Last year, he tore off his shirt to reveal the Revenge of the Sith
logo. Last April, at Celebration III, he dressed as a stormtrooper
to sneak up on stage. So fans were wondering, what does Lucasfilm's Head of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet
have up his sleeve for Comic-Con 2005?
"As I promised you a year ago, this has truly been the Summer of Star Wars," Sansweet proclaimed, as he recapped just what a momentous 2005 it's been. After all, it's the summer of Revenge of the Sith. "In the U.S. alone, Sith has joined A New Hope and The Phantom Menace on the list of the top ten grossing movies of all time... Many of us have been to the theater to see the film again and again... Now all of us may think that we know Revenge of the Sith backwards and forwards, but how about inside and out?" Sansweet then showed an inside-out view of the movie with a special clip that deconstructed some of ILM's amazing visual effects from Episode III.
The biggest 2005 development at Lucasfilm, however, was not the finale to the Star Wars saga. The cutting edge company is looking to the future, and it's moving to a new locale. Rather than be housed in scattered campuses set up throughout Marin County in Northern California, all of Lucasfilm's primary divisions -- Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Lucas Online -- are moving to a new state of the art facility at the Presidio in San Francisco.
"Just last weekend, LucasArts moved into new high-tech facilities at the Presidio. ILM will be right next door, and the two companies have already started working together to exchange digital assets and ideas," said Sansweet. He then showed previews of some of the hotly anticipated LucasArts titles, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Star Wars: Empire at War
A large component of the future of Star Wars and Lucasfilm is digital animation. Sansweet announced that the new Lucasfilm Animation division is open for business. "I'm very excited to be able to break the news to you here this afternoon that preproduction has begun on the next generation of the Star Wars saga, a cutting edge 30-minute, 3-D computer-animation series based on the Clone Wars that take place between Episode II ... and Episode III."
The new series, Sansweet explained, is planned for a TV debut in the Fall of 2007. "To get the series underway, Lucasfilm Animation has hired key production and creative talent to lead the development of its first animation project," said Sansweet. "Gail Currey, who's the Vice President and General Manager of Lucasfilm Animation couldn't be here today, but she asked me to tell you that the early episodic treatments for the series are absolutely amazing, and that she can't wait to share this treat with Star Wars fans."
Sansweet described the look of the new series as a melding of Asian anime with unique 3-D animation styling. He identified key members of the new television team. Executive Producer of the series will be Catherine Winder, whose credits include Ice Age, "Aeon Flux," and "Spawn." Also hired is Dave Filoni, whose credits include "Avatar: The Last Airbender." The Head of Lucasfilm Animation's Singapore location, where a lot of the animation work will take place, will be Chris Kubsch. His credits include the ILM animated short Work in Progress, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Titanic.
"Also on board is a guy who is already familiar to many Star Wars fans," said Sansweet. It's Henry Gilroy, who wrote the Dark Horse comic adaptations of both Episodes I and II.
"Over the next several years, Lucasfilm Animation will be hiring a total of about 300 digital artists and others in both [California and Singapore] locations to produce not only the series and animated feature films in the years ahead," said Sansweet.
Sansweet then brought a guest to the stage -- Episode III's Supervising Sound Editor, and the voice of General Grievous, Matthew Wood. In his first Comic-Con appearance, Wood described the tale of how he got the role of Grievous by sneaking his audition in front of George Lucas, and how he created the rough and raspy voice of the droid general. Wood brought with him sound equipment to demonstrate the process of transforming his pleasant speaking voice into a voice befitting a Star Wars villain.
"It's been a wonderful Summer of Sith, and I'm pleased to be able to tell you that we have more Sith to look forward to this Fall," said Sansweet. "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith will be released on DVD later this year."
Though exact details regarding content and release date are yet to be revealed, Sansweet did drop some hints as to what to expect. "You can expect many of the features that we've had on our past Star Wars DVDs, including an engaging commentary from those most in the know, a brand new long-form documentary, and a load of shorter documentaries that will take you behind the scenes and show you the making of Episode III."
Sansweet shared with the audience one of the eagerly anticipated deleted scenes. As with the Episodes I and II DVDs, George Lucas has overseen the completion of several scenes cut from the theatrical release of Episode III. The one shown at Comic-Con is one that can be definitely appreciated by a fan audience, for it chronicled the birth of the Rebel Alliance
"It takes place in Senator Bail Organa's office, and we meet Senator Mon Mothma, who, as we see in Return of the Jedi, is the leader of the Rebel Alliance."
Also on the DVD horizon, Sansweet confirmed later during a post-presentation Q&A; session that the recently Emmy-nominated Volume 2 of Star Wars: Clone Wars will be available on DVD by year's end, complete with audio commentaries from Genndy Tartakovsky and his crew.
As Sansweet closed his presentation, he introduced a special Hyperspace video that caps off the behind-the-scenes look that Fan Club members have been enjoying since the start of Episode III production. The special two-part video, which won't be on the DVD and will only be available online for Hyperspace members, is called "The Journey." Hyperspace members can watch it now by clicking here.
"I've been saying over the last year that as long as fans want Star Wars, Star Wars will be there for them," concluded Sansweet. "How else can you get this kind of rush?"