Saturday, December 13, 2008

George Lucas to put Star Wars on at London stadium

star wars
Just when it appeared that George Lucas had finally laid to rest his epic saga of Jedis, Wookies and Ewoks, he has announced that Star Wars will return as a stadium experience.

The Times has learnt that Lucasfilm has authorised Star Wars: A Musical Journey, a retelling of the story that will combine excerpts of the film with live orchestral accompaniment.

Diehard fans may dream of Jedi Knights serenading Jabba the Hutt and C-3PO singing “Don’t cry for me, R2-D2” but they are likely to be disappointed. Producers for the show, which will have its world premiere in Britain, emphasised that although actors would be used to narrate the story, it would not be a stage musical.

The production, which condenses more than 13 hours of film into 90 minutes, will be more like a classical music concert performed in front of a cinema screen, 27m (90ft) wide.
The audience at the 17,000-seat O2 Arena in southeast London will watch key scenes from the film as 86 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play extracts from John Williams’s score.

The composer has reworked the music for the show, which will take place on April 10. Other shows may follow, depending on demand.

Another Planet, the company that is producing the show, said that the biggest challenge faced by Lucasfilm was condensing the footage so that the story remained intelligible.

Spencer Churchill, a producer, said that the running order of the scenes was still being finalised. “We’ve worked out most of it,” he said. “We originally thought it would be a chronological telling of the six films . . . but it is not as precise as that.”

He declined to say which scenes had been cut, but insisted that most fans’ favourite moments had been preserved. “Because there is so much to choose from there will be Star Wars fans out there who will say, ‘How come that wasn’t in there?’ But overall I think Lucasfilm has done a brilliant job.”

Scenes that have survived include the destruction of the Death Star, love scenes between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala and several battle scenes featuring tiny single-seater spacecraft swarming around vast battleships. Star Wars purists who decried the introduction of computer-generated characters in the later films in the franchise may be disappointed. Jar Jar Binks, a swamp monster with a sing-song voice, is included in the piece.

Mr Churchill said that the early films, from the 1970s and 1980s, had as much prominence as the later prequels. “It is probably as close to an equal emphasis as there can be while telling the story.”

The idea behind the adaptation of the films was to allow audiences greater participation. Mr Churchill said: “It is a lot different to sitting down and listening to the record. As a film it is very much a one-way experience. We are trying to bridge that a little bit to make it a two-way experience.”

The show, which was two years in the making, will be accompanied by an exhibition featuring original props and costumes from the films.

For Lucas, it seems unlikely to be the last attempt to keep his franchise alive. The film-maker, whose personal fortune has swelled to more than $4 billion on the back of Star Wars, recently released his first animated adventure based on the films.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars has made £45 million at the box office worldwide. Tickets to Star Wars: A Musical Journey, which will cost between £30 and £100, go on sale on Monday.


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