Disney Signs Niki Caro to Direct Live-Action Mulan Movie

Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated musical Mulan will be directed by Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Caro will be the fourth woman to ever solo-direct a film with a budget over $100 million, joining a very tiny club that includes Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002), Patty Jenkins (Warner Bros. upcoming Wonder Woman movie), and Ava DuVernay (Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time). Disney, by merit of hiring two women to direct blockbusters ever in its history, is somehow leading the pack for major Hollywood studios.

Hollywood studios have begun to feel the pressure to hire more female directors for tentpole films, after multiple controversies around the hiring of young, comparably untested male directors for massive projects like Jurassic World and Star Wars, as well as a federal investigation of sexist hiring practices in the industryLucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was also recently the subject of heated criticism due to her comments about the “search” for a female director capable of handling a Star Wars movie.

Disney has also expressed its intent to hire a woman to direct its first female-led superhero film, Captain Marvel. Caro had previously been included on the studio’s short listalongside Lesli Linka Glatter (the principle director on Homeland) and Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite PlaylistThe Meddler), though The Hollywood Reporter suggests this new assignment likely takes Caro out of the running for the 2019 film.

Caro made her breakthrough critical hit Whale Rider in 2002, following it up with the star-studded North Country (Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek) in 2005, but — as is typical for female directors in Hollywood — her career largely idled after that. Since 2005 she’s released only two films: the low-budgetoverlooked TIFF submission The Vinter’s Luck in 2009 and Disney’s moderately successful McFarland, USA in 2015.

Mulan will be executive produced by Bill Kong (best known Stateside for House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and rely on input from Chinese cultural consultants and the large co-production team that Disney maintains with Shanghai Media Group. It will be interesting to see how Disney navigates the more culturally delicate live-action project, particularly considering the fact that it also has a live-action Aladdin on its plate. Big studios have a nasty habit of casting famous white faces in roles that shouldn’t belong to them — see the recent uproar over Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell or Rooney Mara as Pan’s Tiger Lily.

Mulan is set for release on November 2, 2018. It will likely be a treat to watch a young woman perform a live musical number that snarkily defines masculinity around violence and endurance as part of an ongoing dramatic irony bit.

From The Verge

The Official Title For STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII Revealed

The title for Episode VIII of the Skywalker Saga has been announced on StarWars.com.

The statement on the website says –

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy. In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

star-wars-the-last-jedi

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017. 

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Hits $1 Billion in Worldwide Box Office

Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has surpassed the $1 billion milestone at the worldwide box office, becoming the 28th title and 13th Disney film to do so.

“Rogue One” needed 39 days to cross the mark with $512 million domestically and $499 million internationally. It’s the third “Star Wars” movie to gross more than $1 billion, joining “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($2.07 billion) and “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace” ($1.03 billion).

“Rogue One” is also Disney’s fourth 2016 release to cross the $1 billion mark, joining “Captain America: Civil War,” “Finding Dory,” and “Zootopia.” It’s the top domestic grosser released in 2016 and ranks seventh on the all-time list.

The tentpole took in $7 million at 2,603 North American sites in its sixth frame and another $9 million internationally over weekend. The U.K. is the top market at $79.4 million, followed by China with $61.3 million, Germany with $44.8 million, Japan with $36.8 million, France with $35.8 million, and Australia with $35.6 million.

“Rogue One” is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and Jiang Wen. The eighth “Star Wars” movie is set immediately before the events of the original “Star Wars” with rebels attempting to steal plans for the Death Star weapon.

Disney also announced that its animated “Moana” has crossed the $500 million mark worldwide, with an estimated $237 million domestically and $272 million  internationally.

From Variety

 

Disney Issues Statement about Carrie Fisher Appearing in Future “Star Wars” Movies

When Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27th, 2016 there was a major disturbance in the Force. Fisher wasn’t just Princess General Leia in Star Wars, but a force herself to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Her memory will certainly live on, especially when it comes to Star Wars — and in an unprecedented move, Star Wars has released a statement about the future of Carrie Fisher and the film franchise.

Shortly after her death, it was revealed that Carrie had completed all her scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII. But what about Episode IX? That movie is still years away from hitting the big screen, and Disney and Lucasfilm met this week to figure out how to finish off the trilogy without Carrie. Knowing that we’ve all seen Rogue One by now (and spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it) there were rumors that Disney and Lucasfilm might try to digitally recreate Carrie, like the did at the very end of Rogue One.

According to a statement released:

We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address,” the statement up on StarWars.com reads. “We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.

Sing-Along Version of Disney’s MOANA Sails into Theaters January 27th

The epic journey continues for MOANA fans as Walt Disney Animation Studios introduces an all-new sing-along version of the hit, critically-lauded comedy-adventure MOANA coming to theaters nationwide Jan. 27, 2017. Additionally, the original theatrical version of the film will release digitally Feb. 21 and on Blu-ray March 7.

Fans are invited to warm up those vocal cords and set sail with an all-new sing-along version of “Moana” launching in more than 2,000 theaters nationwide on Jan. 27 and exclusively at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre on Jan. 20.

“Moana” audiences were swept away by the film’s original songs and score from a dynamic team that includes Tony®-, Emmy®- and Grammy®-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda (Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Mark Mancina (“Tarzan,” Broadway’s “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the award-winning world music band Te Vaka).

The sing-along version of “Moana” includes the full feature film with on-screen lyrics, so audiences can belt out the words to their favorite songs, such as the Golden Globe®-nominated “How Far I’ll Go.” Moviegoers can check local listings for showtimes and theaters; the sing-along run will vary by location.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th animated feature opened domestically on Nov. 23, 2016, BECOMING the No. 2 Thanksgiving debut ever with $82 million. The film continues to delight audiences around the globe, earning more than $225 million domestically and $450 million worldwide to date. The film has a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A” CinemaScore.

“Moana” has received, thus far, nominations for BAFTA, PGA, Golden Globe® and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for best animated feature. The film’s uplifting soundtrack has dominated the music charts for more than six weeks, peaking at No. 1 on the iTunes Albums chart; it is currently No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The soundtrack is available wherever music is sold and at streaming services.

At Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre, the “Moana” sing-along will begin Jan. 20, one week prior to the nationwide opening. Daily showtimes are at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available at El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), by calling 1-800-DISNEY6 (347-6396) or online at http://www.elcapitantickets.com.

Audiences can soon enjoy the original theatrical version of the film at home and packed with a variety of bonus extras when “Moana” arrives on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) on Feb. 21, and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital SD, DVD and On-Demand on March 7.

From Broadway World

‘Rogue One’ Officially Makes Disney Hollywood’s First $7 Billion Studio

An impressive opening weekend for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was more than enough to help Walt Disney capture a new Hollywood record for yearly global box office gross.

The company said on Monday that Walt Disney Studios will set an industry record today by becoming the first Hollywood studio to top $7 billion in global movie ticket sales in a single calendar year. For Disney, which had already bested its own single-year record for box office revenue by November, Rogue One‘s $290.5 million global opening easily pushed the studio’s overall 2016 haul to record heights. The previous yearly box office record belonged to Comcast’s Universal Studios, which pulled in $6.9 billion worldwide just last year.

Disney ruled the movie market in 2016 with a series of blockbusters throughout the year that put the studio within close grasp of a new record heading into a weekend in which the latest Star Wars product from its Lucasfilm division was expected to dominate the global box office. And, Rogue One‘s strong showing is a fitting way for Disney to end its big year, considering that 2016 kicked off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens continuing its own dominant box-office run. (Released on Dec. 18 of last year, The Force Awakens ultimately grossed $2.07 billion worldwide for Disney, with a large chunk of that coming in 2016 and counting toward this year’s tally.)

Following up on The Force Awakens‘ record-setting success, Disney churned out no less than three movies that went on to gross more than $1 billion globally—the animated hit Zootopia, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and Pixar’s Finding Dory. Meanwhile, Rogue One is forecasted to join that list with what should also end up being a worldwide haul north of $1 billion. Other big movies for Disney this year include The Jungle Book, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and another animated hit in November’s Moana.

While not all of Disney’s 2016 releases struck box office gold—Alice Through the Looking Glass and The BFG led the list of disappointments—the studio managed to find success across all of its silos. Whether it was live-action and animated movies—or those produced by previously-acquired units Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios—Disney churned out a variety of mega-blockbusters throughout 2016.

“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations,” Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

The film studio’s success has come at an opportune time for Disney, which needed a silver lining for a year in which subscriber losses at cash-cow cable network ESPN and declining advertising sales continued to weigh on the company’s revenue. Disney’s big year also comes amid what should be another record year for Hollywood in general. The industry is on pace to break the yearly box office record set in 2015, when Hollywood studios topped $11 billion in domestic ticket sales for the first time ever.

From Fortune.com

 

Dick Van Dyke to Appear in Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Back in September, BWW reported that legendary song and dance man Dick Van Dyke revealed to NBC’s TODAY that he has had discussions about making a cameo appearance in the highly anticipated re-imagining of MARY POPPINS. “I think they want me to come in as the old banker and sing a little song, and do a little dance, which I’d love to do,” he told Today’s Al Roker, adding “I think Julie [Andrews] may be in it it.”

In a new feature shared in The Hollywood Reporter titled “Creative Until You Die,” the legendary performer confirms the news that he has agreed to appear in the Poppins update. “This one supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up,” reveals the Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner. “It’s a great cast – Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.” The 91-year-old goes on to share that he has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I think it’s the worst thing you can do,” he says. “Certain people who do retire suddenly age. I think you have to stay active.”

As previously reported, MARY POPPINS RETURNS will be helmed by Rob Marshall and will star Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Filming on the movie is already underway in London with the reboot expected to hit theaters on Christmas Day, 2018. Marshall, John DeLuca, and Marc Platt will produce.

Dick Van Dyke starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder. He recently appeared in supporting roles in Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Recipient of five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy, Van Dyke was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995.

He received the Screen Actors Guild’s highest honor, the SAG Life Achievement Award, in 2013. Van Dyke has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard and has also been recognized as a Disney Legend.

Pixar’s Reveals Cast, Plot Details for Coco

The world of Pixar is expanding in a big, dead, musical way in November 2017.

Coco is Pixar’s next original movie, and it’s the sole novel film for the studio over the next few years as production ramps up for Cars 3 (due in June 2017) and, later, The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4.

Since Coco’s announcement in 2012, little has been known about the film other than its central themes — it takes place in Mexico on the annual holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead — and its filmmakers: Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, and co-director Adrian Molina). But here’s the Coco content you’ve been waiting for: EW took a recent trip to Pixar and can now reveal a few additional details about the music-packed-but-not-quite-“musical” film.

First, the voice cast: Benjamin Bratt and Gael García Bernal will lead Coco alongside newcomer Anthony Gonzalez, who will voice the film’s main character, a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel. Gonzalez was hired after serving as Miguel’s scratch voice during early development, proving himself indispensable to both the filmmakers and the character. Character actress Renée Victor also joins the cast as Abuelita, Miguel’s grandmother.

However, to understand whom Bratt and Bernal are voicing, it helps to get a little context. What’s Coco even about?

Coco follows the secret musical ambitions of Miguel, who resides in a lively, loud Mexican village but comes from a family of shoemakers that may be the town’s only music-hating household. For generations, the Riveras have banned music because they believe they’ve been cursed by it; as their family history goes, Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife decades earlier to follow his own dreams of performing, leaving Imelda (Miguel’s great-great-grandmother) to take control as the matriarch of the now-thriving Rivera line and declare music dead to the family forever.

But Miguel harbors a secret desire to seize his musical moment, inspired by his favorite singer of all time, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Bratt). It’s only after Miguel discovers an amazing link between himself and De la Cruz that he takes action to emulate the famous singer and, in doing so, accidentally enters the Land of the Dead.

In the beautiful underworld, it’s not long until Miguel encounters the souls of his own family — generations’ worth of long-dead but no less vivacious Rivera ancestors, including great-great-grandmother Imelda. Still, given the opportunity to roam around the Land of the Dead, Miguel decides to track down De la Cruz himself. He teams up with another friendly (and skeletal) spirit — a trickster named Hector, voiced by Bernal — to find De la Cruz, earn his family’s blessing to perform, and return to the Land of the Living before time runs out.

Phew.

“It was important to us from day one that we had an all-Latino cast,” says Unkrich, who with producer Anderson shepherded Toy Story 3 to become the world’s second highest-grossing animated film. “It focused us, and we ended up with a fantastic mix of people — some from Mexico and some from Los Angeles.”

Bratt was cast relatively early on — Unkrich says he was the first, in fact — but Bernal took some more internal legwork. “Gael was someone we were considering early on, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to sell him [to Pixar chief John Lasseter] because he’s done so many films I’ve loved through the years, but he hadn’t really done comedy,” Unkrich tells EW. “Thankfully, our casting director said, ‘Have you seen this new show that Gael’s in?’ And it was Mozart in the Jungle, and I started watching and thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s so funny, he’s so charming, and he’s perfect.’ So, thank God for Mozart. It didn’t take any convincing on John’s part.”

Meanwhile, Gonzalez is a newcomer triple-threat who does all his own singing in the movie and came to the filmmakers’ attention during a nationwide search for Miguel — and not just as the character’s final voice, but his scratch (or temporary) one. “We actually had another kid doing scratch for Miguel who’s now 17 or 18, which should tell you how long we’ve been working on the movie, but his voice changed long ago, and it was actually in trying to find a new voice for the scratch that we found Anthony,” says Unkrich.

From Entertainment Weekly

‘Moana’ Rules Box Office with 2nd-best Thanksgiving Weekend Ever

Walt Disney Co.’s “Moana” sailed to a hit $81.1 million at the box office over the five-day holiday weekend.

The estimated gross is the second-best five-day Thanksgiving opening of all time, behind Disney’s own “Frozen,” which opened to $93.6 million in 2013. Disney has come to dominate the Thanksgiving release window; “Moana” now means Disney has the top six five-day debuts for the holiday of all time.

Thanksgiving week helps draw in multiple generations of moviegoers, said Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president of distribution. “It gives us that big burst,” he said. “Frozen” became its own juggernaut in 2013, coasting on strong weekends for months to a domestic haul of $400 million.

Disney Swaps Incredibles and Toy Story Sequels

Disney has announced that it has flopped the release dates for Pixar sequels The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4.  The release date for the Incredibles sequel will be moving up to June 15, 2018, with the Toy Story sequel being pushed back a year to June 21, 2019.

Brad Bird won his first Oscar for directing The Incredibles and is returning to the chair for its sequel. The original bowed in 2005 and scooped up more than $633M worldwide. The Toy Story franchise launched as Pixar’s inaugural feature in 1995, and Toy Story 2 was the toon studio’s first sequel, bowing in 1999. Toy Story 3 came along in 2010, winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and another for Randy Newman’s song “We Belong Together.” John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer for Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios, is directing TS4, having co-helmed the first two pictures.