It's impossible to explore Star Wars' storied history without noting the remarkable accomplishments of Industrial Light & Magic. The visual effects company founded by George Lucas in 1975 is responsible for thousands of breathtaking shots in the galaxy far, far away, allowing for The Maker's vision to become a reality. Work has been outsourced to ILM for countless iconic projects over the last several decades, many of which audiences would never realize.
What sets ILM apart from other visual effects companies is how far they're willing to go to push the envelope. This began with Star Wars: A New Hope, which boasted special effects no one had ever experienced before and served as a strong contributor to the pop culture phenomenon's success. The company was also the first to explore the use of CGI in films with the Special Edition versions of the original trilogy, and later the prequels. Their trend of exploration continues with The Volume and a digitally recreated Luke Skywalker for the MandoVerse.
For ILM, there are no boundaries; nothing is impossible. As new Star Wars projects have released over time, ILM has been given a spotlight in behind-the-scenes featurettes and books, but the company has never had the proper all-encompassing showcase that it deserves. That's about to change, as a new doc-series is coming to Disney+ - and the first look at what fans can expect is on the horizon.
ILM Doc-Series Coming to Disney+
Disney+ and Lucasfilm have announced Light & Magic, a six-part documentary series from director Lawrence Kasdan coming to the streaming service on July 27.
"Granted unparalleled access, Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan takes viewers on an adventure behind the curtains of Industrial Light & Magic, the special visual effects, animation and virtual production division of Lucasfilm. Learn what inspired some of the most legendary filmmakers in Hollywood history, and follow their stories from their earliest personal films to bringing George Lucas’ vision to life. From Imagine Documentaries and Lucasfilm, and executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the six-part documentary series premieres exclusively on Disney+ July 27."
Audiences will get a first look at the series at Star Wars Celebration during a panel on Friday, May 27, moderated by Kasdan and Ron Howard.
"On Friday, May 27, attendees of Star Wars Celebration will be among the first in the world to get a sneak peek at “Light & Magic” with an “illuminating” discussion panel featuring Lawrence Kasdan and Ron Howard, joined by VFX titans Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Joe Johnston and Rose Duignan, and Lynwen Brennan, Lucasfilm executive vice president and general manager."
Lights, Camera, Magic
To suggest that an in-depth look into ILM's history is overdue would be an understatement. For a company so pivotal to the success of Star Wars, a documentary exploring its rich history will be a treatment for fans of the franchise and filmmaking enthusiasts in general. Elements of ILM's work and background have been covered in various "Making of" books and home video special features, but never to the extent that Lawrence Kasdan is about to bring.
Known best to Star Wars fans for his screenwriting work on The Empire Strikes Back and several successors, Kasdan has a long-lasting relationship with Lucasfilm with insight that makes him an obvious choice to helm the project. He's directed several feature films in the past, and a doc-series with Disney+ resources at his disposal promises to yield impressive results. With assistance from Ron Howard and contributions by multiple ILM legends, Light & Magic will be at the top of viewers' watch lists come July.
With the surprise panel announced for Star Wars Celebration, a hole in the convention's schedule has also now been filled. Attendees can expect the filmmakers to discuss the process behind digging deep into ILM's history, and a trailer for the project is all but a guarantee. With no other major panels currently scheduled for Friday, Light & Magic is now poised to steal the spotlight and gain significant attention.
It's not an exaggeration to suggest that Light & Magic could serve as a tremendous inspiration for the next generation of filmmakers. Just as the Star Wars films have inspired the imaginations of so many, the behind-the-scenes looks into the making of the magic have driven talented individuals to pursue careers in the visual effects field. An extensive deep dive into ILM will continue that trend, revealing the company's past and present and paving the road for the future.
Light & Magic debuts on Disney+ on July 27.