is, I'm sure you'll agree, a home run and, best of all, there's a new Sontaran set including Harry Sullivan! This is especially poignant (for me) as The Sontaran Experiment is my earliest memory of watching Doctor Who. Here's hoping my local B&M store has these in stock later in the summer.

If by any chance someone from Character Options reads this, it would be a privilege for this lifelong Whovian to review the Sontarans set.

Which B&M Doctor Who sets are you looking forward to most and would like to see in the future? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Death Star rises from the desert of Jakku

Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director of Lucasfilm, has shared on Instagram unused concept art depicting the Death Star II rising from the desert of Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Death Star II, destroyed during the battle of Endor, can be seen in the teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The end of The Rise of Skywalker will melt your mind

Director Kevin Smith (Clerks) was interviewed by the fine folks over on IGN during San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). He shed light on his visit to the Pinewood Studios set of JJ Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and why he didn't want to see the final shot of the Skywalker saga:

“There was a scuttlebutt about the set there at Pinewood. They’re like, ‘You have to see this. When you see it, it will melt your mind.’ So I ask J.J., ‘They keep telling me I should see the set.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t. It’s the last shot of the movie. You don’t want this spoiled. You want to be in a theater when this happens. Trust me.'”

Ultimately Abrams and crew members dissuaded Smith:

“As inquisitive as I am, and as curious as I am, I desperately wanted to go look. But when you talk to the magician, and the magician is like, ‘Trust me on this one.’ You know, sometimes as human beings, we want to know how they pull the rabbit out of the hat, but J.J. is such a magical magician that I’m just like, ‘You know what? Do it. Trick me. I’ll wait and get tricked.’ Even though I could have seen what it was, I was like, ‘I’ll sit back. I like your plan.’ He’s never let me down so far.”

Aside from Sith Troopers, there was little else surrounding Star Wars at SDCC. This is a good thing and will only build anticipation for the December release of The Rise of Skywalker.

What could the final shot be? Rey (Daisy Ridley) taking her place by the Emperor's side? Speculate away in the comments below.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Avengers: Endgame ends Avatar's box office reign

Avengers: Endgame ends Avatar's decade-spanning reign at the top of the box office.

Director James Cameron congratulated the Russo brothers on the achievement as he did previously when Endgame beat Titanic.

Cameron posted on Avatar’s official Twitter account: "Oel ngati kameie, I see you Marvel – Congratulations to Avengers Endgame on becoming the new box-office King."

Avatar is now a Disney franchise, following the acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets earlier this year, and the first sequel is expected in cinemas December 2021.

During San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Phase 4 beginning with Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Star Trek: Picard trailer engages fans at SDCC

Sir Patrick Stewart announced a new teaser trailer for Star Trek: Picard at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). It's a home run, reuniting former cast members from The Next Generation and Voyager, and the stakes couldn't be higher.

In the spellbinding teaser trailer, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Data (Brent Spiner) pay a visit to Picard (Patrick Stewart) who is a shadow of his former self 20 years after events in Nemesis.

Stewart has confirmed Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis will reprise the roles of William Riker and Deanna Troi from The Next Generation respectively. How about Q (John de Lancie), too?

In a departure from Discovery on Netflix. The latest CBS All Access spin-off will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US in early 2020. Until then, I'll let my Amazon Prime subscription lapse as BritBox, a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, launches in the UK later this year featuring classic Doctor Who.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance at SDCC

Netflix has released a San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) sneak peek, deftly illustrating the artistry, passion and attention to detail invested in this prequel to Jim Henson's classic fable, The Dark Crystal.

"The idea is you watch the show and you forget you're watching puppets." Fans at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 were given a glimpse of the artistry behind the scenes of the resistance by director Louis Leterrier and executive producer Lisa Henson.

The fine folks at Funko have announced a range of Pops! and action figures based on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. These are sure to prove popular with fans of all ages.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance streams on Netflix 30th August. I won't be cancelling my subscription anytime soon.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Top Gun: Maverick takes to the skies at SDCC

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) is full of surprises, but no one saw this coming. Tom Cruise took to the stage to introduce the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick. A sequel to the original Top Gun (1986), directed by the late Tony Scott, 34 years later.

Maverick (Tom Cruise) is called back into action to battle drones. Got goosebumps hearing Harold Faltermeyer's iconic main theme and the trailer is taken from the Star Wars playbook.

Top Gun has left an enduring legacy and most recently influenced Captain Marvel.

Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas 2020.