Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof's 1952 is Not STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

Let the speculation begin! There's a theory going around on the internet that the secret movie Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof are working on, 1952, is actually Star Wars: Episode VII. I first saw this theory over at AICN but it was Portland Mercury that gives us a solid breakdown to think about, and here it is...

May, 2011: Bob Iger and George Lucas begin discussing the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney.

June, 2011: Damon Lindelof hired by Disney (for a 7 figure deal) to write a huge sci-fi epic for the studio. The project is named 1952, and nothing else is known about it.

August, 2011: Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are told by George Lucas at a Star Wars convention that the sequel trilogy is coming.

May, 2012: Brad Bird is hired to direct the Lindelof 1952 project, and brings on Jeff Jensen, author of Eisner Award-winning graphic novel Green River Killer to further develop the script, which is intended to become a huge tentpole film, with all the merchandising, toy selling and sequel opportunities such a prospect provides.

June, 2012: Kathleen Kennedy is named co-chair of Lucasfilm, a move that surprised quite a few people in Hollywood as they didn’t know why she’d vacate her position as a prime Hollywood mover/shaker to join a studio that was essentially, shapeless and aimless.

October, 2012: Disney and Lucasfilm close the deal, and immediately announce Star Wars, Episode VII for release in 2015, with Lucas as a “creative consultant” and Kennedy as the President of Lucasfilm. Kennedy specifically notes that they’ve been talking to “a couple of writers” and they know where they want to go for the seventh movie.

The timeline certainly seems to match up. After I saw this I contacted someone I know that works at Disney that might know a little bit about this, and he laughed and told me it was not true. So there ya go, rumor debunked.

A Star Wars movie doesn't match the previously reported description of 1952 anyway. The story will be set in the present day, and it centers around aliens making contact with Earth. The report went on to say that "Bird and Lindelof want to recapture the spirit of 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, right down to centering it around a man in his late forties, à la Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy Neary." You can read more about this 1952 movie here. You should, if you haven't already, because it still sounds pretty cool -- even if it's not Star Wars related.

What do you think about this theory? It would kind of be cool if it did turn out to be true. 

Here's the letter sent to AICN:

My theory...

Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird are already set-up as the writer/director team for Star Wars Episode 7.

The reason for this speculation is that there was a spec script project called 1952 that Damon Lindelof sold to Disney recently. 

Some specifics from the First Showing article that might point to my theory:

"Brad Bird and fan-favorite film writer Damon Lindelof are teaming up for a new project at Disney. Bird, coming off of his first live-action with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, is set to direct the mysterious large scale sci-fi project 1952. Whether that's just a codename or an actual year related to the story, we're not yet sure, but the project "has multi-platform aspirations" meaning Disney wants it for theme parks, retail stores and theaters. It'll no doubt be a "big tentpole" movie, and with these two storytellers leading the way, it is definitely something to watch for."

So in addition to the new Star Wars films, we have theme park and retail store aspirations? I don't know about you, but this sounds like it could be the next phase of Star Wars via the Disney model.

"Now we know that Brad Bird is definitely on-board to direct, but other than that, still no plot details. Anyone? It sounds like Disney has something on their hands that could be huge, and they're making sure to build it from the ground up properly, with the right talent top to bottom. I just wish we knew any extra details about what it was actually about."

My theory is that 1952 is a codename for Star Wars episode 7, 8, and 9. Just as Blue Harvest was used as a working title to throw the media off when Return of the Jedi was in production.

So why this mysterious project known as 1952 though? Because the title alone seems to refer to the year 1952, just as titles like Kubrick's landmark of science fiction 2001: A Space Odyssey or Wong-kar Wai's romantic sci-fi piece 2046 refer to specific years in which the films take place. What happened in 1952 then that makes this seem logical? What I think is the obvious event is an incident where supposedly some UFOs “buzzed the tower” Maverick and Goose style if you will, over Washington D.C between the days of July 19–20 and July 26–27.  This incident, known as the Washington flap, is precisedly the type of project that a writer like Damon Lindelof would seem to be interested in (retro, sci-fi, conspiracy theory-laden, and infused with the American mythology of the UFO phenomenon). Disney’s 1952, if it is actually about this supposed UFO fly-over of Washington DC, sounds interesting. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing this type of 1950’s UFO paranoia done up in big budget Hollywood style via Brad Bird. The thing is, could it be that Disney, Lucas, Lindelof, and Bird needed a really good cover story to mask their involvement with brand spanking new Star Wars? I think this could very well be a ruse not unlike the Blue Harvest concept, which was very thorough in covering up the production of Return of the Jedi. 

Another factor is that Mark Hamill was born on September 25th of 1951. I'm guessing that since this story will probably have Luke as the Obi-Wan type of mentor as many around the world are suggesting, that it was a cute little Lindelofian trick to throw people by having the fake title be of a year so close to both Luke Skywalker's birthday and the implication of a possible movie connection to the Washington D.C. UFO fly-over. Lindelof and Disney figured it would be a better ruse to switch the year of this fictitious film from 1951 to 1952, so as to steer speculation towards the UFO fly-by concept. 

Oh, and we can’t forget that Qui-Gon, I mean Liam Neeson, was born in 1952. Perhaps a connection, or maybe I’ve watched Aliens too many times and the ping ping ping of the motion tracker has driven me insane? 

Again, they're already setting up a whole trilogy that kicks off in 2015, which unless Star Wars Episode 7 is a holiday theatrical release ala Bond or The Hobbit, that leaves only about two-and-a-half years for Disney and the new Kathleen Kennedy captained Lucasfilm to get a script finished to a polished state, put into production, posted (in 3D), and released. For all we know, it is likely that the script has been written and polished and Brad Bird is directing while Lindelof is involved in some capacity as a producer at this point. Pre-production could very well be underway if we look at this current time table of about two years from now as a release date. We're at the end of October 2012. Let's say Star Wars episode 7 is going to be released in the middle of summer, say mid-July. That leaves only two more months for 2012 (minus a couple weeks for all the holiday loss of productivity). Then another 28-30 months if they were to release in mid-July 2015. After all, you’ve got to leave time for prints and marketing and director and writer/producer hyping and interviews). Even if Disney throws money at this, it is not something they will take lightly, as getting Episode 7 drastically wrong will be a huge problem for them and future plans to grow Star Wars into an even bigger cash-eating wormhole, er, I mean fiscally sound investment in intellectual property. 

So I'd say this also could explain how Disney already has the basics worked out in terms of being able to announce Episodes 7-9 and more Star Wars films after those every two to three years apart. I wager that Lindelof sat down with George Lucas months ago after his Prometheus work ended, and hashed out the basic story structure for this new trilogy, and perhaps even some of the ideas for stuff that comes after. Just like he sat alongside Ridley Scott and rewrote John Spaihts' Alien Engineers* script, which became a film many of us talkbackers love to bitch and moan about, Prometheus.

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