The James Clayton Column: The May 4th Star Wars announcement?

What could the much-anticipated May the 4th Star Wars announcement reveal? James makes a few tongue-in-cheek predictions...

Laugh it up, fuzzball! Time for a celebration, it is. Cantina Band music and Ewok dancing, there must be. Movie screenings, mock lightsaber fights and cosplay events, we shall have. Yes, hmmm, talk like Yoda we will for on Sunday it shall be May 4th so, yes hrrrrm, Intergalactic Star Wars Day it is and – dropping the annoying Yoda-speak now – it’s one of the most important annual dates on the geek culture calendar.

“May the Fourth be with you!” It’s a lispy homophonic pun on “May the Force be with you”. I hope you see how that works and are going to have a moment celebrating the saga on Sunday. If you are, I embrace you as a fellow Star Wars fan and send an exuberant “May the Fourth be with you!” your way. I follow that greeting with a salute and that oh-so-charismatic Han Solo smile because Han Solo is my spirit animal and on Sunday I’m going to mark the occasion by making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

As far as commemorative acts go, re-enacting one of the Millennium Falcon’s finest moments is a bit of a grandiose gesture, but it doesn’t matter whether you make a big deal out of this day or just spend a few seconds reflecting on how great Star Wars is (or was, depending on your opinion on the franchise’s development over the decades). A yearly nudge towards the most stellar of pop cultural phenomena is worthwhile indeed and May 4th is always a nice, evocative date regardless of how much effort or import you invest in the day.

Even so, though this thing rolls around annually there’s a definite sense that Intergalactic Star Wars Day 2014 has a touch of additional significance about it. I feel something – something I have not felt since…

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And you know what I mean. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. Presently there are great disturbances in the Force and a whole lot of excitement and fresh energy is palpable. A new Star Wars movie – an actual live-action movie – is in production and that movie will be the first of a new sequel trilogy continuing the saga from where it left off at the end of Return Of The Jedi.

This is massive, exciting, massively exciting and excitingly massive. The cast announcement made earlier this week amplified that massive excitement even more and sent our exhilarated hype levels into hyperdrive. Even so, even though we’ve got a fair handle on the inchoate Star Wars sequel project, the saga is still surrounded by mystery.

Sure, we know things like the main stars, that the director is JJ Abrams and that the release date of Episode VII is December 18th 2015. This week’s cast reveal aside, though, for the most part the Star Wars camp have been quite secretive, silent and impassive as rumours, counter-rumours and pseudo-rumours have run wild in the press and social media spheres. There is information out there and I’m sure that many Bothans are dying for it but, yet, it’s not reaching us. Tight-lipped teasers that they are, the people in charge are withholding it all.

They are the golden android god on an elevated seat of power and we are the enthralled furry Ewok throng. Nonetheless, the golden ones are benevolent and the casting reveal was a welcome shot of fresh, real news, but because we are self-entitled, fascinated franchise fans with an insatiable desire to know more, we want further revelations. Imagine a Star WarsGrease mash-up picture and a bunch of Padawans gathered on the bleachers by the Jedi Academy singing “Tell me more! Tell me more!” Yes, it looks a bit like that.

More updates should and surely will be forthcoming. We expect and demand them and, what’s more, we expect them on May 4th because such a thing would be timely. It is destiny, as decreed by a desperately eager and impatient fanbase and so, duly, the creative people behind Star Wars VII-IX are going to deliver more goods on May 4th and provide further enlightenment with another major update. At least, they will if they respect their audience and have any sense of showmanship, showwomanship or showdroidship.

But what will be revealed about the new trilogy – specifically the as-yet-untitled Star Wars VII film – on Intergalactic Star Wars Day? I thought it would be a good idea to speculate a little in anticipation of the event and you can have confidence in my premonitions because the Force is strong with me. The DIY Midi-Chlorian Insta-Count Kit I filched off a Toydarian junk trader back in Mos Espa proves this to be so. Mark my words – there will be more news on May 4th and here’s what we may come to learn when the next update is dropped in timely fashion on Intergalactic Star Wars Day…

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Even more original cast members are coming back

The cast reveal was premature (was it really so hard to just hang on until May 4th?) but, hey, now we’ve got a definite lock on the newcomers entering the multiverse – Max Von Sydow, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. There’s great promise in that stellar roster, but even more thrilling is the official confirmation that the heroes of the Original Trilogy – Mark Hamill , Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker – are all coming back for more.

The monochrome reading room ensemble photo was lovely, but there are more nice surprises in store for fans. Having unveiled their main stars too soon, the Star Wars VII producers are going to mark May 4th by putting on an official costume photoshoot styled to replicate the medal-giving ceremony that climaxes the first Star Wars film. That’s not all though, for they will also announce that other legends of the Original Trilogy are going to be joining the party and providing potent character presence and nostalgia.

Ladies, gentlemen, Wookiees and protocol droids! Please welcome back Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok), the ghost of Sir Alec Guinness (the ghost of Ben Kenobi) and Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar and the resurgent Salacious B Crumb, the most repugnant Kowakian monkey-lizard in the Outer Rim Territories).

They will be remastering and re-releasing the Original Trilogy in its pure, original form

“Related to the new movies this news isn’t,” you may surmise while pulling a doubtful Yoda face but, in fact, this planned theatrical and Blu-ray re-release will be vital to the future unfurling of the saga. Seeing the unaltered original articles in glorious HD will set everyone up for the sequel trilogy and simultaneously ensure that we’re moving forward in the right spirit with certain contentious details becoming guaranteed as canon.

George Lucas has now retired and handed over the controls, so any controversial objections from the Saga-Father are invalid. Now that we’re all clear that Han did shoot first, that Anakin’s spirit looks like Sebastian Shaw and that the Empire’s ultimate demise was soundtracked by the “Yub Nub” song, fans can be truly happy as the narrative progresses into the future with satisfactory consistency.

There is no script and the entire thing will be improvised

The prequels proved that bad dialogue can really cramp Star Wars’ infinite style and do much to spoil the imaginative wonder of the rich worlds of a long time ago galaxy far, far away. So why bother with a script? Following the lead of the screenwriter who’s already left the project (Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt), JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan will announce that they, likewise, have disregarded their screenplay and will let the actors improvise. Don’t let the cast read-through photo fool you – the papers in the cast members’ hands are just printouts of Wookieepedia pages.

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It’s going to be an extraordinary, unprecedented ad-lib experiment for the assembled cast but when you’re working with the vast creative mythos of the Star Wars multiverse you’ve got a lot to work with. Remember when Han Solo was being lowered into the carbon freeze chamber and Leia said “I love you!” and he replied “I know”? That was an ad-lib. Also, note how Luke blew up the Death Star by using the Force and not by following the clear, calibrated flight-path programmed into his X-Wing’s computer. I think we can have confidence that the Star Wars sequels will be dramatically and emotionally effective even when they’re unrolling on the fly, entirely unscripted.

The movies will be filmed back-to-back and the final part will be split into two

In a world forever changed by The Lord Of The Rings trilogy (the modern day blockbuster trilogy high standard), this is now a common and efficient way to produce movie series. So it shall be with the new Star Wars cycle as it’s revealed that all the sequels will be shot together in one go and then released over consecutive Christmas holidays to maximise hype, suspense and expectation.

The Hunger Games and Harry Potter franchises have also established the odd idea of splitting the final part of the story into two, so expect the same for the sequel trilogy that is actually now going to a quadrilogy. Star Wars Episode IX Part I and Star Wars Episode IX Part 2 – or Episode X because they haven’t decided what it is yet – will hit theatres in December 2017 and December  2018 respectively though, of course, both will have completed shooting by next March.

There are no forthcoming Star Wars movies! It’s all a Jedi Mind trick!

It’s a trap! There is no new Star Wars trilogy! It’s all been an elaborate high-profile dupe and we’ve all been played like a cheap kloo horn! (One of Figrin D’an’s cast-offs) “But why concoct such a conspiracy?” you cry, as shocked and appalled as you were when you first witnessed the execution of Order 66 and discovered that Darth Vader was Luke’s father.

Why? Because the evil Empire wanted to keep Star Wars in the popular consciousness and ensure that consumers kept on buying Lego sets and videogames and carried on talking about the brand on social media platforms. Meanwhile, while the masses have been distracted, Lucasfilm – now owned by Walt Disney – have been furtively preparing other franchise reboots without pressure and attention. May 4th 2014 will be the day the world learns that Indiana Jones and Howard the Duck are returning to the big screen… in the same film.

There will be no announcement

This isn’t the May the Fourth you are looking for. You can go about your business.

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But that’s okay. Patience, young Padawan, for December 2015 isn’t really that far off and, beyond the knowing the main cast, the rest is best left as a tantalising surprise. Let go, Luke – whatever your name is, Luke is your fictional surrogate – and calmly wait for the Star Wars adventures that are gradually coming over the horizon. That horizon is lit beautifully by those twin suns and a new hope is in the air. Good to be a Star Wars fan, it is. May the Fourth be with you…

James Clayton is your father. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible. You can visit his website or follow him on Twitter

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