WW Chicago: Lucasfilm's "Star Wars" Panel

Sun, June 29th, 2008 at 2:32pm PDT | Updated: June 29th, 2008 at 2:50pm

TV/Film
Michael Niziolek, Guest Contributor

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Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm's Head of Fan Relations, held court at WizardWorld Chicago

On Saturday, June 28, Lucasfilm gave WizardWorld Chicago attendees an extensive preview of their major upcoming projects. Steve Sansweet, head of Fan Relations, warmed the audience up by asking which bottle Todd McFarlene (who was on the previous panel) drank out of so he could sell it on Ebay and then introduced himself.

"My name is Steve, and I'm a Star Wars-oholic."

The first project he then discussed was the theatrical release of the Clone Wars television series on August 15.

Sansweet had high praise for both the film and the television series. "It's the most incredible CGI animated film," Sansweet said. "It's going to be more cinematic than any other show on television."

He said that when Star Wars films come to theaters, their fans know how to celebrate; this led to the first video package of the panel with footage from previous Star Wars conventions. Clips from Celebrations I through IV and Celebration: Europe were shown before ending with a slide promoting Celebration Japan.

Sansweet said that the event is in Tokyo next month and tickets were still available.

He transitioned to the other big Star Wars release this year, "The Force Unleashed" which hits video game consoles this fall. "It's the most exciting, dramatic Star Wars game to date," he said.

The audience was assured - no more delays. He said the game would be released, guaranteed, on Sept. 16.

A trailer was shown for the game highlighting the various force powers the lead character utilizes throughout the game.

Upon returning from the video Sansweet asked, "You are beating the heck out of Stormtroopers, what the heck is that about?"

He promised fans that the game contains some amazing revelations about the Star Wars mythos. Sansweet said the richness and depth of the story is extraordinary and the game was like episode 3.5.

This segued into a video package about the importance of story in "The Force Unleashed."

Warning - Slight Spoilers Ahead

In the video, Hayden Blackman, the project lead, discussed the vast possibilities for stories in the years between Episodes Three and Four. He said the development team knew if they were going to set a game in the Clone Wars' timeframe, Darth Vader needed to be a central focus of the story.

The game opens with players taking control of Vader as he arrives on Kashyyyk to hunt down a missing Jedi Knight. After tracking the Jedi down the players are presented with their first major boss battle in the game. As Vader is about to deal a fatal blow a small child uses force powers to disarm the Sith Lord setting the events of the story in motion. Vader sees the potential in the boy so he makes him his apprentice and the story flash forwards years later.

As Vader's apprentice the player is given various trails to complete, but with one major rule - he has to remain a secret from the Emperor. For players that means eliminating Storm Troopers as well as rebel soliders on missions.

Blackman also promised fans will get to see many important events in Star Wars mythology like the birth of the rebellion. Lucasarts' goal was to make the game an integral part of the Star Wars saga.

Poster for the theatrical release of "Clone Wars," due out August 15

With the video game covered, Sansweet talked about Lucasfilm and the fan films made each year. He said Lucasfilm encourages fans and will hold their yearly Star Wars fan movie awards, in conjunction with Atom Films, at San Diego.

He said there was one film in particular this year that stood out...

The lights dimmed once again for clips from "Star Wars: Robot Chicken" which Sansweet called one of the great Star Wars spoofs of all time. He announced that it would be coming to DVD on July 22nd.

He transitioned back to "Star Wars: Clone Wars," but this time focused on the weekly television series. He said it will begin airing weekly on TNT and Cartoon Network this fall. He showed the first trailer and short video package of the project's director Dave Filoni discussing the project.

Filoni talked about various story beats that they want to focus on. Fans can expect to see more of what Anakin was like, his brother-like relationship with Obi-Wan and the relationship with his Padawan.

Sansweet set up another video package of the series by talking about the memorable battles each of the original films had.

The next video had Filoni discussing the structure of battles in the Star Wars' universe and trying to make them feel epic in scope. He said one of the great things Lucas did throughout the movies is change locations for battles which he hopes to do with "Clone Wars."

He said it was also important for the battles not to overpower the emotion, so you need personal battles as well.

Next up was the highly anticipated new trailer for the animated series.

It started with Anakin and his new Padawan arriving to Jabba's Palace, Yoda then debriefs Obi-wan and Anakin that Jabba's son has been kidnapped and it's their job to rescue him. The trailer speeds up with flashes of all the main players, followed by a ton of action shots from ground, space and lightsaber battles.

When the trailer finished, Sansweet opened the floor to a few questions:

Will there be a celebration in Chicago?

He said that the company was going to wait until after Celebration Japan to make any decisions about when and where the next Celebration would be.

How does new Clone Wars series relate to previous cartoons?

Sansweet said Filoni was a big fan of the previous series, and it's definitely on their minds.

Why partner with Warner Brothers for a new show?

"They brought these giant suitcases of money," Sansweet smiled. He said there were business reasons, and the company had to decide who was best able to handle this specific project.

Did they have a date for the live action series?

Probably 2011.

Indy 4 on Blu-ray?

It's up to Paramount, but very likely.

Any possibility for an animated Indiana Jones?

Lucas animation can only do so much at a time, but it's a possibility.

Will there be another Star Wars RPG (video game)?

Going through a little bit of reorganization, but they're certainly aware of the interest.

Any chance Disney will be updating Star Tours?

Everybody knows it could use some refreshing...hopefully soon there will be some news about that.

Any chance for an Indy Celebration?

If they announce an Indy 5, maybe, he stated emphatically. He thought that the movie wasn't on the table, but if the series continues, then maybe a Celebration will be arranged.

A final question asked - will Lucasarts produce a new "Monkey Island" game? Not on the list, but they always take a look at everything.

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TAGS:  star wars, clone wars, lucas, wwc2008

 
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