TRANSMISSIONS FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR, AWAY: EPISODE II

This is the second column in a weekly series from The Rock Father James Zahn. Check back Fridays for the latest in what’s happening in the galaxy far, far away.

Last night, Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story had its world premiere in downtown Hollywood, taking over three theaters (Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Chinese) just days ahead of its international premiere at Cannes. With a familiar-looking Corellian freighter parked out front, Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Joonas Suotamo joined director Ron Howard and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Simon Emanuel on the red carpet ahead of the first screening of the much-anticipated new film. While the official reviews won’t be revealed until May 15, early reactions on social media have been fantastic, with all signs pointing toward a hit with some big surprises—one of which was said by many to be “jaw-dropping.”

(Back Row) Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, (Front Row) Clint Howard, Ron Howard, Emilia Clarke, Alden Enrenreich, Donald Glover, Jon Favreau attend the world premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in Hollywood on May 10, 2018 Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages. Provided courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

Production on Solo was notoriously bumpy at times, though as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story reminded us, films are often shaped well after principal photography is completed, and Star Wars movies have always been that way. While general audiences won’t be able to experience Solo until May 25 (exactly 41 years to the day from when 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope hit screens), there’s still a lot of news for the rest of us to process.

Earlier this week, Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) revealed to Jimmy Kimmel that his first cinematic Star Wars experience was Episode I: The Phantom Menace back in 1999. The future smuggler was just 10 years old at the time, and I was just three months away from getting married.

Elsewhere, a new episode of The Star Wars Show was released, and Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan dropped by, fresh from being announced as a cast member in the forthcoming animated series, Star Wars Resistance. As customary with all newly announced Lucasfilm projects, he was able to share absolutely nothing about the new series from Dave Filoni and Co., but did throw down some words about his connection to Star Wars, his passion for collecting, and a bit that was cut from SNL’s now-iconic “Matt the Radar Technician” sketch. Just think about a couple of First Order Stormtroopers on janitorial duty while the body of Kylo Ren’s dad falls from a walkway overhead. “We just cleaned up and now there’s this mess!”

On the gaming front, EA’s Battlefront II will expand with The Han Solo Season. Beginning May 16, players can immerse themselves in new scenarios based on the opening moments of Return of the Jedi through an all-new Jabba’s Palace map.There’s new game modes, plus playable versions of Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise) and Princess Leia (Boushh Bounty Hunter Disguise). Then in June, new content based on Solo: A Star Wars Story will be added to the game as fresh DLC.

Amid all the premiere excitement, Nissan unveiled its Millennium Falcon-inspired Rogue show car. The automaker has been in partnership with Lucasfilm for awhile, and I had the chance to see some of their earlier Star Wars-inspired rides on the auto show circuit last year. For Solo, they’ve taken things to a new level with a fantasy vehicle that has everything from a blaster cannon and radar dish on the roof to Han’s signature dice hanging from the mirror inside the cockpit. While they actually built this one, they’ve also created digital concepts for a 2018 Rogue inspired by an Imperial Heavy Armored TIE Fighter, a 2019 Titan pickup inspired by the Millennium Falcon and a 2019 Altima inspired by Enfys Nest’s Swoop Bike. Hidden in the Nissan site is something really cool—an interactive feature that lets visitors build custom concepts of their own, but when users hold down the “see inspiration” icon, they’re treated to some surprisingly detailed information on the vehicles of Solo. Curious what Han’s Mobquet M-69 Landspeeder, the Arrogantus-X Skyblade-221 swoop bike or a Kuat Drive Yards Y-45 armored transport hauler can do? Nissan can tell you.

Finally there’s a big rumor that’s resurfaced, but this time it may hold some real weight. A standalone Obi-Wan Kenobi film has been a wish list item for years, and it’s one that’s even had some talent rumored to be attached, despite never having been announced. Could it be that Lucasfilm has been holding back on a formal announcement until Solo is released? According to Fantha Tracks, pre-production activities for Kenobi are ramping up at Pinewood Studios in the UK, and others with a track record of being right (like Making Star Wars) think that there just might be something there this time.

 

Further Transmissions from Across the Galaxy: