- Title: Playing with new Star Wars figures gets competitive
- Date: 30th September 2016
- Summary: BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) STAR WARS FAN / WRITER AND LEGO ANIMATOR OF 'STAR WARS GO ROGUE' ANIMATIONS, KEVIN ULRICH, SAYING: "There was a lot of feedback from Disney and Lucasfilm where it was. I'd make something up and maybe it would be too close to the actual film so then we'd have to change it because it had to be different but we were always shooting in the dark because we hadn't seen the movie and we hadn't been told the spoilers so it was just trying to take the knowledge that we had just being Star Wars fans and seeing the trailers and the little snippets of interviews that had been released and just trying to extrapolate on that and make a story that would make sense next to 'Rogue One' but not be 'Rogue One'.
- Embargoed: 15th October 2016 01:13
- Keywords: Rogue One toys Star Wars figures launch competition short films
- Location: BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES; UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- City: BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES; UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Film
- Reuters ID: LVA00C51R92L5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Star Wars toy figures have been an important part of the franchise's long-running success and prior to the new film 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' release in December, the latest batch have gone on release giving fans an insight into the new characters.
When the original 'Star Wars' film 'A New Hope' was released in 1977, the action figures swiftly became the most wanted toys that year and toymaker Kenner was unprepared for the demand.
However, by the end of 1978, they were reported to have grossed $100 million in sales from the toys.
Self-professed superfan Kevin Ulrich explained "George Lucas did something brilliant with Star Wars which nobody else had done which was to make so many toys that you could have just the random background characters, you could have the major characters and you could basically create your own Star Wars world with toys."
James DeJulio, who is co-founder and chief creative officer of crowdsourcing company Tongal, reiterated Ulrich's views saying "The movies starts on the screens and then it wraps itself into your life. For me anyway it's continued throughout my entire life which has been fun and I think that's the whole competition is about anyway is like bringing those stories and capturing those stories that people have and giving them an outlet to do it."
The competition, entitled '#GoRogue' has been set up by Disney to get Star Wars fans to create short films with the new Star Wars toys and make their own fan fiction films, despite not knowing much information about the upcoming film. The winners will be invited to see their short film on the big screen at Lucasfilm in San Francisco before a preview screening of 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'.
The contest feeds into the Star Wars fan base, which, according to a report by YouTube usage research site ZEFR, has created 838,000 pieces of filmed content this year alone and the fan fiction films have had over 16 billion views collectively over the last year.
To kickstart the campaign, Disney hired James DeJulio's Tongal to find superfans to make a four chapter film.
Kevin Ulrich, Ben MacKenzie and Tucker Barrie were handpicked by Tongal from the Star Wars fan community and given access to the toys in advance to create a film to inspire competition entries.
Getting to make these films, however, didn't give the fans any spoilers. MacKenzie explained "We didn't get any more information than was available to the public but getting these characters and getting to see them up close more than just a second in a trailer and seeing their designs was sort of a joy and creating our own story for them to go through, we kind of pieced together their characters through the trailers and through the story we were telling. It was fun bringing life to them. We know more about these versions of the characters rather than the ones in 'Rogue One'."
There was one figure the animators weren't given access to - Darth Vader, who is making his first appearance in the franchise since 1983's 'Return of the Jedi'.
The fans went on to show how they used simple tools like clay and wires to create their stop motion animations.
They did, however, get a little insight into the film's storyline by accidentally emulating it.
"There was a lot of feedback from Disney and Lucasfilm where it was," said Ulrich, who animated the Lego scenes as well as wrote the screenplay. "I'd make something up and maybe it would be too close to the actual film so then we'd have to change it."
The competition is open until October 21 and media asset packs including music are available on the starwars.com site. This year, Star Wars merchandise is expected to hit the same mark as last year at $500 million.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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