Hailee Steinfeld as Petra Arkanian in Ender's Game

After taking on forbidden love in Romeo & Juliet and Battle School in Ender’s Game (above), Hailee Steinfeld is ready for a real challenge: high school. Well, that and killing people.

Kyle Newman‘s upcoming action-comedy Barely Lethal stars the True Grit actress as a teen assassin who’s ready to leave her killer life behind and try her hand at a normal adolescence. Unfortunately, her former handler (Jessica Alba) has other ideas. Hit the jump to check out the first stills from the film, featuring Steinfeld, Alba, and Samuel L. Jackson.

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Harrison Ford Han Solo

If J.J. Abrams really does cast Leonard Nimoy in Star Wars Episode VII, as the Star Trek actor suggests, do you think that’s more likely to heighten or defuse the Wars / Trek rivalry? Also after the jump:

  • Al Pacino explains why he said no to Han Solo
  • See Episode II in 3D at Star Wars Celebration Europe
  • Kyle Newman offers a longer cut The Return of The Return of the Jedi
  • Nerdist promotes the Star Wars: Course of the Force charity run
  • See an unused poster concept for the original Star Wars

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Jaime King Return of the Jedi

Thirty years ago this Saturday, the Star Wars trilogy came to an end. Return of the Jedi hit theaters May 25, 1983 with the kind of hype and anticipation that’s become almost standard for big movies. In 1983, however, it was not. Fans were rabid to find out the fates of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Darth Vader with most assuming it would be the last time we’d see these characters on screen. The film went on to gross $252 million that summer, making it the number one movie of the year.

So much has changed since then. We’ve seen three new Star Wars movies, we’re on the eve of seeing many more, and the film itself has seen some major changes. (Jedi Rocks, the Ewok song, the addition of Hayden Christensen.) Something that hasn’t changed is our memories of Return of the Jedi.

One of the biggest Star Wars fans in Hollywood, Fanboys director Kyle Newman, put together a short documentary about those memories. It’s called The Return of Return of the Jedi: 30 Years and Counting. Featuring interviews with Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Chris Hardwick, Jaime King, Topher Grace, Fall Out Boy, Eli Roth and Jason Mewes, the film originally played at the Entertainment Weekly Capetown Film Festival to raucous applause and, now, it’s finally online.  Read More »

Did the President’s fiscal policy help make the new trilogy a reality? Also after the jump:

  • Listen to Kyle Newman‘s Han Solo-centric radio drama
  • Who wants Tommy Wiseau to direct the new trilogy?
  • Ewan McGregor is totally willing to return as Obi-Wan
  • George Lucas is giving the Bay Area another Yoda statue
  • Rancho Obi-Wan’s Steve Sansweet shows off his collection

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One of the most-liked scripts on last winter’s Black List was Evan Susser and Van Robichaux‘s Chewie, about Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew and his work on the Star Wars set. But whereas some of the screenplays on the compendium already had stars, producers, and directors attached, Chewie wasn’t very far along at all — and considering the no doubt complicated rights issues surrounding it, it seemed totally possible it’d never get made at all.

Turns out that was a really pessimistic way of looking at things, as Chewie is now on its way to the big screen. Not only that, it’s already off to a strong start as Fanboys director Kyle Newman has just signed on to develop the project. More details after the jump.

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Controversy, casting and consensual exits are all in this edition of TV Bits. After the jump read about the following:

  • See a photo of how the George W. Bush head from Game of Thrones was fixed.
  • Rocker Marilyn Manson joins Showtime’s Californification.
  • Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson will have an arc on the Broadway drama Smash.
  • Fanboys director Kyle Newman will join wife Jaime King to voice a character on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • Steve Carell told the Los Angeles Times why Michael Scott won’t return to The Office.
  • Elizabeth Moss suggests a possible spoiler about her Mad Men character.

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Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.

UPDATE: The movie still isn’t online but Topher Grace has published a trailer of his Star Wars Prequel edit online, watch it here.
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The Buzz: Filmmakers React to Avatar

avatar-jc

James Cameron‘s Avatar has been unleashed upon this world. We’ve run reviews from half of the /Film staff: David ChenBrendon Connelly, Russ Fischer, and Hunter Stephenson. You might have even added your own mini-review. But you might be wondering, with all the talk of game-changing advances in the tech side of filmmaking, what do the writers and directors in Hollywood think of Avatar? Here is a round-up of quotes:

Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer: “Went to a special screening of Avatar last night where James Cameron did a Q&A after the film. I can’t tell you how much I loved the movie, or how clearly Cameron cemented himself as the world’s greatest living filmmaker. This is an incredible movie. I recommend seeing it in IMAX. So next level. So awesome. Avatar is a game changer. James Cameron wins.”

Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and Bourne series Producer Frank Marshall: “Wow!!! AVATAR is audacious and awe inspiring. It’s truly extraordinary and I would really need a blog to talk about it…”

Donnie Darko/The Box director Richard Kelly: “AVATAR was amazing. Lived up to all the hype – now must see in IMAX…”

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