Director Rian Johnson’s addition to the Star Wars canon, Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, may seem like a distant point in a galaxy far, far away, but make no mistake: December 15 will be here before you know it. And while there’s no doubt the actual premiere is the big payoff, all the rumors leading up to the film are what make the Star Wars universe … well, the Star Wars universe.
To that end, we’re loading up this bastion of Star Wars lore with all the news, rumors, and clandestine whispers we can find to help you analyze the details and get you geared up for the big night. Keep in mind that this post does contain some spoilers, so if you’re looking to head into theaters in blissful ignorance, turn back now.
It’s all The Last Jedi from here on out, so stop searching your feelings, and follow us below.
Introducing C’ai Threnali
During 2017’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, Lucasfilm introduced a new character that will debut in Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the project’s official Comic-Con booth. Like the X-Wing fighter pilot Ello Asty from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new character named C’ai Threnali is a male member of the Abednego species and a pilot in the Resistance.
As reported by IGN, C’ai Threnali was introduced as a life-sized character model stationed at The Last Jedi booth amid a recreation of a Resistance war room. The official description of the character reads as follows: “A skillful fighter pilot of Abednedo descent, C’ai Threnali flies as Poe Dameron’s wingman following the evacuation of D’Qar.”
D23 brings fresh footage
During Disney’s biennial fan event D23 expo, Lucasfilm, and Walt Disney Studios released a behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi that offered some fresh footage from the much-anticipated film.
Along with some new scenes featuring Daisy Ridley’s Rey training with Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the video offers a peek at several explosive scenes with both the New Republic’s Resistance forces and what appears to be the remnants of the Galactic Empire and the rising First Order.
Several other, familiar faces also appear in the video, including John Boyega’s former stormtrooper, Finn, and Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Veteran franchise actor Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) also appears in the video, and in a bittersweet series of scenes, deceased actress Carrie Fisher can be seen in her last performance as General Leia Organa.
New faces, new names, and a look behind the scenes
As part of Vanity Fair’s coverage of The Last Jedi, the magazine released a series of photos of the cast and creative team in May 2017, snapped by celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The photos were accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video that offered a peek at the cast in costume, various sets, and maybe most importantly, more than a few lightsabers.
Among the photos released by the magazine are the first, official looks at a few new characters joining the franchise in The Last Jedi.
Among the fresh faces photographed in costume is Benicio Del Toro, who reportedly plays “a shady character of unclear allegiances … who goes unnamed in the film but is called DJ by the filmmakers.”
The magazine’s report also reveals that the new character named Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran, will play one of the biggest new roles in the film. Rose is described as “a maintenance worker for the Resistance” who becomes involved in “a mission behind enemy lines with [John] Boyega’s Finn.”
There’s also a photo of Laura Dern’s character, “a prominent officer in the Resistance named Vice Admiral Holdo.”
More photos and reporting from the magazine’s coverage of The Last Jedi can be seen at the Vanity Fair website.
The first trailer
As many fans (and industry pundits) predicted, Disney and Lucasfilm premiered the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi during 2017’s Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, Florida.
Packed with ominous imagery and suggesting that the time of the Jedi could indeed be nearing its end, the trailer hinted at dark things to come for Rey, Finn, and the rest of the franchise’s current cast of characters.
A big chase
The spies of MakingStarWars.net have been keeping an eye on production, and they’ve seen some interesting things. Based on the website’s intel, there will be an interesting chase scene with Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on horseback. Rumor has it the pursuit will take place on Canto Bight, a gambling-heavy planet, and they’ll be riding on special space race horses called falthiers. Apparently, the chase will culminate in Finn and Rose’s escape to a coffee shop of sorts that the site describes as “like a neon Starbucks.”
That which we call a rose
Fans of the franchise were introduced to Kelly Marie Tran during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando in mid-April, as Deadline reports. We’ll see a lot of the actress in The Last Jedi. Her character, Rose, is a maintenance worker for the Resistance who gets caught up in the action thanks to Finn and Rey (Ridley).
Just starting to get these developed & scanned. A little dark but they came out alright! pic.twitter.com/5EKxuK8Zwz
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) April 28, 2017
Being able to reveal her role was probably a relief to Tran; she initially had to tell her family and friends that she was working on an indie flick in Canada because she was not allowed to tell them she snagged a role in Episode VIII. Oh, the secrecy.
A dark turn?
There have been hints that the Luke Skywalker we know won’t be the one who shows up in The Last Jedi. Ridley hinted at big surprises during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando.
“Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail,” she said, according to Deadline. “It’s difficult when you meet your heroes, because it might not be what you expect.”
She hinted that the iconic character could be “being challenged or going in a different direction,” and Hamill threw fuel on the fire with similar comments about his character.
“It was as shocking to me to read what Rian [Johnson] had written as I’m sure it will be for the audience,” he said, according to the International Business Times.
An ominous title
All of the speculation regarding the film’s full title was finally put to rest on January 23, 2017, when the project’s official title was revealed to be Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
The announcement was made on StarWars.com, and although it answered a long-standing question about the film, it also prompted even more guessing games among fans.
Could the titular last Jedi be Luke? Per Yoda’s dying speech in Return of the Jedi, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.” Maybe the title refers to Rey, who is poised to study under Luke in the upcoming film?
As Jedi is both the singular and plural form of the word, there is a lot of ambiguity in the title. If foreign translations of the title are accurate, however, it seems there will be more than one Jedi in the film. The Spanish translation of the title is Los Últimos Jedi; unlike in English, adjectives in Spanish match the noun they modify in number, and “últimos” is the plural form of the word.
— Star Wars España (@StarWarsSpain) February 17, 2017
The other foreign translations of the title, such as the French and Italian, also use plural adjectives, so the evidence seems overwhelming. Exactly how many Jedi can fans expect to see? For now, we must wait to find out.
Watch the Newest Ads on TV From Amazon, Honda, Google and More
Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than seven million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.
A few highlights: Honda promotes the advantages of a plug-in hybrid—”the end of your battery charge isn’t the end of the world”—in a commercial for the 2018 Honda Clarity. Amazon plays up the fact that its Fire TV device can integrate with its Alexa digital assistant in case you’ve got any questions you want answered while watching TV. And Google hypes “The Last Jedi” AR stickers that are available exclusively on the Google Pixel camera.
Today’s TV Ad Highlights
Data provided by iSpot.tv, Attention and Conversion Analytics for TV Ads
TV Impressions – Total TV ad impressions delivered for the brand or spot.
Est. TV Spend – Amount spent on TV airings for the brand’s spots.
Attention Score – Measures the propensity of consumers to interrupt an ad play on TV. The higher the score, the more complete views. Actions that interrupt an ad play include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV.
Attention Index – Represents the Attention of a specific creative or program placement vs the average. The average is represented by a score of 100, and the total index range is from 0 through 200. For example, an attention index of 125 means that there are 25% fewer interrupted ad plays compared to the average.
Martin Agency Taps MullenLowe's Kristen Cavallo as CEO
Less than two weeks after the departure of Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander, which followed an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment, the Interpublic Group agency has named MullenLowe‘s Kristen Cavallo as CEO.
Cavallo, most recently U.S. chief strategy and growth officer at MullenLowe, will succeed current CEO Matt Williams, effective immediately. Whether or not Williams is leaving the company or shifting to a new role was not clear. The agency referred inquiries about Williams to Interpublic. A spokesman for the holding company said it’s in the process of working through a transition process and can’t comment furhter.
Before joining MullenLowe seven years ago, Cavallo spent 13 years at IPG sibling shop The Martin agency, where she rose through the ranks from a strategic planning director to senior VP of business development.
“This is an important moment. I want people to feel the possibilities that exist for this agency. They are talking about us, but soon I hope they are rooting for us. As a strategist, I love opportunities for transformation, and feel fortunate to play a part, with the full support of Interpublic and its leadership, to help re-write the ending of this chapter,” Cavallo said in a statement.
“Obviously, there is a need for a new direction, and the culture has to evolve,” she continued. “To be the first female CEO of this agency, in this year, under these circumstances—the weight of this isn’t lost on me. It’s going to be hard, but we can do hard things. As a mom, I want my kids to see that, and to set an example that resilience and possibility matter.”
Last Thursday, Williams and Martin Agency President Beth Riley-Kelley sent an email to staff saying that Alexander’s behavior was “inexcusable” and his exit was the agency’s decision.
In addition to outlining what the email referred to as “the basics,” such as unconscious bias training, to help keep employees within The Martin Agency safe, the note stated that the shop will put Tiny Pulse, an anonymous feedback platform, in place in January.
Google AdWords Adds Targeting by Phone Number, Mailing Address
Google has expanded the consumer-targeting capabilities of its AdWords platform to let marketers use phone numbers and mailing addresses to reach their right people.
Previously, AdWords campaigns only allowed advertisers to upload anonymized email addresses as well as set broader targets around demographics and interests.
Google’s new targeting tools will likely be more effective than email addresses, as phone numbers and mailing addresses often prove to be more reliable, says Kevin Lee, co-founder of Didit, a full-service digital agency that specializes in search.
“This new feature allows for a higher audience match rate, particularly for marketers who either do not have email addresses for their entire customer file, or the email address that the marketer has is different than the addresses that Google has for the individual,” says Lee. “Postal mail eliminates that ambiguity and gets higher overall match rates, particularly when used in combination.”
“A higher match rate by including postal means more flexibility in scaling the campaign,” adds Lee. “This is a great way to get marketers to confidently expand their budgets on Google by creating larger customer match audiences.”
The move itself seems long overdue from Google, as targeting users using their phone number or address is commonplace in the marketing world. However, in Google’s case, the delay was likely due to high levels of scrutiny by regulators, Lee says.
There could be downsides. Google’s terms and conditions say marketers can only use their own data to create an audience to target, not use third-party data they bought elsewhere. But letting phone numbers and mailing addresses come into play could increase the temptation for direct-response marketers, for example, to go get the information they need to take advantage, Lee says.
But it’s also a pretty standard capability, according to Praneet Sharma, chief technology officer at Method Media, an audit and media consulting company. “Marketers use addresses that are captured through sweepstakes or on websites that ask the user to input phone numbers, email addresses,” Sharma says. “Many of them might share that information with a data management platform. For Google, and the amount of data they have, you could say they are exposing more user information, but again, what they’re doing is common in the industry.”
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