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maandag 14 januari 2013

New life in the Star Wars live-action TV series?

ABC boss Paul Lee is putting live-action Star Wars series under consideration following the Disney/LucasFilm deal...

The news of LucasFilm producer Rick McCallum's retirement following the Disney buy left yet another question mark dangling over the long-planned live-action Star Wars TV series. After overseeing three and a half years of work and fifty hours of scripts for the show, what did McCallum's exit mean for its future?

After that kind of investment, it was unlikely that Disney would leave the project in stasis for long, and now ABC President Paul Lee has confirmed that the live-action series is "definitely going to be part of the conversation" between the Disney subsidiary network and LucasFilm:

"We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet [...] It’s going to be very much up to the Lucasfilm brands how they want to play it. We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so, but we’re not doing The Avengers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of The Avengers. So maybe something oblique is the way to [approach the Star Wars universe] rather than going straight head-on at it."

Speaking of The Avengers and its relationship to S.H.I.E.L.D., one fly in the ointment for the Star Wars series is of course the forthcoming 2015 film. Brands have historically been reluctant to allow big and small screen versions of a franchise to play simultaneously, as seen when Warner Bros. shut down any talk of Batman TV projects while The Dark Knight trilogy was in production. Would ABC's "something oblique" approach solution tally with McCallum's vision of the live-action Star Wars show?

EW reports that the live-action series as overseen by McCallum takes place between the original film trilogy and the prequels, may have a bounty hunter as its lead, and focuses on "rival families struggling over the control of the seedy underside of the Star Wars universe and the people who live within the subterranean level and air shafts of the metropolis planet Corsucant (the Empire's urban-sprawl-covered home planet)". While allowing for the appearance of characters from the film trilogies, we'd call that a fairly sideways take on the franchise.

When we spoke to McCallum last summer, he explained that the series' impasse was down to the cost of production, which he estimated at between $5-$6 million per episode. Describing the show as a kind of "Deadwood in space" which wasn't targeting 8-to-9 year old boys, McCallum spoke of his reluctance to relinquish the creative control a cable network would require for such an expensive project, or to be burdened by a 42-minute episode length should the series go down the commercial network route. Those decisions, for better or for worse, are now out of his hands.