Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Adapted from a popular sci-fi novel, Chinese futuristic romance "Shanghai Fortress" is set to open in Chinese theaters on Friday, according to the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association.
Starring actress Shu Qi and singer-turned-actor Lu Han, the film tells of the city of Shanghai's battle to defend itself against an attack by an alien force that has laid siege to numerous cities around the globe in its quest to harvest a hidden energy only found on earth.
It is another high-profile movie to join the new club of China's domestic sci-fi movies, whose combined box offices are predicted to surpass those of foreign imports this year in an "unprecedented" development in China's movie history, according to an industry report released at Shanghai International Film Festival in June.
Earlier this year, "The Wandering Earth," with a box office of 4.6 billion yuan (about 670 million U.S. dollars), became China's second highest-grossing movie of all time, spurring heated discussions about the advent of a new era of China's sci-fi blockbusters.
New York, Aug 4 (AP/UNB) — The first spinoff of the 18-year-old "Fast & Furious" franchise, "Hobbs and Shaw," has pocketed $60.8 million in its North American debut and another $120 million internationally.
That's the smallest domestic opening for a "Fast & Furious" film since 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift." But the $200 million Universal Pictures release is aiming to do its largest damage abroad. It opens in China, where "Fast & Furious" films have excelled, on August 23.
"The Lion King" slid to second in its third weekend with $38.2 million. The Disney remake earlier this week crossed $1 billion worldwide.
In third is Quentin Tarantino's 1969 fable "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," which held strong with $20 million in its second weekend.
Dhaka, Aug 3 (UNB) - Actor Milo Ventimiglia has revealed Warner Bros did not cast him in the role of Batman because the studio felt he was “too old” to play the caped crusader.
After Ben Affleck’s decision to quit the role, Ventimiglia, 42, auditioned for the part which ultimately went to Robert Pattinson.
‘Do I see myself in a cape and cowl? Warner Bros didn’t. They were looking for a new Batman and they said, ‘Ventimiglia, you’re too old.’ That’s OK, it doesn’t matter. I’m kind of busy, it’s Ok,” the This Is Us star said on Variety’s The Big Ticket podcast.
Ventimiglia said he has no plans in near future to audition for another superhero part because he is enjoying playing real-life heroes.
”The superhero world? Maybe I’m just playing real-life superheroes right now. Jack Pearson, Denny Swift. They’re real attainable superheroes, that are out there in the open representing good guys and good fathers,” he added.
Pattinson will make his debut as the DC superhero with The Batman, which is slated for release in 2021.
New York, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Add an "e'' and "Hobbs & Shaw" might have been a time-traveling thriller about playwright George Bernard Shaw and 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
Tantalizing as such a pairing may have been to the makers of "Fast & Furious," they have instead opted to, in the franchise's first spinoff, combine two of the series' supporting standouts, Dwayne Johnson's U.S. government agent Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham's former British agent Deckard Shaw, for another ballet of Buicks and bullets. Probably a wise choice. It's difficult to imagine the writer of "Pygmalion" careening down the side of a skyscraper in hot pursuit of Idris Elba.
And when it comes to high-octane action spectacles, few are better suited to the task than The Rock and Statham, who both make up with brawn and charisma what they lack in hair. In the "Fast & Furious" franchise, which now numbers eight films and more than $5 billion in box office, they've found a comfortable home — aside any headaches for Johnson caused by co-star Vin Diesel.
That friction between Johnson and Diesel was reportedly part of the benefit of this pit stop, without the whole gang, in between continuing "Fast & Furious" adventures. But those off-camera tiffs are also perfect for the speedy but soapy "Fast & Furious" world, where family squabbles and questions of loyalty play out in between death-defying automotive stunts.
If "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" has a hard road to travel, it's because the franchise has consistently ratcheted up its stunt game. One of the real pleasures of the last decade's blockbuster parade has been to watch the "Fast & Furious" movies morph from a more simple L.A. street-racing tale into an increasingly absurd and over-the-top action extravaganza of muscle cars and muscle, where hot rods don't just go fast but occasionally leap between buildings and parachute from the sky. "Hobbs & Shaw" seeks to answer that age-old question: What do you do for your next act after you've blown up a submarine with a Dodge?
"Hobbs & Shaw" has some nifty moves (in one scene, a Chevy flies a helicopter like a kite), but it's slightly disappointing in terms of sheer ridiculousness. It earns some points for a centerpiece showdown, seemingly designed for "Chernobyl" fans, set among reactors at a Russian nuclear power plant. But at this point, we expect — no, demand — to see Lamborghinis on the moon.
Instead, the entertainment of "Hobbs & Shaw," directed by stunt coordinator-turned-director David Leitch ("Deadpool 2," ''Atomic Blonde"), rests more with its cast, including its two leads. But just as significant are two major new additions: Elba's villain, a cyborg mercenary named Brixton, and Shaw's sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent whose theft of a super virus from Brixton sets the globe-trotting plot in motion.
Hobbs and Shaw are called in to the save the world, a job they are both eager for. (Hobbs says, seriously, that he had been "tracking some dark web chatter" on the virus.) But it's a partnership they loath. If "Hobbs & Shaw" lacks in memorable stunt work, it tries to make it up with bickering and put-downs between the two, a shtick that vacillates between funny and tiresome. But it's the kind of stuff Johnson excels at.
They also have reinforcements. Elba's character, who boasts digital eyes and a self-driving motorcycle, takes the franchise in a more sci-fi direction that doesn't fit the street-level nature of "Fast & Furious." But Elba is never not an imposing presence; the movie straightens up whenever he's in it.
With such titans as Elba and Johnson in the movie, it's a wonder how smoothly and completely Kirby stakes her claim, too. In a movie full of the expected, she's the happy surprise and a breath of fresh air. In the miles between "The Crown" and "Hobbs & Shaw," Kirby has swiftly proven herself capable of an extraordinary range.
The chemistry between the four, along with welcome comic cameos from Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart, fuel "Hobbs & Shaw" more than its mostly familiar action scenes and plot turns. It's a herky-jerky ride, with genial company.
Usually, it's pleasingly aware of its own silliness. But there are blind spots. The third act shifts to an old-school fight in Samoa and speeches about having "heart" that build on a man vs. machine dynamic set up by Elba's part-robot character. But if ever there was a movie franchise that believes, with operatic fervor, in well-oiled machines, it's "Fast & Furious."
"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language. Running time: 136 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
New York, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Harold Prince, a Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theater with such groundbreaking shows as "The Phantom of the Opera," ''Cabaret," ''Company" and "Sweeney Todd" and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards, has died. Prince was 91.
Prince's publicist Rick Miramontez said Prince died Wednesday after a brief illness in Reykjavik, Iceland. He was in transit from Europe to New York. Broadway marquees will dim their lights in his honor Wednesday night.
Prince was known for his fluid, cinematic director's touch and was unpredictable and uncompromising in his choice of stage material. He often picked challenging, offbeat subjects to musicalize, such as a murderous, knife-wielding barber who baked his victims in pies or the 19th-century opening of Japan to the West.
Along the way, he helped create some of Broadway's most enduring musical hits, first as a producer of such shows as "The Pajama Game," ''Damn Yankees," ''West Side Story," ''A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Fiddler on the Roof." He later became a director, overseeing such landmark musicals as "Cabaret," ''Company," ''Follies," ''Sweeney Todd," ''Evita" and "The Phantom of the Opera."
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, reached by phone Wednesday, told The Associated Press that it was impossible to overestimate the importance of Prince to the stage. "All of modern musical theater owes practically everything to him."
Lloyd Webber recalled that, as a young man, he had written the music for the flop "Jeeves" and was feeling low. Prince wrote him a letter urging him not to be discouraged. The two men later met and Lloyd Webber said he was thinking of next doing a musical about Evita Peron. Prince told him to bring it to him first. "That was game-changing for me. Without that, I often wonder where I would be," Lloyd Webber said.
Tributes also poured in from generations of Broadway figures, including "The Band's Visit" composer David Yazbek, who called Prince "a real giant," and the performer Bernadette Peters, who called it a "sad day." ''Seinfeld" alum Jason Alexander, who was directed by Prince in "Merrily We Roll Along," said Prince "reshaped American theater and today's giants stand on his shoulders."
Composer Jason Robert Brown hailed Prince's "commitment and an enthusiasm and a work ethic and an endless well of creative passion." Actress Carolee Carmello said he "lit up a room like no one I've ever known and I always felt so lucky when I was in that room."
In addition to Lloyd Webber, Prince, known by friends as Hal, worked with some of the best-known composers and lyricists in musical theater, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, John Kander and Fred Ebb, and, most notably, Stephen Sondheim.
"I don't do a lot of analyzing of why I do something," Prince once told The Associated Press. "It's all instinct."
Only rarely, he said, did he take on an idea just for the money, and they "probably were bad ideas in the first place. Theater is not about that. It is about creating something. The fact that some of my shows have done so well is sheer luck."
During his more than 50-year career, Prince received a record 21 Tony Awards, including two special Tonys — one in 1972 when "Fiddler" became Broadway's longest running musical then, and another in 1974 for a revival of "Candide." He also was a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.
He earned a reputation as a detail-heavy director. Barbara Cook in her memoir "Then & Now" wrote: "I admire him greatly, but he also did not always make things easy, for one basic reason: he wants to direct every detail of your performance down to the way you crook your pinky finger."
A musical about Prince called "Prince of Broadway" opened in Japan in 2015 featuring songs from many of the shows that made him famous. It landed on Broadway in 2017.
It was with Sondheim, who was the lyricist for "West Side Story," that Prince developed his most enduring creative relationship. He produced "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1962), the first Broadway show for which Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics.
They cemented their partnership in 1970 with "Company." Prince produced and directed this innovative, revue-like musical that followed the travails of Bobby, a perpetual New York bachelor ever searching for the right woman.
"Company" was followed in quick succession by "Follies" (1971), which Prince co-directed with Michael Bennett; "A Little Night Music" (1973); "Pacific Overtures" (1976); and "Sweeney Todd" (1979).
Their work together stopped in 1981 after the short-lived "Merrily We Roll Along," which lasted only 16 performances. It wasn't to resume until 2003 when Prince and Sondheim collaborated on "Bounce," a musical about the adventure-seeking Mizner brothers that had a troubled birth and finally made it off-Broadway as "Road Show."
Prince was mentored by two of the theater's most experienced professionals — director George Abbott and producer Robert E. Griffith.
"I've had a unique life in the theater, uniquely lucky," Prince said in his midlife autobiography, "Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre," which was published in 1974. "I went to work for George Abbott in 1948, and I was fired on Friday that year from a television job in his office. I was rehired the following Monday, and I've never been out of work since."
Born in New York on Jan. 30, 1928, Prince was the son of affluent parents, for whom Saturday matinees in the theater with their children were a regular occurrence. A production of "Julius Caesar" starring Orson Welles when he was 8 taught him there was something special about theater.
"I've had theater ambitions all of my life," he said in his memoir. "I cannot go back so far that I don't remember where I wanted to work."
After a stint in the Army during the Korean War (he kept his dog-tags on his office desk), he returned to Broadway, serving as stage manager on Abbott's 1953 production of "Wonderful Town," starring Rosalind Russell.
The following year, he started producing with Griffith. Their first venture, "The Pajama Game," starring John Raitt and Janis Paige, was a big hit, running 1,063 performances. They followed in 1955 with another musical smash, "Damn Yankees," featuring Gwen Verdon as the seductive Lola.
In 1957, Prince did "West Side Story," a modern-day version of "Romeo and Juliet" told against the backdrop of New York gang warfare. Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and with a score by Bernstein and Sondheim, it, too, was acclaimed.
Yet even its success was dwarfed by "Fiddler on the Roof" (1964), which Prince produced and Robbins directed and choreographed. Set in Czarist Russia, the Bock-Harnick musical starred Zero Mostel as the Jewish milkman forced to confront challenges to his way of life.
Prince had gotten his first opportunity to direct on Broadway in 1962. The musical was "A Family Affair," a little-remembered show about the travails of a Jewish wedding. Its Broadway run was short — only 65 performances — but "A Family Affair" gave Prince a chance to work with composer John Kander.
Four years later, Kander would provide the music for one of Prince's biggest successes, "Cabaret," based on Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories."
And it was "Cabaret" that established Prince as a director of first rank. With its use of a sleazy master of ceremonies (portrayed by Joel Grey), the musical juxtaposed its raunchy nightclub numbers with the stories of people living in Berlin as the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s.
"I became a producer because fate took me there, and I was delighted," Prince recalled in his book. "I used producing to become what I wanted to be, a director. (Ultimately, I hired myself, which is more than anyone else would do.)"
As he became more interested in directing, he withdrew from producing altogether.
Among his more notable achievements: "On the Twentieth Century" (1978) and two of Lloyd Webber's biggest hits, "Evita" (1979), starring Patti LuPone as the charismatic Argentinian, and "The Phantom of the Opera," in London (1986), New York (1988) and around the world.
"Phantom" is the longest-running musical on Broadway and hit producer Cameron Mackintosh noted that in a statement mourning Prince's death: "The Gods of the theater salute you, Hal."
Prince was a champion of imagination in the theater and tried never to rely on technology to give his shows pop, preferring canvas to LEDs.
"I believe the theater should take advantage of the limitations of scenery and totally unlimited imagination of the person who is sitting in the audience," he told the AP in 2015. "I like what the imagination does in the theater."
He explained that in one scene of "Phantom of the Opera" in London, candles come up at different times thanks to stage workers cranking ancient machinery, but on Broadway that function was automated.
"I would sit in the house and I'd see the candles come up. Something told me that was not as exciting as when the candles came up in London," he said. "So I said, 'Let's make this tiniest adjustment so they don't all come up at exactly the same time.' Now, no one knows that. No one could care less. But it meant something to me."
Prince worked for the expansive Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky, overseeing productions of the Tony-winning "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1993), a lavish remounting of "Show Boat" (1994) and a short-lived revival of "Candide" (1997).
Yet there were creative misfires, too. Among his more notorious flops was the five-performance "A Doll's Life," a musical follow-up to Ibsen's "A Doll's House." It began where the play ends, when Nora walks out on her husband. And Prince directed the American production of Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down the Wind" (1997), which didn't get past its Washington tryout, although the London production, with a different director, had a longer run.
Prince also worked as an opera director, with productions at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Chicago Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera and more. And he directed two films, "Something for Everyone" (1970) and a screen version of "A Little Night Music" (1977).
"To be both a genius and a gentleman is rare and extraordinary," said Thomas Schumacher, chairman of The Broadway League. "Hal Prince's genius was matched by his generosity of spirit, particularly with those building a career."
Prince is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy; his daughter, Daisy; his son, Charles; and his grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy, and Felix.