Movies

FILE PHOTO: 72nd Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film
FILE PHOTO: 72nd Cannes Film Festival – Screening of the film “Rocketman” out of competition – Red Carpet Arrivals – Cannes, France, May 16, 2019. Elton John poses with David Furnish and Taron Egerton. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

May 22, 2019

By Jayson Mansaray and Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) – With hit tunes, a plot about one of the world’s best known performers and flamboyant costumes, “Rocketman” brings Elton John’s story to the big screen, the latest musical biopic offering a concert-like experience at the cinema.

“Kingsman” actor Taron Egerton stars as the “Your Song” and “Tiny Dancer” hitmaker, belting out John’s songs as he revisits the singer’s road to success as well as his personal struggles.

The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival with John present, has drawn comparisons to last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” about rockers Queen’s stratospheric rise to fame.

That movie, which received mixed reviews, won a best actor Oscar for Rami Malek and grossed $903 million worldwide – a sign of audiences’ appetite for seeing their icons’ story and music on the silver screen.

“I’m very grateful that people compare us and hopefully it shows that there is an appetite for movies of this nature,” Egerton said of the two films at Cannes.

Music biopics have long been a popular genre but what distinguishes this “new wave” is the artist’s involvement and music catalog to create concert-like scenes, said Scott Roxborough, European bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter.

“What a lot of these films are selling is this idea that you can have the experience as if you were going to a concert … go behind the scenes and get to know them,” Roxborough said.

He said this was “not the idea of previous biopics which was often revealing the dark side of these musical heroes.”

Like “Bohemian Rhapsody”‘s take on late singer Freddie Mercury, “Rocketman” tracks John’s personal battles as his success grows.

“I would say ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (is) not a pressure, if anything it’s opened the gates for us,” “Rocketman” producer Matthew Vaughn told Reuters.

“NEW ENERGY”

“Mamma Mia”, not a music biopic but featuring plenty of all-singing and dancing ABBA numbers, was a box office smash in 2008 and inspired a sequel last year.

“Straight Outta Compton” about rap collective N.W.A from Compton, California was also a success upon its 2015 release.

“It’s growing constantly year on year … as studios try and make bigger and more bombastic movies, they’re infusing musical biopics with this new energy,” Ali Griffiths, social editor at Digital Spy, said when asked about appetite for the genre.

“Since probably ‘Mamma Mia’… they realized they could make a musical like a cinematic experience.”

In March, Netflix released Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” based on the heavy metal band’s autobiography and other celebrity-inspired stories are in the works.

“Stardust”, looking at David Bowie’s first trip to the United States is in the making, although the late singer’s family are not involved in the project.

Its producers have been quoted as saying it is not a biopic but “a moment in time film, at a turning point in David’s life”.

Celine Dion is the inspiration for “The Power of Love”, which is said to draw from the pop singer’s life and will use her hit power ballads, according to film industry publications.

Gaumont, the French company linked to the project, could not immediately be reached for comment.

“We will see a lot more (music biopics) being done and I think probably more in the style where there’s a lot more music in the films, and a lot more sort of concert performance,” Roxborough said, adding they would be more celebratory and a less critical portrayal.

Digital Spy’s Griffiths said more rock biopics were likely: “Like The (Rolling) Stones, but I’m excited to see so more like contemporary films, like wouldn’t it be cool to see a biopic of Adele’s life with her music.”

(Reporting by Jayson Mansaray and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; additional reporting by Johnny Cotton in Cannes; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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FILE PHOTO: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam
FILE PHOTO: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, accompanied by his wife Pamela Northam, announces he will not resign during a news conference Richmond, Virginia, U.S. February 2, 2019. REUTERS/ Jay Paul/File Photo

May 22, 2019

By Gary Robertson

NORFOLK, Va. (Reuters) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s former medical school was unable to determine his role in a racist photograph that appeared on his 1984 yearbook page, according to a report released on Wednesday following a three-month inquiry.

The photo sparked weeks of political chaos in the state after it was published by a conservative website in February, setting off scandals that embroiled Virginia’s three top Democrats. It shows one person in blackface makeup and another in the robes of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Northam initially admitted to having appeared in the photo and apologized. He later changed his story, saying he did not believe he was pictured, but had performed in blackface to impersonate the singer Michael Jackson at about that time.

That led his alma mater, the Eastern Virginia Medical School, to hire the law firm McGuireWoods to investigate how the photo appeared on Northam’s yearbook page.

“No one we interviewed told us the governor was in the photograph, and no one could positively state who was in the photograph,” the report said. “We found no information that the Photograph was placed in error, though we acknowledge there is scant information on this subject thirty-five years after the fact.”

The McGuireWoods report concluded that the yearbook’s production was overseen by students with little or no faculty input up to 2013.

Northam, a white 59-year-old former U.S. Army doctor, resisted February calls to step down from within his own party in Virginia – seen as a key swing state for the 2020 presidential election – as well as from at least five Democratic presidential candidates.

Two other Virginia officials were wrapped up in scandal shortly thereafter, with women accusing Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, and Attorney General Mark Herring saying he wore blackface in college to depict a black rapper.

Polls showed Northam keeping strong support among the state’s black residents. In a Washington Post poll, 58 percent of black residents said Northam should remain in office versus 37 percent who said he should leave.

Northam was interviewed twice as part of the inquiry, and said he was “positive” he was not in the photograph and did not know who was.

“Governor Northam noted that he was very slender in college and medical school, and that the legs on that person are much thicker than his,” the report said, referring to the person in the photograph wearing blackface.

A former school roommate, now a dentist, told Northam and the lawyers that Northam’s teeth “had never looked as good” as the person in blackface.

The lawyers also interviewed five members of the 1984 yearbook staff, among others.

One witness recalled reviewing Northam’s page with him in 1984, indicating Northam was aware of the photo at the time. Northam denied this encounter happened, the report said.

Northam told the lawyers that he did submit the other pictures that appear on his page along with the printed quotation.

Northam’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the inquiry’s findings.

OFFENSIVE CONTENT COMMON

The photograph showing people in blackface was not isolated to the one that appeared on Northam’s page, the report said. There were at least ten such photographs in yearbooks from 1976 to 2013, when the school ended their production.

The blackface content peaked in 1984 and 1985 before becoming gradually less common, with two examples of blackface in the 1984 edition besides the one on Northam’s page.

“The yearbooks repeatedly contained other content that could be offensive to women, minorities, certain ethnic groups, and others,” the report said.

Blackface has roots in 19th century “minstrel” shows in which white performers painted their faces black to caricature slaves. It is widely seen as racist today, but remained a common theme in U.S. television and movies in the 1980s and beyond.

(Reporting By Gary Robertson in Norfolk, Virginia, additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone, Bill Berkrot and Meredith Mazzilli)

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The premiere of Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' in London
Cast member Will Smith attends the premiere of Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’ in London, Britain May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

May 22, 2019

By Rollo Ross

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Will Smith was initially worried about playing the genie in Disney’s live action version of “Aladdin” after the celebrated performance by the late Robin Williams more than 25 years ago, but says it eventually became a joy.

“What Robin Williams did with this character – he just didn’t leave a lot of room to add to the genie. So I started off fearful but then when I got with the music, it just started waking up that fun, childlike, silly part of me,” Smith said.

“This was the most joyful experience of my career,” the actor, 50, said ahead of the film’s release worldwide this week.

“Aladdin,” directed by Guy Ritchie, marks Smith’s first time doing a Walt Disney Co film. The remake features many of the elements of the 1992 animated original, for which Williams won a Golden Globe for his voice work.

“I like the original movie so I’m aware I don’t want to contaminate the nostalgia of the first one,” said Ritchie. “What you want to do is embellish.”

“My principal job was to entertain my five kids and my Disneyphile of a wife,” said Ritchie, who is better known for action adventure movies like “Sherlock Holmes” and adult crime caper “RocknRolla.”

Naomi Scott who appeared in “The 33” and “Power Rangers” plays Princess Jasmine. Mena Massoud, who appeared in last year’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” series, plays the title role in the movie.

“Aladdin” is the latest Disney remake of its animated family film classics. It follows a live action version of flying elephant tale “Dumbo” in March, the upcoming July reboot of “The Lion King,” and “Mulan” due for release in 2020.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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FILE PHOTO: Cast member Keanu Reeves arrives for a screening of the movie
FILE PHOTO: Cast member Keanu Reeves arrives for a screening of the movie “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” in Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

May 19, 2019

By Rebecca Rubin

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put up a good fight, but John Wick put at end to the three-week box office reign of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Propelled by positive reviews, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” beat expectations with a debut of $57 million from 3,850 North American locations. That was enough to nab the box office crown from “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel’s latest juggernaut that collected $29.4 million during its fourth weekend of release.

“Parabellum,” the third installment of the action franchise, opened well above its predecessors 2014’s “John Wick” ($14.4 million) and 2017’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” ($30.4 million). “John Wick 3” also hit a franchise record overseas, bowing with $35 million from 66 international markets for a global start of $92 million.

In “Parabellum,” Keanu Reeves returns as the titular ex-hitman who finds himself on the run from assassins. Stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski helmed the movie, written by series-creator Derek Kolstad. Halle Berry and Laurence Fisburne also star. Males accounted for 63% of opening weekend moviegoers, with 45% of that crowd over the age of 25.

“John Wick 3” was a much-needed win for Lionsgate. Despite the modest successes of “A Madea Family Funeral and “Five Feet Apart,” the studio suffered a string of disappointments with its big-budget reboot of “Robin Hood” with Taron Egerton, a “Hellboy” remake, and most recently, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s comedy “Long Shot.”

“Avengers: Endgame,” which slid to second place on domestic box office charts, has now earned $771 million in North America. It officially passed “Avatar” and its $761 million haul to become the second-highest grossing movie at the domestic box office behind only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with $937 million. “Avengers: Endgame” hit $2.6 billion in ticket sales worldwide, inching toward “Avatar” and its $2.78 billion global box office record.

“John Wick 3” opened alongside Universal and Amblin’s “A Dog’s Journey” and Warner Bros. and MGM’s “The Sun Is Also a Star.”

“A Dog’s Journey” arrived below expectations, launching at No. 4 with $8 million from 3,200 venues. It’s pacing significantly below 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose,” the original film in the saga about a canine’s adventure to find meaning. That movie debuted with $18 million and went on to earn $64 million at the domestic box office. It became a big hit with international audiences, grossing $140 million overseas.

“A Dog’s Journey” also opened with $15.46 million in 14 foreign markets, bringing its global debut to $23.46 million.

Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, noted that the sequel had similar reviews to “A Dog’s Purpose.” Audiences were more enthusiastic than critics, giving “A Dog’s Journey” an A CinemaScore compared to its 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The first film had incredible legs,” Orr said. ” With the holiday weekend, we’re optimistic about the run it will have.”

This weekend’s final new wide release, “The Sun Is Also a Star,” collapsed with a disappointing $2.6 million bow from 2,073 theaters. The YA romance drama, based on Nicola Yoon’s novel, received mixed reviews. It earned a lackluster B- CinemaScore, as well as a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Grown-ish” actress Yara Shahidi stars as a brainy student who forms a relationship with a charming exchange student (“Riverdale’s” Charles Melton), as her family faces deportation.

“It reflects the genre,” Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief, said of the $9 million film’s underwhelming start. “YA stories are really challenged theatrically. It feels like in the future, these kinds of movies may only be on streaming services.”

Another Warner Bros. title, “Detective Pikachu,” came in third place, adding $24.8 million during its second weekend in theaters. The Pokemon adaptation with Ryan Reynolds has generated $94 million in North America.

Rounding out the top five is United Artist Releasing’s “The Hustle,” pocketing $6 million over the three-day frame. Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway co-star in the comedy, which has made $23 million to date.

Ticket sales are have fallen around 10% behind last year, according to Comscore. Hollywood is banking on some big blockbusters, as well as a few surprise hits, to boost revenues during the busy summer movie season.

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, fired back at MSNBC on Wednesday after the network criticized him for supporting a Space Force to protect the United States.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd made fun of Sen. Cruz for raising the possibility space pirates could one day pose a threat high above the Earth’s atmosphere. Included in the package were clips from “Star Wars” and other movies.

Cruz was not laughing and made his feelings known in a pair of tweets.

Cruz wrote:

“Sure, a frigate w/ skull & crossbones in space is unlikely anytime soon, but what MSNBC conveniently omits is the threat of piracy, espionage & violence from rogue & rival NATIONS is very real. Indeed, China has already developed & tested weapons to destroy satellites in space.”

He wrote in a follow-up tweet:

[email protected] You know how to report honestly, and this isn’t it. Next time, include actual facts, not just amusing movie clips….”

President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Defense to draw up plans for the formation of a Space Force, which would monitor the skies outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Lawmakers so far have been skeptical of the plan, with some wondering why the Air Force cannot continue monitoring space.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets 'best fight' MTV Movie award nod
FILE PHOTO: Alice Wisbiski, 22, a supporter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, performs exercise planks in celebration of the Supreme Court associate justice’s 86th birthday in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

May 14, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg scored nominations on Tuesday for the 2019 MTV Movie and TV awards, where she will compete for top honors with blockbuster offerings “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

The diminutive liberal justice, 86, got four nods at the youth-oriented awards show, including “best fight” and “best real-life hero” courtesy of the 2018 documentary “RBG” that chronicled her legal legacy and rise to become an unexpected pop culture icon, especially among women.

The MTV Movie and TV awards usually focus on crowd-pleasing movies and TV shows and have become an irreverent antidote to the winter Hollywood awards season, which honors more serious fare. Winners are chosen by fans voting online and will be announced at a ceremony airing on June 17.

“RBG,” which also was Oscar-nominated earlier this year, got nods for best documentary as well as in the new MTV category, “most-meme-able moment.”

Ginsburg became the first public figure to be nominated in the popular best fight category, in which she was cited for battling “inequality.” Her rivals include fictional characters in clashes from “Captain Marvel” and medieval fantasy television series “Game of Thrones.”

Ginsburg also featured in the new MTV category of best real-life hero alongside tennis star Serena Williams and Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby.

“Game of Thrones” and Marvel superhero film “Avengers: Endgame” – already the all-time second-biggest movie after 2009’s “Avatar” – got four nominations each. They included nods for stars Robert Downey Jr, Josh Brolin, Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams.

MTV again dispensed with gender classifications, placing men and women together in performance categories in a move to embrace equality and gender fluidity.

The June awards ceremony from the California beach city of Santa Monica will be hosted by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Actress Doris Day is pictured at the aquarium in New York City
Actress Doris Day is pictured at the Aquarium in New York City, U.S. in this July 1946 image. Courtesy William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress/Handout via REUTERS

May 13, 2019

By Bill Trott

(Reuters) – Actress Doris Day, who became one of the greatest box-office attractions of her time as the cheery, freckle-faced personification of wholesomeness, died on Monday at the age of 97, her foundation said on Monday.

Day, who co-starred with 1950s and ’60s superstars such as Rock Hudson and Cary Grant, died at her Carmel, California home after a bout with pneumonia, the Doris Day Animal Foundation said on its website.

Her shiny girl-next-door image was built on a series of innocent romantic comedies, including “Pillow Talk,” for which Day received an Oscar nomination, “That Touch of Mink” and “The Thrill of It All.”

Day also had hit records, most notably “Que Sera, Sera” from the movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” It became her theme song, even though she had initially been reluctant to record it.

Day’s life was not always as sunny as her movie roles. She married four times, was divorced three times and widowed once, suffered a nervous breakdown and had severe financial trouble after one husband squandered her money.

“My public image is unshakably that of America’s wholesome virgin, the girl next door, carefree and brimming with happiness,” she said in a memoir, “an image, I can assure you, more make-believe than any film part I ever played. But I am Miss Chastity Belt and that’s all there is to it.”

“She’s the girl every guy should marry,” a critic wrote in the Saturday Review. “Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak? They’d all be trouble. Doris Day would be true blue, understanding, direct, honest, and even a little sexy.”

Tributes to her memory poured in from fellow entertainment giants.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney said Day was a “true star” who had “a heart of gold.”

“I will miss her but will always remember her twinkling smile and infectious laugh,” McCartney said on his website.

“She was a wonderful friend to us and a lovely and very talented lady,” singer Tony Bennett said on Twitter. “We will miss her beautiful smile.”

‘SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY’

Day was born Doris von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati and headed to California at age 14 to be a dancer. She abandoned that dream after her right leg was broken in an auto accident.

Day concentrated on singing and at 16 had a job with Les Brown, one of the top orchestra leaders of the day, and recorded her first hit, “Sentimental Journey,” with him. She changed her surname at the suggestion of a band leader who heard her sing “Day by Day.”

At 17, Day married Al Jorden, a trombone player who she later claimed beat her. Her only child, son Terry, was born in 1942, and the couple divorced the following year.

Day’s movie debut, “Romance on the High Seas” in 1948, was a hit.

A series of musicals followed with Day often playing a singer trying to break into the entertainment world: “My Dream Is Yours” in 1949, “It’s a Great Feeling” in 1949 and “Tea for Two” in 1950.

In 1953, she landed the title role of “Calamity Jane,” and success continued in 1955 as she teamed with Frank Sinatra for the musical “Young at Heart” and with James Cagney for the drama “Love Me or Leave Me.” She expanded her range again in Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of his own “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” which co-starred Jimmy Stewart.

Day returned to light comedy in 1957 with “The Pajama Game” and two years later first joined forces with Hudson for “Pillow Talk,” her most popular movie and the one that earned her an Oscar nomination.

She and Hudson made some of the most popular – and profitable – movies of the early 1960s, including “Lover Come Back,” “Move Over Darling” and “Send Me No Flowers.”

FINANCIAL TROUBLES

In 1951 Day married agent Martin Melcher and after his 1968 death, she found he had left her nearly penniless. She had a nervous breakdown in 1974 and then won $22 million in damages from Melcher’s attorney and other associates who had mismanaged her money.

New success came, however, with “The Doris Day Show” on television, which ran for four seasons. Day did not learn until after Melcher’s death that he had committed her to do the show and she was initially reluctant to do it.

In 1976, Day married restaurant owner Barry Comden but they also divorced.

After retiring from performing, Day worked mainly with the Doris Day Animal Foundation, helping abused animals. Her home in Carmel, California, was usually full of dogs and cats, mostly adopted strays.

She stayed away from entertainment circles for more than 20 years after accepting a lifetime achievement honor from Golden Globe organizers in 1989 but released a CD in 2011. Proceeds from the recording went to her animal foundation.

(Reporting by Bill Trott in Washington, additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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FILE PHOTO: The Viacom logo is displayed on the doors of a building in midtown Manhattan in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Viacom logo is displayed on the doors of a building in midtown Manhattan in New York, U.S., February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

May 10, 2019

By Vibhuti Sharma

(Reuters) – Media company Viacom Inc beat quarterly profit estimates on Friday, as costs fell and its Paramount Pictures division gained from the success of its movies “Bumblebee” and “What Men Want”.

The Transformers movie spin-off “Bumblebee” has so far raked in more than $467 million globally, according to Box Office Mojo, while romantic comedy “What Men Want” has earned more than $72 million.

Since taking the helm in 2016, Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish has focused on Paramount Pictures and the company’s cable TV business, which like its sister company CBS Corp, has been facing competition from Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc’s Prime video.

“Paramount CEO…has done a commendable job thus far in righting the ship, and view the move into TV production as a positive given the voracious demand for TV content by networks and streaming platforms,” Cowen and Co analysts said.

However, revenue at the unit that houses Paramount Pictures fell 1% to $730 million and missed estimates, weighed down by lower licensing revenue that offset higher income from its movie business.

Brokerage Cowen said it sees more challenges for Viacom’s movie business, given that it has fewer successful films.

The profit beat, which was also helped by a more than 11% drop in costs, send the shares of the company as much as 2%.

Viacom also looks to benefit from its recent acquisition of its ad supported streaming service Pluto TV, which had 16 million monthly active users by the end of April.

Comcast recently included Pluto TV in its internet streaming video service called Xfinity Flex and said its set top box that links TV and internet Xfinity X1 will also soon have the streaming service.

Revenue from media networks, which includes advertising sales and affiliate fees, fell to $2.27 billion and missed estimates of $2.32 billion.

Both Viacom and CBS, controlled by National Amusements, are expected to rekindle merger talks after CBS suspended the search for a permanent CEO and extended the role of its interim CEO Ianniello, sparking speculation about the company considering a tie-up with Viacom for the third time.

Net income attributable to Viacom rose more than 41% to 93 cents in the second quarter ended March 31. Excluding items, Viacom earned 95 cents per share and beat expectations of 80 cents. Total revenue fell over 6% to $2.96 billion and missed estimates of $3.06 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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FILE PHOTO: Swimming - 2018 Asian Games - Women's 50m Freestyle
FILE PHOTO: Swimming – 2018 Asian Games – Women’s 50m Freestyle – GBK Aquatic Center, Jakarta, Indonesia – August 24, 2018 Japan’s Rikako Ikee celebrates on the podium after winning the Women’s 50m Freestyle REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

May 8, 2019

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, considered a medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics before being diagnosed with leukemia in February, said on Wednesday her treatment is proceeding smoothly but sometimes she feels her “heart might break”.

Ikee won six titles at last year’s Asian Games and also picked up two relay silvers to became the first female athlete to be named the Most Valuable Player at an Asian Game.

Her rich haul in the Jakarta pool propelled her onto the world stage and Ikee was expected to lead a new generation of Japanese swimmers at their home Games next year.

While announcing her diagnosis, the 18-year-old Ikee said she ‘couldn’t believe it’ and she has since been concentrating on treatment, although no details about her illness have been released.

In March, she said on Twitter: “This is dozens of times, hundreds of times, thousands of times harder than I thought. I’ve had many times where I haven’t been able to eat for three days or more. But I won’t give up.”

On Wednesday, using a newly-launched website, Ikee thanked fans for their numerous messages of support and said her treatment was proceeding smoothly but things were occasionally tough.

“I look outside every day and think that the wind in this season must feel good, and that I’d like to feel the rain, but this has become something to look forward to once I’m released,” she said in a hand-written statement posted on the site.

“It’s going to be a long hospitalization and long treatment, but I think of what I want to do when I get out and am staying positive,” she said, adding she was spending her time doing puzzles, watching movies and other things she usually does not have time for.

“To be honest, sometimes it feels as if my heart might break, but all the things people have said help cheer me on, and builds up the feeling that I want to keep on fighting and won’t give up.”

Ikee’s coach has held out hopes that she could still compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which start in late July 2020, but she will miss the swimming world championships to be held in Gwangju in July.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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FILE PHOTO: World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – Arrivals – Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 09/12/2017 – Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and actress Daisy Ridley. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

May 7, 2019

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co on Tuesday pushed back the release of James Cameron’s sequel to box-office champion “Avatar” by a year, to December 2021, and announced debut dates for new “Star Wars” films starting in December 2022.

Disney acquired the “Avatar” franchise and several other movies through its recent purchase of film and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, strengthening its dominant position at movie theaters.

“Avatar 2,” the follow-up to the 2009 blockbuster that is the highest-grossing film of all time, had originally been slated to reach theaters in 2014 but was delayed to 2017 and then to December 2020.

With the sequel now scheduled for December 2020, Disney moved “Avatar 3” to December 2023, “Avatar 4” to December 2025 and “Avatar 5” to December 2027.

A year ago, director Cameron told reporters he had begun filming on the second and third “Avatar” movies and had written the fourth and fifth films in the series.

The story of a blue, humanoid race on a lush moon known as Pandora, “Avatar” is the highest-grossing movie in history with $2.8 billion in global ticket sales, though box office experts say its long-standing record could soon fall to current Disney hit “Avengers: Endgame” from Marvel Studios.

In between “Avatar” movies, Disney said it would release new “Star Wars” films in December 2022, 2024 and 2026.

The company did not release details, but it has previously announced plans for two “Star Wars” film series – one overseen by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and another to be written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of HBO’s hit television show “Game of Thrones.”

The “Avatar 2” delay moves one of Disney’s biggest movies off its 2020 slate. Films on next year’s schedule include a retelling of “Mulan,” two untitled Marvel films, and Steven Spielberg’s remake of Broadway musical “West Side Story.”

Eight Marvel movies are scheduled to be released between 2020 and 2022, the company said.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)

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