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10 Directors Who Turned Down Star Wars

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Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Since the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, the space opera has become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. And while working on a Star Wars film would seem to be a boon to any filmmaker's career, several well-known directors have passed on the chance to direct Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and the rest of the gang. Even J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming The Force Awakens, initially turned down the job because he wanted to stay loyal to the Star Trek franchise.

"There were the very early conversations, and I quickly said that, because of my loyalty to Star Trek and also just being a fan, I wouldn't even want to be involved in the next version of those things," Abrams told Empire magazine. "I declined any involvement very early on. I'd rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them."

A few weeks later, however, Abrams made a deal with Disney to helm Star Wars: Episode VII. But here are 10 other noted filmmakers who turned down the chance to direct a Star Wars movie. 

1. DAVID LYNCH

In 1980, David Lynch gained commercial and critical acclaim for The Elephant Man, which earned eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Afterwards, George Lucas approached Lynch about directing Return of the Jedi. The filmmaker turned down the offer because he didn’t understand the movie and wasn’t a big fan of the science fiction genre.

“I went to meet George Lucas, who had offered me the third Star Wars to direct, and I’ve never even really liked science fiction,” Lynch said in an interview. “I like elements of it, but it needs to be combined with other genres. And, obviously, Star Wars was totally George’s thing.” Oddly, Lynch ended up turning down Return of the Jedi to helm the film adaptation of Dune in 1984. Return of the Jedi was (unsurprisingly) a huge hit, while Dune was a box office bomb.  

2. STEVEN SPIELBERG

David Lynch wasn't George Lucas’ first choice to direct Return of the Jedi; that honor belongs to Steven Spielberg. But because of a credit dispute with the Directors Guild of America, Spielberg was unable to accept the job because of his clout and membership in the organization. As a result, Lucas left the DGA after they fined him $250,000.

In 2002, Spielberg revealed that he wanted to helm a Star Wars prequel film, but this time around, Lucas turned him down. “I've asked [Lucas]. He won't let me do one. I wanted to do one 15 years ago, and he didn't want me to do it. I understand why—Star Wars is George's baby. It's his cottage industry and it's his fingerprints. He knows I've got Jurassic Park and Raiders. But George has Star Wars and I don't think he feels inclined to share any of it with me."

In addition, when Disney announced its acquisition of Lucasfilm and plans to release Episode VII in 2015, Spielberg once again turned down an opportunity to helm a Star Wars movie. "No! No!,” he told Access Hollywood. “It's not my genre. It's my best friend George's genre."

Fun Fact: Spielberg was uncredited as a second unit director on 2005's Revenge of the Sith. He helped Lucas design a few of the actions sequences during pre-production, namely Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber duel. He wanted to experience using Industrial Light & Magic’s pre-visualisation software and techniques.

3. GUILLERMO DEL TORO

Horror and fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is responsible for some of the most creative genre films made in the last 20 years, including The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the Hellboy movies. In 2012, Disney and Lucasfilm called del Toro to find out if he was interested in making Episode VII.

"We got one phone call to my agent saying, 'Is Guillermo interested?'" del Toro told The Playlist. "And basically I have so much stuff already of my own." Though he did add that, “it was very nice to be asked, but believe it or not, I'm busy enough."

4. NEILL BLOMKAMP

Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium was produced by Simon Kinberg, who has been heavily involved with the resurgence of the Star Wars franchise since Disney acquired the property from Lucasfilm in 2012. Kinberg broached the idea of making a Star Wars movie with Blomkamp, but the filmmaker declined because he wasn't comfortable with the idea of adapting someone else's work, especially as part of such a beloved film series.

5. DAVID CRONENBERG

After the box office and critical success of Scanners in 1981, Lucas approached David Cronenberg to helm Return of the Jedi. "I got a phone call once asking if I was interested in directing one of the Star Wars sequels,” Cronenberg told The Hollywood Reporter. “And instead of saying 'Oh my God, yes!' I said, 'Well, you know, I don't really do other people's material.' Click. I don't know how far it would have gone, but it ended there." 

6. BRAD BIRD

After making such widely popular animated movie as The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007) for Pixar, Lucasfilm reached out to Brad Bird about joining up with the Star Wars franchise to direct Episode VII. He turned them down because of a scheduling conflict with his own project for Disney, Tomorrowland, which he co-wrote with Damon Lindelof.

“I’ve known Kathy [Kennedy] for a while and I know George [Lucas]," Bird explained to The Hollywood Reporter. “And they did come to me. But the problem was, the schedule they had in mind made it impossible to do ... unless I dropped Tomorrowland.”

7. MATTHEW VAUGHN

British filmmaker Matthew Vaughn was in talks to direct Star Wars: Episode VII ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. Allegedly, he left X-Men: Days of Future Past, after making X-Men: First Class in 2011, to direct Episode VII, but a deal with Disney never got as far as initial negotiations. Reports allege that there were "creative differences."

8. DAVID FINCHER

In 2012, Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy spoke with David Fincher about the possibility of directing Episode VII. While the meeting didn’t turn into the job, Fincher revealed what he wanted to do for a Star Wars movie.

"I talked to Kathy about it, but I think that it's a different thing from ... I don't know what Disney-Lucasfilm will be like," Fincher told Total Film. "It's tricky. My favorite is The Empire Strikes Back. If I said, 'I want to do something more like that,' then I'm sure the people paying for it would be like, 'No! You can't do that! We want it like the other one with all the creatures!'" (It's worth noting that one of Fincher's earliest gigs was as an assistant cameraman and matte photographer for Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on Return of the Jedi.)

9. PAUL VERHOEVEN

Before Irvin Kershner landed in the director's chair for The Empire Strikes Back, producers were interested in bringing on Paul Verhoeven, as they were fans of his Golden Globe-nominated World War II picture Soldier of Orange and felt he could take on The Empire Strikes Back as his next project. After Verhoeven showed producers his follow-up film, the highly controversial Spetters, he never heard back from Lucasfilm again.

10. IRVIN KERSHNER

Although Irvin Kershner directed The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, he turned down the opportunity to direct its follow up, Return of the Jedi. Despite the critical and commercial success of Episode V, Kershner felt that he had spent enough time in the Star Wars universe.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Kershner explained, “After working for two years and nine months doing Empire, and having it take so much out of my life and having given me so much, I felt that it was a complete experience and it was time to move on.”

BONUS: QUENTIN TARANTINO

While Lucasfilm never actually asked Quentin Tarantino to helm a Star Wars movie, the director expressed some very strong feelings about Disney when Entertainment Weekly asked him if he’d ever be interested in the job. “I could so care less,” he said. “No, sorry. Especially if Disney’s going to do it. I’m not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars.”

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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