Watch out Mickey: ‘Star Wars’ theme parks are not ‘far, far away’

The China Post - - ARTS - BY VERONIQUE DUPONT

R2-D2 will be rolling into Mickey Mouse’s neigh­bor­hood, Dis­ney an­nounced Satur­day, un­veil­ing plans for two huge “Star Wars” theme parks ad­ja­cent to ex­ist­ing U.S. venues in Florida and Cal­i­for­nia.

With star Har­ri­son Ford on hand, Dis­ney CEO Bob Iger said that af­ter Dis­ney’s US$4 bil­lion pur­chase of Lu­cas­film three years ago, “we wanted to bring ‘Star Wars’ to ev­ery cor­ner of our com­pany ... Not only on screens but in real life.”

“We are cre­at­ing a jaw-drop­ping new world that rep­re­sents our largest sin­gle-themed land ex­pan­sion ever,” Iger said.

“These new lands

at Dis­ney- land and Walt Dis­ney World will trans­port guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, in­clud­ing an epic Star Wars ad­ven­ture that puts you in the mid­dle of a cli­mac­tic bat­tle be­tween the First Or­der and the Re­sis­tance.”

In ad­di­tion to that bat­tle ex­pe­ri­ence, visi­tors will be able to drive “one of the most rec­og­niz­able ships in the gal­axy,” the Mil­len­nium Fal­con, on a se­cret mis­sion, he said.

The Star Wars parks will be in Or­lando, next to Dis­ney Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios, and in Ana­heim, next to Dis­ney­land.

The 5.6-hectare sites will have their own staff and restau­rants will be staffed by wild crea­tures from the space saga.

“You’ll have a chance to run into all the droids and fan­tas­tic beasts,” Iger added.

It’s the first time the en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant is try­ing the “Star Wars” theme at its parks.

New Films in Pipeline

The three-day D23 expo at the con­ven­tion cen­ter in Ana­heim — home to the orig­i­nal Dis­ney­land Park — has drawn Dis­ney fans and media rep­re­sen­ta­tives from around the globe.

Dis­ney Stu­dios chair­man Alan Horn said that on the heels of his smash­ing suc­cess with “Juras­sic World,” di­rec­tor Colin Trevor­row would be at the helm for the up­com­ing “Star Wars — Episode IX.” It is due out in 2019.

The cast of “Star Wars — Epi- sode VII: The Force Awak­ens” — the next chap­ter in the wildly pop­u­lar fran­chise — drew a mas­sive round of cheer­ing, par­tic­u­larly for Ford, known for play­ing Han Solo.

As part of its strat­egy to squeeze the most out of the “Star Wars” uni­verse, Dis­ney plans to re­lease one film a year un­til 2019.

Af­ter “Episode 7” will come “Rogue One,” in De­cem­ber 2016. It is cur­rently film­ing with Gareth Ed­wards (“Godzilla”) di­rect­ing, and star­ring Felic­ity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Men­del­sohn and For­est Whi­taker.

Jun­gle Book Go­ing Live

Johnny Depp wowed the crowd decked out as his pop­u­lar Jack Spar­row char­ac­ter from “Pi­rates of the Caribbean.”

Its next in­stall­ment comes out in 2017 star­ring Or­lando Bloom and Javier Bar­dem.

Dis­ney is plan­ning to keep turn­ing an­i­mated fa­vorites into live­ac­tion block­busters.

On the heels of “Malef­i­cent” and “Cin­derella,” it is the turn of Rud­yard Ki­pling’s “Jun­gle Book” to shine with live ac­tors next year.

The film was shot us­ing cut­tingedge dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and has a star-stud­ded cast.

Ben Kings­ley plays black pan­ther Bagheera, Neel Sethi takes the role of Mowgli and Lupita Ny­ong’o is cast as wolf Rak­sha.

Star voic­ings also come from Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Bill Mur­ray, Christo­pher Walken and Idris Elba.

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