Disney+ Debuts Trailer and Key Art for ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte,’ Due June 4

Disney+ March 19 debuted the first trailer and key art for Lucasfilm’s new original series “Star Wars: The Acolyte.”

The live-action series launches on June 4, with the first two episodes, exclusively on Disney+.

In “Star Wars: The Acolyte,” an investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master (Lee Jung-jae) against a dangerous warrior from his past (Amandla Stenberg). As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems.

The series stars Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie Turner-Smith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo and Carrie-Anne Moss.

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Leslye Headland created the series, based on “Star Wars” by George Lucas, and serves as an executive producer along with Kathleen Kennedy, Simon Emanuel, Jeff F. King and Jason Micallef. Charmaine DeGraté and Kor Adana are the co-executive producers. Rayne Roberts, Damian Anderson, Eileen Shim and Rob Bredow are the producers.

Award-winning composer Michael Abels, known for his work on Get Out and Us, scored “Star Wars: The Acolyte.”

 

Mill Creek to Bow Doc ‘Icons Unearthed: Star Wars’ on Blu-ray Disc March 12

Mill Creek Entertainment will release the six-part documentary series Icons Unearthed: Star Wars on Blu-ray Disc March 12.

From the earliest screenplay draft to the silver screen, the series explores how the most iconic film franchise in history was made.

The series features Michael Pennington, Marcia Lucas, George Lucas, Richard Edlund, Anthony Daniels, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Paul Hirsch, Phil Tippet, Rick Baker, Ben Burtt, Steven Spielberg, Kurt Russell, Francis Ford Coppola and Christopher Walken.

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Disney+ Sets Final Season of ‘Bad Batch’ for Feb. 21, Releases Trailer

The third and final season of the animated series “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” will debut on the Disney+ streaming service starting Feb. 21.

Disney+ Jan. 22 also released a trailer and schedule for the 15-episode season. The premiere date will present three episodes, with a new episodes each subsequent week ( two episodes March 13 and April 3), leading to the May 1 series finale.

The show, a sequel to “The Clone Wars,” follows a squad of former Clone Troopers who have become mercenaries following the rise of the Empire. In the final season, the Batch will have their limits tested in the fight to reunite with Omega as she faces challenges of her own inside a remote Imperial science lab. With the group fractured and facing threats from all directions, they will have to seek out unexpected allies, embark on dangerous missions, and muster everything they have learned to free themselves from the Empire.

The voice cast includes Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jimmi Simpson, Noshir Dalal and Wanda Sykes. “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is executive produced by Dave Filoni, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett and Carrie Beck, with Josh Rimes as co-executive producer and Alex Spotswood as senior producer. Rau is also serving as supervising director with Corbett as head writer.

Disney+ Touts 14M Global ‘Ahsoka’ Viewers in Wake of Samba TV Reporting Domestic Downturn

Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Co. Aug. 29 announced that the first episode of the new “Star Wars” series “Ahsoka” garnered 14 million global views in its first week to make it the No. 1 title on the streaming platform.

The live-action “Ahsoka” series follows the adventures of former Jedi Ahsoka Tano, played by Rosario Dawson, following the fall of the Empire, as she searches for the missing Imperial warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn. The story continues Ahsoka’s storylines from the animated “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” series, and her live-action debut in the second season of “The Mandalorian.”

“Ahsoka has become a fan favorite with people of all ages and it’s wonderful to see her continue to resonate with viewers in her very own headlining series,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the studio statement. “I want to recognize the fantastic work done by our creative team, led by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, the incredible cast led by Rosario Dawson, and our talented crew — and on behalf of the team and all of Lucasfilm, we give our thanks to all the fans who have been with Ahsoka on every step of her journey and to all those who are just learning about her now in Ahsoka on Disney+.”

The episode, “Master and Apprentice,” was released the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 22. The second episode of the series also was released at the same time, but the studio did not break down viewership numbers for that episode. Disney+ defines a view as total stream time divided by runtime available.

Market tracker Samba TV, however, reports that initial “Ahsoka” viewership is on the low-end for a “Star Wars” series, with the first episode drawing 1.2 million U.S. households in Live+5-day viewership.

That puts it on par with the September 2022 first episode of the Rogue One prequel “Andor,” a show that, while highly touted by critics and “Star Wars” fans, is often chided for its low viewership totals.

Samba TV’s ratings for “Master and Apprentice” also have it 50% below the Live+5-day tally of the debut of “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which scored 2.4 million households in May 2022. It’s also 29% under 1.7 million households that streamed the premiere of the third season of “The Mandalorian” in March.

Samba TV tracks data from 3 million smart-TVs, with results balanced and weighted to domestic census and demographic data.

Despite the relative downturn in comparative franchise numbers, Samba TV VP of measurement products Cole Strain told Deadline that Ahsoka’s numbers are still impressive, particularly for a female-led sci-fi action series.

“Disney+ continues to find success with live-action ‘Star Wars’ series, with ‘Ahsoka’ serving as the latest show to draw in more than 1 million households across its first six days,” Strain said. “Rosario Dawson’s portrayal of the Jedi shows that not only are fans eager for more adventures in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, but that they’ll gladly watch shows led by female characters. With women serving as five of the six main characters, this opens a new chapter in the ‘Star Wars’ saga.”

Viewership of the second episode of “Ahsoka” dipped to 956,000 U.S. households, according to Samba TV.

New episodes of “Ahsoka” are available at 6 p.m. PT every Tuesday on Disney+.

‘Star Wars: Ahsoka’ Live-Action Series to Debut on Disney+ Aug. 23

Disney+ announced an Aug. 23 premiere date for Lucasfilm’s live-action series “Star Wars: Ahsoka.”

Disney+ also debuted a TV spot, which will also air June 7 during the NBA Finals Game 3, and released three images from the series.   

Set after the fall of the Empire, “Star Wars: Ahsoka” follows the former Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy. 

In addition to Rosario Dawson in the title role, “Ahsoka” stars Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera Syndulla, Ray Stevenson as Baylan Skoll, Ivanna Sakhno as Shin Hati, Diana Lee Inosanto as Morgan Elsbeth, David Tennant as Huyang, Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn, and Eman Esfandi as Ezra Bridger. 

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The series is written by Dave Filoni, who executive produces alongside Jon Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson and Carrie Beck. Karen Gilchrist is co-executive producer.

 

(L-R): Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) in Lucasfilm’s “Ahsoka” exclusively on Disney+. (©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)
“Ahsoka” (©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)

Merchandising: ‘Star Wars’ Exclusive Steelbooks Arrive at Best Buy

May 4 is the Lucasfilm-created marketing event known as “Star Wars Day,” built upon the pun of saying “May the Fourth Be With You” as a play on “May the Force Be With You.”

Just in time for the 2023 version of “Star Wars Day,” several retailers touted “Star Wars” themed promotions during the week.

May 2 saw the release of 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack Steelbooks for each film of the original trilogy as Best Buy exclusives. The 4K Steelbooks for 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi come adorned in the silver packaging scheme of Disney’s 100th anniversary celebration, and offered by Best Buy for $27.99 apiece.

Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ 4K Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ 4K Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ 4K Steelbook

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Target devoted a whole page in its weekly ad circular to “Star Wars” merchandise, with promotions such as $15 “Star Wars” Blu-rays, 30% off “Star Wars” books, and a $10 gift card with the purchase of the new Jedi Survivor video game (priced at $69.99).

Samba TV: ‘Mandalorian’ Streaming Viewership Decline Could Indicate ‘Star Wars’ Fatigue

Viewership in the “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars”-themed original series on Disney+, continues to fade. The season three finale April 19 generated 662,000 U.S. households during the initial window, according to new data from Samba TV, which tracks viewership intel across 48 million connected televisions worldwide.

That compared with 1.1 million U.S. homes that streamed the “Mandalorian” season two finale during the initial window. The season two premiere episode saw 970,000 U.S. households, while the season three debut episode generated just 722,000 households.

Samba found that viewership of the season finale dropped by nearly half when compared to last season’s finale, suggesting that there appears to be limited audience growth potential for “Star Wars” content.

Indeed, while 991,000 U.S. homes streamed the premiere episode of “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the weekly tally dropped to 803,000 homes for the last episode. Another 412,000 households watched the “Andor” season one premiere, a tally that declined to 261,000 eight episodes later.

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Finally, just 73,000 homes watched “The Bad Batch” season two premiere, climbing to 77,000 eight episodes later for the finale. That compares with 239,000 domestic households that watched the season one premiere episode.

Samba notes live-action “Star Wars” series remain some of the most-watched shows on Disney+, but viewership of “The Mandalorian’s” third-season mirrors overall reduced fan appeal. 

“Whether this is a sign of broader ‘Star Wars’ fatigue or just a bump in hyperspace, only time will tell,” Dallas Lawrence, SVP of Samba TV, said in a statement. 

Disney+ Drops New Teaser Trailer for ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff Series ‘Ahsoka’

Disney+ and Lucafilm have unveiled a new teaser trailer for the Disney+ original series “Ahsoka,” a “Star Wars” spinoff starring Rosario Dawson in the title role.

The teaser was unveiled April 7 at the “Star Wars” celebration in London.

Set after the fall of the Empire, “Ahsoka” follows the former Jedi knight Ahsoka Tano as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy. Ahsoka, a Togruta female, was the Padawan learner to Anakin Skywalker and a hero of the Clone Wars. She grew up alongside Anakin from a stubborn student into a strong leader, only to follow a different path than the Jedi.

“Ahsoka” will debut exclusively on Disney+ in August 2023.

In addition to Dawson, “Ahsoka” stars Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera Syndulla. The series is written by Dave Filoni, who executive produces alongside Jon Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson, and Carrie Beck. Karen Gilchrist is co-executive producer. 

Disney+ to Stream Volume Two of Animated Anthology ‘Star Wars: Visions’ May 4

Disney+ and Lucasfilm have announced that the second volume of the animated anthology series “Star Wars: Visions” will premiere exclusively on the streaming service May 4.

Following on the first volume of the Emmy Award-nominated “Star Wars: Visions,” the newest volume will include nine new shorts from nine studios from around the globe.

The shorts included in “Star Wars: Visions” volume two were created by the following international animation studios: El Guiri (Spain), Cartoon Saloon (Ireland), Punkrobot (Chile), Aardman (United Kingdom), Studio Mir (South Korea), Studio La Cachette (France), 88 Pictures (India), D’art Shtajio (Japan), and Triggerfish (South Africa). D’Art Shtajio’s short was created in collaboration with Lucasfilm Ltd. (United States). 

The titles of each short are “Sith” (El Guiri) from writer-director Rodrigo Blaas; “Screecher’s Reach” (Cartoon Saloon) from director Paul Young; “In the Stars” (Punkrobot) from writer-director Gabriel Osorio; “I Am Your Mother” (Aardman) from director Magdalena Osinska; “Journey to the Dark Head” (Studio Mir) from director Hyeong Geun Park; “The Spy Dancer” (Studio La Cachette) from writer-director Julien Chheng; “The Bandits of Golak” (88 Pictures) from director Ishan Shukla; “The Pit” (D’art Shtajio and Lucasfilm Ltd.) from writer-director-executive producer LeAndre Thomas and co-director Justin Ridge; and “Aau’s Song” (Triggerfish) from writer-directors Nadia Darries and Daniel Clarke.

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“The reaction to the first volume of ‘Star Wars: Visions’ blew us away. We were delighted that this project inspired and resonated with so many people,” James Waugh, “Star Wars: Visions” executive producer and SVP of franchise content and strategy at Lucasfilm, said in a statement. “We always saw ‘Star Wars: Visions’ as a framework for celebratory expressions of the franchise from some of the best creators working today. Animation is in a global renaissance, and we’re constantly staggered by the amount of creativity pushing the medium forward. With volume one, the imaginative minds of Japan’s anime industry were on full display. With volume two, we expanded our canvas to take audiences on a global tour of some of the most talented creators from around the world. We’re so proud to be able to reveal the line-up of studios we’ve assembled. Every short is incredible, full of heart, scope, imagination, and the values that make stories distinctly ‘Star Wars’ — all while opening up bold new ways of seeing what a ‘Star Wars’ story can be.”

Waugh executive produces “Star Wars: Visions” volume two along with Jacqui Lopez and Josh Rimes.

5-25-77

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD;
Comedy;
$19.95 DVD, $24.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars John Francis Daley, Austin Pendleton, Colleen Camp, Steve Coulter, Neil Flynn, Emmi Chen, Katie Jeep, Justin Mentell, Gwen Kmiec, Christopher McLinden, Mark Buenning, Caitlin Barlow.

Director Patrick Read Johnson’s autobiographical comedy 5-25-77 is an offbeat ode to the spirit of imagination and a celebration of sci-fi filmmaking in the 1970s. This fictionalized recounting of Johnson’s formative years chronicles his growing up as a film fanatic in the 1970s and how he ended up seeing an early cut of Star Wars.

The film begins with Johnson as a boy seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey, sparking his love of cinema. He then spends his childhood making fan films based on the popular sci-fi and horror films of the time, from Planet of the Apes to Jaws.

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In high school, Johnson (played as a teenager by John Francis Daley) dreams of leaving his midwestern town and moving to Hollywood. On a whim, his mother calls the publisher of one of his favorite sci-fi magazines and arranges for him to meet with some producers, resulting in a visit to the early Industrial Light and Magic facility, where he meets Steven Spielberg filming Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But his mind is really blown with the ILM visual effects gurus show him a rough cut of Star Wars, making him the first person outside of Lucasfilm to see it (earning him the moniker of “Fan One,” the real Johnson says in a bonus Q&A).

Johnson then returns to Illinois to spread the gospel of Star Wars, hoping it will ignite a craze for sci-fi that would make him seem not so different from everyone else. There are certainly any number of potential viewers who grew up heavily influenced by Star Wars who can relate. The title, 5-25-77, references the release date of the original Star Wars.

Lending an air authenticity to the project is the fact that it was produced by Gary Kurtz, who also produced the original Star Wars as well as The Empire Strikes Back.

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The film has been in production since the early 2000s, with most of the filming taking place from 2004 to 2006. Complications arose when the agencies representing Johnson began merging, while distributors at the time didn’t think there was much of a market for “Star Wars” tie-ins anymore (this was between the release of Episode III and Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm). Various visual effects were added over the next decade, and it made appearances at film festivals, but the final version wasn’t completed until 2022. To put the extended production time in perspective, Daley is now an established writer and director in his own right, while Kurtz died in 2018.

The Blu-ray includes a good commentary track with Johnson and collaborator Seth Gaven, plus a 52-minute Q&A from an early screening of the film at the Fantasia Film Festival in 2013. Also included are three trailers for the film, plus three behind-the-scenes photo galleries — the various slideshows run a total of about 18 minutes.