Monday, August 26, 2013

No Episode VII Announcements at the Summer Conventions!?

Now that Comic Con, Celebration Europe II and D23 Expo have all passed, many Star Wars fans are feeling rather disappointed that no Episode VII announcements were made (aside from the confirmation of everyone's first choice composer). Pretty much every Star Wars fan is surprised. But is it a good or a bad thing to have left the fan base devoid of news?

There was a lot of concerned talk amongst Star Wars fans at Celebration Europe II in the queues and bars about the lack of Episode VII. Most people there, myself included, had expected that with both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in attendance the worst kept secret in the galaxy would be officially announced. With George Lucas having let the cat out of the bag himself, an announcement seemed way overdue.

But nothing came. One fan suggested that with the D23 event coming up, which Disney announced after the Lucasfilm takeover, they would be more likely to make a big reveal at that event rather than Celebration Europe II, which had been planned by Lucasfilm beforehand. This was a common fear in the Messe Essen Convention Center, that all of the goodwill Kathleen Kennedy had generated during her interview would be undone by a big announcement at D23. Star Wars fans felt that if something big was coming, it should come at their party.

It was a great relief when nothing came out of D23 Expo, as it meant a mob of jaded fans wouldn't be storming Disney HQ. It left the fan community, and the wider geek online world, a bit perplexed. Why not just acknowledge what everyone knows, that Hamill, Fisher and Ford are signed up for the new movie? It's a fairly spoiler free announcement to keep the fans fed until the next snippet of news is fed to them.

But perhaps not acknowledging their involvement is for the best. The longer Lucasfilm holds out on saying anything, the less spoiler-ific the news will get. Some movies have Comic Con panels three years before their release, and by the time the movie hits cinemas the film makers have had to reveal almost the entire plot because they ran out of teases to unveil a year before it came out. This is the practice that Star Wars is at the risk of succumbing to, with the new parent company. So far, however, it seems that in a Pixar type way Lucasfilm are staying quiet rather than being noisy in a Marvel type way.

George Lucas is the master of giving fans something to chew on, but not spoiling the film for them, as demonstrated during the prequel years. The release of images and articles about characters such as Tion Medon and Zam Wesell had fans thinking they new something about the upcoming movie, when all they really new was a tiny snippet that tended not to link in with the key plot or theme. Even the promotional posters for Attack of the Clones confused the matter of whether the Clones would be fighting with the Jedi or against them.

The George Lucas method, of showing images of minor characters and background aliens along with brief, well-edited web documentaries worked perfectly to hype up excitement for the prequel films. There was no need for showing entire reels at Comic Con, or unfinished visual FX shots. Hopefully the new team at Lucasfilm will see the benefits of keeping the fans in the dark as much as possible. Even though there was no major cast announcement at Celebration Europe II, fans spent the event talking about that lack of announcement. This demonstrates perfectly why Lucasfilm can take their time when it comes to hyping up Episode VII.

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