I did read the article now, btw.. and I can see why you are all upset. As I explained on the official boards, it *is* true that Origin is pursuing a focus of online games currently, for both the Ultima and WC series. However, the standalone market for these two brands has been very successful in the past, and to say that a singleplayer game for either of these properties will never be made again just isn't true.
The fact is that the multi-player online market is very exciting right now. Origin has some really good experience with it (made some advances, and made some mistakes). There's a fantastic opportunity for this company to pursue this type of game right now. So, for the time being, the focus is on multi-player games for both Ultima and WC.
However, it just doesn't make any sense to say that there will never be another single player Ultima or Wing Commander after the proven successes in that market. Never say never, you know. :)
Hope this helps, at least a little, cheers, Carly aka LadyMOI
As we were researching this month's cover story on Jane's World War and US Air Force, we uncovered some very interesting news regarding the future of both the Jane's Combat Simulations line of games as well as a new direction for Origin's evergreen series', Wing Commander and Ultima.
According to Origin, all future gaming in the Wing Commander and Ultima worlds (after the pending release of Ultima: Ascension) will take place in an online, persistent universe, similar to the company's already established Ultima Online world.
One of the motivating factors for this move seems to be simple business sense; Ultima Online has proven to be quite a cash cow for the company, raking in close to $1 million dollars per month. Origin feels that this is the future of interactive entertainment, and as such, has assigned Andy Hollis, executive producer of the Jane's line, to concentrate on developing the new Wing Commnader online universe after he completes his work on Jane's A-10 (see our cover story). Hollis' entire entire Austin, TX, Skunkworks team will be getting out of the hard-core simulation field to devote its talents to the new venture.
We had a chance to ask Hollis about this new direction for both him and his company. We did have some converns about this changing of the guard, however, in the past, Hollis' team focused on single-vehicle sims that really nailed the realism, while Paul Graco's Baltimore, MD, team produced less heavyweight, multiple aircraft sims. Does this mean that the hard-core sims will die away now that Hollis has flown the Jane's coop? According to Hollis, not at all. "Remember, Paul has overseen production of hard-core products before, like 688 (I) Hunter/Killer, as well as those of a survey nature," he says. "Also, it is the same creative leadership within the team itself that ultimately dictates the feel of the game. Rest assured that the Baltimore Skunkworks team will carry on its traditions and grow from there."
We wondered if one of the reasons for this move was because Hollis had become burnt out working on the hard-core simulation titles that he has become known for.
"I'll never tire of doing hard-core sims," says Hollis. "That said, there is not much opportunity for growth in that type of product when compared to other alternatives. Yes, you can get even more hard-core, but that's only interesting
I hope this goes through to you guys. It's not clear on the site where to send news.
At any rate, I am the Projection Manager at the Wynnsong 12 theater in Orem Utah. This morning we received a posted tube from Fox, with both the Wing Commander movie and Entrapment.
The poster features Blair, Maniac and Angel on the cover in their red pilot suits, and a number of Rapier fighters flying out from the bottom center, along with another craft I cant identify. (Stocky, brick like fighters, definitely not Kilrathi)
Title reads "At the Edge of the Universe, All Hell is About to Break Loose"
I was so excited I ran downstairs and posted the poster in our main poster case behind the doorman's post. If anyone is in Utah, feel free to stop in and take a look.
We are also booked to get the movie. Not guaranteed, but it looks good for us.
Carmike Wynnsong 12
Digital Anvil, Inc., the Austin, Texas-based entertainment company led by computer gaming pioneer Chris Roberts, and Twentieth Century Fox launched the Official WING COMMANDER Movie Web Site last week and already the site has received more than 174,000 hits.
Features on the site include the highly-anticipated WING COMMANDER trailer; profiles and pictures of the cast and crew; in-depth "making-of" features about the film's special effects sequences; exclusive interviews with the people behind the film; contests; and a message board and chat room for fans to discuss the film. The film, based on the first four installments of ORIGIN System's successful Wing Commander computer game series, will be released on March 12th.
WING COMMANDER combines science fiction settings and state-of-the-art special effects created by Digital Anvil, with the story and creative elements of a grand adventure film. The film follows the exploits of rebellious rookie space pilot Christopher Blair, played by Freddie Prinze, Jr. ("She's All That"). Carrying an encoded message about an invasion from an alien race, Blair, his fellow maverick pilot Maniac (Matthew Lillard of "Scream" and "She's All That"), and their beautiful superior officer, Deveraux (Saffron Burrows of "Circle of Friends"), mobilize to evade and ultimately repel the alien attack. Tcheky Karyo, David Suchet, David Warner, Ginny Holder and Jurgen Prochnow also star. Chris Roberts directed the Wing Commander film.
WING COMMANDER is a No Prisoners/Digital Anvil production in association with ORIGIN Systems Inc. and Carousel Picture Company, with Todd Moyer of No Prisoners serving as producer, and Jean-Martial Lefranc and Romain Schroeder as executive producers. WING COMMANDER is rated PG-13.
|2.||Pod Scene||1:53||11.||Hot Dogs||1:21|
|3.||Torpedo Kilrathi||3:31||12.||Diligent Arrives||2:34|
|4.||Pilgrims||1:50||13.||The Gift/Skipper Missile||3:26|
|6.||Into the Quasar||2:45||15.||The Big Battle||2:27|
|7.||Bad Decision/Blair||1:27||16.||Kilrathi Into Scylla||2:28|
|8.||Angel's Story||1:47||17.||Big Damn Ending||2:09|
When I set out to make "Wing Commander," I en-visioned a classic World War II film as its model. Except that it was set in space, 500 years from now. This motif played strongly in the design and look of the picture. I also wanted it to play strongly in the score. I wanted the music to evoke some of the glorious old war film scores; full of heart, melody and heroic acts. "633 Squadron," "The Dam Busters" and other such classics came to my mind. When I first talked to David and Kevin about the score, they were in tune from step one.And the credits...
In fact, my first conversation with David had him citing classic war film scores as a jumping- off point - and that was before I'd even pitched him on my 'WWII' in space concept! From that point on, I am happy to say I was in good hands. From hearing the first temps to being blown away by the orchestra on the scoring stage at Air Lyndhurst, I was constantly surprised and impressed. The sound they've managed to capture evokes epic movies from the fifties and sixties. It's some of the best space music I've heard, right up there with the classics we've all grown up with. The film required many things of the score, bravery, guts, youthfulness, mystery, danger, loss and redemption. David and Kevin delivered all that and hummable melodies into the bargain! (I guarantee you'll be whistling the title cue as you leave the cinema.) The film grows as a result. Bravo! Here's to working together again.
Catalog No: 8905002
Score produced by David Arnold and Kevin Kiner
Album produced by Kevin Kiner and Mark Evans
Executive Producers for Sonic Images - Ford A. Thaxton and Brad Pressman
Orchestrated and conducted by Nicholas Dodd
Orchestra conductor - Isobel Griffiths
Music editor - Dina Eaton
Score recorded and mixed by Geoff Foster and Mark Evans
Recorded at Air Lyndhurst, London
CD mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland (Tacoma, WA)
All Tracks BMI
Design - Wolfgang Fenchel
Computer images by Digital Anvil
"Wing Commander" logo courtesy of 20th Century-Fox
"The information reported that Digital Anvil is attached to the visual effects for Battlestar Galactica, is not true. The project is being developed by No Prisoners Productions which is the parent corporation of No Prisoners 3D FX, a visual effects facility formed by the VFX production staff of 'Wing Commander' after it's completion. The producer of 'Wing Commander' Todd Moyer will also be producing "Battlestar Galactica".
"Perhaps someone actually talked to those people and they want to create a buzz about themselves (whether they should or not), but more likely, the rumor is taking on a life of its own as it is re-circulated (making it look more like fact). Obviously nothing OFFICIAL has been released, or else EVERYONE would be circulating the press release of a Big Studio who is developing the property (and who would ultimately hire an effects shop). Hands down, that type of Official Release would fast-become widespread."
Wing Commander is, simply, a score which is likely to go on long after the movie itself has faded into oblivion. It's not a tremendous score, but it is huge, energized and propulsive - drawing on many of the sensibilities which make its two composers so good to begin with.
The Wing Commander score is richly textured and incredibly layered, various melody lines dodging in and out of (and running beneath) action motifs create a sense of both consistent style within the score, and an ever changing tapestry in it's presentation. It's got a specific sound, but it's varied enough so it doesn't become boring.
Wing Commander's theme was composed by David Arnold (who, I am told, also served as something of a "supervisor" for the rest of the score). One may remember Arnold's work from Stargate, Independence Day, and the amazingly suave and cool score for Tomorrow Never Dies. In fact, Wing Commander's score manifests many of Tomorrow Never Dies' better sensibilities - if you dug Arnold's work in TND, you'll probably get a kick out of WC.
Arnold associate Kevin Kiner is credited with composing the WC score itself. Kiner has scored the Emmerich and Devlin series The Visitor (for which Arnold wrote the theme show's music and score for the first episode) and Stargate SG-1 (Arnold's theme is cannibalized and used throughout the series). In other words, Kiner knows how to work with Arnold as a guideline, and how to integrate his own "sound" with Arnolds' unique style. The result is a nice mix between the two composers, as Kiner's work is not entirely imitative, but recognizable enough as not to clash with with the efforts of the composer he is trying to complement.
Richly textured and densely layered, Arnold and Kiner's Wing Commander score should hit stores on March 9. Having not seen the film, I can not vouch for how well this score will work with the imagery it's meant to accompany. But on its own, this is a fun and exhilarating listen which may well become a cult favorite in the not too distant future.
Wing Commander Movie Merchandise
Production house Digital Anvil, in conjunction with Creative Licensing Concepts, secured a lineup of merchandising deals for the upcoming Wing Commander movie.
Movie-related merchandising deals were made in conjunction with Creative Licensing Concepts. The items include: action figures and spaceships from X-Toys, which were shown at Toy Fair in New York; novels for adults and children from HarperCollins; a collectors magazine from Starlog; signed and limited edition art posters from Hasson Fine Art; masks and costumes from Cinema Secrets; children's bicycles and backpacks from Rand International; t-shirts and hats from Atlus Sportswear; and jewlery from United Cutlery.
Based on the game from Origin Systems, a unit of Electronic Arts, Wing Commander is being directed by Chris Roberts, the creator of the first four Wing Commander titles. Roberts also co-wrote the script for the sci-fi adventure film, which is slated to hit theaters from 20th Century Fox on March 12.
Sonic Images will be releasing the orchestral score for the upcoming Twentieth Century-Fox film "Wing Commander" (SID-8905) on March 9, 1999. Watch our website for further information: www.sonicimages.com.
WING COMMANDER SCORE
TO BE RELEASED BY SONIC IMAGES
99-02-22 (MovieScore On-Line) Sonic Images ( http://www.sonicimages.com ) is going to release Kevin Kiner's original score for the up-coming action sci-fi epic WING COMMANDER. The lagre orchestral score incorporates a main theme by STARGATE/INDEPENDENCE DAY/GODZILLA composer David Arnold whose regular orchestrator/conductor Nicholas Dodd conducted the whole score in London ("that was a very large score" Dodd commented in the interview published in the latest issue of Music from the Movies - see below). Kevin Kiner, whose previous credits include LEPRECHAUN (available on Intrada), has also worked with Arnold on the sci-fi TV serie THE VISITOR. The CD will be available on March 9th from Sonic Images. The film opens in USA on March 12th.
The Good: It's finally here! There's lots of cool pictures and behind the scenes information - plus a whole lot of great background on the film.
The Bad: Flash! Why flash? I understand the flashy intro, although its purpose is meaningless, but of all things why is there a flash menubar? It's worth noting that it's nowhere near as cool as Dan's original two designs for the site.
Extra: Paladin's log entry is a bit of coolness worthy of being placed with your archived SecretOps & WCIV PSX fiction.
WING COMMANDER OST on SONIC IMAGES RECORDS
Sonic Images is releasing the original soundtrack to WING COMMANDER, which is based on the the popular CD-ROM game.
The Film is scored by Kevin Kinder with the WING COMMANDER Main theme composed by David Arnold.
Kiner and Arnold worked together last on the sci-fi TV series "The Visitor".
The score was orchestrated and Conducted by Nicholas Dodd and performed by a 70 piece London Orchestra.
The CD will be available on March 9th from Sonic Images.
FYI, the film opens on March 12th and will have on it the extended five minute trailer for the new STAR WARS film.
Go to www.sonicimages.com for more information
20th Century FOX Logo
Obutu talks into a microphone.
Obutu: "Battle Stations".
Rapiers approach the screen.
Out the Tiger Claw's bridge windows.
Offscreen: "Kilrathi ships are closing!"
The Tiger Claw's broadside is hit.
Shot of the empty Tiger Claw flight deck.
Narrator: "To fight a new breed of enemy."
The back of Blair in marine gear.
Kilrathi armor in the darkness.
Blair in marine gear raises his gun.
Blair: "What is this thing?"
Shot of a Kilrathi face.
A Rapier flies through asteroids.
Rapiers cockpits close in prepration for launch.
Techs prep a Rapier.
Narrator: "Earths last hope is a new generation of warrior."
Gerald and Blair.
Blair: "Lieutenant Christopher Blair".
Maniac: "Todd, Maniac Marshall".
Int. Rapier Cockpit - a Dralthi rams it.
Offscreen: "Two bogies, coming in hot!"
Angel in cockpit.
Angel: "Lets do it".
A lever is pulled.
A Rapier shoots off the flight deck.
A Rapier heads into fire.
Maniac is sucked accross the screen, yells.
A Kilrathi fires his Dor-chak.
Int. Rapier Cockpit - twists towards asteroids.
A Rapier passes the under the screen, leaving an explosion.
Rosie and Maniac freeze during jump.
Blair on the flight deck.
Narrator: "Freddie Prinze Jr."
A Rapier twists towards a crash landing on the flight deck.
Maniac on the flight deck.
Narrator: "Matthew Lillard."
Int. Rapier Cockpit - heading towards a battle.
'Wing Commander' appears onscreen.
Narrator: "Wing Commander".
Blair in a Broadsword turret.
Blair: "Whoo, I love this baby!".
Narrator: "Rated PG-13. Starts March 12th, only in theaters."
Wing Commander Movie-Trailer released
The trailer for the Wing Commander-Movie was released recently. The result was that many download sites broke down due to heavy traffic. WCNews offers a list of mirror sites.
As reported on gamers.de, the Wing Commander Movie trailer is out now. You can download it here.
"Earth year 2564. The Confederation is engaged in a brutal war with the vicious, bloodthirsty alien race, the Kilrathi. The Kilrathi have captured a computer navigation device, which they plan on using to jump behind enemy lines and attack Earth.
"Only three brazen young space pilots and their elite fighter squadron stand in the way of their planet's destruction.
"Christopher Blair (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is fresh from the Academy, but his inexperience belies his incredible navigational skills. He has a genetically inbred gift – an innate feel for the stars and for space-time itself.
"Blair's buddy, Todd 'Maniac' Marshall (Matthew Lillard), is a brash, irresponsible fighter jock with a slightly crazed gleam in his eye. He likes to do things his way, and if he breaks a few rules, so much the better.
"Their wing commander is the strong-willed and beautiful Jeanette 'Angel' Deveraux (Saffron Burrows), the leader of the fighter squadron. Deveraux's laser-like focus and leadership skills mask her growing attraction for Chris.
"With nothing but their own rebellious ways in common, Deveraux, Blair and Maniac will come together to face a seemingly invincible enemy…with the future of mankind at stake."
"Since no one's managed to put two-and-two together, I'll mention the only reason Wing Commander is getting a theatrical release and not headed straight-to-video is because She's All That (starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.) opened to such big numbers. That's the only thing that saved this movie from oblivion.
"Fox is now also planning on tagging the flick with the new 4 1/2 minute Star Wars trailer exclusively for its opening weekend. Given how weak WC is, they figure on grabbing all the loot they can the first weekend, since the grosses will plummet drastically based on bad word of mouth once people see it. But with Prinze, some competent marketing, and the Star Wars trailer, the film could double its budget back before vanishing from theaters in a month (which would only take about $50 million to do).
"As for the movie, well... it's basically the indulgence of a cocky, inexperienced first-time director. It has all the usual mistakes, just magnified onto a larger-than-usual canvas. Most of the problems should've been caught (and could've been fixed) at script stage. For instance, the film doesn't even know who its main character is! It's too bad there wasn't a strong, experienced producer on board to steer this film where it should've/could've gone. There's some nice work here and there, but it's mired in a mess. For example, there's some decent visual effects (cool space battles), but the Kilrathi make-up is just... sad.
"The cast is basically split between 'older' and 'younger' actors. The 'older' ones are good, though limited by their material. Tcheky Karyo really shines, and you can't help but wonder what he could have done with a real script. (Personally, I think he should have been the main character.) Suchet and Warner are solid, but don't have a lot to do. Quarshie is only glimpsed. Jurgen Prochnow is sorta surreal, actually, given the oh-so-obvious Das Boot rip-offs the film makes at every turn.
"An aside: Prochnow's character keeps obsessing (somewhat irrationally) about the fact that Blair is a 'Pilgrim,' over and over, ranting and raving. It's annoying and meaningless, because his prejudice isn't based on anything rational. It's thinly explained way too late in the film to matter, and is one of many examples of poor writing and shallow character development the film is strewn with.
"The younger cast is uniformly bad, except for Saffrom Burrows -- but she's grossly miscast. As the Wing Commander herself, she commands no authoritative presence. She just has pouty lips. Prinze, Jr. (Blair) is vacuous, dim and distant. He doesn't have the magnetism or charisma of a 'leading man.' In fact, it feels like he doesn't even know he's the lead in the film. Matthew Lillard (Maniac) is atrociously grating and annoyingly out-of-control, chewing scenery with reckless abandon. You want to shoot him. Ginny Holder (Rosie) doesn't exude any depth, nor inspire any interest -- which can be said of all four of these actors.
And, of course, we're subjected to ridiculous 'romance' subplots, pairing Prinze with Burrows, and Lillard with Holder. It's so absurdly stupid it's offensive. I mean, it comes out of nowhere, it isn't even marginally developed, and serves no constructive purpose for the plot. In fact, it often stops the film dead in its tracks (which doesn't take much).
"Another example of the film's poor writing and shallow character development has to do with the gimmick of how pilots deal with the loss of a comrade. They just say 'they never existed' as a coping mechanism. This is played out with self-conscious, high melodrama. It's ridiculous, and is a lame attempt at giving the characters depth and building resonance, but it's a cheap, paper-thin gimmick that undermines any possible emotional investment in them.
"Overall: while the film is quite an accomplishment for $27 million, it is an exercise in frustration. Fans of the video game who are satisfied with the level of storytelling they get from the CD-ROM's are in for a treat, with lots of solid effects work. Sci-fi/action film fans seeking a satisfying movie experience should probably just get up and leave after the new Star Wars trailer."
This problem appears to occur in Voodoo Banshee cards, but it may be present in other cards as well. What happens is the following:
When the trailer is played, the video does not appear to update correctly and it flickers, here is the remedy:
Windows Media Player 5/6:
1) Open the video and right click on the playback window
2) Go to properties
3) Click on the "Advanced" Tab
4) Select "Video Renderer"
5) Click on the Properties Button
6) Click on the "DirectDraw" Tab
7) Under the "DirectDraw options" box, deselect the following:
It should look like this:8) Enjoy the Trailer!
It would never occur to the publisher to mention this in marketing materials, but it might be important to long-term fans, especially with the movie still a few weeks away. It should be known that the Confed Handbook is about 95% spoiler free. It doesn't reveal any of the major plot twists of the movie, just sets up the situation and characters as of the movie's start.So if anyone out there was worried about spoilers, the Confederation Handbook is clean.
The wait for the Wing Commander movie is almost over.
Twentieth Century Fox will release Wing Commander on March 12, announced Tom Sherak, chairman of Twentieth Domestic Film Group, in a statement to the press. The movie is based on the popular series of games of the same name. The series was created by Chris Roberts while he was at Origin. Roberts now heads Digital Anvil, but signed a deal with Origin that allowed him to direct the movie, his feature film debut.
Wing Commander will center around Christopher Blair, the "star" of the first four Wing Commander games. Blair is played by Freddie Prinze, Jr. Other roles being reprised from the game include Maniac, played by Mathew Lillard; and Deveraux, played by Saffron Burrows. Other stars in the movie include Tcheky Karyo, David Suchet, David Warner, Ginny Holder, and Jurgen Prochnow.
In an interview today, Roberts discussed the movie with Gamecenter. "The story is loosely based around the events of the first game; Maniac and Blair are fresh out of the Academy," he said. "The Kilrathi capture a vital piece of the jump technology and the TCS Tigerclaw is the only ship in a position to slow them down. It's a 'defend the earth' type of story."
Roberts drew inspiration for the movie and the original game from World War II, specifically the war in the Pacific. "I wanted to make an old-fashioned World War II film and set it in space," Roberts said. "The Kilrathi are like the Japanese in World War II and the Confederation are like the U.S. There are a lot of interior scenes--kind of a submarine feel. I wanted a distinct look and feel for the film."
Roberts and Digital Anvil have film and television rights to the first four Wing Commander games, so if this movie is successful, gamers may see additional movies. "We want this to be our first entry in the film business," Roberts said. "Down the road we hope to be doing a fair amount of film work. If this film is successful we will probably be doing another, but we want to do other films besides Wing Commander."
So what was it like making a feature film as opposed to a game? "The scale was bigger--there's a lot more money involved," said Roberts. "If you want to think about something for 10 minutes you're burning money as you have 150 people waiting for you." He added, "You really have to be prepared because there isn't a lot of budget for reshoots." Roberts also noted the different storytelling pace of a movie compared to the Wing Commander games: "There is an inherent difference between the 20 hours you get in a game to tell the story and the limited time you get in a movie."
Roberts hasn't forgotten his gaming roots, though. He's heading the development of Freelancer for Digital Anvil, a "massively multiplayer" space game set in an entirely new game universe. "It will be space adventuring, trading, and much more, with elements like feudal houses for players to be a part of," Roberts explained.
Freelancer is a game that Roberts has been itching to do ever since he played Elite and designed Privateer. "I was a big fan of Elite," he said. "With Privateer, we never fully realized some of what I wanted to do." So that's one of the reasons why Roberts wants to do Freelancer--to finally make the game he really wanted to create. He added that the game has been in development for two years now, and will be released in 2000. Roberts also mentioned that there's a possibility of doing a film set in the Freelancer universe as well.
Roberts completed Wing Commander more than two months ago, which allows for it to be released before the highly anticipated Star Wars prequel.
Wing Commander: The Movie is not what I expected it to be. I never played the game, but you don't have to know the game to understand the movie. What really caught my attention at first, was Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, and Checky Karyo. They gave a good performance. Though, the plot really leaks. I didn't like it at all, though humor was good. The fighting scenes were low cuz there was no laser guns or nothi'....no they still had bullets in 2261 or whatever year it was playing in. The performance's were fairly good, the humor was the best, the directing was decent, and the action elements were disappointing. With it's 90-minute running time, you can't expect too much. Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard make a good team. They should star together in more movies like She's All That. But despite the things I said, one may love it, one may hate it. You check it and decide.
Actually I can't comment on unannounced products, but I will say there is 'something in the works' that should please both WC and Privateer fans. Don't look for it (or info for that matter) anytime soon however... it's in the very earliest stages of definition.
Digital Anvil, the company formed by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, has secured a licensing deal for the upcoming Wing Commander movie.
DA will work with Creative Licensing Concepts to create WC-themed merchandise including toys (Action Figures and Space Ships), limited-edition posters, bicycles and jewelry. There will also be hats, t-shirts, adult and children's novels, and even masks and costumes.
The move opens in theaters in North America on March 12, 1999. Chris Roberts himself will be directing, and the cast including Freddy Prinze Junior as Blair (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Mathew Lillard as Maniac (Scream), Saffron Burrows as Angel (Circle of Friends) and David Warner as Tolwyn (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). The movie will be rated by PG-13.
The egomaniacal alien Kilrathi have struck again, savaging a peaceful planet at the edge of space. And worse, they have captured a NAVCOM device that will lead them straight to Earth!
DIGITAL ANVIL SECURES LICENSING DEAL FOR WING COMMANDER MOVIE PROPERTY
be Released Nationwide on March 12 by 20th Century Fox
Austin, TX, February 11, 1999 – Attention WING COMMANDER™ shoppers: prepare for a full retail assault! Digital Anvil, in conjunction with Creative Licensing Concepts, today announced a 'stellar' selection of WING COMMANDER movie-themed merchandise including toys, limited-edition posters, bicycles and jewelry. This licensing deal follows on the heels of 20th Century Fox's recent announcement that the sci-fi adventure film will be released to theaters nationwide on March 12th, 1999.
The WING COMMANDER movie marks a first in both the computer game and film industries, as the film's director, Chris Roberts, is also the creator of the first four of ORIGIN Systems'™ WING COMMANDER computer games on which the movie is based. ORIGIN Systems, an Austin-based entertainment software developer, granted the WING COMMANDER film and movie rights to Digital Anvil in late 1997. In addition to directing the film, Roberts, CEO of Digital Anvil, also co-wrote the script with Kevin Droney and Mike Finch.
"We've had a great response from retailers wanting to stock WING COMMANDER merchandise in anticipation of the movie," said Marten Davies, president of Digital Anvil. "Millions of people have already experienced WING COMMANDER through the computer game series. With the movie and our merchandising efforts, we are hoping to turn others on to the great universe that Chris Roberts created."
WING COMMANDER merchandise includes:
- Action Figures and Space Ships (X-Toys) (Now being shown at the X-Toys howroom at Toyfair in NY, #307)
- WING COMMANDER Adult and Junior Novelizations, Fact Book, and Continuity Novels (HarperCollins)
- WING COMMANDER Collectors Magazine (Starlog)
- Signed and Limited Edition Art Posters (Hasson Fine Art Corp.)
- Masks and Costumes (Cinema Secrets)
- Collectible Pilgrim Cross Jewelry (United Cutlery)
- Children's Bicycles and Backpacks (Rand International)
- T-shirts and Hats (Altuf Sportswear )
- Posters (Scipubtech and Scorpio Poster)
WING COMMANDER combines science fiction settings and state-of-the-art special effects created by Digital Anvil, with the story and creative elements of a grand adventure film. The film follows the exploits of rebellious rookie space pilot Christopher Blair, played by Freddie Prinze, Jr. ("She's All That"). Carrying an encoded message about an invasion from an alien race, Blair, his fellow maverick pilot Maniac (Matthew Lillard of "Scream" and "She's All That"), and their beautiful superior officer, Deveraux (Saffron Burrows of "Circle of Friends"), mobilize to evade and ultimately repel the alien attack. Tcheky Karyo, David Suchet, David Warner, Ginny Holder and Jurgen Prochnow also star.
"Since its inception, I have treated the WING COMMANDER computer game series as a cinematic production with the firm intention that my creation would someday make its way to the big screen," said Roberts. "Now with the movie releasing in March, moviegoers will be able to get caught up in the emotion and compelling characters that made the WING COMMANDER games so popular."
WING COMMANDER is a No Prisoners/Digital Anvil production in association with ORIGIN Systems Inc. and Carousel Picture Company, with Todd Moyer of No Prisoners serving as producer, and Jean-Martial Lefranc and Romain Schroeder as executive producers. WING COMMANDER is rated PG-13.
Since the 1990 launch of the first title, the WING COMMANDER series has spawned four full sequels and numerous derivative products combining to generate sales of more than five million units worldwide. In that time, the WING COMMANDER series has consistently broken new ground. WING COMMANDER III was one of the first interactive movies and marked the first extensive use of full-motion video in a computer game. WING COMMANDER IV was the first game to use 35-millimeter film for its linear narrative. ORIGIN released WING COMMANDER: Prophecy, the fifth installment in the series, to critical acclaim in 1997.
ORIGIN Systems develops and publishes state-of-the-art entertainment software. To date, the company has released more than 50 titles, including the award-winning Ultima, WING COMMANDER, Privateer and Crusader series of games. ORIGIN also develops titles under the Jane's® Combat Simulations brand. ORIGIN is based in Austin, Texas, with additional offices in Hunt Valley, Maryland, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS). More information on ORIGIN products can be found on the Internet at http://www.origin.ea.com
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.
No Prisoners is a production and visual effects company specializing in producing visual effects driven, cutting-edge motion pictures. Todd Moyer serves as President of No Prisoners Productions and CEO of No Prisoners 3DFX. Moyer is a long-standing entertainment executive and film producer. Next up for No Prisoners is BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA, which is scheduled for a late summer start in Luxembourg. Moyer is also producing the high-concept action/adventure update of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS for DreamWorks Pictures. Also on the No Prisoners slate is a motion-picture adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, which Moyer is producing with Jersey Films for Universal Pictures. No Prisoners 3DFX, which comprises numerous members of the effects team responsible for the stunning visual effects for WING COMMANDER, is presently providing the special visual effects for the upcoming FORTREESS II.
Headquartered in Austin, TX, Digital Anvil is an entertainment company specializing in the fusion of silicon and celluloid. In addition to creating innovative, bleeding-edge, interactive computer games and movies with star power and mass-market appeal, Digital Anvil is also a digital production house creating state-of-the-art visual effects. Founded by Chris Roberts, creator of the best-selling WING COMMANDER series, Digital Anvil has a top creative team from the game and film industries, and key marketing and equity partnerships with industry leaders Microsoft and Advanced Micro Devices. Digital Anvil can be found on the Web at http://www.digitalanvil.com
# # #
Digital Anvil is a trademark of Digital Anvil, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
ORIGIN, ORIGIN Systems, WING COMMANDER, Ultima, Privateer, WING COMMANDER: Prophecy, and Electronic Arts are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts in the U.S. and/or other countries. Jane's is a registered trademark of Jane's Information Group Ltd.
Friday February 12 8:20 AM ET
Fox winging CD-ROM picture
By Chris Petrikin
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - After viewing the final print of ``Wing Commander,'' 20th Century Fox liked what it saw and is moving forward on a wide theatrical release of the sci-fi adventure picture -- now slated for a March 12 release. While a studio spokeswoman could not give an exact screen count for the release, it's understood Fox intends to get the picture on as many as 1,500 screens. Based on the top-selling, live action CD-ROM game, the picture stars Freddie Prinze Jr. (``She's All That''), Matthew Lillard (``Scream'') and Saffron Burrows (``Circle of Friends''). Fox originally intended the pickup to be a video title that would have only a limited theatrical release. But after seeing the completed picture (and after interest from a rival distributor) Fox brass decided the PG-13 film could be a viable entry in the sluggish days of March. Chris Roberts, who directed two of the CD-Rom games, made his feature directorial debut on ``Wing Commander,'' from a screenplay he wrote with Kevin Droney and Mike Finch.
'Wing' Release Details
20th Century Fox is so pleased with a recent screening of Wing Commander's final print, that they intend to push the film in a big way. Obviously, early word of the long Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace trailer being attached to the film's prints won't hurt too much when it hits screens on March 12. According to Variety, Fox also intends to get the film placed on as many as 1500 screens. The trade also reports that besides the good screening buzz, a rival distributor was at one time interested in giving the film full theatrical release. Sensing they may have another franchise on their hands, Fox has decided to take additional risk with Wing Commander. Fox originally intended to give the film a limited theatrical release, and then larger exposure through home video distribution.
Digital Anvil Secures Licensing for Wing Commander Movie
Digital Anvil, in conjunction with Creative Licensing Concepts, have announced a selection of Wing Commander movie-themed merchandise, including toys, limited-edition posters, bicycles and jewelry. This licensing deal follows on the heels of 20th Century Fox's recent announcement that the sci-fi adventure film will be released to theaters nationwide on March 12th.
The movie marks a first in both the computer game and film industries, as the film's director, Chris Roberts, is also the creator of the first four of computer games on which the movie is based. ORIGIN Systems, an Austin-based entertainment software developer, granted the movie rights to Digital Anvil in late 1997. In addition to directing the film, Roberts, CEO of Digital Anvil, also co-wrote the script with Kevin Droney and Mike Finch.
"Since its inception, I have treated the Wing Commander computer game series as a cinematic production with the firm intention that my creation would someday make its way to the big screen," said Roberts. "With the movie releasing in March, moviegoers will be able to get caught up in the emotion and compelling characters that made the games so popular."
Wing Commander: All Systems Go!
Film To Offer "Movie-Quality Sound And Storytelling"
The long-awaited Wing Commander movie will be blasting into theaters beginning March 12th, announced Twentieth Century Fox. The Mark Hamill-less picture is based on the popular Wing Commander series of PC games.
"We are thrilled to announce our plans for a wide release of Wing Commander. The film has all the elements of a fun movie-going experience, an exciting cast, big special effects and lots of science-fiction action," said a spokesperson that has yet to see the movie or play the game upon which it is based. The film and any possible sequels are hoped to employ Malcolm McDowell for the foreseeable future, saving him from the embarrassment of starring in future lame sitcoms with Rhea Perlman or remakes of cheesy '70s Aaron Spelling dramas.
For optimal enjoyment of the film, a Voodoo 2 card and a SoundBlaster Live! are required.
The Insider hears from a reliable source that recent speculation that Fox's Wing Commander feature, to be released on March 12th, will play host to the expanded trailer for Star Wars: Episode One -- The Phantom Menace may very well be on the nose. The odds at this time are extremely good that things will turn out that way, my source indicated. After all, what better way to get sci-fi fans to stampede to theaters across the country for the release of Wing Commander? Maybe more people will actually stick around for the feature presentation this time too, which just might help Fox jump-start a new genre franchise.
An official release date of March 12th has been set for the WING COMMANDER feature film, bringing the long-running space combat video game franchise to the big screen. The film is directed by WC creator Chris Roberts, and anyone that has seen the effects work done by DIGITAL ANVIL would rave about them if they could get their jaw off the ground. It's cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr., (She's All That) as Christopher "Maverick" Blair, Matthew Lillard (Scream, She's All That) as Todd "Maniac" Marshall, and Saffron Burrows (Hotel de Love, Deep Blue Sea) as Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux. Plus... Seeing as how this is a FOX film being released in March, and a sci-fi one to boot, it's almost a certainty that the STAR WARS - EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE full trailer will premiere before it.
Monday February 8, 2:20 pm Eastern Time
Company Press Release
20th Century Fox to Release ``Wing Commander'' in Theaters Nationwide On March 12
LOS ANGELES--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--Feb. 8, 1999--Twentieth Century Fox will release the science-fiction adventure film ``Wing Commander'' in theaters nationwide on March 12, it was announced Monday by Tom Sherak, chairman of Twentieth Domestic Film Group.
``Wing Commander'' combines state-of-the-art science-fiction special effects and settings with the story and creative elements of a grand adventure film. Based on the best-selling, legendary computer- game series of the same name, the film follows the exploits of rebellious rookie space pilot Christopher Blair, played by Freddie Prinze Jr. (``She's All That'').
Carrying an encoded message about an invasion from an alien race, Blair, his fellow maverick pilot Maniac (Matthew Lillard of ``Scream'') and their beautiful superior officer, Deveraux (Saffron Burrows of ``Circle of Friends''), mobilize to evade and ultimately repel the alien attack.
Tcheky Karyo, David Suchet, David Warner, Ginny Holder and Jurgen Prochnow also star.
Chris Roberts, the creator of the ``Wing Commander'' computer games, makes his feature-film directing debut. The film is produced by Todd Moyer. The screen story and screenplay are by Kevin Droney, based on a story and characters created by Roberts.
Executive producers are Joseph N. Cohen, Jean-Martial LeFranc and Romain Schroeder. ``Wing Commander'' is a No Prisoners Productions and Digital Anvil presentation in association with Origin Systems Inc. and The Carousel Picture Co.
Sherak commented: ``We are thrilled to announce our plans for a wide release of `Wing Commander' on March 12. The film has all the elements of a fun moviegoing experience -- an exciting cast, big special effects and lots of science-fiction action.''
``Wing Commander'' producer Moyer added, ``We enjoyed great freedom making this movie, and I'm thrilled that Fox is taking on the film and releasing it in March.''
``Wing Commander'' is rated PG-13.
Twentieth Century Fox is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.
One other thing, the picture of Rosie Forbes you have on the cast pics page- I'm almost positive isn't her. The girls on that picture are just extras, one was from Ireland and the other was French, they both lived in Lux. Rosie's hair was bleached and she was way better looking.
Well, it's only fair to judge the handbook as what it is - a new continuity, so here's my new review.
The Good: It's colorful, it's full of information and it's layed out in a cool manner. This book establishes an incredible new background for the Wing Commander Universe, which is all very well done. The format, various WC-era documents viewed via some sort of web browser, is great. Everything from scientific thesis' on jump technology, to extracts from Joan's to "In step with... Admiral Tolwyn"!
The Bad: There are a few internal inconsistancies, which aren't even worth mentioning. You won't notice them. The only real problem with this book is the cover - for some reason it, in large letters, proclaims "Contains Confederation Oath of Service!". I'm left confused as to why this is so important, and why it says this - the Oath is nowhere to be found. I'm betting the people who wrote the book didn't design the cover...
Extra: On a rather nifty note, the guide does NOT go into the actual story of the WC movie - simply the elements around it. You can buy this book and still be surprised by the movie itself.
OK, since you asked.
It's the damn Pilgrims' fault. EVERYTHING is the damn Pilgrims' fault. If they hadn't decided to make Blair Pilgrimerific, the continuity could have been a LOT closer to the games'.
Specifically, re. the date of the Iason incident ... OK, Blair's in his early 20s. His parents were both killed in the Pilgrim war when he was a toddler (actually, the script implies he was a bit older, but I fudged). If I stuck with the games' chronology, this means that the Pilgrim affair either *immediately* preceeded the Kilrathi dustup, or they actually overlapped.
So why is that a problem? Well, to me at least, one of the central themes of the whole Wing Commander milieu has always been the resonance with real-world history. Call it the "Pearl Harbor" metaphor. (Bill Fortschen has carried this metaphor sometimes to extremes in the game novels.) The assumption has always been that when the Kilrathi attacked, Confed was big, peaceful, reasonably enlightened and more than a bit complacent - just like the US when the Japanese attacked Pearl. If the Kilrathi had immediately followed the Pilgrim thing, Confed would have been a bit more battered but a LOT more ready. Like America going into Korea. That just seemed wrong, so I juggled the timeline to give Confed a few years' buffer between the wars. (And let's emphasize here that if I hadn't changed the dates, the Pilgrim thing would have still introduced discrepencies into continuity, they just might have been a bit better camoflaged.)
Basically, it was a choice between sticking closer to the chronology of the games, or to the central themes of the games. I decided that theme was more important to keeping the book a "real" Wing Commander experience.
That was my main reason, anyway. I think it's a lot better substantiated than making Angel English and Paladin French (although I think both actors are great).
Again, use this however you want.
Wing Command Diary
One composer's experience writing in the Wing Commander Game Universe
by George Oldziey
I was living the quiet life of an Austin, Texas freelance musician during the spring of 1994 when a friend told me about a job opening for a composer at Origin Systems, a leading producer of interactive entertainment software. Since I've always been one to seek new musical challenges, I quickly sketched a piece in the best tradition of action films (and slightly reminiscent of that "galaxy far, far away"), sequenced it with a borrowed computer and synthesizer module (with a lot of help from a friend) and recorded the piece to a cassette tape which I delivered a few days later. Two days after I submitted the tape I was hired. Unbeknownst to me I would be composing the music for the cutting-edge CD-ROM title, Wing Commander 3. The next six months turned out to be one of the most exciting and rewarding periods of my life.
Wing Commander, the popular interactive space-flight simulator series, has been known as an industry leader in the computer gaming realm for its use of cinematic-style graphics, video and sound since its inception almost four years prior to my arrival at Origin. Chris Roberts, the multi-talented creator, producer and director of each installment in the series, had always had the vision of blurring the boundaries between gaming and cinema. With Wing 3 this "interactive movie" concept would be pushed to its limits. It was to be the first interactive title to feature full-motion video with Hollywood stars Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies and Tom Wilson, and it would require an actual film score to enhance its ground aspirations. That's where I came in.
When I first arrived at Origin I was a neophyte to the computer game scene. I had been making my living as a performer (classical trumpet and jazz piano), composer and music teacher, both in New York City and Austin. Having just bought my first computer a year earlier, and having used my sequencing program just prior to submitting my Origin demo, I had rarely played any computer games and had never heard of Wing Commander. Nevertheless, I was literally thrust into a maelstrom that was the Wing Commander 3 production schedule.
Chris Robert's vision for the music was that it have an orchestral, film score quality. Having had conservatory training (Manhattan School of Music) and the opportunity to perform regularly in orchestras in New York City I felt prepared for that particular challenge. However, when I found out that all of the music had to be arranged for the General MIDI format, I really had to put my arranger's hat on. While General MIDI music definitely has its place in the computer game music world, trying to achieve that big film-score sound can be a daunting task given the polyphony (number of notes that can be heard simultaneously) and patch choice restrictions involved.
My initial assignment was to compose 30 minutes of "gameplay" or space flight music which would be heard while a player was within what the game programmers called an "action sphere." In other words, certain pieces would be grouped together and individually triggered by an event or level of intensity set in motion by the player. I was given an extensive list of short pieces ranging in length from five-second "jingles" which would be triggered by certain events such as blowing up a Kilrathi (big, cat-like bad guy) ship to three-minute "mission tunes" which the player would hear while cruising around the galaxy looking for action. Each piece, except the "jingles," had to be able to musically and seamlessly loop back to its beginning. They also had to be able to transition into any other piece that could be heard while in that particular action sphere. As a composer, I felt that this necessitated having music that did now establish a tonality, or key, for very long, if at all. All the music turned out to be tonal, and very thematic, but I kept it modulating frequently so that the ear did not perceive a sudden and awkward change when one piece would segue into another as the intensity level changed.
It took a month of trial and error to find the exact sound that Chris was looking for. After I found that sound, I enthusiastically dove into the task of completing all the gameplay music. Then, at one of our weekly team meetings, I Heard discussion about Chris and several team members heading out to Los Angeles for the "shoot." I was a bit confused. I thought we were working on a computer game. No one had told me that there was to be an actual movie in the game - over 3 1/2 hours of picture as it turned out. I leaned over to a co-worked and quietly asked what they were talking about and if there was going to be music for all this. He looked at me strangely and said, "Yes. Aren't you going to compose it?" I told him, "Yes, of course" - still not knowing for sure. It was later confirmed that I had in fact been hired to compose for the game's interactive movie portion. My first reaction was apprehension, because I had never had the chance to compose music to picture before. It quickly turned to excitement when I realized the scope of what we were undertaking. I ran out and bought a book on how to compose using SMPTE and then readied myself for the first reel.
Fortunately, when that first reel arrived, I was close to having completed my work on the gameplay music. Consequently I had a wealth of themes ad my disposal to use in the movie, to create a sense of continuity when going from playing the game to watching the flicks. The decision had been made to include a digital soundtrack to be synched with the digital video. This enabled me to go beyond the constraints of General MIDI and utilize some bigger sounds which I did with great joy.
During an early spotting session I was puzzled that many of the movie scenes seemed to end very abruptly and were then followed by several different possible conclusions to the same scene. This was the "interactive" part of the movie. The player would come to this point in certain scenes and then be given a choice about which path to take. As the composer I had to figure out a way for the music to branch off into several different paths, of which the player would hear only one at any given time. This was less problematic than I originally thought. I used similar transitional material to get from the main storyline to each individual branch and would then take the music for each branch to a separate logical conclusion based on where that particular dramatic ending would go - such as success, failure, death or total annihilation of the human species.
After coming to grips with the technical issues involved, I hunkered down for the remainder of the production and post-production schedule. Because of the sheer volume of picture involved, I usually had to begin working on a real before it was locked. I would received a locked reel weeks after I had finished composting to the unlocked version, which is nothing new to most film composer. Eight weeks and nine reels after I had composed over 2 1/2 hours of music to picture. A lot of work, but definitely a labor of love.
When I first arrived at Origin I literally had no idea how much excitement Wing Commander 3 was generating in the entertainment industry. During the course of production I was interviewed by various journalists who were doing stories on the progress of the game. I was being asked questions such as "How does if feel to be working on Wing Commander 3?" After all, we were doing things that hadn't been done before. I usually managed some appropriate answer, still wondering what all the fuss was about.
Looking back at what I was doing before Wing 3 and what I've been doing since, I realize that it was a big deal, especially on a personal level. It's not often that a composer gets such a huge project for his first credit. That definitely is not the norm in the entertainment industry. I've since completed two other Wing Commander titles for Origin, the epic Wing Commander 4 (which featured over five hours of pictures shot on film and over 3 1/2 hours of music!), and the recently released Wing Commander Prophecy. Each of these titles has received a lot of awards and critical acclaim for their groundbreaking visuals, sound and technology. I couldn't have hand-picked a more exciting and fulfilling opportunity to get started composing music for games and film.
Just read Chris McCubbin's response to your remarks and have one of my own:
For example, take the ship stats. Now, Peter was working without having seen even an early draft of the movie, and with very limited photo reference, so he pulled some things from the games. I was working a bit behind him, and had some better information, particularly about special effects and design. Therefore, my ship stats are MORE accurate -- to the movie continuity -- than the novels.
Chris is absolutely right on this point. I weekly bugged the production people for materials and received some stuff, but materials regarding the ships seemed hard to get. I didn't even see a picture of the Tiger Claw until AFTER I wrote the novel and had to go back and make adjustments. But this is par for the course with tie-in work. They gave me about eight or so weeks to write the book, so I couldn't wait for them. Also, I was instructed to use as little material as possible from the games because of licensing restrictions. This seemed ironic to me, but I did what I could. I knew fans would appreciate some crossover between the games and the novels, but what we're really trying to do here is, as Chris writes, create another continuity.
With that in mind, my next two novels will rely on Chris's book as a bible of sorts. I'll be drawing from it liberally to maintain continuity and because it's one hell of a text. I'm certain that the next two novels will remain faithful to the movie continuity and to what Chris has done. I've taken measures to correct things like time (Zulu is gone, replaced by the digital clock), ship names (it's not TCS in the movie continuity; it's CS), and I've more accurately described the components of the ships like "rotary barrel neutron gun" instead of "barrel-shaped rotating laser cannons," which was my naive first attempt at describing them. The changes will, I'm sure, spark heated debate--but that's a cool thing itself.
Finally, I must confess that I felt a little awkward taking this job. William Forstchen's work looms over this material. I knew comparisons would be made (they shoulda got Forstchen to write the movie books instead of this Telep loser) and that I would simply have to deal with that. It's actually not fair to Bill either since he'll be exposed to the comparisons as well--and I do admire his work a great deal. He pays much more attention to the language than many others working in this genre and has produced an amazing body of work, both tie-in and original material.
When I get time, I'll fill you on the Merlin stuff and whatever else strikes me! Go ahead and post this if you choose.
Just read your review on the CIC. Thanks for the kind things.
I must take exception to one of the main points you made - that I disregarded, forgot or altered continuity in the book. It's not the Confed Handbook that changed continuity, it's the movie itself. Everything in the Confed Handbook follows RELIGIOUSLY from the continuity of the MOVIE. However, that continuity is deliberately, extensively and consistantly DIFFERENT from the continuity of the games.
I like to explain it by reference to Batman. Batman has a comics series, a series of movies and an animated series. Each one uses the same characters, basically the same motivations, and all have certain benchmark events in common. However, things fit together differently - they are different, although related -- realities. That's the way it is with the movie and the games (and the animated cartoon too, for that matter). They are not part of the same story, they are different stories about the same people.
If you can find anything in the book that contradicts the script, then I'll humbly apologize for my inattention, but if things are different between the game and the handbook, that's because of choices the moviemakers made, not choices I made.
For example, take the ship stats. Now, Peter was working without having seen even an early draft of the movie, and with very limited photo reference, so he pulled some things from the games. I was working a bit behind him, and had some better information, particularly about special effects and design. Therefore, my ship stats are MORE accurate - to the movie continuity - than the novels.
Anyway, sorry if I seem to be carping. I do appreciate your opionion.
Feel free to repost the above however you might think appropriate (as long as it's used as a whole, of course)
The Good: Ask anybody, they'll tell you that one of the coolest things about Wing Commander has always been the cool in-depth manuals - WC1 had it's Claw Marks, WC3 had Victory Streak and so on. The Confederation Handbook is essentially a manual for the Wing Commander Movie - and it's got to be the most beautiful manual ever. Full of color and wonderful graphics, this book does an excellent job of explaining a lot of things WC fans have been wondering about: the pre-war history, the ships of the movie, character backgrounds, etc. The format is great, designed as if someone were browsing an online service (complete with banner ads). It also has all the stuff fans of the more popular sci fi series' have grown accustomed to: deck plans, nose art, scientific papers explaining the history and principles of jump technology -- basically any cool stuff they could cram into it.
The Bad: You may or may not be familiar with the fact that I'm a stickler for continuity (also, an inside joke). This book at times either delights me or infuriates me. It has the most obscure references, and then it changes some of the most obvious. For example, a letter from Blair's Academy instructor to the XO of the Tiger's Claw actually mentions the events from Red & Blue [Ed: the first Wing Commander Academy episode]... but then the book changes the date of the beggining of the Kilrathi war by some nine years. Its ship specifications are also a bit odd - while Peter Telep's WC novel stuck to the traditional WC specs (for the Concordia, for instance), the handbook creates new ones. It's actually not that bad, though, and shouldn't ruin your enjoyment of the book - hell, after a long chat with Crid last night, I'm all ready to explain all the changes during the sure-to-follow arguments in agwc.
Extra: What else could it possibly have? One odd note - why is it that the only pilot who's fighter has a scantily clad woman painted on its nose is Angel? You have to wonder...
The Bad: I'd complain about the lack of sex, but that'd be hypocritical. Actually, we should start campaigning to get it on middle school reading lists or something, so as to create converts. Honestly, nothing bad. I think it still calls Bossman Vince instead of Kien, but all the movie products seem to do that...
Extra: Same 8 page photo suppliment, HarperCollins has gone all out lavishing all three WC movie books with such treatment. It doesn't have the bonus chapter of the WC movie book (presumably the second book won't have a Junior counterpart), but it does have one interesting bonus: the list of books in the front lists "Wing Commander Book 1" and "Wing Commander Book 2" as 'coming soon'.