Lucasfilm now part of the (infinite) Disney Universe
Disney has just gobbled up – for a reported $4.05 billion in cash and stock – Lucasfilm, the George Lucas-owned company behind the Star Wars movie franchise (and Howard the Duck, too). Needless to say, Disney has already announced plans for a seventh Star Wars movie, to be released in 2015. Just as unsurprisingly, there have been no announcements about an upcoming Howard the Duck sequel. (Image: Lucasfilm production Star Wars' Darth Vader, Princess Leia [Carrie Fisher].)
So, why is everyone so shocked that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm?
After all, the Star Wars movies, a throwback to the old Flash Gordon serials, have always been very Disney-like. Oh, but Darth Vader was so mean. Well, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' Evil Queen and Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent were both meaner and scarier, in my humble opinion. Grumpy was no ray of sunshine, either.
For the record, the six Star Wars movies to date are Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005). Cast members throughout the decades include Mark Hamil (who recently had some choice things to say about Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney), Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Liam Neeson, Peter Cushing, Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, Anthony Daniels, Jimmy Smits, and Christopher Lee.
The Disney conglomerate gets bigger and bigger and bigger
Also, let's not forget that back in 2006 Disney swallowed Pixar and three years later bought Marvel Entertainment – also for a reported $4 billion. Disney, in fact, now has more tentacles than the giant octopus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In addition to Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney theme parks, and the Disney Channel, the Disney brand owns ESPN, ABC, A+E Networks, not to mention the company's huge Disney Consumer Products division.
What next for Disney? Perhaps the Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit movies, so we can have more sequels in 2017 and beyond? Or, perhaps they'll acquire Bat-rights from Warner Bros.? Another push for further copyright extensions so they can hold the rights to Mickey and Luke for all eternity? All of the above? Who knows?
Now, the truly Important Question: From now on, will Darth Vader be taking part in Disney's Mickey Mouse Parade?
'Independence Day 3D' cancelled or postponed?
Independence Day, one of the biggest (and most unbearably dull) blockbusters of the 1990s won't be getting a 3D release, according to various online reports. And there's more – or rather, less: 20th Century Fox has reportedly been mum about previously announced (potential) 3D sequels to Roland Emmerich's neuron-killing sci-fier starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman, namely ID Forever - Part I and ID Forever - Part II. (Image: .)
Back in 1996/1997, Emmerich's Independence Day movie grossed $817.4 million worldwide, $306.16 million of which in North America. (That figure would represent about $550 million today.) Independence Day 3D was scheduled to open on July 3 but Box Office Mojo currently has a “TBD” date for the film.
Now, of course, “TBD” means “To Be Determined.” In other words, reports that Fox has cancelled Independence Day 3D could well be premature. Fox may simply be distancing ID3D from another Roland Emmerich flick, the Channing Tatum actioner White House Down, which opens on June 26. Although White House Down doesn't feature aliens, the White House – much like in Independence Day – plays a key role in the movie. (The White House Down villains are members of a paramilitary group.)
Fox's 3D rereleases currently set for 2013 are the Star Wars prequels Star Wars: Episode II - Attacks of the Clones 3D on Sept. 20, and Star Wars: Episode II - Revenge of the Sith 3D on Oct. 4.
'Independence Day' movie cast
Besides the aforementioned Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum, the Independence Day cast includes Vivica A. Fox, Randy Quaid, Mary McDonnell, Margaret Colin, Adam Baldwin, Robert Loggia, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Lisa Jakub, and Harvey Fierstein. Fierstein, by the way, plays one of the most stomach-churning gay characters ever portrayed on screen. And that's kinda surprising, considering some of the key behind-the-scenes talent involved in the making of Independence Day. But then again, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising after all.
Will Smith Independence Day movie image: 20th Century Fox.
Rachel Weisz & Robert Pattinson + Viggo Mortensen & David Cronenberg to begin filming Maps to the Stars in spring
Rachel Weisz has joined Robert Pattinson and Viggo Mortensen in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars. The source for this information is the website Le Film Français (via AlloCiné), which also reports that the Canadian Cronenberg will continue working with a French producer: Carnage's Saïd Ben Saïd in the upcoming Maps to the Stars, following Cosmopolis' Paulo Branco.
Anyhow, the addition of Rachel Weisz to the Maps to the Stars ensemble is good news for both the actress – she'll be working with Cronenberg and two top leading men – and for Maps to the Stars itself. After all, Rachel Weisz was a key reason for the artistic success of Fernando Meirelles' 2005 socially conscious drama The Constant Gardener, which eventually earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. (Note that in the UK Weisz was considered a Lead Actress in that film.)
Rachel Weisz box office
And before anyone says that in the last several years Rachel Weisz has been featured in one flop after another, you might want to broaden your horizons a little. Really, the North American box office isn't the absolute Barometer of Success for all films. In late 2009, Weisz starred in Alejandro Amenábar's historical drama Agora, which went on to rake in $29.6 million in Spain alone, in addition to earning respectable figures in Italy ($2.81m) and France ($2.32 million) as well. As a plus, Agora received 13 nominations for the Goya Awards, including a Best Actress nod for Weisz. And let's not forget the Jeremy Renner / Rachel Weisz partnership in The Bourne Legacy.
'Maps to the Stars' budget
Back to Maps to the Stars: The next David Cronenberg movie will have a $15 million budget. Cosmopolis, which cost $20 million (a not inconsiderable sum for such a “mainstream unfriendly” effort), has to date grossed somewhere around $6.5 million worldwide. The film bombed in North America, where it failed to expand beyond a few dozen theaters, ultimately cuming at $763,556. Elsewhere, Cosmopolis performed quite modestly, with one notable exception: France, where the Cronenberg / Pattinson collaboration, a Palme d'Or contender at this year's Cannes Film Festival, brought in a perfectly acceptable $2.27 million.
Maps to the Stars is supposed to be Cronenberg's first production filmed on U.S. soil, as the story is set in Los Angeles. Filming should commence in May 2013. Note: Maps to the Stars is not to be confused with Miguel Arteta's Star Maps, a low-budget drama mixing various ethnicities, social classes, and sexual orientations in late 20th century L.A.