Anaheim, Aug 25 (AP/UNB) — At the Walt Disney Company's biannual D23 convention, a faint image of the "Star Wars" character Emperor Palpatine in the background of a new poster can cause as much of a stir as actual appearances from movie stars such as Angelina Jolie and Dwayne Johnson. But that's no surprise for the most powerful studio in the world, whose characters are stars as big, if not bigger, than the A-listers playing them — at least for the people attending the company's fan convention.
Even the word "fan" is too impersonal for this kind of loyalty. As Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn told the audience Saturday: "You're not just fans, you're family."
Right across the street from Disneyland, nearly 7,000 people packed a giant convention hall in Anaheim on Saturday hoping to get a look at or at least more information about Disney properties coming to theaters in the next few years, including "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker," ''Frozen 2," ''Black Panther 2," ''Black Widow," ''Cruella," ''Soul" and more, with a parade of stars such as Jolie, Johnson, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Jamie Foxx, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Daisy Ridley all gracing the stage to help drum up excitement for all that's to come. Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff even serenaded the audience with a performance of a new song from "Frozen 2" as fake fall leaves fell down on the audience like confetti to close out the presentation.
Disney kicked things off with "Star Wars," revealing a new poster, which every audience member got a copy of, and glimpses of some new footage from "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker." The film, which hits theaters Dec. 20, ends the Skywalker saga that began over 40 years ago.
Anthony Daniels, who has played the droid C-3PO since the beginning seemed to get a bit choked up on stage.
"It's kind of hard for me to understand that the story is ending, but what an ending," Daniels said. "You'll love it."
He was joined on stage by fellow original trilogy veteran Billy Dee Williams, and the stars of the new trilogy — Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega — as well as writer-director J.J. Abrams.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy promised that the film "is an incredibly good time."
But "Star Wars" itself is hardly ending for Disney.
"With the close of this chapter, the future is wide open," Horn said. The studio on Friday debuted a new trailer for the Disney Plus series "The Mandalorian" to great enthusiasm.
Not all reveals are created equal at D23, however. For "Black Panther 2," writer-director Ryan Coogler was only able to disclose a release date: May 6, 2022. For "Jungle Cruise," both Johnson and Emily Blunt bantered on stage about their theme park ride adaptation, showing a fair amount of teaser footage for the film coming to theaters next summer that they say is tonally similar to fun adventure epics such as "Indiana Jones" and "Romancing the Stone." And Emma Stone, via video message, teased that the "101 Dalmatians" spinoff "Cruella" has a "punk rock" vibe and is set in London in the 1970s.
The audience got extended looks at the live-action "Mulan," ''Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," the animated films "Raya and the Last Dragon" and "Frozen 2," which co-director Chris Buck said works together with "Frozen" to form "one complete film."
Various casting decisions were also announced in films across the brands. Evan Rachel Wood will be voicing the mother in "Frozen 2," and Sterling K. Brown is playing a character named Lieutenant Matthias. Kit Harington is officially on board to join the Marvel film "The Eternals," which will reunite him with his "Game of Thrones" co-star Richard Madden, as is "Crazy Rich Asians" star Gemma Chan. And Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad and Daveed Diggs are leading the voice cast for Pixar's jazz-themed film "Soul."
"Soul" director Pete Docter, taking the stage for the first time as Pixar's chief creative officer, said that in his nearly 30 years at Pixar they've come up with some "weird ideas."
"Rats who cook, robots who collect trash, old men who fly houses," Docter said. "Soul" continues that tradition, he said, asking the ultimate question: "Why am I here?"
"Who would make a film about that? Metaphysics?" Docter said with a chuckle. The film imagines that all humans graduate a "you seminar" pre-birth where they get their quirks, interests and passion. But with jazz musician Joe Gardner (Foxx), "there has to have been a mistake" that he grew up to be a middle school band teacher.
Jon Batiste is contributing original songs for the film and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are doing the score.
Expected in theaters in June 2020, "Soul" is one of two original Pixar films coming next year. The other is "Onward" about elf brothers voiced by Pratt and Holland. The audience screamed wildly for Holland when he took the stage. The cheers and shouts were not for his "Onward" role, but for another character whose Disney association is in jeopardy: Spider-Man.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the cross-studio partnership between Disney and Sony, which allowed Holland's Spider-Man to appear in Marvel films such as "Avengers: Endgame" and Marvel Studios to have a hand in producing stand-alone Spider-Man films like this summer's "Far From Home," was ending.
The timing of the Spider-Man turmoil was not lost on Holland, who went straight for the fans with a closing message from the stage quoting a line that Tony Stark says in "Endgame."
"Listen, it's been a crazy week but I want you to know, I am grateful from the bottom of my heart and I love you 3000," Holland said.
D23 runs through Sunday.
Anaheim, Aug 25 (AP/UNB) -Tom Holland has made an appearance at a Disney fan convention amid the news that Spider-Man will no longer be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the cross-studio partnership between Disney and Sony, which allowed Holland's Spider-Man to appear in Marvel films, was ending. Marvel also helped produce the stand-alone Spider-Man films such as this summer's "Far From Home."
Holland was not at D23 Saturday on behalf of Marvel however, but Pixar. He's voicing a role in the upcoming animated film "Onward."
The nearly 7,000 people in the audience screamed wildly for Holland. He did not address Spider-Man specifically but told the audience that it's been a crazy week and cryptically quoting Tony Stark in "Avengers: Endgame," added: "I love you 3000."
Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey are lending their voices to the new Pixar film "Soul."
Director Pete Docter announced the cast for the upcoming jazz-themed film Saturday at Disney's D23 fan convention in Anaheim that also includes Questlove, Daveed Diggs and Phylicia Rashad.
Docter, in his first appearance on stage as the chief creative officer of the shop behind "Toy Story," says that "Soul" imagines that every human attends a pre-birth seminar where they're given quirks, interests and passions.
Foxx voices the lead character Joe, who is a jazz musician and middle school band teacher.
Jon Batiste is contributing original songs for the film and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are doing the score.
"Soul" hits theaters in June 2020.
Writer and director Ryan Coogler says that "Black Panther 2" will hit theaters on May 6, 2022. Coogler made an appearance Saturday at the Walt Disney Co.'s D23 fan convention in Anaheim.
Coogler said he wasn't ready to reveal a title or a plot yet for the highly anticipated sequel to "Black Panther," which became a cultural phenomenon and grossed over $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige also announced that Kit Harington is joining the cast of "The Eternals," which will reunite him with his "Game of Thrones" co-star Richard Madden. Harington is playing a non-Eternal named Dane. "Crazy Rich Asians" star Gemma Chan has also joined the cast of the Marvel project which includes Angelina Jolie.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy says that "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker" is going to be an incredibly good time.
Nearly 7,000 people got a look Saturday at a new poster and some new footage from the film at the Walt Disney Co.'s biannual D23 fan convention in Anaheim.
The film which opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 20 closes out the over 40-year-old Skywalker saga. Kennedy was joined on the convention stage by writer-director J.J. Abrams and stars including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels.
R2-D2 evoked the most applause from the excited audience.
Abrams said that the late Carrie Fisher is also part of "Episode IX" thanks to unused footage from "Episode VII."
New York, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — A documentary about an Ohio auto glass factory that is run by a Chinese investor debuted Wednesday on Netflix as the streaming service's first project backed by Michelle and Barack Obama's new production company.
Filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert said they learned of the Obamas' interest after "American Factory" was shown at the Sundance film festival and they were pitching the film to Netflix. They were told the Obamas had screened it days earlier.
They're ecstatic about the support, and in an interview Wednesday were quick to dissuade anyone from the idea that the film is delivering a message either for or against any politician.
"They got what we were trying to do, which is to tell a story that sort of transcends the year-to-year politics," Bognar said.
Bognar and Julia Reichert, who live in the Dayton, Ohio, area where Fuyao Glass replaced an abandoned General Motors plant, said they were initially interested in exploring a culture clash, but the film deepened into a story about the rights of workers, globalization and automation.
The Fuyao plant, bought by Chinese industrialist Cao Dewang, employs some 2,200 American and 200 Chinese workers. The film gives a close-up look at how the cultures adjust to one another. At one point, a Chinese worker explains that Americans are slow because they have fat fingers. Many Chinese at the plant consider the Americans lazy. The Americans at the plant question what they see as Chinese workers unquestioned devotion to a company that robs them of time to enjoy life.
At the factory's opening ceremony, Dave Burrows, the vice president of the American factory, privately curses out Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown for suggesting that the Chinese owner be open to running a union shop. Two years later, after he's been fired, Burrows drives by the factory and bitterly notes that you can't spell Fuyao without an "f'' and "u."
Tensions rise when the factory doesn't initially meet production goals, culminating in a bitter fight over the right to unionize.
In one of the last scenes, an employee gives Cao a tour of the factory floor and boasts about how automation provides Fuyao with the opportunity to fire workers.
The name of the Obamas' company, Higher Ground, flashes by in the opening credits, but the Obamas themselves aren't mentioned anywhere. Neither is President Donald Trump.
Netflix worked in partnership with Higher Ground to acquire the film from Participant Media earlier this year, and gave no details about the financing. Netflix released a brief clip Wednesday of the Obamas discussing their interest in the project with the filmmakers.
"One of the many things I love about this film ... is that you let people tell their own story," the former first lady said. "'American Factory' doesn't come in with a perspective. It's not an editorial. I mean, you truly let people speak for themselves, and that is a powerful thing that you don't always see happen."
Former President Obama said that they want people to look outside of their own experiences to understand the lives of others.
That "is what a good story does," he said. "It helps all of us feel some solidarity with each other."
Reichert said she's seen some commentary that the Obamas were interested in the film as a criticism of Trump, and said that was stupid.
"It has zero to do with Trump or Obama, or the political scene at all," she said. "It's about the lives of average working people in the heartland. It's really a close up and intimate look at what globalization looks like."
One of the American workers is shown bonding with Chinese colleagues, inviting several to a Thanksgiving dinner and to drive his motorcycle. Later, the worker is fired because it took him too long to use a computer.
Reichter said she and Bognar were grateful to Cao for allowing them access to the factory. The company chairman mostly comes off as a cold-blooded capitalist, but one arresting scene toward the end shows him wrestling with his legacy.
"We hope that people realize that without empathy for people who are different from you, you're not going to solve the political divide," Bognar said. "We're not going to solve gaping problems in this world. You have to put yourself in someone else's shoes to help see and feel other people's points of view."
Los Angeles, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — Liam Hemsworth is seeking a divorce from Miley Cyrus after seven months of marriage.
The 29-year-old Australian actor filed for the dissolution of his marriage to the 26-year-old American pop star in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.
Hemsworth, whose attorney Laura Wasser has been involved in many major stars' divorces, cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split.
The two were an on-again, off-again couple for more than a decade before marrying in December. They announced their separation on Aug. 10.
They have no children but said in the statement announcing their separation that they will remain "dedicated parents to all of their animals they share."
Dhaka, Aug 21 (UNB) – Eminent actor and one of the most iconic film-personalities of Bangladesh, ‘Nayak Raj’ Razzak’s 2nd death anniversary has been observed on Wednesday. The beloved actor left the mundane world on this day in 2017, at the age of 75.
Marking the occasion, the artiste’s family arranged a programme which includes offering prayers at the actor’s graveyard at Banani and milad Mahfil.
Also, to commemorate and pay homage to the legendary actor, various socio-cultural organizations including Bangladesh Film Artiste and Directors Associations placed floral wraths on the actor’s grave at the Banani. Various organisations arranged programmes including discussion highlighting his remarkable life and works.
Several satellite television channels and Bangladesh Television aired his widely-popular movies to pay tribute to this legend of Bengali cinema.
Born on January 23, 1942, at Naktala of South Kolkata, Razzak became a very popular actor in both Bangladesh and West Bengal. He started his career as a member of the troupe Rongo Shobha Natya Dal. Later in 1961 he went to Mumbai to get a diploma at the Filmalaya Film Institute.
During the Kolkata communal violence known as the infamous Hindu-Muslim riot in 1966, he came to Dhaka as refugee along with his family and thus his life in Dhaka began as a blessing in disguise.
Razzak started his struggling life in Dhaka from the very beginning as an actor and assistant director. At this time, he worked in small roles in the successful films like Akheri Station and Tero Nombor Feku Ostagor Lane.
Legendary director Zahir Raihan finally gave Razzak first major break in his film Behula (1966) which launched him as the lead actor. Razzak was then serving as one of his assistants in the film’s set, and Zahir found him as the perfect one for the lead role. Since then, his career skyrocketed towards success.
His successful journey continued with films such as Abirbhab, Moynamoti, Taka Ana Pai, Dorpochurno and Jibon Theke Neya which is widely acclaimed as the national cinema of Bangladesh. He continued working on the films as a heart-throb in the industry with films such as Manusher Mon, Osru Diye Lekha, Ora Egaro Jon, Maynamati, Obujh Mon, Neel Akasher Niche, Chhutir Ghonta, Ashikkhito, Ki Je Kori, Boro Bhalo Lok Chhilo, Chandranath, Jogajog and Beimaan, to name a few.
He became the first action hero of the country with Zahirul Haq's Rongbaj, and by then Razzak's career started to become more versatile with ‘mold-breaking’ roles. At that time, he was given the title ‘Nayak Raj’ (King of Heroes), by prominent journalist Ahmed Zaman Chowdhury who was the editor of famous film magazine Chitrali in 1973.
Besides his monumental success as an actor, Razzak also had a pioneering career as a producer and director. He emerged as producer with the film Akankha in 1976 and debuted as a director with his film Ononto Prem in 1977. He established his own production company Rajlokkhi Productions and made several films from the banner.
Razzak, throughout his versatile career, won Bangladesh National Film Award five times as for best actor for his roles in the films Ki Je Kori (1976), Ashikkhito (1978), Boro Bhalo Lok Chhilo (1982), Chandranath (1984) and Jogajog (1988).
He was awarded the Independence Day Award in 2015 by the Government of Bangladesh. He was also awarded several lifetime achievement awards, most notably Indo-Bangla Kala Music Awards (2003), Bachshas Awards (2009), Meril Prothom Alo Awards (2014) and Tele Cine Awards in Kolkata (2017). He went on to become the first Bangladeshi actor to be a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador. Razzak later founded the Bangladesh Film Artistes' Association.
A devoted family-man, Razzak was married to Khairunnesa who was always called Laxmi by Razzak. Together they had three sons, Bapparaj, Bappi, and Samrat- and two daughters, Nasrin Pasha & Afrin Alam. His sons Bapparaj and Samrat became actors in the industry following their father’s glorious footsteps.