Time Out Melbourne

Andrew P Street examines recent box offices smashes to predict what the new Star Wars films will look like

Last year I attempted to watch the original Star Wars (as in Episode IV: A New Hope) with my then-five year old nephew. It was a significant moment for me, given the long and nerdy shadow that the film cast over my subsequent life, and thus a part of me withered and died about 40 minutes in when Isaac turned to me and said, “Uncle Andrew, I don’t think that I’m old enough to like this film.”

And it hurt, but he had a point: It hadn’t dawned on me before, but anyone raised on the frenetic action and fast-edit cutting of contemporary blockbusters would find the first hour impossible dull. Robots wander around a desert. A guy has breakfast with his aunt and uncle. Some military dudes meet in a boardroom. The Avengers it certainly ain’t.

So, with Disney having bought the Star Wars franchise and announced plans for a sequel trilogy, what’s it going to need to appeal to tomorrow’s five year olds? Because I care, and also because I want to score myself some lucrative script-doctoring moolah, I’ve looked at the most successful films of recent times and determined the ten most important things that their junior producers are already demanding, if they have any sense. Things like…

1. 'Splosions!
Sure, there are plenty of explosions in the Star Wars films – but today’s kids were raised on Transformers and the recent Bond films, so we need more of them: at least one every couple of minutes, with a proper seat-rattling, retina-scarring blast in every other scene. Anything that can distract from plot holes, because we’re going to be using…

2. A script that doesn’t get in the way of the 'splosions
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is getting a sequel despite the first film having a script that could kindly be described as “inconsistent” and more accurately as “arse”, while Looper’s meticulous internal consistency and sharp dialogue barely made its money back after promotional costs, so you can save your hero’s-journey-story-arc bullshit for your masters thesis, Chekhov. Also, given all the lucrative stealth marketing opportunities that films basically require these days, we don’t want pesky plot or character development stuff clogging up the screen. Samsung was operating on Tatooine, right? Well, they are now. And those multinationals will be handy promotional partners in those markets since the film will need to…

3. Appeal to the all-important international box office
The aforementioned Hansel and Gretel stiffed in the US after a decent opening and flailed in most other western countries, too; but it did well enough in Asia and Eastern Europe to pass the vital $200 million-so-we-make-another-one mark – and Star Wars is already ahead of the curve on its ethnic diversity (Maoris! Brits! Israelis! Er, Canadians!) due to George Lucas reportedly only using actors for the prequels who either weren’t members of the Screen Actors Guild or were OK with pissing their union off by appearing in a non-Guild production (which is reportedly why Gary Oldman passed on voicing General Grievous). Surely there are some Balkan reality show stars, Bollywood hopefuls and superanuated Southeast Asian action heroes who’d do walk-on roles for the price of a flight to LA and the chance to meet Kristen Stewart? Speaking of which, we’re also going to need…


"Make Taylor Lautner a smoldering, sexy Jedi that’s secretly a Werewookiee"


4. Eh, vampires and stuff
If there’s one thing that we know from box office receipts it’s that audiences love their supernatural romance: Twilight, Snow White and the Huntsman, that sort of thing. So we're going to need to make Taylor Lautner a smoldering, sexy Jedi that’s secretly a Werewookiee or something, since the script can’t be too complicated and we still need to pad out…

5. An unnecessarily bloated running time
There was a moment when experts thought that running times might actually get shorter, what with the rise of new media and so forth. The idea was that people would see a punchy film at the cinema and then have an extended cut as an incentive to buy the DVD. What actually happened was that films got even longer, with DVD and Blu-ray generally offering even freakin’ longer versions. And the Star Wars films weren’t exactly short, and the prequels were painfully long – but with films like The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises in the top earners of 2012, the new films better get into forced-bladder-infection territory. So again, we'll be padding it out with lots of…

6. Pretty people in front of frantic CGI backgrounds
Oz the Great and Powerful has been the most successful film of 2013, and no-one has had a single good thing to say about the script, the direction or James Franco. Clearly it doesn’t matter, so cast Ryan Gosling as Han Solo’s illegitimate and shirtless son Dash Handsome and Jennifer Lawrence as the fiesty-yet-boneable Princess Freedom, plonk them against a vista of robots buzzing around an alien landscape, and boom: there’s your poster. And some of those robots should, ideally, be…

7. Sass-talking things
Everyone loves things that talk sass, whether they’re an anthropomorphic teddy bear, a flying monkey or a sweet-looking video game character. So expect a pair of robots called something like UG0-GRL and EDG-EE, voiced by Sarah Silverman and Seth MacFarlane drinking whiskey in a vocal booth for a day and a half and coining some marketable catchphrases (stuff like “Jedi? Jed-you, pal!” Look, we’re just spitballing here). Oh, we’ll also need some…

8. Bat- and/or Spider-men
Or some Avengers. Or 007s. Or Hobbits. Basically, make sure there’s a crossover – the marketing possibilities alone make it a slam dunk. And before you say anything: there were freakin’ ETs in Episode 1 so who are you to say that a galaxy far, far away doesn’t have a planet of Captains America? And while you’re working out a way to shoehorn that in, we’ll also need…

9. Anne Hathaway singing in close up
We don’t care how, as long as it happens. Think about it: she’d bring a heartbreaking pathos to the Ewok song from the end of Return of the Jedi. Imagine a single tear rolling down that porcelain cheek as she delivers an impassioned “yub yub” straight down the barrel and just try not to nominate her for another Oscar. And finally, the script will require…

10. Characters saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” all the fucking time.
Well, that’s a given.

Updated on 21 Mar 2013.

By Andrew P Street   |  
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