With That New Star Wars Trilogy, A Strategy Starts To Shape Up

Forget about the new trilogy from Rian Johnson. The Game Of Thrones gang is coming to do some interesting work in the force and Star Wars fans can’t be any happier about it. Why? Because with their input, Star Wars will start breathing its own life instead of relying exclusively on nostalgia.

During the quarterly earnings, Bob Iger announced that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will work on an upcoming series of films for the galaxy. According to the story, Kathleen Kennedy was interested in them to make a TV series, as their work from Game Of Thrones has been praised since the very beginning. The producers told her they wanted to do a series of films in a very specific part of the timeline. That, my fellow readers, are happy fans doing the Star Wars films they always wanted to do. And if they achieve their dreams, it will probably also achieve the dreams of millions of Star Wars fans.

The timing for this announcement seems odd, as many people wondered already about Lucasfilm’s next steps after the sequel trilogy and the turmoil that The Last Jedi did for the fans. That coupled with the fact that Rian announced that he’s also planning its own trilogy of Star Wars films and you have enough to bring some negative criticism. Oh, and let’s not forget the desperation of the fans to see a glimpse of the new Han Solo film.

But the fact that Kathleen is bringing the producers of Game Of Thrones shows their commitment to the beloved galaxy. Not only that, but they also announced that Lucasfilm is working on several (yes, more than one) series about Star Wars. Even though Bob Iger said there is no talent attached right now to the projects, they are in the negotiation process to acquire great talent.

Maybe some fans are still worried, maybe some of them don’t even like Game Of Thrones. What they can’t say is that Lucasfilm isn’t doing their best job to develop interesting stories for Star Wars. We might even see some stories from the expanded universe in the new projects, making them canon. Pablo Hidalgo has hinted that the Solo movie will be very similar in tone to the trilogy of books from the EU, which means that these past stories also inform the future projects.

An overall strategy is starting to shape up. Maybe the trilogies are the tent pole, Avengers-style movies that establish the main story points of the galaxy, while the TV series can show side missions of other characters that are also part of the main arc. If this turns out true, then many fans can finally say that Star Wars is in good hands, with enough stories to keep us intrigued about what’s coming next.

Even though I have my criticisms about Kathleen Kennedy, at least she isn’t stopping to do her best on the job. What many producers consider a daunting task, Kathleen is moving swiftly towards an ideal strategy that keeps the fans and the creators happy. In the end, even many of the talent working for Lucasfilm are huge fans of the same films they are working on.

‘Solo’ Could Be A Star Wars Western

After much speculation with the release date of ‘Solo’ on the horizon, an impressive teaser trailer has been released along with a Super Bowl TV Spot. We still have to see a full trailer, as Lucasfilm clearly labels it a teaser trailer, but we can see where Star Wars is heading.

Let’s remember that, after all, Star Wars has been mainly a sci fi soap opera. Without the special effects, the Skywalker family could easily fit within the soap operas on TV. With the sequel trilogy of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, we still see this recurring theme of relations within the characters. Everything changed with Rogue One, adding much more military flare to the galaxy we all love.

And with Solo, it is time that Star Wars gets some spaghetti western in the mix.

Think about it. One frame of the teaser trailer clearly states this comparison. But in the end, this is a western. Han and Chewie, partners from the old West. Lando, your usual gambler with the best horses (or spaceships) in the stable. All of them moving from town to town, searching for loots to survive.

There has been negativity surrounding this film, mainly because of the directorial shake up and the fact that The Last Jedi left many fans wondering if they’ll even like Star Wars anymore. Solo can pick up those pieces and launch us into a different adventure, just like Rogue One did in 2016.

Few people remember that Star Wars fans also had mixed hopes for Rogue One, which ended up becoming a solid movie detailing one of the most compelling missions in the saga.

Maybe Alden Ehrenreich does not even sound like Harrison Ford, but he has the cadence in his voice and the physical movement to deliver a convincing Han Solo. Donald Glover fits perfectly with Lando Calrissian, with his charm and presence. Let these guys take you into the western genre and see how Star Wars can make it great.

In 1977, George Lucas taught us that soap operas in the galaxy could be compelling. In 2016, Rogue One taught us that warfare could be the main focus in a Star Wars film.

Solo might actually teach us how Han is the wildest cowboy in the whole galaxy.

Off With Their Heads!: What Is Happening With Disney’s Audio-Animatronics?

Since the update of The Hall Of Presidents, there has been some comments about one of the prime technologies of the Disney theme parks: Audio-Animatronics. The comments have caught steam since the Ursula and Auctioneer animatronics from different parks have been found without their heads in place.

Animatronics are complex technological marvels that allow to express the story being told in Disney’s attractions. Some of these figures require constant maintenance, due to their complexity in their movements. Some of them stop moving due to some technical difficulties, other start vibrating like crazy due to an actuator trying to move. We’ve seen what happens when these AA’s go wrong. Taking into account all of this, it seems that an AA losing its head could be the bottom line for noticeable negligence from maintenance.

For some years, a part of the Disney community has criticized the reduction of maintenance for Audio-Animatronics in the parks, making regular the fact that some figures don’t work. Maybe it isn’t Disney’s fault in some cases, but on the production of Garner Holt.

Since 2013, Walt Disney Imagineering has outsourced the Audio-Animatronics from Garner Holt Productions, the recognized organization in making high quality figures. This doesn’t mean that Disney closed MAPO, the Audio-Animatronics division, all-together. Some insiders like Jim Hill have mentioned that some animatronics (like the Ursula figure from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) and the skins for the figures are done in-house, but most of the creations are outsourced.

It is hard to say that, if Disney now has Garner Holt do all the animatronics, this means that they also outsource all of the maintenance too. This could explains why some figures from several don’t work for a considerable amount of time until a refurb, which allows to repair or replace them in bulk.

Let me be clear that I don’t have any sources from the matter, but it might be the reason some figures just don’t get fixed for a while. These are expensive toys to take care of, but the negligence is much worse as they would later have to replace it. Even though the figures are outsourced, should they outsource the maintenance too?

Ursula and the Auctioneer could just have a bad day, but it makes me wonder how the outsourcing of the Audio-Animatronics affects their maintenance. Yes, outsourcing could be cheaper, but maybe not in the long run. Can they buy Garner Holt altogether? Could be an interesting move, but as new attractions have fewer AA’s, I don’t see that coming soon.

Maybe the answer to all of these figures in decay could be the fact that they need to wait for them to be fixed.

Photos Taken From WDWNT, No Midnight, disneysapsquad.

FastPass Could Become Fa$tCa$h Without Any Benefit

There are rumors that Disney might be testing a $50 fee for an additional 3 FastPasses. In a recurring strategy of maximizing revenue by allowing some experience for money, this seems like the next step where the experience that used to be for everyone could now be for a reduced audience willing to give as much money to ensure their Disney experience is perfect.

Maybe this is a decision in response to Universal Express, the premium ticket offer by Universal to evade lines throughout their parks. So, why shouldn’t Disney try a similar strategy if Universal has been quite succesful in a similar offering?

The difference is that Universal makes a clear line; if you don’t pay, you’ll have to wait in line. In the case of Disney, everyone has the right for 3 Fastpass reservations. After using them, you can reserve to other experiences throughout the park. A $50 fee is added to the normal pass to add 3 more initial FastPass. Here we have a short sighted decision where Disney isn’t even sure what to do since the Magic bands transition, were now the fastness delivery is being achieved through Disney’s app. Now we need to embrace this new system with the added expense of adding fastness for a fee. This is in a similar vein to Disneyland’s max pass.

I understand that the Disney parks are a business after all, were maximizing revenue is important. What makes me cringe with these experimentations is that the guests aren’t receiving any improved experience by throwing money at Disney. Here we are with the same problems with untrained cast members, huge crowd problems, and attractions that haven’t received the necessary refurbishment to keep it updated and on a pristine working condition. If im paying an extra $50 to add FastPass, I want a good maintenance on Audio-Animatronics in any attraction. The problem I have is that this decision only maximizes revenue without adding any improvement to the management of the parks.

Let’s take into account that this offering is being presented for Disney Vacation Club members and not any guest from the Disney resort or even off site park goers. This may make sense, as DVC members are already willing to give more money to maximize their experience. It is in their hands to prove Disney wrong or right about this decision, as the decision depends if there’s a market for it.

Yes, Disney is a business after all, but maybe maximizing every single space and opportunity for profit may end up shortening the market in such a way that their growth will stop happening when few families are able to visit the parks. I’m worried many kids wont be able to give their children the experience they had when they become parents.

Nitpicking Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ New Background Music

For many fans, the music that surrounds Disney’s well-crafted illusions in the theme parks is the most recognizable element when taken out of its context. We vividly remember those ragtime tunes in Main Street U.S.A., the optimistic retro of Future World, or the far-away drums in the Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Hollywood Studios also has its own background music, consisting mainly of movie themes of several studios (ever heard the Harry Potter theme song near the Chinese Theater), Pixar themes near Toy Story Mania, and some jazz tunes in the area of Sunset Boulevard.

Last week, most of the background music in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been replaced, representing the current transition the park has towards a new, adventure-oriented identity.

WDW News Today released a video detailing some of the songs present in different areas of the park. You can watch the video here:

Even though we don’t have a full recording of each area of the park, I noticed some nice details about the music and how it actually changes the theming of several places of the park. Taking into account that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will become the park where you have adventures inside the movies, the Imagineers are starting to carry on this theme with the clever use of music within the lands.

Main Entrance

In this area, the Imagineers decided to go with an upbeat Jazz medley of several Disney songs, ranging from Snow White’s Heigh Ho to Tangled’s I See The Light. The music, according to WDW News Today, was originally composed for Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland. This style of music gives a good feeling, it makes us ready for our own adventure and makes us remembers our most beloved characters from Disney. In some ways, it feels similar to the music at the Magic Kingdom’s entrance, but less nostalgic and more upbeat.

Hollywood Boulevard

Here is where the changes in music change the overall theme of an area. For Hollywood Boulevard, we listen to classic Jazz from the 30’s and 40’s. These are the years when sound and color started to become part of films, consolidating the movie industry. During this time, the film genres also started to spruce up, now that directors and writers have done enough work that we see patterns of drama, comedy, horror, and sci-fi. Walt was working to move from short animated pictures to full length.

Hollywood Boulevard is no longer the Hollywood that never was and will always be. With the new background music, it feels that we are heading towards the Hollywood that once was and allow us to transport us to the different adventures we are about to encounter during our stay in the park. This makes sense with the fully themed environments of Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, and even Sunset Boulevard. As we mention other Hollywood themed areas of the park, you’ll also notice there’s a timeline created with the different choices of music.

Sunset Boulevard

Here we are, at the Los Angeles of the Roaring 20’s. With some vocal track and Big Band hits. With the Tower Of Terror at the end of the street, Carthay Circle and some shops, we experiment a Hollywood that is starting to grow. This keeps with the timeline we have, as Echo Lake has more contemporary music compared to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.

The Imagineers have acknowledged Rock n’ Roller Coaster, giving some rock tracks for its surroundings. In this sense, we have the feeling of a temporary music festival in the middle of Los Angeles. This is subtly done using some crowds that can be heard throughout the tracks.

If Imagineers are attempting showing different stages of Hollywood with the music, Sunset Boulevard shines. This is the Hollywood that is starting to shape up film history, that later evolves into Hollywood Boulevard.

Echo Lake

In this area, we start listening music from the 50’s and 60s, during the golden age of cinema. It also makes sense that they work within this time period, acknowledging television as a new pathway to the entertainment industry. The different buildings resemble offices of talent agents, detectives, and studio executives. Let’s not forget the sound stages near the area. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular presents the beginning of the blockbuster film. As we move along, Hollywood moves forward into Grand Park (Muppet Courtyard) and Grand Avenue.

Hollywood Timeline

What I’ve stated so far is that each non-movie area represents a different time of Los Angeles as the film industry grows. If Imagineering is approaching this way, this minor change leads the way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios new identity. As we see Hollywood in each stage, we can later experience the adventures that films have given us. Instead of letting these areas linger, they become part of the story being told. I loved the older background music, but this has shown how a single change can transform the vibe of an area.