Hi, Dear Reader. As I sit here at my desk to write this post, it is noon on Thursday, May 27, 2021. It is a warm late spring day in New Hometown, Florida. The current temperature is 86˚F (30˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 3 MPH (5 KM/H) and humidity at 34%, the heat index is 89˚F (32˚C). It’s going to get hotter, though; today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 93˚F (34˚C). Tonight, skies will be mostly clear and the low will be 69˚F (21˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index number is 31 (Good).
Today I read on the Internet that Amazon intends to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM), one of the original Big Six film studios, for $8.45 billion. MGM – which was founded in 1924 and (among other things) is the corporate home for the James Bond film series, came out of bankruptcy last year and was put up for sale by its owners to satisfy its creditors. If the sale goes through – nothing is set in stone until a closing date is announced and the proper documentation is signed – this will help Amazon in its endeavors to compete with other mega-companies such as Disney, ViacomCBS, and WarnerMedia (which itself is in the news because AT&T is spinning it off and creating a new company that will absorb Discovery Networks).
I’m not sure what, exactly, this will mean for MGM in the short or long term. Certainly, the last Daniel Craig Bond film will still be released in theaters and – perhaps – in streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video. Up in the air, though, is the future of the long-running series. Will there be a physical media release of No Time to Die? Almost certainly, because Universal Pictures has the distribution rights for the North American market. Will there be more Bond movies? Probably, although it’s possible that Amazon could make a deal with EON (the owners of the copyright) and create original 007 content for Amazon Prime Video.
And in other entertainment news, Collider.com published an interview with J.J. Abrams about the 10th Anniversary of his film Super 8 and other topics, including Abrams’ views on the making of TV and movie series and the need for a creative plan in such projects.
In an article misleadingly titled J.J. Abrams Reflects on ‘Star Wars’ and When It’s Critical to Have a Plan, Collider managing editor Adam Chitwood teases readers with a “confirmation” of the fan theory that claims Lucasfilm had no plan for the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and that Abrams, in the interview, admits that there wasn’t.
Well, I read the article – which other online publications have picked up and have “spun” to suit their own nefarious editorial stances – and I see no such explicit admission that the Star Wars films made by Abrams and Rian Johnson were, essentially, made off-the-cuff without any forethought whatsoever.
In fact, nowhere in Abrams’ answer to Chitwood’s question does any TV show or any film title get mentioned. At all.
Here are some relevant bits from the interview. Read them, and then tell me where you see any specific references to The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker.
“I’ve been involved in a number of projects that have been – in most cases, series – that have ideas that begin the thing where you feel like you know where it’s gonna go, and sometimes it’s an actor who comes in, other times it’s a relationship that as-written doesn’t quite work, and things that you think are gonna just be so well-received just crash and burn and other things that you think like, ‘Oh that’s a small moment’ or ‘That’s a one-episode character’ suddenly become a hugely important part of the story. I feel like what I’ve learned as a lesson a few times now, and it’s something that especially in this pandemic year working with writers [has become clear], the lesson is that you have to plan things as best you can, and you always need to be able to respond to the unexpected. And the unexpected can come in all sorts of forms, and I do think that there’s nothing more important than knowing where you’re going.”
Abrams goes on to add, in non-specific and extremely broad terms:
“There are projects that I’ve worked on where we had some ideas but we hadn’t worked through them enough, sometimes we had some ideas but then we weren’t allowed to do them the way we wanted to. I’ve had all sorts of situations where you plan things in a certain way and you suddenly find yourself doing something that’s 180 degrees different, and then sometimes it works really well and you feel like, ‘Wow that really came together,’ and other times you think, ‘Oh my God I can’t believe this is where we are,’ and sometimes when it’s not working out it’s because it’s what you planned, and other times when it’s not working out it’s because you didn’t [have a plan].”
Could Abrams be referring to the various issues that cropped up during the making of the Sequel Trilogy? Possibly.
Is he flat-out admitting that Lucasfilm and Disney had no plan and essentially spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a film trilogy without a plan for the production? No.
It’s journalistically irresponsible for Collider to publish an interview with such a vague and generic response to a question that Chitwood probably knew would get a non-specific answer to.
But since “New Media” has a different set of journalistic ethics and editorial practices (in other words, sites like Collider will create content and give it click-baiting headlines that will draw readers, no matter if said headlines are misleading and the content dodgy in some way) than traditional journalism, this is par for the course.
The production history for each of the new Star Wars film can be found in reputable sites; even Wikipedia articles about The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker contain facts and figures about the making of those films.
But Collider knows its audience includes “fans” who insist there wasn’t an overall plan for the post-George Lucas Star Wars films and blame Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams for what they perceive as an uneven and often messy film trilogy. It conveniently “forgets” that Abrams executive-produced The Last Jedi and signed off on Rian Johnson’s script, as well as the chaos caused by Carrie Fisher’s death in December of 2016. Fisher’s passing caused Lucasfilm to scrap Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow’s Leia-centric screenplay and start over, which in turn led to Trevorrow parting ways with the studio and putting Abrams back in the director’s chair for a revised The Rise of Skywalker.
Ugh. As someone who studied journalism and has researched how the Star Wars films were made, I find this non-story to be unethically presented as a revelation that it clearly is not.