For those of us who grew up with *only* the Original Star Wars Trilogy, no character more epitomized the Jedi Order that was then Obi-Wan Kenobi as played by Sir Alec Guiness. He was nearly the sole connective thread between the era of Luke Skywalker and the Clone Wars, offering a handful of tantalizing hints about what happened before the rise of the Galactic Empire.
All of that was expanded in the Prequel Trilogy, when Ewan McGregor took on the role of a much younger Obi-Wan who evolves over the three films from confident but still obedient Padawan to seasoned Jedi Master.
Now, in honor of the release of the trailer for the upcoming Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi” that takes place between Episodes III and IV, here are some of my personal favorite Kenobi moments from the movies. (For the purpose of conciseness, I’m not delving into the “Clone Wars” series, but it has a great number of outstanding Obi-Wan moments.)
It’s also worth noting that Guiness was 63 when Star Wars came out, and McGregor is currently 50. “Kenobi” takes place ~12 years before the events of A New Hope so…the timing kind of works out.
Ben’s Not Telling Us Something
From: Star Wars
Guinness leaning back and stroking his beard in the middle of telling Luke about his father and the Clone Wars hints at there being a *lot* that’s on his mind but which he’s choosing to omit from the story. But why?
Sassy Obi-Wan is Sassy
From: Revenge of the Sith
There are a number of moments, particularly from RotS, that could have fit in this category, but this is one of the first in the movie and sets the tone for how the character has grown more comfortable with himself and his partner Anakin over the course of the Clone Wars.
Amused at the Subterfuge
From: Phantom Menace
First let’s stipulate that the most amusing part of TPM is tracking which shots were part of principle photography and which were pickups based on McGregor’s hair. That being said, the look he gives after Padme reveals herself is fantastic, a counter to the continued stoicism of Qui-Gon Jinn, who doesn’t do much more than raise an eyebrow.
From: A New Hope
“These guys are idiots.”
Also, even with his hood down he still out-acts everyone else who appeared in any movie that year.
One With the Force
From: Revenge of the Sith
This moment perfectly epitomizes how skilled Obi-Wan has become as he leaps into a situation with impossible odds stacked against him, fully knowing he has the abilities to win the day.
There are more, of course, but these are the ones that jump out as being representative of just what kind of character Obi-Wan is and how, over the course of six movies, he both grows and remains the same.
You can read my full recap of the marketing for Doctor Sleep at The Hollywood Reporter.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website opens with the second trailer before the splash page uses the second poster’s key art. Content is pretty standard, though, but a nice “Gallery” is a good touch.
Media and Press
There was, of course, a great amount of press coverage when the movie was announced and following various casting news. McGregor also spoke about the project early on while on the press tour for Christopher Robin.
Flannagan sought to put a little distance between this movie and The Shining, saying his film should be judged as its own thing while acknowledging it obviously owes a lot to the earlier story. He also commented on why he thought McGregor was perfect for the role of Danny and, in August, made it clear the film would be rated R.
An interview with Flannagan detailed the effort and attention to detail he and the production team put into recreating the Overlook Hotel from the first movie using Kubrick’s original plans as their guide.
A profile of McGregor had him talking about this movie and more, including how his own struggles with alcoholism in the past informed his performance here. He also shared how he avoided the first movie for years because of its reputation.
The filmmakers revealed a surprising cameo in the movie, but not the one you think.
McGregor has made a number of talk show appearances in the last week or so, but most of them have paid little attention to this movie and instead turned quickly to the news of his reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for a Disney+ Star Wars series.
An interview with Ferguson allowed her to talk about the props she stole from the set.
IMAX released a video encouraging audiences to see the movie in that format.
One of the key elements of Disney’s reinvention as a movie studio identified by Ben Fritz in The Big Picture is the concerted effort to maximize the value of its existing IP. That has lead to live-action remakes of animated classics “from the Disney Vault” such as The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Beauty & The Beast and more.
Not everything has received a straight-up remake, though, and in that category falls this week’s new release Christopher Robin. The movie takes a Hook-like approach and catches up with the title character (Ewan McGregor) when he’s a full-grown family man working in mid-20th century London, far from the Hundred Acre Wood. His life is upended when Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the gang show up to help save him from a problem he didn’t know he had.
“Sooner or later your past catches up with you” we’re told on the first teaser poster, which shows Pooh leaning against someone’s briefcase, a stylish but conservative hat obscuring the bear’s head. Those elements combine to at least imply that it’s an adult Pooh will be dealing with, not a child, and maybe a stuffy one at that.
The second one-sheet dispensed with the teasing and showed McGregor as the grown Christopher looking busy and somewhat annoyed – or at least perplexed and slightly embarrassed – by the presence of Pooh, Tigger and the rest of the stuffed gang walking cheerfully around him. “Cheerfully” except for Eeyore, of course, who just wants to sit and be a little glum. Another recreates a scene shown in the second trailer of Pooh and the rest of the gang hanging out on the beach, reminding us to “Never underestimate the value of doing nothing,” which is good advice.
A series of character posters put Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore against solid, light-colored backgrounds.
The teaser trailer starts on a dank, grey London street as Christopher Robin is being told by his boss that he has to work over the weekend, breaking a promise to take his wife and daughter away for a trip. Even worse, he has to help make significant cuts to the workforce of the company. After seeing his family off he goes to a nearby park to collect his thoughts. It’s there he encounters an old friend.
It’s a sweet, gentle trailer that gives off a very strong Hook vibe. There’s an emphasis in the title cards on reminding the audience of other recent Disney live-action remakes including Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast as the studio hopes to position this as the latest in a series of films you’re sure to love.
The first official trailer, which debuted on “Ellen,” shows lots more of Pooh and the 100 Acre Wood gang and how Pooh’s reappearance in his life throws Christopher Robin for a loop. Helping the bear find the rest of his friends gives Robin a purpose much more enjoyable than anything else but he has to get back to his family. Pooh and the others then decide it’s up to them to save Robin from the trappings of his life and so set out to introduce a bit of innocent chaos to the grown up’s life.
This one is just as sweet and light as the first and just looks completely charming.
Two more trailers came out in the last few weeks leading up to release. A short “Sneak Peek,” was much more about the adventure Pooh involves Christopher Robin in and shows them getting into all sorts of gently madcap situations that challenge Robin’s British reserve. A week or so later a longer “Extended Sneak Peek” basically combined much of the footage from all the trailers and other materials into one video to give audiences a really good look at what the movie was going to entail.
Online and Social
Ummm….really? The movie’s official website is so bare bones I thought it was an indie drama. There’s no synopsis, no cast list, no interactive adventures or anything else, just the trailer and a collection of other videos. Very disappointing. There’s only slightly more information on the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A significant online ad campaign was run in support of the movie’s release. That included promoted posts on social media that used various videos from the rest of the campaign and other website ads that utilized some combination of video clips and elements pulled from the key art and other promotional material.
Media and Publicity
Outside of the release of marketing materials the movie’s first real press activity was when it was part of Disney’s nostalgia-heavy CinemaCon presentation to media and exhibitors. New photos were released at about the same time and shown off in EW’s summer movie preview issue.
As the summer movie season wound down in mid-July, Disney released a featurette that explained how this film fit into the long history of Winnie the Pooh, particularly the animated classic. Future featurettes included looks at Pooh’s snippets of wisdom and an interview McGregor did with Pooh.
The cast, particularly McGregor and costar Hayley Atwell, who plays Christopher Robin’s wife, did a few fan Q&As online. Atwell showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie while McGregor did likewise on “Ellen.”
The red carpet premiere allowed the cast to talk more about the gentle, slow theme of the movie and how relevant that is in today’s world.
You have to hand it to McGregor and Atwell, both of whom seem totally game to engage in the kind of silliness this campaign often called for. That’s all done in the name of selling the movie as a welcome respite from the real world and the reminder that occasionally dipping into unbridled imagination is good for one’s soul.
The good news is there isn’t a whole lot of fresh competition at the box office. With tracking placing opening weekend somewhere around $30 million, the biggest threat it faces is from whatever continued strength Mission: Impossible – Fallout has. If Disney has been able to reach an audience of adults who want to share an emotional moment with their kids, it could do pretty well in attracting the family crowd.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
I did not realize the movie was written by Alex Ross Perry, who’s been primarily known to date for his smaller character dramas, but he talks about just that topic here.
Lots of the movie’s positive reviews are included in this “Now Playing” TV spot.
Ewan McGregor showed up on “Colbert” and “Late Night” to talk about the movie and working with an invisible character, something he does have previous experience with. More interviews from the movie’s premiere, which happened on the Disney lot that was transformed into the Hundred Acre Wood for the occasion. This time it’s director Marc Forster sharing how he made the movie for his own daughter and kids like her that have grown up with Winnie the Pooh. And another interview with Hayley Atwell here.