Universal denies halting production on Jurassic World: Dominion over positive Covid-19 tests

A Universal Pictures representative has denied halting production on Jurassic World: Dominion due to crewmembers testing positive for Covid-19. The third instalment in the Jurassic World franchise became the first movie to resume filming in the U.K. f…

A Universal Pictures representative has denied halting production on Jurassic World: Dominion due to crewmembers testing positive for Covid-19.

The third instalment in the Jurassic World franchise became the first movie to resume filming in the U.K. following the coronavirus lockdown when the cast and crew went back to set at Pinewood Studios outside of London at the start of last week.

However, it was reported by Britain’s The Sun newspaper on Friday that production had already been forced to shut down due to positive Covid-19 tests among the crew.

A representative for Universal, the studio behind the movie, denied the report in a statement to Variety.

“Any reports indicating that Jurassic World: Dominion has halted production are categorically untrue,” said the spokesperson. “The production is in its fifth day of shooting today, and we’re thrilled to be back in front of the camera on this incredible project.”

The movie, starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, alongside original Jurassic Park stars Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, was four weeks into its 20-week production when filming first shut down in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Variety reported that Universal would be implementing new safety procedures to keep the Pinewood Studios set free from Covid-19, with a $5 million (£4 million) testing operation in place.

However, despite the fact that the British government has waived quarantine restrictions for those working on major Hollywood productions in the country in a bid to let shoots get underway as quickly as possible, 72-year-old star Neill has decided to spend 14 days in quarantine following his arrival from New Zealand, with him telling The Guardian, “I feel it’s incumbent upon me to do so. It’s only fair.”

The movie is set to hit cinemas in June 2021.

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Cinema chain to boycott Universal films over Trolls World Tour comments

AMC Theatres will no longer play any films from Universal Pictures after studio bosses decided to release movies in cinemas and at home at the same time. Before the coronavirus pandemic struck and theatres were forced to close, executives traditionall…

AMC Theatres will no longer play any films from Universal Pictures after studio bosses decided to release movies in cinemas and at home at the same time.

Before the coronavirus pandemic struck and theatres were forced to close, executives traditionally waited 90 days after a film’s theatrical release to make it available on video-on-demand.

However, Universal bosses had to rethink their plan for animated sequel Trolls World Tour and ultimately decided to skip the cinema stage and release it directly on premium video-on-demand (PVOD). And on Tuesday, they revealed it had made $100 million (£80.5 million) in rentals in its first three weeks of release in North America, meaning the film could be heading towards profitability.

In a Wall Street Journal article about the film’s success, NBCUniversal chief executive officer Jeff Shell suggested that Universal won’t respect the 90-day theatrical window anymore, and stated: “The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD… as soon as theatres reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

In response to Shell’s comments, Adam Aron, chairman and chief executive officer of AMC Theatres, the largest movie chain in the world, wrote a letter to the chairwoman of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, announcing the boycott and insisting the ban isn’t “some hollow or ill-considered threat”.

“Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes,” Aron said, adding that he is willing to have a meeting with Universal to discuss strategies.

A Universal Pictures spokesperson said they were “disappointed” by the decision.

“We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary,” they said. “As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theatres, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense.”

If AMC stands firm with the boycott, it won’t show upcoming Universal films such as Fast and Furious 9, Minions: The Rise of Gru, or Jurassic World: Dominion.

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Minions: The Rise of Gru release postponed until 2021

The release of Minions: The Rise of Gru has been postponed until July 2021.On Wednesday, bosses at Universal Pictures announced the decision to bump the animated sequel from this July to next, amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.The movie, featuring …

The release of Minions: The Rise of Gru has been postponed until July 2021.

On Wednesday, bosses at Universal Pictures announced the decision to bump the animated sequel from this July to next, amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The movie, featuring the vocal talents of Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Julie Andrews and Taraji P. Henson, serves as a prequel to the 2015 film Minions and a prequel to the main Despicable Me series. It shows how Gru grew up to become a famous supervillain.

Last week, Chris Meledandri, founder and chief executive of film and animation studio Illumination, confirmed that Minions: The Rise of Gru would be delayed after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of their studios in France, leaving them unable to complete post-production work on the movie.

“This means we will be unable to finish Minions: The Rise Of Gru in time for our planned global releases,” he said in a statement.

Postponing the sequel also affects the release of Sing 2, which was due to hit cinemas on 2 July 2021. Now, the Illumination animated movie, featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, and Matthew McConaughey, is scheduled for 22 December 2021.

And the delay has forced Universal Pictures’ big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked to be halted indefinitely.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, cinema chains have closed as cities across the world go into lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which has infected almost one million people.

No Time to Die, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, Fast & Furious 9, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife have also been postponed.

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Fans share excitement over first Last Christmas trailer

Film fans have taken to social media to share their excitement over the first official trailer for Last Christmas. Directed by Paul Feig from a script co-written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, the upcoming romantic comedy is loosely inspire…

Film fans have taken to social media to share their excitement over the first official trailer for Last Christmas. 

Directed by Paul Feig from a script co-written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, the upcoming romantic comedy is loosely inspired by the music of George Michael, especially his 1984 Wham! hit Last Christmas, and stars Emilia Clarke as Kate and Henry Golding in the role of Tom.  

Producers at Universal Pictures posted the three-minute trailer for Last Christmas online on Tuesday, with the YouTube clip already racking up more than 100,000 views and garnering a largely positive reaction on social media.  

“The Last Christmas movie is a big chunk of fan service ALL FOR ME. It combines all of my favourite things, Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Christmas and GEORGE MICHAEL. It’s just perfect. I’m so excited although I feel like it’ll break my heart,” one user wrote on Twitter, while another commented, “Last Christmas is about to become a classic holiday movie. I’m already excited to watch this every year.” 

And a third added: “I love everything about this already. George Michael’s tunes, Emilia Clark (sic), Henry Golding, the cheesy Christmas romance of it all. Just take my money now, please and thank you!”  

However, one fan was pleased to see that the narrative of the film was different from what they had anticipated.  

“I was worried for a second there that this would be a movie where she’s the only person who remembers George Michael,” they wrote, poking fun at Danny Boyle’s The Beatles-inspired movie Yesterday.

Last Christmas, also starring Thompson and Michelle Yeoh, is set to hit cinemas in November. It will also premiere previously unreleased material by Grammy Award-winning artist Michael, who died at the age of 53 on Christmas Day in 2016.  

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Universal bosses scrap The Hunt release following latest mass shootings

Universal Pictures bosses have pulled the release of The Hunt following recent mass shootings in the U.S. Studio executives paused the marketing campaign for the satirical horror movie, about humans hunting “deplorables” for sport, last week after mor…

Universal Pictures bosses have pulled the release of The Hunt following recent mass shootings in the U.S.

Studio executives paused the marketing campaign for the satirical horror movie, about humans hunting “deplorables” for sport, last week after more than 30 people were killed in two separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio within 24 hours of each other, and they have now decided to shelve the release altogether out of consideration for the victims and survivors.

“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” a statement from Universal read. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

The executives’ announcement over the weekend came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump took aim the project on Twitter, although he didn’t mention it by name.

“Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate! They like to call themselves ‘Elite,’ but they are not Elite,” he tweeted. “In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists (sic), and are very bad for our Country!”

The Hunt, which stars Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin and Emma Roberts, follows a dozen individuals who wake up in a clearing and realise they are being stalked for sport by elite liberals. It was directed by Craig Zobel and written by Nick Cuse and Lost’s Damon Lindelof.

It was due to hit cinemas on 27 September.

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Constance Wu to star in Goodbye, Vitamin film adaptation

Constance Wu is to headline a film adaptation of 2017 novel Goodbye, Vitamin.The Crazy Rich Asians actress will take on the lead role of Ruth Young in Universal Pictures’ big screen version of writer Rachel Khong’s debut novel, and will also serve as a…

Constance Wu is to headline a film adaptation of 2017 novel Goodbye, Vitamin.

The Crazy Rich Asians actress will take on the lead role of Ruth Young in Universal Pictures’ big screen version of writer Rachel Khong’s debut novel, and will also serve as a producer, according to editors at Variety.

Goodbye, Vitamin follows 30-year-old Ruth as she navigates leaving her fiance, quitting her job and heading back to her parents’ home only to find her history professor father is losing his memory.

“Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humour, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life,” a synopsis reads.

The book has received wide acclaim, including Best Book of the Year honours from O, The Oprah Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Vogue, while it also won the 2017 California Book Award for First Fiction.

Jennifer Yee McDevitt is to write the screenplay, while Dylan Clark of Dylan Clark Productions is to produce.

In addition to appearing in hit 2018 romcom Crazy Rich Asians, Constance has been praised for her performance as Jessica Huang in TV series Fresh Off the Boat and is also currently working on upcoming STX Entertainment crime-comedy film Hustlers, opposite Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Julia Stiles.

However, the 37-year-old hit headlines in May when she reacted angrily to the news that Fresh Off the Boat had been picked up for a sixth season in a string of Twitter messages, before later explaining that the renewal meant she had to turn down another project about which she was very passionate.

Following her tweets, it was rumoured that she might be recast in the show. However, ABC bosses later insisted they couldn’t think of anyone else to play the role.

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Constance Wu to star in Goodbye, Vitamin film adaptation

Constance Wu is to headline a film adaptation of 2017 novel Goodbye, Vitamin.The Crazy Rich Asians actress will take on the lead role of Ruth Young in Universal Pictures’ big screen version of writer Rachel Khong’s debut novel, and will also serve as a…

Constance Wu is to headline a film adaptation of 2017 novel Goodbye, Vitamin.

The Crazy Rich Asians actress will take on the lead role of Ruth Young in Universal Pictures’ big screen version of writer Rachel Khong’s debut novel, and will also serve as a producer, according to editors at Variety.

Goodbye, Vitamin follows 30-year-old Ruth as she navigates leaving her fiance, quitting her job and heading back to her parents’ home only to find her history professor father is losing his memory.

“Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humour, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life,” a synopsis reads.

The book has received wide acclaim, including Best Book of the Year honours from O, The Oprah Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Vogue, while it also won the 2017 California Book Award for First Fiction.

Jennifer Yee McDevitt is to write the screenplay, while Dylan Clark of Dylan Clark Productions is to produce.

In addition to appearing in hit 2018 romcom Crazy Rich Asians, Constance has been praised for her performance as Jessica Huang in TV series Fresh Off the Boat and is also currently working on upcoming STX Entertainment crime-comedy film Hustlers, opposite Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Julia Stiles.

However, the 37-year-old hit headlines in May when she reacted angrily to the news that Fresh Off the Boat had been picked up for a sixth season in a string of Twitter messages, before later explaining that the renewal meant she had to turn down another project about which she was very passionate.

Following her tweets, it was rumoured that she might be recast in the show. However, ABC bosses later insisted they couldn’t think of anyone else to play the role.

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Prince movie musical in the works

Prince’s music is to feature in a new movie musical in the style of ABBA’s Mamma Mia!. According to Variety magazine, bosses at Universal Pictures have acquired the rights to several of the late musician’s classic tracks from his estate and plan to fe…

Prince’s music is to feature in a new movie musical in the style of ABBA’s Mamma Mia!.

According to Variety magazine, bosses at Universal Pictures have acquired the rights to several of the late musician’s classic tracks from his estate and plan to feature the songs in a film with a fictional narrative – much like the Swedish group’s hit stage show and films.

Sources tell the U.S. magazine estate officials and Universal chiefs have decided against making a biopic of the 1999 hitmaker, who died in April 2016, as they feel his life was already covered extensively in his 1984 semi-autobiographical film Purple Rain – in which he played a rock star based on himself.

Variety editors report that executives have already started meeting with potential writers and producers to discuss the project, inspired by the success of Mamma Mia!, which started life as a musical that used ABBA’s music to tell the story of a young woman who invites three men who she believes could be her father to her Greek island wedding.

Executive producers already attached to the project include Troy Carter, the entertainment advisor of Prince’s estate, and Jody Gerson, Chairman and Chief Executive of Universal Music Publishing Group – the worldwide publishing administrator for his back catalogue.

Musical films have been some of Universal Pictures’ biggest earners in recent years, as in addition to the Mamma Mia! movies, their box office hits have included Les Miserables and Pitch Perfect.

Studio bosses look to be sticking to a winning formula as they also have Last Christmas, a planned festive rom-com featuring the music of George Michael, and an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats due out next year (19).

Prince fans were left distraught by his death, at the age of just 57 from an overdose of opioid painkillers – but will be treated to new music in years to come, as tracks from his famed vault of unreleased material are set to be released. A Wrinkle in Time filmmaker Ava DuVernay is also in the process of making a documentary film on the star’s life and career for streaming service Netflix.

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