How Disney Could Shake Up Fox Film Slate, Starting With Brad Pitt’s ‘Ad Astra’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox may be complete, but the studio’s distribution team now must figure out how to integrate Fox’s existing movie slate into its own.

The Burbank-based studio plans to release all of Fox’s films, an individual with knowledge of the slate tells TheWrap, but some of the 13 Fox films slated for release in the next 12 months will be moved around in the coming weeks to avoid competing against Disney’s own 2019 slate. Disney declined to comment.

The likeliest target for a move: James Gray’s sci-fi film “Ad Astra,” starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut who chases after his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared on a failed mission to Neptune decades earlier. Fox has booked the film to open May 24 — the same day as Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated hit “Aladdin,” making a date change all but inevitable.

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“At this point, it’s quite likely that ‘Ad Astra’ will either be moved or taken off the slate,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said. “It’s coming out the same day as ‘Aladdin,’ and even before the merger there was no promotional material or trailer for this film even two months away from release.”

In addition to “Ad Astra,” the X-Men spinoff “New Mutants” is also likely to get a push. Unlike other Marvel films that Disney has released, this one is a horror movie, a genre that Disney has mostly avoided. “New Mutants” has also been pushed back twice from its original spring 2018 release to August 2019, and reshoots that were announced last year have not taken place.

It’s also possible that at least some Fox titles could bypass theaters altogether for release on Disney’s upcoming Disney+ streaming platform or even Hulu, in which the company now has a majority stake.

In some ways, Disney can easily absorb an expanded slate. Over the last few years, the studio has dominated the box office charts by releasing the fewest films of any major studio yet making every release feel like an event. Since 2015, the studio has never released more than 13 films in a single year, with 11 scheduled for 2019. Now it’s in control of a Fox operation that released 26 films in the past two years, 41 if you include titles released by Fox Searchlight.

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That output is expected to drop dramatically — especially after Disney surprised the industry on Thursday by shuttering Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 division, which has released films like “Hidden Figures,” “Love, Simon” and “The Hate U Give.” In addition, the studio on Thursday laid off many of the top distribution, marketing and publicity executives who had been overseeing the release of Fox’s upcoming movies.

With the Fox slate, Disney gains a host of more grown-up fare — a category it has avoided in recent years (the studio’s last R-rated film was 2013’s “The Fifth Estate,” one of the final releases in its now-lapsed distribution partnership with DreamWorks). But adult-skewing films could more easily fit into a schedule loaded with the studio’s mainstay family fare: James Mangold’s untitled biopic on the Ford-Ferrari motor-sports rivalry, due November 15, isn’t seeking the same audience as the following week’s “Frozen II.”

Few expect much schedule juggling at Fox Searchlight, which has enjoyed plenty of Oscar success in recent years but only has the upcoming biopic “Tolkien” officially slated for release. Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley’s division could maintain a degree of independence akin to what Harvey and Bob Weinstein enjoyed when Disney owned Oscar powerhouse Miramax (before selling off the division in 2010).

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Beyond 2019, the Disney-Fox balancing act gets even more intriguing. Disney has yet to fill in much of its 2020 slate beyond date placeholders, while Fox has some titles with serious box office potential.

The biggest of them is, of course, “Avatar 2,” the sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time and which is set for a December 2020 release. That could plug a hole that Disney recently filled with new releases in the “Star Wars” franchise — which helped the studio rule the holiday box office market from 2015-17.  “Episode IX” at the end of this year.

But following the disappointing results for last summer’s “Solo,” which became the lowest-grossing “Star Wars” release ever, Disney hit the pause button on the franchise with no further plans for big-screen installments beyond this December’s “Episode IX.” Instead, Lucasfilm is now focused on developing “Star Wars”-themed shows for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.

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“‘Avatar’ is the perfect way for ‘Star Wars’ to take a break from theatrical release,” Bock said. “James Cameron has a tentpole set up for them, and who knows, maybe it’s possible that Disney tries also putting something different into that time of year for a different audience.”

Another place where Disney might step aside for Fox is Valentine’s Day 2020, where “Kingsman: The Great Game” is currently set for release and where Disney has a live-action placeholder slot. On the other hand, Disney is likely to consider a shift for “Gambit,” the planned “X-Men” spinoff starring Channing Tatum which hasn’t started production and is currently set for March 2020 release, the same month as Pixar’s “Onward” and Disney’s “Mulan” remake.

Another Fox film with big four-quadrant potential is Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of “West Side Story,” which seeks to capitalize on the current big-screen musical craze. No release has been set, but with filming set to start this summer, it’s likely that Disney will release that film in the latter half of 2020 as a potential awards contender.

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With so many films in place and Disney’s future plans to continue their box office domination still under wraps, the studio’s D23 convention is becoming a big date on the industry calendar. Disney has usually made big announcements about its future plans to get fans excited, but with a streaming service to launch and a 2020 slate to unveil, the August event will likely provide answers to where exactly Fox belongs in Disney’s growing stable.

Regardless of the specifics, this much is certain: In 2018, Disney’s $3.09 billion domestic gross accounted for 26 percent of the year’s record-breaking $11.9 billion gross. Add Fox’s $1.08 billion to that total, and the mega-studio’s market share would have been 35 percent. With even more popular titles now added to its already strong IP stable, Disney is in position to further tighten its grip on the box office.

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Stream Fatigue? Streaming Subscriptions Drop So Far This Year – Just as Apple, Disney Prepare to Enter Market

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Forget about cord-cutting — the new trend in 2019 might be TV fans cutting back on their streaming service budgets.

New research from Ampere Analysis shows that Americans are subscribing to fewer streaming services in the first three months of this year — and also paying less overall. Between January and March, the average U.S. household subscribed to 2.6 services and paid about $30 per month altogether, marking a slight dip from last June, when the average household paid about $33 per month for 2.8 services.

The decline is admittedly modest so far but it’s a notable drop that comes just as Apple, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and, oh yeah, Disney are poised to enter an increasingly crowded streaming market within the next year. “Streaming fatigue” could be setting in as customers balk at the idea of dropping their cable and satellite plans only to juggle a half dozen different streaming subscriptions.

“Cord cutters, like me, are realizing that skinnier bundles still add up, price-wise, and how many [streaming] monthly fees can one viewer afford and navigate?” said Neil Landau, screenwriter and author of “TV Writing On Demand: Creating Great Content in the Digital Era.” “We now live in a world with over 500 scripted series, so in addition to getting noticed and breaking through the noise in this glutted TV landscape, the technologically challenged may not even be able to find a desired new show.”

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Landau’s “too many choices” concern was echoed by Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and head of U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment: “With more than 300 over-the-top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue.’”

To be clear, this doesn’t mean streaming is falling out of style or that cable and satellite are poised to make a comeback. Indeed, new survey data from Deloitte this week showed that streaming has officially passed traditional pay TV in popularity in the U.S., with 69 percent of survey respondents subscribing to at least one streaming service, compared to 65 percent of respondents that pay for cable or satellite.

However, the new trends indicate that streamers are reticent to sign up for new subscriptions. Cord-cutting was intended to drop monthly expenses while still giving viewers content they desire. And the addition of more big-name services on the market doesn’t guarantee that customers will open their wallets.

Look at the prices of the already established streaming players: Netflix’s premium plan runs $16 per month; Hulu’s “no commercials” plan is $12 per month; HBO Now is $15 per month. Amazon Prime Video comes with a $120 annual Prime membership fee. And Live TV options from YouTube and Hulu hover between $40 and $45 each month. On their own, these prices don’t break the bank, but they quickly add up in combination.

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“Soon we’ll all start looking at our credit card bills and start saying, ‘Why am I subscribing to all of these services? Something’s got to give,’” said Paul Hardart, former Warner Bros. and Turner executive and current head of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at New York University.

Making matters tougher for new streamers is Netflix’s overwhelming dominance in the market. The company has nearly 60 million U.S. customers and has built a devoted following behind trademark shows like “Narcos,” “Queer Eye” and “Stranger Things.”

The company’s first-mover advantage is real. New streamers will have a chance to carve out their share of the pie — Disney’s slew of top content, from “Star Wars” to its seemingly never-ending supply of Marvel movies, will bolster its Disney+ service, and Apple has more than $200 billion in cash to throw around if it chooses to bulk up its content offereings.

Still, it will be next to impossible for newcomers to bump Netflix from the select few services that Americans will pay for, Hardart said, leaving the rest of the field to battle for the remaining dollars customers are willing to shell out.

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“There will be losers in this. Walmart basically abandoned their streaming service earlier this year,” Hardart noted, referring to the retail giant’s scrapped plans for an $8 per month service. “If a big player like Walmart is abandoning it, it’s a treacherous path.”

“We’ve almost reached a saturation point,” Ampere senior analyst Toby Holleran added of the streaming landscape. While he said the downturn in overall streaming subscriptions isn’t necessarily permanent — Holleran said the “sweet spot” for streaming subscriptions will likely land around three per household in the next year — customer loyalty will be difficult to secure. Instead, churn rates will increase, as a lack of contracts will allow viewers to nomadically bounce from service to service, binging a series or two before moving on to another service.

These key factors — price sensitivity, the ability to easily move from service to service and a finite amount of time for customers to watch all of the content that’s available — could hamper Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia’s fashionably late entrance to the streaming party.

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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Sets May Opening Date at Disneyland

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars themed amusement park addition to both Disneyland and Disney World, will open May 31 in Anaheim, California and Aug. 29 in Orlando, Florida.

CEO Bob Iger announced the opening dates on the annual shareholders meeting, and Disney Parks additionally confirmed the news on Twitter.

The theme parks will feature a lifelike journey through the world of Star Wars as visitors travel through a new outpost planet called Batuu. The park features rides including the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run that’s adorned with a lifesize, 25-foot tall replica of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon ship. Then there’s the Rise of the Resistance Ride, featuring performances by “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver.

Also Read: ‘Star Wars’ Theme Park Galaxy’s Edge Offers Millennium Falcon Rides, Build-Your-Own Droids and Blue Milk

Further, park visitors can build their own customizable lightsabers and droids. The droids are even capable of interacting with nodes and objects around the park, not unlike the custom wands you can purchase at the Harry Potter World in Universal Studios.

And a trip to the park wouldn’t be complete without tasting their blue, rice milk at the Oga’s Cantina, a non-dairy milkshake style drink colored blue or green.

You can see first look photos at the park here, and see Disney Parks’ announcement tweet below:

JUST ANNOUNCED: #StarWars: #GalaxysEdge will open May 31 at the @Disneyland Resort and August 29 at @WaltDisneyWorld Resort: https://t.co/G5zUih3hGk pic.twitter.com/KeNB2By0GT

— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 7, 2019

Live your adventure at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, an all-new land, opening May 31 at the Disneyland Resort and August 29 at the Walt Disney World Resort! Get more details at https://t.co/EfvNXOWGKE #GalaxysEdge pic.twitter.com/oK44l9VINc

— Star Wars (@starwars) March 7, 2019

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Disney Reveals Dates For ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ Theme Park Openings

Read on: Deadline.

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company’s long-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge “lands” will open on May 31 and Aug. 29 at Disneyland in Anaheim and DisneyWorld in Florida, respectively.
Speaking at the company’…

‘Star Wars’ Theme Park Galaxy’s Edge Offers Millennium Falcon Rides, Build-Your-Own Droids and Blue Milk

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Between rides on the Millennium Falcon, an opportunity to build your own droid or lightsaber and a chance to drink blue milk from a Tatooine cantina, the new “Star Wars” theme park Galaxy’s Edge coming to Disneyland and Disney World is aiming to be one of the most interactive Star Wars experiences around.

Several fan sites got the first look to tour the park, which is opening this summer in Disneyland in Anaheim and this fall in Disney World in Orlando.

The highlight of the park seems to be the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride, in which visitors get to ride inside Han Solo’s iconic ship. iO9 says that fans are greeted and get to tour around a life-size Millennium Falcon as they wait in line for the ride. They describe it as more than 100 feet long and 25 feet high, and decorated down to the finest detail and blaster burn.

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EW says visitors are assigned the role of either a pilot, gunner or flight engineer aboard the Falcon and must interact with a video mission that will jolt or rock the cabin depending on what actions you take. They also describe being able to wander the corridors of the Falcon while you wait for your assigned flight group and being able to scan displays that will reveal story details and twists using a Disney Play app.

There’s also the Rise of the Resistance ride, which features performances by Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac in another interactive experience. Read more about it via Nerdist.

Another cool aspect of the park that should remind visitors of the customizable and interactive wands at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an opportunity to build your own lightsaber and droids. Laughing Planet says the blades start at $49.99 and a customizable, finished hilt will cost $109.00. The droids too are customizable, with visitors picking parts off a conveyor belt to build either an R-series or BB-series type droid. Or you can purchase one of the pre-made, familiar droids that are recognizable from the films. Like the wands in the Harry Potter world, these can interact with specific items and kiosks in the park.

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And what trip wouldn’t be complete without the blue milk (or green, if you prefer)? According to EW, at Oga’s Cantina, you can get a non-dairy, frozen, milkshake-style beverage similar to the strange substance Luke Skywalker drinks in the original “Star Wars.” It was also previously reported that Galaxy’s Edge would serve alcohol at the park, and the cantina serves Star Wars-themed variations on a Bloody Mary, fuzzy navel and Cosmopolitan.

Find first look photos and more here.

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Disney Previews ‘Star Wars’ Theme Park Expansion With New Photos And Details

Read on: Deadline.

With the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the biggest single-themed “land expansion” in Disney theme-park history just months away, the company has offered the most extensive look yet at the project.
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‘The Mandalorian’: Disney+ Wraps Filming on Jon Favreau’s ‘Star Wars’ TV Show

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney+ has wrapped filming on Jon Favreau’s live-action “Star Wars” TV series “The Mandalorian,” the new streaming service announced Wednesday.

Starring Nick Nolte, Werner Herzog, Gina Carano, and Pedro Pascal as the titular character, “The Mandalorian” follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. The cast also includes Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers and Omid Abtahi.

The series is set in the time period between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” In “Star Wars” lore, Mandalorians made the iconic armor that bounty hunter Boba Fett and his “father” Jango Fett wore in the films. Boba was technically an unaltered clone of Jango.

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Bryce Dallas Howard, Taika Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow directed episodes of the series, with Dave Filoni (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars Rebels”) helming the premiere. “Black Panther” composer and recent Oscar winner Ludwig Göransson will write the score.

The series, which doesn’t yet have a premiere date, will air on Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+, which is expected to launch toward the end of 2019.

The series is part of a growing list of Disney+ original series that borrow from the company’s massive catalog, including a second “Star Wars” series following Diego Luna’s “Rogue One” character. Marvel Studios is developing several standalone series starring big-screen characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson), and Bucky Barns aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

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Disney is also developing a series that will star several of its iconic villains like Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” and The Wicked Queen from “Snow White.”

Disney+ will also feature TV series versions of “High Fidelity” (with Zoe Kravitz), Pixar’s “Monsters Inc” and “High School Musical.” On the film side, a live-action reboot of “Lady and the Tramp” will star Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux and Janelle Monae.

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When will Lucasfilm just let Topher Grace make his own Star Wars movie?

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Rotten Tomatoes Shuts Down Pre-Release Ratings and Comments After Trolls Target ‘Captain Marvel’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Rotten Tomatoes, in a move to combat trolling, has banned user reviews and comments prior to a movie’s release.

The movie review site’s decision comes after “Captain Marvel” was inundated with bad reviews before it hit theaters, joining “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in late 2017  and “Black Panther” in early 2018 as films that trolls deliberately tried to decrease the Audience Score for.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership,” Rotten Tomatoes said in a post outlining the change. “We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action. Don’t worry though, fans will still get to have their say: Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have.”

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“Over the past few years, Rotten Tomatoes has been evolving into a robust movie and TV show recommendations platform that celebrates the views of professional critics and fans alike, and encourages discussion and debate,” Ara Nalbandian, head of product and technology, Rotten Tomatoes, said in a statement. “We continue to invest in our product to deliver useful and relevant resources for fans and are in development on new tools to help fans express their opinions and connect with others.”

The ban comes as Rotten Tomatoes plans to roll out several changes to its website in the coming months. Some of the fixes that Rotten Tomatoes is instituting includes verified reviews from ticket buyers, more community features and account personalization, and better data security.

Also introduced on Tuesday was an updated interface that places its Audience Score adjacent to its Tomatometer Score, which counts the collective opinions of thousands of critics. And, it would make it easier for fans to compare comments from fans and professional reviewers.

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“Captain Marvel” was peppered with nasty comments last week, and star Brie Larson told Marie Claire she started to notice movie critics “appeared to be overwhelmingly white male,” and added that “moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive.”

The movie is set to open on March 8.

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Jim Carrey Summons Darth Maul in Latest Trump-Thumping Artwork

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The force is strong with Jim Carrey’s latest artistic anti-Trump artwork.

In his latest piece, unveiled Thursday morning, Carrey calls out those who still support the president — and casts Trump himself as “Star Wars” Sith Lord Darth Maul.

In Carrey’s message accompanying the image, the act0r-artist suggests that, if one can still support Trump, “you’re not just misinformed… you’re a Sith.”

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“If u can still support this repugnant oaf, while ignoring 17 investigations, 34 indictments, 7 guilty pleas, 9000 lies, child imprisonment, money laundering, racism, misogyny, infidelity, environmental rape, and high treason, you’re not just misinformed… you’re a Sith,” Carrey says in his message.

The image itself casts Trump in the familiar horns and black-and-red visage of the “Star Wars” villain.

The White House didn’t respond immediately to TheWrap’s request for comment.

A number of commenters chimed in to opine that Carrey’s work wasn’t exactly fair — to Darth Maul.

Also Read: Jim Carrey Gives Trump Some Rough Fore-Play in Latest Political Artwork

“High-key an insult to Sith everywhere,” one commenter wrote.

“Hey! That’s insulting!” another fan weighed in. “Darth Maul is a badass and by far the best thing about the Phantom Menace don’t compare him to Trump!”

Feel free to draw your own conclusions, after viewing Carrey’s latest artwork below.

If u can still support this repugnant oaf, while ignoring 17 investigations, 34 indictments, 7 guilty pleas, 9000 lies, child imprisonment, money laundering, racism, misogyny, infidelity, environmental rape, and high treason, you’re not just misinformed… you’re a Sith. pic.twitter.com/RQn1gZe8xA

– Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) February 21, 2019

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Disney Plans Unified October Merchandise Launch For ‘Frozen’ And ‘Star Wars,’ With Push For ‘Mandalorian’ Spinoff On Disney+

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Yes, Mark Hamill Is Aware of the Connection Between History’s ‘Knightfall’ and ‘Star Wars’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

When Mark Hamill joined Season 2 of History’s “Knightfall,” he swapped his long-held lightsaber for a Medieval sword. But he didn’t switch completely from one world to another, seeing as the themes in the drama series are similar to those explored in “Star Wars.”

And yes, Hamill is aware that the Knights Templar — the group he’s entering for the Tom Cullen-led drama — were part of what inspired George Lucas’ Jedi — a group he’s all too familiar with due to his decades of playing Luke Skywalker in the franchise.

Hamill was asked during the Television Critics Association press tour Sunday if the “connection” between the Knights Templar and the Jedi created “any hesitancy for you in taking on this role or is that something you thought of at all.”

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“Not until after I accepted. I didn’t really think it through,” Hamill joked.

“The truth of the matter is that I’m sure George drew from- George drew from so many different inspirations of his own, both in the movies and in literature,” Hamill continued, seated alongside Cullen and new showrunner Aaron Helbing. “He was probably thinking more of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, because it was more idealized and glamorous, certainly, than the Templar knights. But there’s no question that his inspiration was rooted partially in this mythology.”

Hamill last reprised the role of Luke Skywalker for 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” a film in which Luke at least appeared to meet his end — and Hamill has been super cagey about his status with “Star Wars: Episode IX” ever since.

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On Season 2 of “Knightfall,” Hamill plays Knight Templar vet Talus, who he describes as “basically the equivalent of a medieval drill sergeant.” You can see him in action for the first time in the trailer here.

“Knightfall” Season 2 premieres Monday, March 25 at 10/9c on History.

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