The Herald Bulletin

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January 17, 2013

Heather Bremer: ‘Star Wars’ fans keeping close eye on Snyder’s other projects

We knew when Disney acquired the rights to George Lucas’ Star Wars empire that it would only be a matter of time until the first big project involving the multi-billion dollar franchise was revealed.

But no one anticipated a project quite like this. And it’s hard to know whether to be excited or scared.

“Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder, who ruled himself out of the running to direct Episode VII of Disney Pictures’ planned Star Wars trilogy, reportedly will direct a film within the franchise’s galaxy. In the development stages, the project will run parallel to Disney’s relaunch and likely be set post-“Return of the Jedi.”

Other details on the “300” director’s project are slim. Reports indicate the plot will be loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” perhaps focusing on a band of Jedi protecting colonists on the Outer Rim.  Production likely wouldn’t begin until a yet-to-be-named director starts filming Episode VII, which is set to be released sometime in 2015.

Fans are both enthralled and horrified by the thought of Snyder sticking his hands and warped mind into their beloved franchise.

Snyder made a bloody splash in March 2007 when Sparta-drama “300” opened to a $70 million weekend. It was the top R-rated film of the year and, at the time, the best March opening ever. It was only recently bounced from No. 1 by “Alice in Wonderland,” which was subsequently dethroned by “The Hunger Games.”  

“300” tallied $210 million in its box-office run, an impressive take. More impressive was the visual legacy Snyder began. Deep jewel tones, a vivid hyper-reality, unmatched computer imagery, explosive action and raw emotion became the hallmarks of the young director’s style. The adaptation of Frank Miller’s beloved graphic novel was unlike anything we’d seen before, and Snyder was an instant superstar.

The Wisconsin native’s next project was another adaptation, one every comic book fan said could never be done. Snyder tackled Alan Moore’s “Watchmen,” again employing his spectacular visuals to an atypical comic book story. The highly anticipated March 2009 release was adored by fans and lauded by critics … but largely ignored by most of the movie-going public. It opened No. 1, but with just $55 million. It did not double its debut by the end of its domestic run.

Snyder’s next two films didn’t fare much better. He tried his hand at animated filmmaking in 2010 with “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.” Despite lifelike animation the captured the beauty of our feathered friends, the film earned just $55 million total. “Sucker Punch,” released in 2011, was a return to “300”-style visuals for Snyder but not to box-office gold. A measly $36 million was all it could muster.

Despite Snyder’s plummeting bankability at the box office, Warner Brothers, responsible for all four films, charged him with rebooting its Superman franchise. “Man of Steel” is set for a July 2013 release, and buzz is already building about the Big Blue Boy Scout’s return. A recent trailer was provocative and has hopes soaring that Snyder has returned to form.

Fans may have no reason to feel torn between celebration and sadness. Snyder’s reps deny any involvement in a Star Wars project. That, of course, could simply be the old Jedi mind trick: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Heather Bremer, a former Herald Bulletin reporter/designer, writes a weekly column on movies, television and pop culture. Contact her at heatherebremer@yahoo.com.

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