Lionsgate Promotes Kerry Phelan to President of Franchise Management

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On the heels of announcing a massive South Korean theme park, Lionsgate has promoted marketing veteran Kerry Phelan to the newly created post of president of global franchise management.

Tim Palen, the studio’s chief brand officer and president of worldwide marketing, made the announcement Tuesday. Phelan, who has been an exec VP of global franchise management and strategic partnerships, reports to Palen.

Lionsgate said that since Phelan came on board in 2014, she has helped leverage the company’s portfolio of film and television properties across multiple platforms and created significant new incremental business for the studio.

Film properties including “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and “Now You See Me” franchises are being exploited at the Lionsgate Movie World outdoor theme park in Korea, the Lionsgate Entertainment World indoor theme park currently in development in China, and multiple indoor Lionsgate Entertainment City centers planned for high-traffic consumer destinations in the U.S. and Europe. In addition, Lionsgate recently launched a 125-city “La La Land in Concert” world tour, inspired by the film.

“Kerry Phelan is an astute strategist and brand builder who understands how to extend the life of our film and television properties by attracting partners and engaging fans around the world,” said Palen. “Her promotion reflects not only her vision and leadership but the continued rapid growth of our tremendous portfolio of IP and the company’s commitment to both.”

Phelan’s team has partnered with Hasbro, Funko, and BioWorld for the licensing and merchandising of products and with GapKids, Kellogg’s, and Samsung on promotional campaigns.

Prior to joining Lionsgate, Phelan was head of consumer products and licensing for DreamWorks Animation for seven years and worked at Pixar overseeing the consumer products marketing partnership business during the launch of Pixar’s “Cars” franchise.

She previously worked at Lucasfilm Ltd., where she led the global consumer products and promotional licensing business for the “Star Wars” brand, and started her career at LEGO Systems as a brand marketer.

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Does the Star Wars Franchise Really Need an Obi-Wan Kenobi Movie?

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Begun, the new Star Wars rumors have. The usually reliable Heat Vision blog at The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the next installment in the Star Wars extended universe (after the director-juggling Han Solo prequel and, probably, a Boba Fett film) will be an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. No word on who’ll play the Jedi—it was Alec Guinness in the first three movies and Ewan McGregor in the prequels—but Billy Elliot’s Stephen Daldry is in talks to direct.

Chatter about a new Star Wars movie, especially a non-saga iteration, fires up the WIRED Culture Slack channel like lightsabers in the arena on Geonosis. And our writers Emma Grey Ellis, Brendan Nystedt, and Adam Rogers have particularly strong opinions. Nobody seems too afraid—fear leads to anger, anger to hate, etc. But … concerned? Perhaps. Nerdy? Definitely.

Adam Rogers: News of an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie makes me feel a little like the mid-1930s particle physicist who, when informed of the surprise discovery of the muon, said: Who ordered that? I love the Star Wars universe, but unless I’m forgetting a background player, Old Ben from beyond the Dune Sea is the only character to appear in all seven saga movies (if you count his voice wafting into Star Wars: The Force Awakens), both iterations of the Clone Wars cartoon, the Rebels cartoon (where he’s one side of the single best lightsaber fight in the entire canon), and at least two books. The point of the extended universe, I thought, was to explore places we haven’t yet seen. I’ve been from one end of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of Ben Kenobi. Who’s with me?

Emma Grey Ellis: I’m right there with you, Adam. This idea seems about as natural and necessary to the franchise as, well, all those “improvements” Lucasfilm made to the original trilogy. (Han shot first, and CGI Jabba is not my Jabba.) But I’m also willing to admit that I’m pretty hostile to the idea of Star Wars prequels in general. The eminently snoozy Attack of the Clones was the first Star Wars movie I got to see in theaters, and I’m still kind of salty about it. I can’t imagine how journeying back to Obi-Wan’s life as a mud hut hermit will feel any more urgent or compelling.

Rogers: We just know a lot about Kenobi already. We’ve seen him as a padawan, as a Jedi, as a general, as a silent guardian of Luke’s, and then a mentor, even as a Force ghost. I’m not saying I need something ultra-obscure, like delving into the early touring years of Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band. But … well, is there anything left to see here? What’s the plan?

Brendan Nystedt: Do I have to be the lone voice of support here? Ugh, alright! I think that Obi-Wan keeps coming back for one simple reason: He’s a deep, flawed, essential character. Without his mistakes, we have no Vader. Without his wisdom, where would Luke be? There are roughly 19 years of Ben’s life as a hermit on Tatooine that haven’t been explored yet. We’ve seen a little glimpse of it in Rebels, and it’s been discussed a tiny bit in the main Marvel title, but other than that I think it’s a time period still ripe for new stories.

Also, this movie doesn’t need to be an epic that ties into any of the other stories. I think there’s an idea with fandom that every film has to contribute to the larger story in some great way. But why not make a cool, fun swashbuckling adventure set in the desert starring Obi-Wan?

Another great reason to make this happen: Both Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton have expressed interest in coming back as Obi-Wan and Owen Lars. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this Prequel Opinion™, but McGregor was one of the best things in Episodes I-III. I’d relish the opportunity to see him light up the screen one more time.

Ellis: It’s a great universe, and Obi-Wan is a great character—period. With Ewan McGregor and the right writers, I’m sure it could be super entertaining. But my real gripe with this movie is that it feels reactionary. To me, making prequels indicates one of the following: a rich and under-explored back catalog, serious writers’ block, or a fanbase unhappy with where the original material ended up. I’d argue an Obi-Wan prequel feels more like a combination of the latter two options than the former. J.J. Abrams’ and Gareth Edwards’ Force Awakens and Rogue One casting choices—female leads and relatively diverse supporting players—sliced open a tauntaun full of bigotry. A prequel centering on a beloved (white, male) character is a great way for them to sop up any money they might have lost to the #boycotts.

Nystedt: I don’t know if this is any kind of a course-alteration for Lucasfilm. I think that especially with the recently-launched Forces of Destiny cartoon and toy line aimed at young girls, they’re still going to try to make the tent as big as possible. If anything, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was proven right by TFA and RO—both films were international blockbusters that made a bundle of cash for Disney in spite of whiny internet manchildren.

Ellis: Absolutely! I just wonder if they aren’t considering how best to have their cake and eat it too. It’s starting to feel like they’re wooing a new generation of fans with Episode VII and onwards while also churning out prequels to smooth things over with the more traditionalist parts of the fanbase. I mean—to digress just a little—how inclusive is a Han Solo prequel really going to be? Can it be anything other than a literal orgy of smarmy machismo and gender politics native to the 1970s? I really hope so. And I hope this Obi-Wan movie proves me wrong, too. I’m just … an anxious nerd.

Rogers: Listen, it’s a good pitch, but I just don’t see Lucasfilm going for Han Solo and the Orgy of Smarmy Machismo as a title. Feels off-putting.

I will say, at least glancingly relatedly, one of the best parts of Comic-Con International in San Diego this year was the stream of kids dressed as Rey. That’s a tectonic shift in this universe’s signifiers. And casting Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the Han Solo movie could just as easily be an attempt to clean whatever taint of 1970s misogyny Han and Lando might still have left on them.

I think you’re right, though, that an Obi-Wan movie—whatever period of his life it’ll be set in—is more likely to be comfort food for the base. If the trends laid down by the existing anthology films hold, it’ll be even-younger Obi-Wan, and if I were pitching I’d maybe attempt a university-years story set at the Jedi Academy. Qui-Gon, Dooku, and Yoda can flitter by, and you can cast supporting pals. Harry Potter in Star Wars Land, my friends.

Nystedt: They can leave the machismo on the cutting room floor—I want the Han Solo movie to be an orgy of space capes!

As long as we have folks like Claudia Gray, Chuck Wendig, and Rian Johnson pushing the envelope and bringing us fresh Star Wars, I think there’s a time and a place for a bit of comfort food.

Ellis: I’ll give you that. As long as it doesn’t become the only thing on the menu—or divert too much money and talent away from the rest of the franchise. It’s not what I look to sci-fi for, but I can accept that some people like their future with a dash of the past.

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Pretty, Deep, And Still Lacking In Franchise Mode

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Getty Image / EA Sports

Madden 18 is here with a lot to offer to veteran fans and newcomers alike. Not only does the latest iteration of EA’s annual football simulation give fans of all ages and skill levels something to call their own, the addition of the surprisingly touching Longshot story mode and more features to Madden Ultimate Team provide a deep, multi-leveled experience on par with FIFA or the NBA 2K series. But, is it worth picking up if you’ve bought the game year after year? Let’s find out.

The move to Battlefield 1 and Star Wars: Battlefront’s Frostbite engine is immediately apparent. A Madden game has never looked this good. There were multiple moments in which I thought I was watching a broadcasted game. Individual players (especially on the offensive line) actually look like they’re all doing their job, rather than foosball players standing in place reacting to hit boxes. Things can go wrong, players slip, everyone is working, and it brings a sense of immersion that have been missing from previous iterations.

Beyond the highly-detailed player models, the stadiums look absolutely stunning. Sunlight reflecting off the turf in Cowboys Stadium can take your breath away. Combined with the addition of more new animations, the new physics system put in place a few years ago, and slight gameplay tweaks, like throwing (we’ll get into that), Madden 18 is one of the prettiest games on the market. Period.

EA Sports

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Could space be the final frontier for the Fast and Furious franchise?

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The Fast and Furious movie franchise used to be a tale of street racers, undercover cops, and thugs. More recently, it’s morphed into a pseudo-superhero band of misfits who consider themselves family, like really expensive vehicles, and saving the world. The man perhaps most responsible for the plotlines and amazing commercial success of the series is Chris Morgan, who is credited with writing all of the movies since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

With The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the franchise, set to debut in mere days, it’s only logical to wonder what’s next. Turns out it could be – but probably won’t be – space. In an interview with Uproxx, Morgan said, “The only way I’d go to space is if I had something so good.” No, that isn’t exactly confirmation of Domenic Toretto the astronaut, but it’s also not an outright dismissal of the idea. And it gets crazier from there.

Morgan delivers the ultimate plotline with a question: “What if Dom’s long lost brother, Richard B. Riddick showed up?” Surely he’s not serious about a Diesel-vs-Diesel mashup, right? “Oh my God, I think Dom and Riddick would be so awesome.” Don’t laugh. And don’t pretend you wouldn’t pay good money to see it all go down on the big screen, either.

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Could space be the final frontier for the Fast and Furious franchise?

[ad_1]

The Fast and Furious movie franchise used to be a tale of street racers, undercover cops, and thugs. More recently, it’s morphed into a pseudo-superhero band of misfits who consider themselves family, like really expensive vehicles, and saving the world. The man perhaps most responsible for the plotlines and amazing commercial success of the series is Chris Morgan, who is credited with writing all of the movies since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

With The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the franchise, set to debut in mere days, it’s only logical to wonder what’s next. Turns out it could be – but probably won’t be – space. In an interview with Uproxx, Morgan said, “The only way I’d go to space is if I had something so good.” No, that isn’t exactly confirmation of Domenic Toretto the astronaut, but it’s also not an outright dismissal of the idea. And it gets crazier from there.

Morgan delivers the ultimate plotline with a question: “What if Dom’s long lost brother, Richard B. Riddick showed up?” Surely he’s not serious about a Diesel-vs-Diesel mashup, right? “Oh my God, I think Dom and Riddick would be so awesome.” Don’t laugh. And don’t pretend you wouldn’t pay good money to see it all go down on the big screen, either.

Related Video:

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