Vancouver, Jul 10 (AP/UNB) — The head of Cineplex Entertainment is defending the decision to show an American anti-abortion movie in the face of strong criticism from some abortion rights groups.
Ellis Jacob, Cineplex's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released Monday that the choice to screen "Unplanned" at 14 out of the company's nearly 1,700 screens across Canada was "a complicated one and it was not made easily or lightly."
The movie is based on the memoirs of Abby Johnson, a former clinic director at Planned Parenthood who became an anti-abortion and anti-birth control activist. The movie is scheduled to open in Canada on Friday at more than 24 cinemas across the country.
Jacob said controversial films are nothing new to the movie industry, but Canadians embrace freedom of expression.
"I understand and can appreciate the concerns about the film, but it is up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to see it," he said. "In Canada, we have that option and I think it is an important thing to remember."
On the movie's website, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, the movie's writers, producers and directors, say showing the picture in Canada "will make abortion unpopular."
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada called the movie "a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda" that could "incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors."
At least two movie theaters in Canada have reported being threatened for scheduling showings of "Unplanned." Salmar Theatres in Salmon Arm, British Colombia, cancelled a planned five-day screening of the film, saying its staff received threatens. The Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alberta, said it is beefing up security for its "Unplanned" showings because of "a vocal negative opposition, who have indicated on multiple occasions boycotts and protests."
Los Angeles, Jul 10 (AP/UNB) — Disney's "The Lion King" has received no shortage of remakes and spinoffs in the years since its original 1994 release. Now, as the film nears its silver anniversary, Disney delivers a new take on the animated musical.
Cast and crew gathered in Hollywood for "The Lion King" world premiere Tuesday night, and discussed reimagining the classic.
"I think I'm really lucky, because I feel like a lot of the people who are experiencing it don't remember the first one," joked Donald Glover, who voices adult Simba.
"(The original film) is such a big part of who I was," Glover continued, adding he felt the weight of his role especially during his duet of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" with co-star Beyoncé.
"Tackling it was really just trying to make the song feel as emotional as it was before," he said.
While the remake pays homage to the source material, a new approach allowed for more creative liberties than its predecessor, many cast and crew noted.
Hans Zimmer, who composed the original film's underscore, said he was excited to produce new compositions as well as revamp original music cues.
"This time, I could breathe," he said, explaining that some of his music was performed too fast the first time around. "I could let them play properly. I could do things with them that I never did before."
Composer Lebo M. said the remake will feature tunes from the original, and a host of new songs, as well as the anthem "He Lives in You," which debuted in the stage production.
"We wrote it originally for the movie 25 years ago, and it made its mark on Broadway and around the world, and it's now a very special version in this movie soundtrack," he said. "The music department, we went crazy."
At times, so did the cast.
Actor Billy Eichner, who voices Timon, said director Jon Favreau (who also helmed Disney's recent "The Jungle Book") allowed him to record his voiceovers alongside his co-star Seth Rogen, the voice of Pumbaa. Most voice actors do the job solo.
"I think it all comes back to Jon Favreau for being brilliant and knowing how to do a big spectacular film that people can also relate to and make it feel organic and genuinely funny," Eichner said. "Even when Donald Glover came in to do 'Hakuna Matata' in our scenes together, we were all riffing. We kept it very organic and very raw, and I think the movie hopefully benefits from that."
Glover shared a similar sentiment about Favreau, saying the director's vision for the remake is the reason he signed on.
"The story of us all being connected is a universal truth that we really can't ignore anymore," he said. "If we don't really like see the value of our lives together what's the point of all this? Because we're all connected."
Tokyo, Jul 10 (AP/UNB) — Johnny Kitagawa, a kingpin of Japan's entertainment industry for more than half a century who produced famous boybands including Arashi and SMAP, has died. He was 87.
Kitagawa, better known as Johnny-san, died from a subarachnoid hemorrhage Tuesday at a Tokyo hospital, where he had been treated after falling unconscious June 18, according to his office, Johnny & Associates.
Born in Los Angeles in 1931, Kitagawa spent his early childhood in Japan before and during World War II. He later grew up in the U.S. before returning to Japan after the Korean War.
Kitagawa established his office in 1962, producing a four-man group called the Johnny's and spearheading Japan's entertainment scene. He sent many artists to fame, not only in Japan but in recent years across Asia.
Creating boybands was a challenge to cultural norms in Japan back then, but his talent agency grew to dominate the country's entertainment market.
The artists he produced set the standards for Japanese male idols, and "Johnny's" became a word for attractive men.
Kitagawa called the artists and trainees his "children," and was affectionately known as Johnny-san, though he hardly appeared in public.
His agency became so powerful that it virtually dominated Japan's entertainment industry, and he also faced rumors of alleged harassment and sexual abuse.
While Kitagawa was in the hospital, scores of artists he trained came to visit him even though he was unconscious, sharing his favorite foods and recounting fond memories of him, while listening to old and new songs he produced, his office said in a statement.
"Bringing happiness to the people all over the world through entertainment" was his slogan for his business, Kitagawa wrote last year in a message posted on his office's website.
Los Angeles, July 9 (AP/UNB) — Jay-Z is heading into the legal marijuana industry as a chief brand strategist in partnership with a California cannabis product company.
The rapper said in a statement Tuesday that he entered a multiyear deal with San Jose, California-based Caliva. His role will consist of driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand.
Jay-Z says he also wants to increase the economic participation of people returning from incarceration through job training and workforce development.
The rapper called Caliva "the best partners for this endeavor."
Caliva operates a farm and two stores in Northern California. It also distributes its branded products in roughly two dozen other retail outlets in the state.
NFL legend Joe Montana's venture capital firm took part in a $75 million investment in Caliva earlier this year.
New York, July 9 (AP/UNB) — The last thing the world needs, Lady Gaga says, is another beauty brand. But that's too bad.
The pop star made all her Little Monsters happy Tuesday when she released a video with that message on social media. It heralds the coming of her new beauty line, Haus Laboratories, reportedly to be sold on Amazon come September.
Gaga dropped the news in an interview with the Business of Fashion, coinciding with the video that encourages all to embrace their own ideas about beauty. Business of Fashion says the three initial products are multiuse color for cheeks, eyes and lips in six shade families. A kit with all three will sell for $49. Pre-orders begin July 15.
Gaga says in the video: "Beauty is how you see yourself." She adds, "We want you to love yourself."