Why The Meg Really Wanted To Add Jason Statham

The real star of the monster movie The Meg is the massive megalodon title character. However, the hero of The Meg is deep sea diver Jonas Taylor, played perfectly by Jason Statham. While Statham is no stranger to action movies, The Meg isn’t exactly the sort of action we’re used to seeing him involved in, but it turns out that’s exactly why he was wanted for the film. The Meg producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura says that while the film needed a “tough guy” to play the lead, it didn’t need him simply to do action scenes, but instead to see how such a character handles the trauma of the experience. According to Bonaventura…

We’re used to seeing Jason Statham kick ass and take names in his various roles, and while that was certainly an important aspect of who his character needed to be, it wasn’t the most important thing going on. As Lorenzo di Bonaventura says in one of the special features attached to the Blu-ray release of The Meg, he not really a fighter here. He can’t exactly punch the giant shark into submission.

Instead, his character’s arc is about taking somebody who is probably used to punching away his problems, and then putting them in a situation where that’s not an option and seeing how they respond. Statham’s character is forced to sacrifice friends at the beginning of the film, and nobody believes him when he claims that something in the water is to blame. This trauma impacts how others see him as well as how he sees himself.

Ultimately, The Meg is still an action movie that pits a hero against a monster, so the traumatic aspects of Jonas Taylor’s life aren’t given a great deal of focus, but it’s certainly true that the fact that the “bad guy” in this case is the largest shark to ever swim the seas does separate it from the other villains that Jason Statham has had to defeat on screen over the years.

While not everybody adored The Meg many of us thought it was a fun little adventure that took itself just seriously enough to work. This sort of weight is exactly where the film was able to be realistic without losing the over-the-top nature that made it fun.

The Meg is on Digital and Blu-ray now.

Netflix Is Still Having Trouble Getting Awards Contenders Into Theaters

Since masterful director Alfonso Cuarón teamed up with Netflix for his deeply personal and experimental film Roma, it has marked something of a shift for the streaming giant. As an Oscar contender and a film that simply should be seen on the big screen, Netflix has been having conversations with theaters across the country to give Roma this chance. The most prominent U.S. indie chain, Alamo Drafthouse, has declined to show the Oscar hopeful for Netflix due to the company’s inflexible “restrictions and guidelines.”

Netflix and Alamo Drafthouse have been in negotiations for weeks to show Roma in the chain’s Brooklyn, New York location in 70mm. The streaming service was hoping to rent out the theater’s largest auditorium for four weeks without splitting box office profits with them during a busy holiday season for movie releases. According to Business Insider, Alamo Drafthouse and some other arthouses have turned down this deal because of Netflix’s strict conditions, and it doesn’t help that Roma can be streamed just a few weeks after its theatrical release

Netflix has been turning to indie theaters chains because major ones expect a 90-day exclusivity window. The company won’t agree to this, but has compromised on a one to three-week theatrical exclusivity. Roma will instead play New York at Manhattan’s IFC Center and in other select theaters in cities across the U.S. Two other Netflix films will be available in theaters for just one week before they hit the streaming site, the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock. Netflix wants to put these films in theaters to give them a shot at awards recognition and garner the attention of more Hollywood royalty to collaborate with.

Following the streaming service’s massive success with original television series such as Orange is the New Black, The Crown and Black Mirror, Netflix has started to venture into making more of its own exclusive films for subscribers. Release such as Like Father, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Set It Up fall under impressive made-for-TV content. But enlisting an Oscar-winning director such as Alfonso Cuarón with an artistic vision to create something truly unconventional and touching shows a shift in ambition for Netflix.

Netflix will soon find some competition with Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+ in 2019. This will have all of the company’s attractive titles from the studio, such as Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, disappearing from Netflix. Amazon Studios is also constantly adding more original content to Amazon Prime, recently producing some Oscar nominees including The Big Sick and Manchester by the Sea. Hulu is also rising through the ranks with a show like Handmaid’s Tale receiving acclaim, it’s only a matter of time before it creates original films of its own.

Netflix has always been an innovator in streaming, so its attempted dealings with theaters will likely continue until the company finds a way to make high-profile filmmakers, theaters and itself collaborate successfully. Roma will be in select theaters on November 21 before finding its way on Netflix on December 14.

Amber Heard Felt Like A Superhero Filming Aquaman

Although Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry is the titular hero and the one on the posters, he’s not the only badass underwater warrior in Aquaman. Amber Heard’s Mera is a fierce fighter in her own right, with the swimming skills to make Michael Phelps look like a slow-moving seahorse. And although she probably can’t talk to fish, Amber Heard still felt like a superhero filming Aquaman, as she explained:

Jason Momoa may be the one with his shirt off, but clearly Amber Heard had to do a lot of training for the film as well. To get ready for the Aquaman‘s fight scenes, she and Jason Momoa both had to undergo a regular schedule of grueling training in martial arts like judo and jiu-jitsu, as well as the actual fight choreography to look convincingly skilled onscreen.

All that training undoubtedly got Amber Heard in great fighting shape and she likely picked up a few things skill-wise as well. That, and getting to actually use those skills and choreography to be a warrior in the film itself, had the actress feeling superhuman, just like the superhero she plays.

As Amber Heard told ET, she felt superhuman after all that training, and that’s just testament to the power and benefit of exercise and martial arts instruction. All that exhaustion makes you into a better version of yourself, a superheroic you that feels more capable, like you could punch through walls and just maybe, ride a shark into battle.

Being a warrior with a sword and crown is a big part of why Amber Heard joined the DCEU as Mera in the first place, so it must be especially rewarding to actually feel like a superhero while shooting Aquaman.

That Amber Heard felt like a superhero filming Aquaman will hopefully come through when we see her character in the film. Mera already proved her fearlessness and combative skills in Justice League when she took the fight to Steppenwolf, and Aquaman will give her even more time to shine and fight by Arthur’s side.

Aquaman is finally in the can and ready for its December release date. The early tracking on the only DCEU film this year had it pegged in the $40 million to $60 million range opening weekend, but there is still plenty of time for that to shift as the film’s marketing ramps up closer to release.

Aquaman is especially anticipated among women according to one poll. Many of those female audiences may be eager to see Amber Heard’s Mera, as well as Nicole Kidman‘s Queen Atlanna. Or maybe it’s the Jason Momoa factor; probably a little column A, little column B.

James Wan’s Aquaman splashes into theaters on December 21. Check out our Holiday Movie Guide for Aquaman and all of the blockbusters and awards contenders coming to theaters this holiday season.

2019 Midseason TV And Streaming Premiere Schedule: Dates For New And Returning Shows

Midseason is a time for shows to kick back up in the winter months when we are far more often curled up in front of our TVs. It’s an opportunity for shows to set themselves apart during the long, cold nights. (Unless you live someplace with glorious weather, like in Arizona or Florida, in which case just ignore this entire paragraph.)

Midseason also typically features some debuts from major networks, cablers and even streaming services. Among these are some hotly anticipated series. For a while it looked like we may not get new episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones until this summer, as a prominent example. Now, we know the show will be hitting the schedule this spring, more specifically returning to its home in the schedule in April.

As always, not all networks drop premiere dates at exactly the same time. In addition, as the networks figure out exactly what will premiere when, dates are, of course, subject to check. However, if you want to keep tabs on what is coming when, be sure to bookmark the list, as we keep it updated. If you are still looking for what is coming up in 2018, we have you covered, as well.

As usual, times are marked in ET and are based on U.S. premiere dates unless otherwise noted. Thus, if you are on a different time a little math may need to be involved. Finally, brand new shows hitting the schedule are marked in ALL CAPS. If there’s a series you are looking for in particular, be sure to let us know in the comments and we’ll track down the date for you as soon as there is one. Happy reading. Or rather, happy TV watching.

January

Tuesday, January 1
8 p.m. – The Gifted Winter Premiere – Fox
9 p.m. – Lethal Weapon Winter Premiere — Fox
10 p.m. — BAD CHAD CUSTOMS – Discovery

Wednesday, January 2
8 p.m. – Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back Season 2 – Fox
9 p.m. – THE MASKED SINGER — Fox
9 p.m. — MYTHBUSTERS JR. – Science

Thursday, January 3
8 p.m.- Gotham Season 5 premiere — Fox
8 p.m. — THE TITAN GAMES (with Dwayne Johnson) – NBC
9 p.m.- The Orville Season 2 – Regular time slot premiere (please note an additional episode will air on December 20) — Fox
9 p.m. — SURVIVING R. KELLY (Limited Series) — Lifetime
9 p.m. — RACING WIVES — CMT
10 p.m. — Music City — CMT

Friday, January 4
8 p.m.- The Blacklist — NBC

Monday, January 7
8 p.m. – America’s Got Talent: The Champions – NBC

Tuesday, January 8
? p.m. – GOOD TROUBLE (Fosters spinoff) — Freeform
8 p.m.- Ellen’s Game of Games — NBC
10 p.m. – PROJECT BLUE BOOK — History

Wednesday, January 9
10 p.m. – You’re The Worst – FXX
10 p.m. – I’m Sorry – truTV
10:30 p.m. – Jon Glaser Loves Gear – truTV

Thursday, January 10
9 p.m. – A.P. Bio – NBC
9 p.m. – Brooklyn Nine-Nine season premiere – NBC
9: 30 p.m. – The Good Place (final 3 episodes timeslot change) – NBC

Friday, January 11
12:01 a.m PT – Friends From College Season 2 – Netflix
12:00 a.m. – Future Man – Hulu
9 p.m. – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – The CW

Sunday, January 13
7 p.m. – 24th Annual Critics Choice Awards – The CW
9 p.m. – True Detective – HBO
9 p.m. – Victoria – CBS
9 p.m. – VALLEY OF THE BLOOM – Nat Geo

Monday, January 14
8 p.m. – The Resident Winter Premiere – Fox
9 p.m. – THE PASSAGE – Fox

Tuesday, January 15
8 p.m. – The Flash – The CW
9 p.m. – ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO – The CW

Wednesday, January16
8 p.m. – Riverdale – The CW
9 p.m. – All American – The CW
10 p.m. – Schitt’s Creek – POP
10 p.m. – DEADLY CLASS – Syfy

Thursday, January 17
12 a.m. – A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES – Sundance NOW and Shudder
? p.m. – Star Trek: Discovery – CBS All Access
8 p.m. – Supernatural – The CW
9 p.m. – Roswell, New Mexico (premiere encore) – The CW

Friday, January 18
8 p.m. – Dynasty – The CW

Sunday, January 20
8 p.m. – Supergirl – The CW
9 p.m. – Shameless – Showtime
9 p.m. – Charmed – The CW
10 p.m. – BLACK MONDAY – Showtime

Monday, January 21
8 p.m. – Arrow – The CW
9 p.m. – Black Lightning (New Time Period Premiere) – The CW

Wednesday, January 23
9 p.m. – The Magicians – Syfy
10 p.m. – PURE – WGN America

Thursday, January 24
9 p.m. – Legacies – The CW

Friday, January 25
12:01 a.m. PT – KINGDOM – Netflix
12:01 a.m. PT – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Sunday, January 27
7 p.m. – RENT LIVE – Fox

Thursday, January 31
9:30 p.m. – Will & Grace (timeslot shift) – NBC

February

Sunday, February 3
6 p.m. – Super Bowl LIII – CBS

Saturday, February 10
8 p.m. – Grammy Awards – CBS

Friday, February 15
12:01 a.m. PT – THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY – Netflix
9 p.m. – PROVEN INNOCENT – Fox

Sunday, February 24
Primetime – The 91st Academy Awards – ABC

Thursday, February 28
9 p.m. – Wife Swap – CMT

Sunday, March 3
7:30 p.m. – Bob’s Burgers – Fox
8 p.m. – The Simpsons – Fox
8:30 p.m. – Family Guy – Fox
9 p.m. – COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS – Fox

Monday, March 4
10 p.m. – Cosmos: Possible Worlds (cable premiere) – Nat Geo

April

? – Game of Thrones – HBO

Also Coming in 2019

Bard of Blood – Netflix
Carmen Sandiego- Netflix
Whiskey Cavalier- ABC
The Fix – ABC
Grand Hotel – ABC
Schooled – ABC
What We Do In The Shadows – FX
Doom Patrol – DC Universe
Swamp Thing – DC Universe
Star Girl – DC Universe
Harley Quinn – DC Universe
Young Justice: Outsiders – DC Universe
Abby’s – NBC
The Twilight Zone – CBS All Access
AND MORE!

Blended From Around The Web

 

Chris Pine Knew He’d Be Back For Wonder Woman 1984 While Shooting The First One

Steve Trevor appropriately made his theatrical debut last year in Wonder Woman, but his time was Diana of Themyscira was short, as Chris Pine’s incarnation of the character sacrificed his life for the greater good. Or so we thought. As announced this past June, the DC Extended Universe’s Steve will be back for Wonder Woman 1984, and according to Pine, this is something that director Patty Jenkins was planning to do even when the first Wonder Woman movie was shooting. When asked how surprised he was to learn he’d be appearing in Wonder Woman 1984, Pine responded:

A few weeks after Wonder Woman was released, DC heavy hitter Geoff Johns revealed that he was already writing a sequel treatment with Patty Jenkins, and Wonder Woman 1984 (as it would eventually be titled) was officially announced at San Diego Comic-Con the following month. But even when Jenkins was in the middle of making Wonder Woman (presumably in the spring of 2016), she was already formulating a plan to bring Steve Trevor back from the dead.

So when Wonder Woman 1984 was given the green light, Chris Pine wasn’t surprised when Patty Jenkins called him back into action, as he noted during his BBC Radio 1 interview. Jenkins confirmed Pine’s return on social media, but there’s still no hint of how Steve is still alive given that we last saw him detonating the plane carrying Doctor Poison’s gas while he was still aboard. Was he somehow saved from the explosion itself and has made it to the 1980s without aging for some reason, or did he indeed die and is resurrected during Wonder Woman 1984? We’re still a long way from having this mystery solved.

Of course, we know that Diana and Steve Trevor’s story still can’t end in happiness. In Justice League, she talked about Steve as if he’s been dead a long time. This was hardly a shocker for those who’d watched Wonder Woman beforehand, but even taking into account the events of Wonder Woman 1984 and how Steve will be active there, that’s still more than a three decade gap between the upcoming sequel and Justice League.

Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how Steve Trevor finds his way back into Diana’s life in Wonder Woman 1984, though that won’t be the only crazy thing to happen to the Amazon warrior. She’ll also have to tangle with Barbara Ann Minerva, a.k.a. The Cheetah, and presumably there will be other magical/mythical goings-on in the sequel.

Originally scheduled to come out on November 1, 2019, Wonder Woman 1984 was recently pushed back to June 5, 2020. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage on how the sequel is coming along, and in the meantime, you can browse through our DC movies guide to learn what else this superhero franchise has in development.

Spike Lee Made BlacKkKlansman A Comedy Because Of Six Specific Words

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman stands as one of the best movies of 2018, and part of what makes it so fascinating is its approach to tone. The film deals with serious issues (like racism, terrorism, and social change) that are as present in our current world as they were during the featured time period, but it notably tackles them with a comedic bent and great wit. While the story could have potentially been told many ways, it’s ultimately very much a comedy — and it was an approach that the director cemented as soon as he heard the high concept pitch from producer Jordan Peele:

The subject of BlacKkKlansman‘s tone was the first that came up when I had the immense pleasure of recently hopping on the phone with Spike Lee to talk with him about his movie. I inquired if the approach was something that had to be slowly carved out, and had possibly gone through evolution from its earliest development, but that apparently wasn’t the case. Lee knew it was going to be a comedy as soon as he heard Jordan Peele’s six-word pitch and recognized the immense absurdity in the tale.

Of course, what only makes the story crazier is that it’s based on a true story — the epitome of “stranger than fiction.” Ron Stallworth, as portrayed by John David Washington in the film, was a real Colorado Springs, Colorado police officer who successfully orchestrated an undercover operation that saw him become a card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan. It’s a movie that certainly has its serious dramatic moments (including the brilliant gut-punch ending), but a smart script by Spike Lee, Kevin Willmott, Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz, and a fantastic ensemble cast make it more often than not a riot.

Fans of Spike Lee will be quick to note that this isn’t the first time that the filmmaker has approached darker stories that feature big laughs — and Lee also made a point of it during the interview. While BlacKkKlansman is special in its own right, the writer/director has used the tonal approach in the past to fuel some of his best work. He explained,

Robin Thicke Says His Home Burning Down Was Not Like In The Movies

Not everything is at it seems on the big screen. In fact, there are a lot of things in life that are more-than-a-little bit different than the ways in which they are projected onto screens both big and small. And Robin Thicke learned that lesson under devastating circumstances when his house burned down earlier this month. In a recent interview, the musician talked about the devastation that came from his property going up in flames. Here’s what he said.

As it was reported exclusively by Entertainment Tonight, Robin Thicke was one of several people who lost their Malibu homes due to the ongoing California wildfires. Upon returning to the ruble that was left of his estate, he admitted that the process of his property being consumed by flames was not what he expected. As Thicke admits, he figured there’d be something — anything — left by the fire. But he learned that the entire house was gone. And all that was left was rubble. But Robin Thicke isn’t giving up hope, because the artist is inspired by the “great community” of “wonderful people.”

These comments echo the ones recently uttered by Gerard Butler and Miley Cyrus, both of whom have lost their homes due to the ongoing California wildfires that have caused thousands of miles of property damage in the state, as well as the loss of several people. Each celebrity admitted that it was difficult to lose their homes, but they are grateful for the support and dedication of the men and women who are fighting to stop these engulfing flames.

After these words of encouragement about the men and women providing their times and services for the good of the community, Robin Thicke had a few more parting words, in which the singer-songwriter offered some information about the condition of the state and how things are going right now.

Robin Thicke claims he and his girlfriend, April Love Geary, who is currently pregnant with her second child at the moment, are planning to rebuild and move forward as best they can after this destruction. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to keep you posted on the latest developments here at CinemaBlend.

Dexter’s Michael C. Hall Sounds Ready For The Killer Drama To Return

The Bay Harbor Butcher could eventually be coming back to television. At least, it seems to be something that may happen if prolific actor Michael C. Hall reads the right script. Hall recently spoke about the possibility of Dexter Morgan’s return to television and once again teased the serial killer’s adventure may not be over. The actor also spoke about the Dexter series finale, and why he thinks folks seem so eager to see the character return, noting,

Michael C. Hall’s recent comments make it sound as though he’s willing to bring Dexter back, provided the right story comes along. On the same token, Hall appears to be in no rush to jump into a Dexter Morgan return just for the sake of doing so, because he’s fine with the way Dexter ended. Hall told The Daily Beast he “stands by” the decision for Dexter to go off into the wilderness at the end of the series, even if it left the Showtime drama with some loose ends.

That ending is good enough for Michael C. Hall that he’s apparently rejected past pitches that would’ve led to another Dexter project. Hall briefly mentioned the projects that didn’t make the cut and a possible timeline of when a new idea could get far enough to get talks of a serious revival started.

These recent statements are in line with what Michael C. Hall said earlier in the year about a Dexter revival, so it appears 2018 didn’t feature much inspiration for Miami’s killer to return. The “something” that’s there Hall referenced is seemingly rooted in the fact that Dexter survived, rather than any compulsion that he feels to reprise the role. As mentioned, he doesn’t have the same issues he notes others have with how Dexter ended.

Hall’s approval of the show’s ending is rooted in Dexter’s realizing isolation will protect the ones he loves. A pitch to justify Dexter Morgan’s return would seemingly have to convince Michael C. Hall his character’s need for human companionship proved too great for him to stay isolated or a threat that could place someone he cares about in danger. That’s what we’re speculating anyway, as we have no idea what projects Hall has rejected since the drama’s end. Perhaps a Revenant-style man-in-the-wilderness revenge story could be the right fit…

Dexter is available to stream on demand on Showtime or Netflix. For a look at what television shows are set to arrive before the year’s end, head on over to our fall premiere guide.

Mulan: Everything We Know About Disney’s Live Action Remake

Following a long-running history of successfully bringing legendary tales to life through animation and music, Disney just couldn’t resist a little reflection on their classics. The studio’s live-action remakes started with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and has since turned into a full-blown creative venture to recreate much of the library of its animated films including Cinderella, The Jungle Book and The Beauty and the Beast.

With the incredible success of these massive live-action releases, Disney, of course, isn’t stopping there, with tons of the company’s familiar stories hitting the screen in the future, including a new iteration of the legendary Chinese folktale first explored by the studio in 1998’s Mulan. Disney’s upcoming live-action Mulan is set to be a full-scale martial arts epic, which looks to position itself further from its animated classic than the live action remakes that came before.

Curious about what the House of Mouse has in store for the upcoming Mulan? It’s not as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. We’ve got you covered with this guide on everything we know so far about the live-action Mulan below:

What Is Mulan’s Release Date?

When a live-action Mulan was originally announced back in 2015, it was given a November 2018 release date. The project moved a bit slower than initially expected and was pushed back a full year and a half in early 2018. Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms took its spot, with Mulan now set to charge theaters on March 27, 2020. With 2019 incredibly packed with live-action Disney releases, and two other ’90s films, The Lion King and Aladdin, being revisited over summer, it’s a clever move for the studio to place Mulan there instead. Currently, the Disney film will open next to Hasbro and Paramount Pictures’ planned G.I. Joe reboot. Considering the badass warrior’s track record, I think she can take on a few soldiers opening weekend, don’t you?

What Will Mulan Be Rated?

Disney’s recent live-action remakes have been consistently PG to cater to the entire family and still allow some leeway for elements such as fantasy action and some frightening sequences. Mulan is a Disney Princess that needs to be marketable to children of young ages and the studio’s formula for live-action PG flicks have worked quite well for them so far. Considering Mulan has its titular heroine in the middle of a historical war, the film could potentially become the first PG-13 film of its kind if Disney chooses to. A grittier PG-13 Mulan from Disney would certainly be an interesting and exciting sight to see, and it would still draw large audiences. The studio does go for PG-13 ratings for its Marvel and Star Wars endeavors, though Mulan‘s rating is more likely to be PG.

Who Will Direct Mulan?

Disney’s new Mulan found its director in early 2017 with New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro at the project’s center. Caro first gained prominence for her work on Whale Rider in 2002, which was a story about a young Maori girl who aspires to be the chief of her tribe. She helmed North Country in 2005, which scored Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand Oscar nominations, and most recently made The Zookeeper’s Wife in 2017. The director worked with Disney before on 2015’s McFarland, USA, a Kevin Costner-led sports drama about a high school cross-country team. With Mulan, Caro becomes the second female director to be hired by Disney to direct a movie exceeding a $100 million budget, after Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Caro has a highly-impressive resume as a director and having a woman’s eye on a legendary female-fronted tale is a good move by the studio.

Who Is Writing Mulan?

The live-action Mulan recruited a team of four writers for the upcoming release, with Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin penciled in as screenwriters. Jaffa and Silver have collaborated on huge box office hits such as 2015’s Jurassic World and the most recent trilogy of Planet of the Apes movies. The pair are an exciting choice for Mulan as they have successfully brought beloved franchises into the present and on a larger scale. Hynek and Martin are also a screenwriting pair, though lesser-known, since they have only penned a 2018 Lifetime Christmas movie called Christmas Perfection. The blend of these talents is definitely a unique combination, though for a film so embedded in Chinese culture, it may be worth noting that none of them are of Asian descent.

What Is The Live-Action Mulan Story?

At its core, Mulan will follow a story we are familiar with — a young woman who disguises herself as a male warrior to take her father’s place in battle in order to save him. Unlike other live-action remakes, Mulan looks to be changing up quite a few key elements found in the 1998 film, which is contrary to the live-action retellings we’ve recently seen from Disney. The upcoming film will not have the heroine facing off against the leader of the Hun Army, Shan Yu, or falling in love with her captain, Li Shang. She will instead be up against a powerful witch and find love with a fellow solider in her unit, along with there being a new Commander character created for the film to serve as her mentor.

Will Mulan Be A Musical?

Disney animated classics such as Mulan will always be remembered for catchy and memorable songs such as “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” although, so far, only the live-action Beauty and the Beast has opted to be a full-fledged musical. When Niki Caro originally said that there would be no songs in the live-action Mulan many fans on Twitter were outraged. This wasn’t the final word from Caro about the music, though, and she later confirmed that music will play a role in the movie, but how much? Considering how Mulan seems to be veering quite a bit from the animated classic, don’t expect to see the whole soundtrack back on screen. But, it would be tough for the studio to pass on an opportunity to implement a beautifully iconic song like “Reflection” and / or introduce some new ones, as well.

Mulan

After a team of Disney casting directors conducted a year-long search, traveling across five continents and seeing nearly 1000 candidates, Chinese star Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu) won the role of Hua Mulan. The 31-year-old actress has had a career in both China and America as an actress, model and brand ambassador. Liu is fluent in English and has been in Hollywood films, including 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom opposite Jet Li and Jackie Chan and 2014’s Outcast which also starred Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. When Mulan began filming a few months ago, fans were given a first look at Liu as Mulan striking a familiar pose. She looks to embody the character well, balancing her strength, beauty and intellect. Early concerns about Disney whitewashing the character or giving the role to any Asian actress arose but with Liu’s casting, it looks like the studio did their homework to find a believable Mulan.

Mushu

What’s a Disney musical without a cute and quick-witted animal sidekick to ease the tension of their hero’s journey? For 1998’s Mulan, her sidekick was a pocket-sized dragon named Mushu who acted as her spirit guardian and was voiced by Eddie Murphy. While fans have suggested Murphy resume the role in a dragon suit amongst an otherwise completely racially-correct cast, we don’t know too much about Mushu’s role in the live-action Mulan. The lovable dragon will reportedly be part of the film, but a voice role for the character has not been cast. (Or revealed?) For a more true-to-life Mulan film, the filmmakers would likely take a more culturally-accurate approach to the character or include him in as an easter egg to the original, such as how the mice in the live-action Cinderella were included.

Yao, Ling And Chien Po

When Mulan finds herself in a military training camp, she encounters a trio of misfit soldiers, the high-tempered Yao, goofball Ling and soft-hearted Po. In the beginning, she rubs them the wrong way when she tries to prove her masculinity by punching Yao in the face, which leads to a camp-wide fight, but they warm up to her as the movie progresses. Each of these familiar characters have also been cast in the new Mulan with Chen Tang playing Yao, Jimmy Wong as Ling and Doua Moua as Chein Po. Tang is a television actor who has appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Grey’s Anatomy and Amazon’s Bosch. Wong is best known for his role in the digital series Video Game High School along with John Dies in the End and his highly-popular online cooking show Feast of Fiction and Moua has appeared in Gran Torino, Blue Bloods and Iron Fist. Mulan will certainly mark the actors highest profile films to date and will likely bring some comedic relief to the epic.

Li Shang?

Let’s get down to business, because this is where things start to sway from the Mulan we know. In the 1998 film, Captain Li Shang is a tough leader of the military unit who challenges the soldiers through a rigorous training process. While Mulan (who first goes by Ping) starts off on his bad side, they start really getting along when she becomes a highly-skilled soldier, only to crush his dreams when he finds out she’s a woman. It’s a story arc loved by the LGBT community for its hints of bisexuality (which were unintended by Disney), though it is a relationship built on lies and Li Shang isn’t exactly a feminist. There won’t be a live-action Li Shang in the upcoming Mulan, as it seems he is being split into two characters.

Donnie Yen has been cast as a fresh character named Commander Tung, who will serve as Mulan’s mentor and teacher. Yen is best known for his role in Rogue One, the Ip Man films and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yoson An will be playing another new character named Chen Honghui, a fellow soldier who is described as a confident and ambitious recruit to Tung’s unit. He will become the most important ally to Mulan and then flourish into a love interest. The actor was recently in The Meg and has a role in the Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines.

The Villians

Among Disney’s famed antagonists, Mulan‘s Shan-Yu is one of the most forgettable. The leader of the Hun army is ruthless and intimidating but he was given very little to do and wasn’t carefully developed. Perhaps this is why the next iteration of the story will feature completely new villains, with the main antagonist being a powerful witch named Xian Lang, played by Gong Li. The actress also played the main baddie in Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005 to much acclaim. Her inclusion adds an element of magic to Mulan not before seen, perhaps creating new circumstances for the army. Jason Scott Lee is also joining Mulan as Bori Khan who is a warrior leader seeking to avenge his father’s death and who aligns himself with Xian Lang. Lee is best known for his portrayal of Bruce Lee in 1993’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and his voice role of David in Lilo & Stitch.

The Emperor

Disney has cast Jet Li as the Emperor of China in the upcoming live-action Mulan. Li is one of the most prominent Chinese actors to grace Hollywood, starting with his debut in 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4. In the early ’00s he made a name for himself as a martial artist action hero, most recently appearing in The Expendables movies. In the studio’s first Mulan, the emperor gives the order for one male from each household being drafted into the army and makes a brief appearance in the end of the film, when Mulan and some of the soldiers defeat Shan Yu. Perhaps he will be given a larger role in this film? Li and Liu Yifei (Mulan) have worked alongside each other before, in 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom.

More Mulan Characters

The live-action Mulan looks to be bringing a blend of what we know from the animated classic with some completely brand new story elements and characters. Along with what we’ve discussed thus far, the movie will also feature Mulan’s sister Hua Xiu played by New Zealand born Chinese-Vietnamese actress Xana Tang, a role not found in the 1998 film. Utkarsh Ambudkar and Chum Ehelepola will also play a con artist duo, respectively named Skatch and Ramtish. Ambudkar has held roles in The Mindy Project and Pitch Perfect and Ehelepola is best known for 2012’s A Moody Christmas. There’s certainly a lot in store for Mulan in 2020, with a jam-packed cast that has loads to offer the Disney live-action remake.

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Jude Law’s Dumbledore Is Fighting Inner Demons During Crimes Of Grindelwald

Since J.K. Rowling’s iconic novels first hit bookshelves in the 1990’s, Harry Potter has continued to be at the forefront of pop culture, continually releasing new content and expanding the Wizarding World. In addition to the Cursed Child plays and the various theme parks currently going strong, Harry Potter’s magical universe is growing with the prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is nearly upon us, which will include some great connections to the Harry Potter franchise. Chief among them is the introduction of a younger Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. Law has been teasing a very different Dumbledore than the one we know and love, and now he’s given more context– revealing Albus will have some personal issues to grapple with in the upcoming blockbuster.

Well, this is certainly intriguing. Jude Law was able to get some detailed information about Dumbledore from J.K Rowling herself, and infuse the beloved character’s backstory into his performance for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. That’s worth the price of admission for most fans, and it should be fascinating to see how it all comes together in the final cut.

Hardcore Harry Potter fans can at least figure the broad strokes of what Jude Law is talking about here. While Albus grew up as a happy young Wizard, tragedy struck his family due to hatred and tension between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. His sister Ariana was brutally attacked by a group of muggle boys, and was left mentally and emotionally damaged from her trauma. This may be one of the issues Dumbledore is struggling with, especially as he attempts to stop Grindelwald from starting an all out war with non-magical folks.

Grindelwald himself is likely a large reason for Dumbledore’s strife, if J.K. Rowling’s earlier comments about their relationship are to be believed. When Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was actually a gay man, she explained that he harbored romantic feelings for the villain. This may make the upcoming battle between the two all the more dynamic, if Johnny Depp and Jude Law play that dynamic in their upcoming performances. Fans are eager to see how young Dumbledore will act, especially regarding his sexuality.

Jude Law’s casting as Dumbledore helped build early anticipation for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, before any footage or concrete information was available to the general public. Law as a youthful energy that we’ve never seen from Dumbledore, and the generations of fans are looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out.

In his same conversation with the Toronto Sun, Jude Law further explained how different his character will be in Crimes of Grindelwald. As he explained,

Age brings a certain amount of wisdom, especially in the Wizarding World. While muggles are expected to be adults by the age of 45, things operate a bit differently when magic is involved. Witches and Wizards can live much longer, allowing for even more life experience. Dumbledore lived until the ripe age of 112, and had more life in him before being murdered by Snap in The Half-Blood Prince.

Dumbledore may be the most significant connection The Crimes of Grindelwald has with the proper Harry Potter franchise, there will be a few other iconic figures making their way to the upcoming sequel. When the trailers began arriving, it revealed actress Claudia Kim was playing the human version of Nagini. Nagini ended up being Voldermort’s loyal murderous snake and horocrux, and the Fantastic Beasts franchise will help bridge this gap.

Most recently, it broke that a younger version of Professor Minerva McGonagall will also appear in The Crimes of Grindelwald, although the size of her role is a mystery. While the timeline of the sequel has the potential to break the canon and timeline of the franchise, Potterheads are eager to see the beloved transfiguration professor at a younger age.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will also feature the first live-action appearance of Nicolas Flamel. Flamel created the Sorcerer’s Stone, aka how the entire Harry Potter franchise began. It is able to grant never-ending life, and may just come into play for the main narrative of the upcoming sequel. Johnny Depp’s villainous Grindelwald is preparing for a war, so he may be trying to amass as much magical power as possible– including a way to cheat death itself.

The pressure is definitely on to for director David Yates to deliver another Harry Potter movie that will be both a critical and box office success. The Crimes of Grindelwald is supposed to be the second in a total of five movies, should the Wizarding World continue to be such a popular place for new media.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will arrive in theaters on November 16th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies