Star Wars Celebration: Live Blog of the Star Wars Standalone Film Panel!

Mark Hamill

Today, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Pacific Time, Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim is hosting a panel with Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart and Pablo Hidalgo who will be joined by directors Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank. The pair will share their experiences as the newest members of the Lucasfilm creative family as they will be making the first two planned “standalone” films for the series. Learn how the teams came together and are collaborating to conceive and create the upcoming stand-alone films in the galaxy far, far away.

Edwards is set to direct the first stand-alone film, Rogue One, which will star Felicity Jones and debut in theaters December 16, 2016. Official details on the film are being kept under wraps, though previous rumors indicate it could be a heist detailing the capture of the Death Star plans. The idea for the story is said to have come from John Knoll, the Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor who currently serves as chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. Kroll is executive producing the film along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds). Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To (“Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific”) are on board to produce with John Swartz (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) attached to co-produce. It was also recently confirmed that Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The King’s Speech) will be providing the score.

No release date or title have been revealed for Trank’s stand-alone film. His next film, Fantastic Four, can be seen in theaters on August 7.

UPDATE: You can read the archived version of our live blog below:

10:43
ComingSoon.net: Stay tuned for our live blog of the Conversations with Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank panel at Star Wars Celebration!

10:52
Silas Lesnick: Hey all! I’m seated in the Arena stage right now and it looks like the presentation is going to begin shortly. We’ve still got a lot of fans filtering in.

11:01
Comment From Who Is this
how long before the panel actually starts

11:01
ComingSoon.net: It was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

11:02
Comment From Josh
Are they live streaming the panel?

11:02
Silas Lesnick: Should be very, very soon. It looks like everyone is just about seated…

11:02
ComingSoon.net: It is not on the live-stream schedule.

11:04
Comment From Guest
What should we expect?

11:04
Silas Lesnick: We’re not entirely sure! There are all sorts of rumors that we’re going to be getting some surprises, but nothing has been confirmed quite yet. We should know very, very soon, though!

11:05
Comment From jeremy bressick
This is gonna be great tk final sse stand alone films

11:06
Silas Lesnick: They have to tell us something! Gareth Edwards, as everyone is likely to already know, is directing the first spinoff, Rogue One, with Josh Trank attached to the still-unrevealed second spinoff.

11:06
Comment From Alex
I can’t believe they aren’t streaming that panel

11:07
Silas Lesnick: It’s definitely strange, given the last few days. Of course, that’s helping the rumors grow here about what be shown/revealed.

11:07
Silas Lesnick: Still haven’t quite started, but they’re reading the standard announcements now about no recordings/photos.

11:07
Silas Lesnick: The lights have gone down!

11:08
Silas Lesnick: The warm-up hosts are exiting the stage…

11:08
Silas Lesnick: The moderator, Pablo Hidalgo, is coming on stage now!

11:09
Silas Lesnick: He’s looking back on the last few days and all that Celebration has revealed

11:09
Silas Lesnick: “This is an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan,” he says, “And this is just 2015.”

11:09
Silas Lesnick: “This panel is your crystal ball. Your force vision into the future.”

11:10
Silas Lesnick: Yikes! Josh Trank is sick and won’t be here.

11:10
Silas Lesnick: But here comes Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart!

11:11
Silas Lesnick: “Every day I have been absolutely amazed,” she says of the Celebration

11:11
Silas Lesnick: This is the biggest Celebration yet and she thinks it’s only going to grow

11:12
Silas Lesnick: The trailer from Thursday was seen 88 million times in the first 24 hours

11:12
Silas Lesnick: This is the first Celebration for Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s vice president of development

11:14
Silas Lesnick: The moderator is asking about what we should be calling this films. Spinoffs? Solo films? Sequels?

11:14
Silas Lesnick: Kennedy says that they’ve actually talked about that a lot

11:14
Silas Lesnick: In her initial conversations with George Lucas, they discussed non-Saga films

11:15
Silas Lesnick: “The idea behind these movies that Star Wars — as much as it’s a series of events and characters that we have come to know — is a place.”

11:15
Silas Lesnick: “We wanted freedom to do some films that would stand on their own, tell their own stories, and vary in scale and genre.”

11:16
Silas Lesnick: The official term, per Kiri Hart…

11:16
Silas Lesnick: Anthology Films!

11:16
Silas Lesnick: They’ve been meeting a lot of writers and directors and trying to find unique stories within Star Wars that filmmakers want to tell

11:17
Silas Lesnick: Kennedy is finding that most filmmakers they talk to have grown up on Star Wars

11:17
Silas Lesnick: Gareth Edwards is arriving on stage now!

11:18
Silas Lesnick: “I’m really quite nervous right now!” he says

11:18
Silas Lesnick: This is his first celebration.

11:18
Silas Lesnick: His favorite moment was sitting in the audience watching the new trailer for the first time

11:19
Silas Lesnick: He said it brought tears to his eyes

11:19
Silas Lesnick: He said he was trying really hard not to cry, but just couldn’t help it when he saw Han and Chewie

11:19
Silas Lesnick: They may be about to show some footage!

11:20
Silas Lesnick: “It’s not like the more you scream, the more footage gets generated!” says Trank

11:20
Silas Lesnick: but they haven’t started filming yet…

11:20
Silas Lesnick: But they are going to show something!

11:21
Silas Lesnick: Here it comes…

11:21
Silas Lesnick: December 2016…

11:21
Silas Lesnick: Obi-Wan’s Voice, “For more than a thousand generations…”

11:22
Silas Lesnick: Tracking shot through a jungle A ship flies overhead.

11:22
Silas Lesnick: We see something in the sky

11:22
Silas Lesnick: Moving past the treeline, we see that it’s…

11:22
Silas Lesnick: the Death Star!

11:23
Silas Lesnick: There are shouts and screams

11:23
Silas Lesnick: The logo comes up. STAR WARS ANTHOLOGY: ROGUE ONE is the full title

11:23
Silas Lesnick: They’re about to show it again…

11:23
Silas Lesnick: The ship that flies is a TIE fighter

11:24
Silas Lesnick: It’s Obi Wan from ANH, the line going all the way through, “Before the dark times. Before the Empire” just as the Death Star is revealed

11:24
Silas Lesnick: It’s definitely the first Death Star

11:24
Silas Lesnick: Though we only see the top half, like a dome against the skyline

11:25
Silas Lesnick: They’re about to reveal the first synopsis!

11:25
Silas Lesnick: “A rogue band of resistance fighters unite to steal the Death Star plans and bring new hope to the galaxy!”

11:25
Silas Lesnick: The trailer was made entirely at ILM

11:26
Silas Lesnick: The film takes place after Episode III and before Episode IV, Edwards reiterates

11:26
Silas Lesnick: But he says “maybe a little bit more towards four,” adding that ANH is his favorite film

11:27
Silas Lesnick: He says it’s interesting that there are nearly no Jedi

11:27
Silas Lesnick: It’s a scenario “where God isn’t coming to save us”

11:27
Silas Lesnick: It comes down to a group of heroes without magic powers, he says

11:28
Silas Lesnick: The moderator is asking about how the film will impact Rebels, which i set in the same time period

11:28
Silas Lesnick: She says that they don’t mandate things crossing over, but they are aware of the potential

11:29
Silas Lesnick: “Real” is the term they want tied to Rogue One

11:29
Silas Lesnick: “It’s hopefully going to feel very natural and subjective,” says Edwards

11:29
ComingSoon.net: Wonder if that means Felicity Jones is Leia.

11:29
Silas Lesnick: He doesn’t want the good guys to be really good or the bad guys to be really bad

11:30
Silas Lesnick: “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good.”

11:30
Silas Lesnick: He says it’s really about shades of grey

11:30
Silas Lesnick: They’re showing a still!

11:31
Silas Lesnick: A whole group of rebel soliders running in the rain

11:31
Silas Lesnick: There’s a ship behind them I don’t recognize. Midway between an X-Wing and a Y-Wing

11:31
Silas Lesnick: Felicity Jones plays…

11:31
Silas Lesnick: “a rebel soldier”

11:32
Silas Lesnick: He says they wanted a character that show range. Fear, humor and warmth.

11:32
Silas Lesnick: “She’s the complete package,” says Edwards

11:32
Silas Lesnick: “We were very lucky she was a huge Star Wars fan,” he says, “She dropped everything and came aboard.”

11:33
Comment From SeanWolf
This film comes out in 2016, right? Was there an exact date announced?

11:33
Silas Lesnick: No exact date, but it’s said December 2016

11:33
Silas Lesnick: *it said

11:33
Silas Lesnick: Greig Fraser is the DP

11:34
Silas Lesnick: Neil Lamont and Doug Chiang are production designers

11:34
Silas Lesnick: Neil Corblud is doing FX

11:34
Silas Lesnick: One of the elements that ties a lot of these filmmakers together is their work on gritty war films

11:35
Silas Lesnick: Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, etc

11:35
Silas Lesnick: “Yeah,” says Edwards with a smile, “Star *Wars*”

11:35
Silas Lesnick: They’ll be filming late summer

11:36
Silas Lesnick: There’s a story by credit from John Knoll from ILM

11:36
Silas Lesnick: He came up with the original idea and is coming onstage now

11:37
Silas Lesnick: Knoll was pitching this story for awhile and everyone at ILM loved it

11:38
Silas Lesnick: He met with Kennedy and Hart soon after they took on Lucasfilm

11:38
Silas Lesnick: They loved it and it got the ball rolling on the anthology films

11:39
Silas Lesnick: “There’s something very fun and challenging about writing events that have to fit with another film” says Knoll

11:39
Silas Lesnick: Kennedy says she had been in the job “about ten minutes” when John came into the office

11:40
Silas Lesnick: She thought, “Oh my god. I’m opening the floodgates if I say yes.”

11:40
Silas Lesnick: But as she listened, she couldn’t imagine saying no

11:40
Silas Lesnick: But she adds that it doesn’t really open the floodgates

11:40
Silas Lesnick: “Star Wars stories are not a dime a dozen,” she says

11:41
Silas Lesnick: Edwards says he’s about to embarrass Knoll

11:42
Silas Lesnick: He says that when Knoll and his brother designed photoshop and he bug him all the time about it

11:42
Silas Lesnick: “You literally have to escape when you’re making a film,” says Edwards. “They don’t let you go.”

11:43
Silas Lesnick: He snuck out of the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank and ran over to Disney for his first meeting

11:43
Silas Lesnick: Hart says they want directors to be involved very early in the process of making the Anthology films

11:43
Silas Lesnick: Multiple people recommended Edwards

11:44
Silas Lesnick: She was really impressed by his reverence for Star Wars

11:45
Silas Lesnick: She sent him a piece of paper after the meeting

11:45
Silas Lesnick: He said he saved it for a weekend just to give his full attention to it

11:46
Silas Lesnick: He said he was honestly hoping he hated it just because he was exhausted from Godzilla

11:46
Silas Lesnick: But he read the paper, got all the way to the end, and went “Oh, f–k”

11:46
Silas Lesnick: “That is why we are not live streaming this panel!” says the moderator

11:46
Silas Lesnick: “I couldn’t sit in a cinema and know someone else made this film,” says Edwards

11:47
Silas Lesnick: He didn’t tell anyone in the world except his assistant for six months. Even his parents.

11:48
Silas Lesnick: He said he actually got Star Wars presents from his family at Christmas and still just played it cool.

11:48
Silas Lesnick: He said he got a call one day going, “The press found out and are running the story in ten minutes. Call your parents now!”

11:49
Silas Lesnick: He said he tried to get his mom to guess what he was directing and she couldn’t.

11:49
Silas Lesnick: “Come on, Mom!” he laughs, “What movie would be more perfect to direct than anything in the world?”

11:49
Silas Lesnick: They just showed a phone still of his mom smiling over facetime!

11:50
Silas Lesnick: Edwards says that, for his birthday one year, he went to Tunisia

11:50
Silas Lesnick: He’s showing off the pictures. He even bought blue dye to drink blue milk in the Lars homestead

11:51
Silas Lesnick: He’s got an amazing shot duplicating Luke standing against the sunset.

11:52
Silas Lesnick: They’re in preproduction now with filming in the UK and other locations around the world

11:53
Silas Lesnick: “I don’t want to say where,” Edwards smiles, “because 3,000 people will turn up!”

11:53
Silas Lesnick: Looks like that’s it! They’re playing the trailer one more time

11:55
Silas Lesnick: There’s no way to tell what planet it is, but I’m guessing Alderaan

11:55
Silas Lesnick: It’s a dense jungle, definitely more jungle than forest

11:55
Silas Lesnick: That’s it! Thanks for reading everyone!

11:56
ComingSoon.net: Thanks Silas and thanks to everyone for tuning in!