Fans of Lucasfilm’s galaxy far, far away were treated to exciting announcements from the Disney-owned studio at this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, following Friday’s reveal of the title and trailer for Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.
One of the highlights was Sunday’s panel and teaser debut for The Mandalorian, coming to Disney+ at launch (Nov. 12). Jon Favreau (writer/executive producer), Dave Filoni (director/executive producer) and Kathleen Kennedy (executive producer) hosted a lively and informative discussion with stars Pedro Pascal, playing “The Mandalorian” (Narcos, Game of Thrones); MMA star Gina Carano, playing former shock trooper “Cara Dune” (HEIST, Deadpool); and Carl Weathers, who plays head of the bounty hunters guild “Greef” (Predator, Rocky).
During the panel, the showrunners revealed that the series will introduce fans to new planets, alien races and more as-yet undiscovered elements of the galaxy while maintaining an original-trilogy vibe in the details — for example, the Mandalorian’s ship Razorcrest is a practical model built by ILM’s John Goodson and motion-control rigged by John Knoll, not CG. However, cutting-edge techniques like VR storyboarding and game engine rendering also play a role.
For those looking for a more immersive experience, a new trailer has been revealed for Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode I. Created by ILMxLAB and directed by VFX veteran Ben Snow, the game/experience which takes players through a feature-length narrative will launch for the Oculus Quest untethered headset this spring.
Synopsis: Set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series is an original narrative adventure that lets audiences step into the role of a smuggler operating near Mustafar, the volcanic world that Darth Vader calls home. In typical Star Wars fashion, they’ll soon find themselves in the middle of a grand adventure as they are unexpectedly pulled out of hyperspace — and eventually come face to face with the Sith Lord himself.
Scott Lawrence (game voice of Vader for Rebel Assault II, Dark Forces, etc.) reprises the villainous voice; and Maya Rudolph voices the player’s quick-witted droid co-pilot ZOE3.
Timed to the event, Lucasfilm, Disney and global K-12 non-profit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announced they are teaming up to inspire the next generation of heroes and innovators. As part of their Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative, Disney and Lucasfilm are providing a $1.5 million donation, in-king and mentorship resources to expand FIRST programs for students worldwide, especially in underserved communities. Each year, more than 600,000 students participate in FIRST programs in 100+ countries. More on the partnership here.
“Star Wars has always inspired young people to look past what is and imagine a world beyond,” said Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. “It is crucial that we pass on the importance of science and technology to young people—they will be the ones who will have to confront the global challenges that lie ahead. To support this effort, Lucasfilm and Disney are teaming up with FIRST to bring learning opportunities and mentorship to the next generation of innovators.”
“Disney has been a long-time supporter of FIRST, providing mentorship, support and even hosting our FIRST Championship event over the years,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “This is an incredible opportunity to bring together world-class Star Wars storytellers and engineers, their passionate fans, and the innovative, inspirational community of FIRST to expand access to our programs and raise a generation of global STEM citizens.”
The partners also announced a Twitter sweepstakes to help build awareness of FIRST — retweet the announce video at twitter.com/starwars with #StarWarsFFCSweepstakes between April 13-22 to enter for a chance to win a vacation to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort, with a guided tour by a Disney Imagineer.”
Speaking of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — the highly-anticipated theme land coming to Disney Parks — the dedicated panel hosted by Josh Gad (Frozen) brought together Walt Disney Imagineering’s Scott Trowbridge (portfolio creative executive/studio leader), Asa Kalama (exec creative director), Margaret Kerrison (managing story editor), Chris Beatty (exec creative director) as well as legendary concept artist Doug Chiang (VP & creative director, Lucasfilm) and Matt Martin (creative executive, Lucasfilm Story Group) to discuss some of the delights in store to visitors of “Batuu,” the planet where Galaxy’s Edge is set and one yet to appear on film.
In its first fully in-world branding collaboration with Disney Parks, Coca-Cola has worked with Imagineering and Lucasfilm to create distinctive bottles for its beverage brands which look right at home in the Star Wars universe. Visitors can also pop into Oga’s Cantina if they want a harder drink to wash down their braised Shaak roast. Around the land, fans may see and hear familiar favorites like Yoda (voiced again by Frank Oz) or R3X from Star Tours — again voiced by Paul Reubens and now the DJ at Oga’s. The team also explained how the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction gives you the chance to captain the iconic ship — and challenges you to keep it in one piece, as you will encounter visual and audio evidence of poor piloting. The new land also features original music composed by John Williams for a complete experience.
Keep up with more announcements at StarWars.com