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JJ Abrams’ Your Name remake fuels fears of Hollywood ‘whitewash’



Prospect of Star Wars director remaking universally acclaimed Japanese animation prompts backlash among film fans

The recent announcement that Star Wars director JJ Abrams is to make a live-action version of the record-breaking animated film Your Name has prompted a backlash among fans of the original who fear another Hollywood whitewash of a Japanese masterpiece.

Makoto Shinkais fantasy about a teenage girl living in a picturesque but unexciting village and a Tokyo schoolboy who are drawn together by gender-swapping dreams has proved a global hit since its release in Japan last year and made more at the box office than any other animated film in history.

The universally positive reception to its visual brilliance and a storyline that skilfully combines body-swapping, the search for love and a dramatic attempt to save a town from destruction have prompted talk of Shinkai as the successor to the acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki.

The prospect of a Hollywood remake of Your Name which made $350m in 90 countries has been greeted with both intrigue and concern over the possible loss of the films distinctively Japanese flavour, from its Radwimps original soundtrack to Shinkais painstakingly recreated Tokyo landmarks and scenes from Nagano prefecture, where he grew up.

Abrams production team includes Genki Kawamura, a producer on the original, but fans on social media have voiced concerns that his version will follow in the footsteps of remakes of the classic Japanese manga Death Note and the anime Ghost in the Shell.

Scarlett Johanssons casting as the cyborg heroine in Ghost in the Shell drew ridicule, while the decision to replace the Tokyo backdrop to Death Note with Seattle and use an almost all-white cast, forced its director, Adam Wingard, to deny accusations of whitewashing.

One commenter on the Japan Today website said: This just shows how bankrupt Hollywood creativity is … they are even willing to raid anime and manga.

Another wrote: Hollywood: Stop trying to profit off of the work of others by remaking old movies, or in this case, a movie that is less than a year old which is too damn soon!

One Twitter user demanded that Abrams release the names of the cast in advance so we know its not whitewashed. Another suggested the remake was being planned with unseemly haste although no release date has been announced while there was tongue-in-cheek speculation over who might be chosen to play Taki Tachibana, the Tokyo schoolboy who swaps bodies with Mitsuha Miyamizu.

Some critics saw the film as an opportunity for Hollywood to redeem itself after the controversies surrounding Death Note and Ghost in the Shell.

Simply transliterating Mitsuha and Takis star-crossed friendship into English, relocating it to the Pacific Northwest, and hoping for the best would be a disaster of its own, David Ehrlich wrote on the IndieWire website.

But, he added, the idea of borrowing and building upon narratives from other nations is considerably older than the movies themselves, and when done right can be one of the most beautiful things about storytelling.

Shinkai said he was looking forward to seeing how Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would adapt his film.

Your Name was created with the innate imaginations of a Japanese team and put together in a domestic medium, Shinkai said. But he added: When such a work is imbued with Hollywood filmmaking, we may see new possibilities that we had been completely unaware of.

Abrams Bad Robot Productions will collaborate with Toho, the animes Japanese distributor, and Paramount Pictures, to remake Your Name.

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Madonna to direct movie based on life of ballerina Michaela DePrince



MGM announces the singer will direct Taking Flight, the story of DePrinces journey from war orphan in Sierra Leone to world-class ballerina

Madonna is to return to the movies after a seven-year absence to direct Taking Flight, a feature film based on the life of Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who became a leading ballerina.

According to Deadline, Hollywood studio MGM has been developing the project since 2015 when it acquired the rights to DePrinces memoir, co-written with her adoptive mother, Elaine.

Michaelas journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity, Madonna said. We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone, and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honoured to bring her story to life.

Ballet dancer Michaela DePrince in Johannesburg, in 2012. Photograph: Gallo Images/Rex/Shutterstock

DePrince, 23, lost both of her parents in Sierra Leones civil war when she was three years old. The following year, she was adopted by a New Jersey couple and brought to the US, where she developed a passion for ballet. She was one of the stars of 2011 documentary First Position, about young ballet hopefuls, and is a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet and Opera. She also appeared in Beyoncs music video album, Lemonade.

We were immediately awestruck by Michaelas journey and know Madonnas vision and passion for the material will deliver a film that inspires audiences everywhere, said producer Leslie Morgenstein.

No cast or released date has yet been finalised. Camilla Blackett, writer of the comedy series Fresh Off the Boat, will write the screenplay.

Madonna is the bestselling female recording artist of all time but her movie career has been more chequered, especially behind the camera. Her 2008 feature debut, Filth and Wisdom, was described by the Guardians Peter Bradshaw as a dumb and tacky comedy-drama about three people sharing a flat in a quaintly conceived London. Its follow-up, 2011s WE, in which Andrea Riseborough played Wallis Simpson, was also critically panned, with Bradshaw describing it as one long humourless and necrophiliac swoon at the Windsors supposed tragi-romantic glamour.

Madonna wrote, produced and narrated 2008 documentary I Am Because We Are, about children in Malawi orphaned by the Aids epidemic. She has adopted four children from Malawi, including twin girls in 2017.

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‘Black Panther’ Hits $1 Billion Mark In Worldwide Box Office Numbers



“Black Panther” has surpassed $1 billion at the worldwide box office, challenging industry norms about films with black casts. 

The Marvel blockbuster passed the major benchmark on Friday, Forbes reports.

The film is now the United States’ ninth highest-grossing film of all time, and had the second-largest four-day domestic opening weekend. “Black Panther” brought in $242 million in the U.S. over Presidents Day weekend, behind the $288 million “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made when it opened in 2015. 

The international success of “Black Panther” has challenged the myth that films with predominately black casts don’t sell  and it helps unravel “unwritten Hollywood rules,” Jeff Bock, a senior analyst at entertainment research firm Exhibitor Relations, told The New York Times.

“I think about it like a wall crumbling,” Bock said. “In terms of ‘Black Panther,’ no studio can say again, ’Oh, black movies don’t travel, overseas interest will be minimal.’”

Stars of the film, including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, have spoken out about the importance of representation in the movie. “Black Panther,” which is set in the fictional country of Wakanda, shows the possibilities of an African society untouched by colonialism and gender inequity. 

“I think there’s a thirst for these images,” Boseman told NBC. “There’s a real thirst for black superheroes.” 

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed this week that a “Black Panther” sequel is in the works. Feige told Entertainment Weekly that there was “nothing specific to reveal” about the next movie but added that “we absolutely will do that.”


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Keegan-Michael Key’s reaction to Jordan Peele’s Oscar win will make you emotional



Find yourself a friend who loves you this much.

Jordan Peele had a historic moment last night when he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his debut solo film, Get Out. 

He became the first African-American screenwriter to win this category—and no one was prouder of him than his old Key and Peele partner, Keegan-Michael Key.

Key and Peele were the creators of the aptly titled sketch comedy series that ran on Comedy Central for five seasons, from 2012 to 2015.

Key was absolutely thrilled to see his “partner in laughs” snag his first Oscar.

Just look at that ecstatic jump!