July 17, 2017
Behind the scenes

Watch: Epic New BTS of Footage of Star Wars VIII: 'The Last Jedi'

Rian Johnson's shot at Star Wars could be one of the most epic family space dramas of all time—if Lucasfilm can stay out of his way.

Disney's bi-annual D23 expo took place last weekend in Anaheim, California, and fans were treated to a whole slew of new announcements from the filmmaking giant. The new Star Wars panel, however, was easily the most anticipated event of the entire convention, and it did not disappoint.

While we weren't treated to the new trailer that many of the attendees had hoped to see, we did get a little featurette that plays akin to the The Force Awakens behind the scenes footage that J.J. Abrams teased audiences at Comic-Con 2015. True to style, there weren't many plot points revealed in the video, but there are a few key takeaways we can grasp from its quick three minute run time.

Of course, it's nice to just sit back and geek out at some of the awesome production design and get a glimpse at the mix of new practical and CGI creatures we'll be seeing in the film. But we should also be quick to note the elephant in the room. It looks like Rian Johnson's efforts within the Star Wars universe have, indeed, led to smooth sailing on both sides of the production.

The crown jewel in the web of Disney franchises has hit somewhat of a rough patch, as top dog Kathleen Kennedy has scrapped with directors whose tendencies don't abide by the Lucasfilm way. The real problem here is that Lucasfilm keeps making a point of hiring these directors with indie sensibilities and very pointed styles, only to keep interfering with their visions. Inevitably, it seems that the studio gets upset with the direction the film is going, or feels that it’s not true Star Wars material, before either firing the original directors or demanding re-shoots.

New poster for "The Last Jedi" revealed at D23. Credit: Disney

Just a year ago, the Hollywood Reporter did a Q-and-A with Kennedy where she discussed her belief that, within major franchises, it is possible to “take artistic license and creative risks.” She added, “If all you're doing is playing it safe — trying to make the same movie over and over again — that's when the audiences say, 'Oh, this is just a money making machine.’ But if it's genuinely in service to the art form, then the franchise concept is being used in a way that's exciting.”

Gareth Edwards was subject to extensive re-shoots on Rogue One, while Christopher Lord and Phillip Miller's dismissal from the new Han Solo anthology film has been widely publicized over the past few months. Lord and Miller reputedly said there were "deep fundamental philosophical differences" in filmmaking styles, and the directors felt they were being given "zero creative freedom." They also felt they were being asked to operate under "extreme scheduling constraints" and "were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning." It begs the question, why hire Lord and Miller in the first place if you didn’t want a fresh, comedic entry into the franchise?

New poster for "The Last Jedi" revealed at D23. Credit: Disney

In the featurette above, however, there is a strong emphasis on the "fresh" vision Rian Johnson has brought to the franchise, and from the beautiful images we see above, it definitely seems that there is some truth to what these ad-execs have decided to beat us over the head with. Johnson's past films BrickLooper, and The Brothers Bloom all have very strong visions behind them, and it will be really interesting to see just how much of his style is kept in tact. As heavy handed as the message comes through in the video, it seems like Johnson and Star Wars may truly be a match made in heaven.       

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