Hell hath no fury like a room full of disappointed Star Wars acolytes: a Disney boss at a high profile convention in California has been booed after admitting he had nothing new to tell fans about JJ Abrams’ forthcoming Episode VII.
Speaking at the annual D23 event in Anaheim, during which the studio showcases clips and wheels out star talent from its upcoming slate, chief executive Alan Horn was met with a chorus of anger after an expectant crowd got little more than a series of previously made announcements such as the appointment of Abrams, tentative release dates and plans for future spin-off films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” he apologised.
Details about the new Star Wars trilogy, which Disney announced after purchasing all rights to the long-running series for $4.05bn in October, have been few and far between. Episode VII is being filmed in the UK early next year and is due to arrive in cinemas in 2015, with plans to release sequels every two to three years after that. Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt is overseeing the screenplay for the debut instalment, while Disney has revealed that The Empire Strikes Back’s Lawrence Kasdan and Sherlock Holmes’ Simon Kinberg will write two of the standalone films. The stars of the original trilogy, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Ford (Han Solo), have all been tipped to return to the series.
Fans have become used to titbits about upcoming films being leaked at conventions such as D23 and San Diego’s annual Comic Con, though it is rare for Hollywood executives to be booed for failing to come up with the goods. Ford himself signalled in a new interview with the New York Times that the constant flow of information about upcoming blockbusters from studios to filmgoers via blogs and fan conventions had become a negative.
Asked how Star Wars and Indiana Jones might fare in today’s fan-friendly environment, the 71-year-old said: “Everyone would be ahead of it, and everybody would know what it was, and it would be no fun at all.” He added: “But people still went to movies in those days. People went to movie theatres. It was a community experience, and that was part of the fun. Now people see a movie on their iPad, alone, with interruptions for snacks.”
Fans at D23 were mollified by the appearance later on Saturday by Angelina Jolie, who will take the lead role in the upcoming live action remake of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” she said during a brief appearance in front of 7,500 Disney acolytes. There were also new clips from Marvel superhero movies such as Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well as George Clooney sci-fi Tomorrowland and the Mary Poppins-themed Saving Mr Banks.
Meanwhile, footage from a long-lost “mockumentary” made during the filming of the original Star Wars series and featuring Ford, Fisher and Hamill in costume emerged on YouTube. Return of the Ewok details British actor Warwick Davies’ supposed path to taking the role of Wicket in 1983′s Return of the Jedi.