Disney delays Mulan, Avatar sequels and Star Wars trilogy

Disney has announced further delays to the release of Mulan and the Avatar sequels.The live-action Mulan remake, starring Yifei Liu and directed by Niki Caro, was scheduled to premiere in North America on 21 August, after previously being pushed back f…

Disney has announced further delays to the release of Mulan and the Avatar sequels.

The live-action Mulan remake, starring Yifei Liu and directed by Niki Caro, was scheduled to premiere in North America on 21 August, after previously being pushed back from July. However, with many cinemas remaining closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision has been made to pull the movie from the release schedule indefinitely.

The upcoming four Avatar sequels will also be delayed by a year, beginning with Avatar 2, which will now hit cinemas in December 2022.

Director James Cameron, who recently arrived back on the Avatar set in New Zealand to resume filming, has taken to Instagram to voice his thoughts on the postponement.

“There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me,” he wrote on the official Avatar account. “But I am buoyed by the incredible performances of our cast and the extraordinary work that Weta Digital is doing bringing the world of Pandora and the characters of the film to life.

“Most of all, I am grateful to you, our fans, for your support over the years and I promise that what we bring to cinemas will deliver.”

Cameron then ended his message by writing “thank you” in Na’vi, the language spoken by the inhabitants of the fictional moon Pandora in the movie.

Avatar 3 was previously slated for a December 2023 release, but that has now been changed to 2024, while Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 have been pushed to December 2027 and 2028 respectively.

Taika Waititi’s untitled Star Wars trilogy has also been rescheduled, with the first film in the series now due to hit theatres on 22 December 2023 – a year later than previously planned. The second and third movies are now slated for a 2025 and 2027 release.

On Thursday, Disney executives also removed Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch from their release calendar. The comedy was originally planned to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, before it was cancelled, and most recently had a release date of October.

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David Thewlis felt out of his depth shooting Avatar 2

David Thewlis felt “like a newcomer” filming Avatar 2 because he wasn’t used to working with motion capture technology. The Harry Potter actor was classically trained at stage school and has been working in film for more than 30 years, but all his exp…

David Thewlis felt “like a newcomer” filming Avatar 2 because he wasn’t used to working with motion capture technology.

The Harry Potter actor was classically trained at stage school and has been working in film for more than 30 years, but all his experience went out the window when he arrived to shoot the performance capture portion of James Cameron’s Avatar sequel in 2018 because he had no idea what he was doing.

“For the first time, I felt like a total newcomer, like it was my first job,” he told Total Film magazine. “I was on set having been working for 35 years on film sets and I was like, ‘So what do we do? What’s that doing here? Why is he doing that? Do we do it now?’ I felt very naive. And of course, I was, because none of the rules applied from everything I’ve learned.”

Cameron and his team had to develop brand-new technology that could blend underwater filming and performance capture as the majority of Avatar 2 is set underwater.

And Thewlis, who is playing an unknown member of the Na’vi race, admitted he is clueless about what he will look like in the finished product.

“I’ve got no idea what my scenes will be like because there are about 16 guys in the room with video cameras but they’re just shooting reference shots for Jim (Cameron) to look at later,” the 57-year-old said. “What those guys are shooting will never be on the screen, what’s being shot is obviously on these sensors… I’m fascinated to see how I’m going to look, because they sort of make them look a bit like oneself. It’s fantastic!”

The motion capture segment was completed at the end of 2018, and the live-action scenes were due to be shot in New Zealand this spring, but production was halted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, Cameron and producer Jon Landau announced they had arrived in the country to begin filming, following a two-week quarantine period.

Thewlis, Kate Winslet, and Vin Diesel are new additions to the franchise, which features Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver. Avatar 2 is still scheduled to hit cinemas in December 2021.

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James Cameron back in New Zealand to resume filming Avatar sequels

James Cameron has landed back in New Zealand to resume filming his Avatar sequels.The director, along with producer Jon Landau, arrived in the country to restart production, and the pair will now have to complete a mandatory 14-day government supervise…

James Cameron has landed back in New Zealand to resume filming his Avatar sequels.

The director, along with producer Jon Landau, arrived in the country to restart production, and the pair will now have to complete a mandatory 14-day government supervised quarantine.

“Made it to New Zealand. Our 14-day government supervised self-isolation now begins,” Landau captioned a photo on Twitter, which features him and Cameron wearing face masks and plastic visors as they departed the plane after the 13-hour flight.

Filming on the back-to-back sequels was halted in March amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, with the cast and crew sent home indefinitely as restrictions were imposed on countries around the world to stop the spread of the virus.

According to Variety, Cameron was able to negotiate his entry into the country – while the borders are still closed to almost all foreign travellers – because he used a border exemption clause for foreigners considered of “significant economic value”.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her swift response to the virus, with cases of infection barely over 1,000 and just 22 deaths.

Landau told local news website RNZ that he and Cameron were looking forward to going back to work in New Zealand because of the efforts taken to curb the spread of the virus.

“So we feel we’re coming back to the safest place in the world possible thanks to a team of people that we’ve worked with. We believe we have a very thoughtful, detailed and diligent safety plan that will keep everybody as safe as possible in these unprecedented times,” he explained.

Avatar 2 is set for release in December 2021.

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Doug Liman to direct Tom Cruise’s space movie

Doug Liman is to direct Tom Cruise in a movie filmed in space. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Mission: Impossible actor was teaming up with Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX and officials at America’s National Aeronautics and Space Ad…

Doug Liman is to direct Tom Cruise in a movie filmed in space.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Mission: Impossible actor was teaming up with Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX and officials at America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to make the first-ever feature film to be shot in outer space, and the news was swiftly confirmed by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, who revealed it would be filmed on the International Space Station (ISS).

Now, editors at Deadline have revealed that Cruise came up with the idea with his frequent collaborator Liman, who has directed the actor in Edge of Tomorrow and American Made. In addition to directing, Liman is also writing the first draft of the screenplay and will produce alongside Cruise.

However, back in 2018, The Terminator director James Cameron revealed to Empire magazine that he discussed making a movie on the ISS with Cruise many years ago.

“I actually talked to (Cruise) about doing a space film in space, about 15 years ago,” he said. “I said, ‘Tom, you and I, we’ll get two seats on the Soyuz (spacecraft), but somebody’s gotta train us as engineers.’ Tom said, ‘No problem, I’ll train as an engineer.’ We had some ideas for the story, but it was still conceptual.”

Liman and Cruise, who are both pilots, have work on other projects to complete before focusing on the space movie. Liman, who has also directed Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, is currently in post-production on Chaos Walking, starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, while Cruise is to reprise his role as Ethan Hunt for two more Mission: Impossible movies, which were due to begin filming before the coronavirus caused the production to shut down. He will also be heading out on a promotional tour for Top Gun: Maverick, which was pushed from summer to December due to the health crisis.

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Avatar cast and crew returning to New Zealand to resume filming

The cast and crew of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are heading back to New Zealand to resume filming.Production on the movies, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, was shut down indefinitely in March due to the ongoing coronavi…

The cast and crew of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are heading back to New Zealand to resume filming.

Production on the movies, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, was shut down indefinitely in March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And as producer Jon Landau took to social media on Thursday to reveal a new image of water vessels used in the movie, he confirmed that filming would begin again later this month.

“Our Avatar sets are ready – and we couldn’t be more excited to be headed back to New Zealand next week,” he wrote. “Check out the Matador, a high-speed forward command vessel (bottom) and the Picador jetboat (top) – can’t wait to share more.”

The Avatar sequels will be the first major films to resume production after almost all Hollywood movies were shut down in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which has infected more than five million people worldwide since the outbreak began in December.

Filming the latest instalments in the sci-fi fantasy drama had alternated between studios in Auckland and Wellington, according to editors at Variety.

Staff at visual effects firm Weta Digital, which is based in Wellington, continued to work on the sequels during the shutdown.

Avatar 2, which also features Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel, David Thewlis, and Michelle Yeoh, is due to be released in December 2021, with three more sequels slated to hit cinemas in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

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James Cameron remains hopeful Avatar 2 will be released in December 2021

James Cameron is hopeful Avatar 2 will be ready for release in December 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic delaying production. The Terminator director has been working on follow-ups to the 2009 sci-fi movie for the past few years and completed the…

James Cameron is hopeful Avatar 2 will be ready for release in December 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic delaying production.

The Terminator director has been working on follow-ups to the 2009 sci-fi movie for the past few years and completed the motion capture portion of production on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 last year. He was about to fly to New Zealand to shoot the live-action scenes when the coronavirus pandemic hit and production was shut down.

However, despite the setback, Cameron is optimistic he can still make the film’s scheduled cinema release of 17 December 2021.

“It’s putting a major crimp in our stride here,” he told Empire magazine. “I want to get back to work on Avatar, which right now we’re not allowed to do under state emergency laws or rules. So, it’s all on hold right now. We were about to shoot down in New Zealand, so that got pushed. We’re trying to get back to it as quick as we can.

“On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing. There’s a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still (release it on schedule). So that’s good news.”

Cameron added that digital effects teams are continuing to work on the feature from home, while he has been able to do some editing.

Fortunately for the filmmaker, officials at the New Zealand Film Commission recently announced that productions in the country would be allowed to start filming again this month given the reduced spread of Covid-19.

Original Avatar stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver are all set to return for the sequel, while new additions include Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel.

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Tom Cruise to shoot movie aboard International Space Station

Tom Cruise will shoot his space movie aboard the International Space Station (ISS). On Tuesday, editors at Deadline reported that the Mission: Impossible actor was teaming up with Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX and officials at America’s Nationa…

Tom Cruise will shoot his space movie aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

On Tuesday, editors at Deadline reported that the Mission: Impossible actor was teaming up with Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX and officials at America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to make the first-ever feature film to be shot in outer space.

NASA confirmed the news later that day, with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine revealing that the movie, or at least part of it, will be filmed on the ISS.

“NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station,” Bridenstine tweeted. “We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.”

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite and research laboratory in low Earth orbit which is a joint project between space agencies in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, and Japan.

Back in 2018, The Terminator director James Cameron revealed to Empire magazine that he discussed making a movie on the ISS with Cruise many years ago.

“I actually talked to (Cruise) about doing a space film in space, about 15 years ago,” he said. “I had a contract with the Russians in 2000 to go to the International Space Station and shoot a high-end 3D documentary there. And I thought, ‘S**t, man, we should just make a feature.’ I said, ‘Tom, you and I, we’ll get two seats on the Soyuz (spacecraft), but somebody’s gotta train us as engineers.’ Tom said, ‘No problem, I’ll train as an engineer.’ We had some ideas for the story, but it was still conceptual.”

According to Deadline, the movie will be an action-adventure story and won’t be another instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

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Christoph Waltz ‘disappointed’ over lack of Alita: Battle Angel sequel

Christoph Waltz is “little disappointed” that he hasn’t heard anything about a sequel to Alita: Battle Angel.The manga adaptation, directed by Robert Rodriguez, starred Rosa Salazar as the titular cyborg who awakens in Iron City in a new body with no m…

Christoph Waltz is “little disappointed” that he hasn’t heard anything about a sequel to Alita: Battle Angel.

The manga adaptation, directed by Robert Rodriguez, starred Rosa Salazar as the titular cyborg who awakens in Iron City in a new body with no memory of her past, and sets out on a mission to uncover her destiny.

The movie made more than $404 million (£326 million) worldwide when it was released in February last year, and fans were so enamoured with the big-screen version of Japanese manga artist Yukito Kishiro’s creation that they flew a banner over the Academy Awards that same year to try to persuade Disney to make a sequel.

Waltz played scientist Dr. Dyson Ido in the movie, which was produced by James Cameron, and the actor recently told Collider that he would jump at the chance to reprise his character for a follow-up.

“Of course! Of course I would! But, you know, I’m as wise as you are. I haven’t heard anything and I’m a little disappointed and surprised that I haven’t heard a thing so far, because I know that it has followers,” the Oscar-winning actor shared. “I know that people liked it and aside from what others said, I loved it and I liked working on it and I liked the result.”

The German-Austrian star went on to say that because Fox, which was the studio behind Alita, had since been bought by Disney, he felt that the sci-fi action movie wasn’t fitting with their image anymore.

“You know, it was Fox and Fox doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s Disney. Maybe it doesn’t fit into the Disneyfication, but I have no clue. I have no clue. Maybe they’re working on something and I wouldn’t be the first person to hear, but meanwhile, I haven’t heard anything,” Waltz stated.

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James Cameron suspends production on Avatar sequels

James Cameron has suspended production on his Avatar sequels in New Zealand.The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Oscar-winning director to halt filming indefinitely, producer Jon Landau confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.Landau said they were d…

James Cameron has suspended production on his Avatar sequels in New Zealand.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Oscar-winning director to halt filming indefinitely, producer Jon Landau confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.

Landau said they were due to shoot footage for the four sequels to the 2009 sci-fi movie at Stone Street Studios in the city of Wellington next month, but have decided to stay in Los Angeles instead.

“We’ve delayed it. We had plans to come down Friday night with a group of people and start back up, and we made the decision to hold off and continue working here (in Los Angeles), and come down there a little bit later than we’d planned,” Landau said.

“We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the curve.”

Staff at visual effects firm Weta Digital, which is based in Wellington, will continue to work on the sequels during the shutdown.

It’s not yet known when filming will start up again, but Landau insisted he and Cameron are assessing the production schedule “everyday, because that’s how quickly things change.”

“We try and monitor all this and look at things and think about what is in the best interest of our crew. I call it our Avatar family. That is really paramount to us above anything,” he explained.

Avatar 2, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, and Sigourney Weaver, is due to be released in December 2021, with three more sequels slated to hit cinemas in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

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Linda Hamilton would ‘love to be done’ with Terminator franchise

Linda Hamilton would be happy to “never return” to The Terminator franchise.The 63-year-old reprised her iconic role of Sarah Connor after nearly three decades for 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, which received strong reviews but disappointed at the box …

Linda Hamilton would be happy to “never return” to The Terminator franchise.

The 63-year-old reprised her iconic role of Sarah Connor after nearly three decades for 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, which received strong reviews but disappointed at the box office – putting creator James Cameron’s plans for a trilogy in jeopardy.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hamilton admitted she wasn’t hopeful for another instalment and would be fine if one never came to fruition.

“I would really appreciate maybe a smaller version where so many millions are not at stake,” she said. “Today’s audience is just so unpredictable. I can’t tell you how many laymen just go, ‘Well, people don’t go to the movies anymore.’ That’s not Hollywood analysis; that just comes out of almost everybody’s mouth.

“It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture, but I would be quite happy to never return. So, no, I am not hopeful because I would really love to be done. But, if there were something new that really spoke to me, I am a logical person, and I will always consider viable changes.”

While promoting the movie, the Dante’s Peak star revealed that she took a lot of convincing from director Tim Miller to return to the franchise for the first time since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and joked that she would rather pretend to be dead than play Connor again.

“I’ve been threatening to fake my own death so I wouldn’t have to do the next one if there is one. It really was hard, it was the hardest and the greatest I’ve ever done,” Hamilton laughed on U.K. chat show Lorraine.

Since the film’s release in October, Miller has stated that he would never work with Cameron, who served as a producer, ever again as they clashed over many creative decisions.

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