Speaking with fans at Germany's Star Wars Celebration Europe, new LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy assured fans that "Episode VII" would prioritize characters over ostentatious special effects. Could we see a return to the character-based storytelling of the original trilogy?
"The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now," Kennedy told the assembled fans. "We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing." She later added that LucasFilm is currently scouting physical locations for "Episode VII," blending both real environments and CG.
Kennedy's comments serve as a not-so-subtle acknowledgement of one of the complaints about the prequels, which were filmed entirely on green screen stages. Those movies were loud, big, constantly in motion, but narratively, very little was actually happening onscreen for large chunks of their running time.
For Kennedy, there's value in varying the types of effects being used in the upcoming films: "It's [about] using model makers; it's using real droids; it's taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that's what will make it real."
A little editorializing: Kennedy's been producing films for over 30 years now, with credits on everything from "E.T." to "The Sixth Sense." She's spent much of the last decade working in productions between Disney, LucasFilm, and alongside Steven Spielberg. So one the one hand, we have someone who's worked on some of the most influential films of the last three decades, but on the other... well, there's "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." But the fact that she's getting out in front of the new movies now and at least giving lip service to some of the virtues the new "Star Wars" team is focusing on (in conjunction with Abrams' Bad Robot production company), well that's kind of encouraging.
The J.J. Abrams-directed "Episode VII" will be out in 2015.