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Says The Hollywood Reporter:

Willow, the Disney+ fantasy series based on the 1988 movie, has found a new director for its pilot.

Jonathan Entwistle, known for the well-regarded series The End of the F***ing World and I Am Not Okay With This, has been tapped to direct the pilot for the show that is set after the events of the film.

Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) was due to direct the pilot and executive produce but announced Jan. 11 that he was stepping away due to scheduling concerns and an upcoming baby due in the summer.

Entwistle is also exec producing and now joins executive producers and co-showrunners Jonathan Kasdan (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow). Kasdan wrote the pilot.

“With its epic world of swords, sorcery and adventure, Willow captivated and influenced so many,” said Entwistle in a statement. “I’m excited to be going on this journey and working with Jon and Wendy to create something that is both deeply rooted in that original film and also a fresh, funny and charming addition to the beloved story. To be able to play within the world so painstakingly crafted by Ron back in '88 is a dream come true for me."

The series returns Warwick Davis to the title role of Willow Ufgood, the heroic apprentice Nelwyn sorcerer of the original film. Ellie Bamber and Cailee Spaeny are among the new additions.

The production begins shooting this spring in Wales.

So all of you can stop freaking out now.

It was reported last year that the first four Indiana Jones movies would debut on 4K Blu-ray this year, tying in with the fortieth anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark. New rumors have narrowed that down to a June 14th release date. And here's some bad box art that may or may not be legit:

The details I am eager for are with regard to the extra features, as it had previously been suggested that Paramount was given access to the Lucasfilm archives to create new supplements, which may possibly, finally, include deleted scenes.

Comments: 4 / Source: Twitter

The Willow series for Disney Plus was meant to start shooting in March, but it seems the latest lockdown in the UK has forced a move of the production schedule. This has created an availability issue for director Jon M. Chu, originally attached to helm the pilot episode, and he has announced his departure from the project:

Ron?

That's soon. But it kind of has to be, doesn't it? The announcement was made by Kathleen Kennedy during today's Disney investor conference whatsit.

Join me in hoping that Lucasfilm has made its first accurate projection for this project, and that Harrison Ford's saga can go out on a high note.

From Twitter:

Derrick's "Uh..." should strike fear into the heart of Netflix. For if we know one thing about The Dig, it's that it is Lucasfilm's most jealously protected trademark. Or are you forgetting a certain precedent in which Digg.com, the briefly relevant news aggregator, was accused of trademark infringement for sounding too close to the name of an old adventure game? A reminder of the legal argument:

"THE DIGG mark is confusingly similar in sound, meaning, and appearance to the Opposer's THE DIG mark," reads the LucasFilm Notice of Opposition document filed last month in San Francisco. "The Applicant's registration and use of the DIGG Mark would likely create confusion, mistake, or deception in the minds of prospective purchasers as to the origin or source of the Opposer's Goods associated with THE DIG Mark."

There's a deadly asteroid on the way all right -- it's called the Business and Legal Affairs team. Heck, those guys wield such power, you could hardly be blamed for wanting to join their ranks yourself. Someday you could be the one issuing takedowns of Fate of Atlantis fan sequels!

Comments: 7 / Source: Twitter

Deadline reports that casting for the upcoming Willow series is well underway, with talks taking place with Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals), Cailee Spaeny (The Craft: Legacy) and Erin Kellyman (Solo: A Star Wars Story) to play female leads on the entertainment programme. There's also this:

According to circulated casting information for the series, it revolves around a group on a mission to save a kidnapped prince. The members of the team include Dove (Bamber), whose backstory resembles that of Willow from the movie. Dove is an unassuming kitchen maid who proves she is the “chosen one” as she embarks on the journey. She is joined by Kit (Spaeny), the princess whose twin brother was abducted. She is destined to be a leader and ultimately the queen. Kellyman plays Jade, a servant who is Kit’s best friend and moral compass. She is on her way to becoming the best young warrior in the kingdom. Also part of the group is a guy who echoes Val Kilmer’s character in the movie. A thief and liar, he joins the quest in exchange for getting out of prison.

It sounds as derivative as one would hope from this brand! Hopefully they don't blow the opportunity to make another NES game.

Comments: 1 / Source: Deadline

It has been a long, bumpy road to the realization of a fifth Indiana Jones movie, to the point where I wouldn't be so confident that road leads anywhere but over a sheer cliff. Still, anything on Lucasfilm's slate that isn't Star Wars is enjoyable to cover, so I'm always game to pounce on the latest rumors.

Those come from The DisInsider, who claim that Disney has booked Pinewood Studios for an August 2021 production start date. Even if this is legit, it proves little, as soundstage bookings can easily change, but the timetable does shake hands with precedent: Crystal Skull began shooting in June 2007 for a May 2008 release. The new film is slated for July 2022.

It's probably as late a start date as the project could get away with given that release date, though I'm sure that's by design. Optimistically, the worst of COVID-19 will be behind us next summer, and that's no minor concern when you've got an ambitious, globe-trotting shoot* carried on the shoulders of a 79-year old.

Speaking of optimism, it has recently been confirmed that James Mangold's regular DP Phedon Papamichael will be shooting the film. This is perhaps the one silver lining of Spielberg stepping down as director, as it permits one to hope that the movie won't be patterning its visual identity after Sky Captain this time out.

*At least, if they're making the movie correctly it will be. No more Indy installments shot on Los Angeles soundstages, thank you kindly.

Even though George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, the actual offices have remained at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in The Presidio -- a park in San Francisco. As Lucas owns those facilities, Disney has actually been paying George rent for that space despite owning the assets held there.

With the conglomerate undergoing a period of COVID related belt-tightening, rumor has it that Disney is finally ready to relocate all those assets to their home turf in Burbank.

The move down south for Lucasfilm apparently has been the plan for years. It is unknown what has been the delay in getting them down to Burbank. The goal was to have all of their divisions at convenient proximity to Disney headquarters. With that, they cut down distance and they no longer have to pay Lucas rent.

Why do we care? Well, presumably this means that the Lucasfilm archives are destined to make a six hour road trip, and as elTee's illuminating interview with Limited Run Games revealed, the original assets related to the old adventure games have not necessarily been digitized. And I'm not making judgments, mind you. It's hard to ask a supposedly state-of-the-art studio to make time over a thirty year period to digitally bank Monkey Island key art when there's a hundred other things to do. Those Baby Yodas aren't going to stack themselves.

I'm just asking everyone to join me in a collective prayer that they, you know, have the straps on the flat bed fastened tight as they load it up with irreplaceable diskettes of source code or Ken Macklin artwork for The Dig. And you know, that they throw a tarp over it if the weather forecast looks dicey. Things like that.

Those maniacs actually did it! A Willow series is headed for Disney Plus. Here's the press release:

The enchanting world of “Willow,” created by George Lucas, is officially coming to the small screen.

Disney Plus has confirmed a sequel series taking place years after the events of the original Ron Howard-directed pic is heading into production next year. Howard is returning to the project as executive producer alongside original star Warwick Davis, who will once again play the titular hero Willow Ufgood.

The series has also tapped “Crazy Rich Asians” and “In the Heights” director Jon M. Chu to helm the pilot and exec produce. Jonathan Kasdan (“Solo”) and Wendy Mericle (“Arrow”) will serve as showrunners.

“Willow” the series hails from Lucasfilm and represents the company’s first non-“Star Wars” venture since 2015. The show will introduce all-new characters to the magical realm of fairy queens and two-headed Eborsisk monsters. News of the official greenlight from Disney Plus comes over a year after the project was first reported as coming down the pipeline.

The original film centered on Davis’ Willow, who reluctantly forced into playing a critical role in protecting a special infant named Elora Danan from an evil queen (Jean Marsh). A prophecy told that Elora would bring the queen’s downfall. Willow was helped along the way by a mercenary swordsman, played by Val Kilmer. It also starred Joanne Whalley, Billy Barty and Kevin Pollak.

“Growing up in the’80s, ‘Willow’ has had a profound effect on me,” said Chu in a statement. “The story of the bravest heroes in the least likely places allowed me, an Asian-American kid growing up in a Chinese restaurant looking to go to Hollywood, to believe in the power of our own will, determination and of course, inner magic. So the fact that I get to work with my heroes from Kathleen Kennedy to Ron Howard is bigger than a dream come-true. It’s a bucket-list moment for me. Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle have added such groundbreaking new characters and delightful surprises to this timeless story that I can’t wait for the world to come along on this epic journey with us.”

Bob Dolman, writer of the original film, serves as consulting producer, with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on board as an EP alongside Michelle Rejwan. Howard’s Imagine Television is producnig, with the company’s Roopesh Parekh and Hannah Friedman in place as co-executive producers. Julia Cooperman will produce.

“It’s creatively exciting to not only revisit the world and characters first conceived by George Lucas, Bob Dolman and myself but to see it take flight in such fresh, fun and cinematic ways through the imagination of Jon Kasdan and Team Willow,” added Howard. “This isn’t a nostalgic throw-back, it’s a creative lean-forward and it’s a blast to be a part of it all.”

As I've said before: why the hell not? If Star Wars nerds can get three trillion hours worth of movies and television shows per year, we might as well give the pecks a ten episode pick-up. What a world.

Comments: 6 / Source: Variety

When it comes to Lucasfilm news, I am well aware that the only thing our readership values is scoop on Willow. Be assured, I hear you loud and clear.

And on that front, Ron Howard's got some updates. Speaking to radio host Andy Cohen, the director of the 1988 "classic" confirms that development on the potential Disney Plus series continues, with Jonathan Kasdan as the creative mastermind and presumed showrunner. Though quick to reiterate that the show is still yet to be greenlit, Howard makes it clear that the prospects have never been better:

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Kasdan is acting as head of a writers room that is in the process of breaking a first season for the proposed show, implying that Disney wants all the scripts written upfront before deciding whether to move forward. Still, while an active writers room is hardly full-on production in terms of a financial commitment from the studio, it isn't nothing, either. In a separate interview, Howard even indicated that "tentative" scouting in Wales has already occurred. Fans will note that Wales, along with New Zealand, was a primary filming location for the original film, and both countries are probably in a better position to safely accommodate film production than a few others I could name and/or find myself occupying.

Godspeed to the Daikinis trying to prove the potential of one of Lucasfilm's more neglected properties (aka Our Thing). And let's do DRAGONSLAYER next!

We're a bit late on this and I didn't set out to make this Bummer Saturday, but acknowledgment is owed to the passing of actor Malcolm Dixon.

Cast at the beginning of his career as an Oompa Loompa in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dixon was one of a number of dwarf actors who would find work in the 80s as creatures in fantasy/sci-fi films, appearing under thick costumes in the likes of The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi (as an Ewok) and Labyrinth.

Dixon's performances weren't exclusively buried beneath rubber and foam - he also had more visible roles in Time Bandits as "Strutter" and Willow as a musician in the village festival scene. A picture of Dixon from the latter can be seen below.

It has been reported that American actor Dimitri Diatchenko, who was often cast as Russian characters, passed away on April 21st.

Diatchenko played one of Irina Spalko's nameless Soviet henchmen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a role which became expanded after he made an impression on the director. The actor was originally booked only for the campus chase sequence in New Haven, and beefed himself up to 250 pounds for the ten-day shoot.

But when Harrison Ford accidentally clipped Diatchenko on the chin during a take, Spielberg saw something in the actor's reaction that he loved and decided then and there to extend Diatchenko's commitment to three months, with the character brought back as a member of Spalko's permanent entourage for the second half of the film.

It was good news for Diatchenko but a rough break for his character, whose participation in the South America mission meant he lived long enough to get sucked up into an alien portal at the climax of the movie. That's cinematic immortality from where I'm standing. RIP.

Comments: 1 / Source: Deadline

Although it's had an indiscernible impact on the frequency of Mixnmojo news posts, the ongoing pandemic has naturally caused a number of film productions to be delayed, and Disney has announced revised release dates for a number of its upcoming tentpoles, among them Indiana Jones 5. The long awaited cursed sequel is now slated for July 29th, 2022.

While COVID-19 is as legitimate as reasons get, the fact is that the delays to this project are so reliable as to achieve drinking game status. For those counting at home (and we do recommend you do your counting there, per government guidelines), this is the third year-long postponement that the film has seen since its original announcement back in 2016, timing the movie's release to be an 80th birthday present for its star.

That is, if you believe Ford is still the star of this. After all, the film's been undergoing serious behind-the-scenes havoc even before viral outbreaks started getting in on the act, with Spielberg demoting himself to a producing role and Logan director James Mangold reportedly being pursued as his replacement.

So we'll see! But at this point, Vegas is saying that Zaarin's estimates are more trustworthy than anything Disney would have you believe about this movie.

Comments: 21 / Source: Variety

Well, so much for a proper finale from the original team.

Variety reports that Spielberg has stepped down as director for the first time in this series' history. He is relinquishing Indiana Jones 5 of his own volition "in a desire to pass along Indy’s whip to a new generation to bring their perspective to the story."  He will remain as a "hands-on producer," while James Mangold of Ford v Ferrari "fame" is said to be in talks as his replacement in the director's chair.  Ford is reported to still be starring, but I wasn't born yesterday.

And just like that, the official ending of the Spielberg era of Indiana Jones becomes Shia LaBeouf shuffling out of a chapel.

Comments: 11 / Source: Variety

To capitalize on both the 40th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the allegedly upcoming fifth movie, Paramount is reportedly planning a 4K Blu-ray box set of all four Indiana Jones movies in 2021.  The Digital Fix has the scoop.

As you may know, while Disney owns the Indiana Jones IP these days, they only hold distribution rights to future films; the first four films remain in Paramount's control, which complicates the possibility of a five-film box set down the road.  However, the companies both stand to benefit from the renewed relevance of the brand, and the article states that Lucasfilm has given Paramount access to the archives in order to produce new bonus material for this release -- including, it is hinted, deleted scenes, which fans know have never been made available before.  Will we get to see the periscope ride, the singing on elephants, the death of Chatter Lal, Pat Roach's role in Last Crusade, the explosion in the Canyon of the Crescent moon, and the original tarantula version of the Name of God trial, among others?  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I need to save money for a 4K TV.

At least, that's the impression Harrison Ford is under. Listen for yourself in this except from an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that will air in full this Sunday:

Stay tuned as we desperately follow every angstrom of the production's progress this summer.

The fifth Indiana Jones installment currently has a release date of July 9th, 2021. Assuming the Earth’s orbital period remains stubbornly faithful to a billion year precedent, any film of scale hoping to make that deadline would surely have to be in front of the cameras no later than this summer.

You’d expect, then, that Indy 5 would be as we speak in the passionate throes of pre-production, possibly even reverberating with widely circulated rumors about locations, castings, storyline -- y’know, all the usual buzz that comes with a high profile movie genuinely heading toward production.

And given the advanced age of the creative team, and given the ample time they’ve had to get the material ready, any delays at this point, you might assume, would be considered intolerable.

But you’d be a total idiot, apparently. BBC News asked Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a brief comment on the state of Indy 5 while she was on the red carpet at the BAFTA Awards yesterday. Her response would seem to confirm that old adage: no news is no news.

“We’re working away getting the script where we want it to be and we’ll be ready to go,” Kathleen Kennedy told BBC Newd after accepting the BAFTA Fellowship award. And when asked if it would be a reboot, she said, “Oh, Harrison Ford will be involved. It’s not a reboot, it’s a continuation. [Harrison Ford] can’t wait. He absolutely is [involved].”

In a joint statement sent exclusively to Mojo for release, authors George R.R. Martin and Robert Caro have referred to the writing pace of this screenplay as “a trifle undisciplined.”

Comments: 6 / Source: BBC News

The folks at Collider were able to talk to Ron Howard at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and they knew what project the world most wanted an update on:

“We are developing Willow for Disney Plus,” Howard said. “And I don’t know about directing or not, but Jon Kasdan is writing, he’s very passionate about it, great job. We don’t have a green light yet, but if it goes, I’ll certainly want to roll up my sleeves and be a part of that, because that would be great, to revisit that world.”

Knowing that the project isn’t officially a go yet does clarify the matter a bit, but at least Disney approved the idea of having somebody map out the series, which is better than nothing. And it’s nice to know that Howard would be interested in an active role. Who better to direct the pilot? Mixnmojo in 2020 is Willow news central, after all, so we’ll let you know how things develop. Imagine if Cronkite had the courage to cover truly controversial subjects instead of Vietnam, and you’ll have a decent idea of what we’re all about here.

Indiana Jones news is so scanty that rumor is often all we have to go on. Well, today’s rumor, courtesy of the rumor-mongers at We Got This Covered, is that Disney is developing a television series starring the daughter of one Professor Henry Jones, Jr. The idea is that the character would be introduced in Indiana Jones 5, because back-channeling a reboot via Harrison Ford’s final film isn’t cynical at all.

Still, giving Indiana Jones a daughter (which the Young Indiana Jones wraparounds in fact do) has always been an idea with potential. Apparently it was considered for the fourth film, but Spielberg rejected it. (Not sure why Indy needed offspring at all, but whatever.) The idea of Indy passing the baton to a successor character in the fifth film has been speculated on quite a bit, and a daughter role would be as good as any for such a transition. I don’t know how old a daughter of Indy could be if she’s meant to be the legitimate child of the newly married Jones’s, but it’s hardly implausible that Indy would have fathered a few other bastards besides Mutt over the years.

What leaves me scratching my head, however, is why you’d want Indy’s successor trapped in the 1960s-70s. Unlike, say, Bond, which is flexible enough a sandbox to update with the times, Indiana Jones has always been tied to a particular era – the golden age of pulp – and it seems to me that departing from it was really only to accommodate Harrison Ford’s age. If there had been some way to freeze the actor at his Raiders age, we’d still be getting adventures set in the 30s and 40s. So, it’s hard for me to imagine what the future this rumor suggests would even look like. Once you’ve retired Ford and have some other adventurer running around during the Nixon presidency, are we really even resembling the original IP enough to bother connecting to it?

The main reason this rumor excites me is that it means by implication that there’s life left in Indiana Jones 5. Things have remained alarmingly silent on a project that pretty much has to be in front of the cameras in a matter of months if it is to make its release date. Either I’m unequal to the challenge of second grade arithmetic, or an announcement has to be arriving imminently. Rest assured that when the news breaks, Mojo will be the sixth to let you know.

If you would have told me fifteen years ago that the primarily thing keeping Mixnmojo alive was Willow news, I would have said, “That sounds about right.”

A month after it was reported that screenwriter’s son extraordinaire Jonathan Kasdan had turned in a pilot script for a potential Willow series, the writer (and, I presume, showrunner?) has tweeted a photo of a Willow Ufgood baseball cap pinned to a bullet board with the caption “The office is open.” The implication is heavy that a writers room is being convened, which puts this potential Disney+ series yet another step closer to reality. Hopefully Bob Dolman gets invited to the party.

Oh, and happy belated new year from The International House of Mojo!

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