TIME Tunisia

Star Wars Landmarks Safe From ISIS, Tunisian Officials Say

Fethi Belaid—AFP/Getty Images A picture taken on May 2, 2014 shows, amidst desert sand, a film set where numerous Star Wars scenes were filmed in Ong Jmel, in southern Tunisia.

Tourism officials say the sets are unaffected by ISIS

Tourism officials in Tunisia say that landmarks made famous in the original Star Wars movie are safe from Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants, despite reports that the town of Tataouine was a “way-station” for ISIS.

The initial report by CNN was “without foundation,” Mohammed Sayem of the Tunisian tourism commission told the AP. The town, known as Luke Skywalker’s home planet of “Tatooine” in Star Wars, is actually hundreds of miles away from the primary film shooting locations near Tozeur.

Col. Mokhtar Hammami of the National Guard said the area is being patrolled by 1,500 men and that “all is normal, in fact we’ve seen a big influx of foreign tourists and Tunisians.”

The Wrap reports that the desert scenes for the next film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, were filmed in Abu Dhabi last year.


TIME viral

Someone Spent 4 Years Creating This Anime-Style Tribute to a Star Wars Video Game

The short film is an homage to 1994's Star Wars: TIE Fighter

The Star Wars universe keeps growing, but one fan with a lot of time on his hands has been fixated by one of its lesser-known properties: the 1994 computer game Star Wars: TIE Fighter.

“What if there was an Empire-focussed short Star Wars animation, drawn with the crazy detail and shading of classic ’80s anime that’s all but vanished from Japan nowadays?” asked Paul “OtaKing” Johnson on his YouTube channel.

Well, Johnson spent his weekends for the past four years making that hypothetical a reality, and the resulting seven-minute, incredibly detailed short film has absolutely delighted the geekiest corners of the Internet.

TIME movies

Composer John Williams Will Not Score Star Wars: Rogue One

A Capitol Fourth 2014 Independence Day Concert Rehearsals
Paul Morigi—2014 Getty Images Conductor John Williams debuts his new version of the The Star-Spangled Banner

It's the end of an era

It’s hard to imagine Star Wars without its thrilling score, written by five-time Oscar winner John Williams — but we’re going to have to try.

The acclaimed composer is taking his first break from the live-action franchise, set in a galaxy far, far away, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Alexandre Desplat — who recently won an Oscar for scoring The Grand Budapest Hotel — will write the music for Star Wars’ 2016 standalone film Rogue One.

Desplat worked with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards on the 2014 film Godzilla.

You can hear Williams in surround sound on Dec. 18, however, with the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

TIME animals

This New Species of Catfish Was Named After a ‘Star Wars’ Character

Greedo from Star Wars
Lucasfilm Greedo from Star Wars

If this new species of catfish looks familiar, don’t be surprised—Peckoltia greedoi is named after Star Wars bounty hunter Greedo.

Researchers discovered the new species of catfish in 1998 in Brazil, but it had been catalogued as an existing species until 2014, CNN reports. When it came time to name the unidentified fish, they noted Peckoltia greedoi‘s uncanny likeness to the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope character.

“I think it was the whole package that evoked Greedo, but particularly the eyes and the underslung mouth,” said Jonathan Armbruster, biological sciences professor and curator of fishes at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, who helped name the species.

“As a 7-year-old kid, I watched “Star Wars” in the theater, and it was a life-changing experience for me,” said Armbruster. “Greedo has always been a personal favorite of mine.”



TIME movies

The First Star Wars Spinoff Movie Will Be Called Rogue One

Here's what that title could mean

The first Disney-made Star Wars film outside the new and upcoming main trilogy will be titled Rogue One, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said on March 12.

Disney gave out a few details about the new film: It’s being directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz, Felicity Jones has been cast for the film, and it’s set for release on December 16, 2016, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens but before Star Wars: Episode VIII, which also had its release date announced.

Disney also said the idea for Rogue One’s storyline came from John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light & Magic, the production company George Lucas started in 1975 to work on the first Star Wars. Knoll has worked on visual effects for a host of sci-fi favorites, including the Star Wars prequels and Star Trek TV episodes and films.

That’s all Disney is saying for sure about Rogue One for now. So what will it actually be about? The film’s title betrays one big clue.

In Star Wars lore, several top Rebel Alliance fighter pilots (they’re the good guys of the films) formed up an elite unit after the destruction of the first Death Star, seen at the end of A New Hope. The group isn’t mentioned much in the movies, but a series of video games in the late 1990s and early 2000s cemented their status in Star Wars canon.

The unit’s name? Rogue Squadron, headed up by “Rogue Leader.” Or, alternatively, “Rogue One.”

Does that mean we’re getting a Rogue Squadron spinoff movie? Maybe! In the first trailer for Force Awakens, we get a glimpse of an X-wing pilot who very well could be a member of Rouge Squadron. In Star Wars history, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles have both served as Rogue Leader, but that doesn’t mean a Rogue Squadron film would be about them. It could easily be set more in the future—long after those two had hung up their flight jackets.

Read next: You’ll Want to Read These Star Wars Books Before the New Movies Come Out

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

You’ll Want to Read These Star Wars Books Before the New Movies Come Out

The series will fill in the gaps between Episodes Six and Seven

At least 20 new Star Wars books will be released in the lead-up to the premiere of The Force Awakens.

Disney Worldwide Publishing and Lucasfilm have confirmed that the series—including novels, comics and sticker books for children—will reveal what happened to the heroes in the time between Return of the Jedi and the new film, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The books will reportedly be packed with clues about what fans can expect from the latest Star Wars installment, which hits theaters on Dec. 18.

Read more at EW

TIME movies

See the Most Iconic Examples of Artificial Intelligence in Film

With the release of Neill Blomkamp's Chappie, take a look back at some of the most iconic examples of artificial intelligence in film history, from R2-D2 to The Terminator

TIME movies

JJ Abrams Says Some of Those Star Wars Rumors Are True

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has completed principal photography. #TheForceAwakens #StarWarsVII

But not all of them

Redditors, start your engines: Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams confirmed Friday that some of those rumors you’ve been hearing are true — but only some.

The Star Trek and Super 8 director said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 that he’s worked hard to keep secrets from the upcoming movie under wraps, but a few have nevertheless leaked. “There are a ton of rumors, some true, some false,” he said. “But … I’m grateful for everyone who would want to read a spoiler, because it means that they care, they want to go see the movie.”

It’s unclear exactly what rumors Abrams might be addressing, but one that would be particularly huge if true did leak in recent days (potential spoilers here, if you dare). The Force Awakens isn’t due to hit theaters until December, but it seems the Internet will have plenty to speculate about until then.


TIME movies

Apple Design Guru May Have Helped Redesign Star Wars Lightsaber

Jony Ive reportedly told director JJ Abrams iconic sci-fi sword would benefit from a "more analog and more primitive" look

Apple design chief Jony Ive may have played a role in the concept behind the three-pronged lightsaber featured in the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film, a new profile in the New Yorker suggests.

Ive reportedly told J.J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, that the lightsaber would benefit from a redesign to make it “more analog and more primitive.”

“I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty,” Ive told the magazine.

Read More: Jonathan Ive Designs Tomorrow

Abrams took the comments to heart even though the suggestion reportedly came at a “boozy” dinner party, the New Yorker reports. Ive said he didn’t suggest adding the two beams at the hilt, which make the lightsaber look somewhat like a three-pronged cross.

Ive is known for his influential role designing Apple products including the iPhone and iPad.

TIME movies

Felicity Jones Set to Star in First Star Wars Stand-Alone Film

Felicity Jones Star Wars
Michael Tran—FilmMagic/Getty Images Felicity Jones arrives at the BAFTA Los Angeles Jaguar Britannia Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Oct. 30, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Gareth Edwards is directing the first of multiple spinoff movies

British actress Felicity Jones has reportedly been tapped as the female lead in the Gareth Edwards Star Wars standalone film.

The Oscar-nominated The Theory of Everything actress is in talks with Disney and Lucasfilm for the role, which hasn’t been revealed yet, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Actresses including Orphan Black lead Tatiana Maslany and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara had been reading and testing for the role last week, when Chris Weitz was hired as the film’s screenwriter to replace Gary Whitta, who wrote the first draft.

Little else is known about the project, which will be the first of multiple Star Wars standalone films, but The Hollywood Reporter also reports that Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and Wrath of the Titan‘s Edgar Ramirez are in talks for the male lead role.

The film is due out Dec. 16, 2016.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

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