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‘Black Panther 2’ production halted after Lupita Nyong’o tests positive for COVID

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Nakia actress Lupita Nyong’o tested positive for Covid-19, as well as some crew members, causing filming to be delayed on ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is delayed after cast and crew members test positive for COVID-19, including Nakia actor Lupita Nyong’o.

This delay comes on the heels of another, with Nyong’o’s co-star Letitia Wright having just recently returned to set following her recovery from a fractured shoulder and a concussion that she sustained in an incident on the film’s set in November 2021. The positive COVID tests meant that production on ‘Wakanda Forever’ was again halted, a week after resuming.

No details regarding the health of Nyong’o or the other cast and crew members were released. ‘Wakanda Forever’ is the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, which starred the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the titular hero and king of the fictional nation of Wakanda. The plot of the upcoming film was restructured after Boseman’s death in 2020, and although details about the story have not yet been revealed, fans have speculated that one of the existing Wakandan characters will take up the mantle of the Black Panther in T’Challa’s place.

Rumors have been circulating that the film will serve as the introduction of Namor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Additionally, actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus was spotted on a set in Atlanta, indicating that her MCU character the Contessa may make an appearance in Wakanda Forever. Michael B. Jordan is reportedly returning as Killmonger, the antagonistic character who was killed at the end of the first movie, now to serve as a spiritual guide on the Ancestral Plane.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is scheduled to arrive in theaters Nov. 11, 2022.

MOVIES

Scrapped ‘Batgirl’ directors to helm Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in ‘Bad Boys 4’

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Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are poised to return to direct the next film in the ‘Bad Boys’ franchise. Sony Pictures confirmed that the as-of-yet untitled sequel is in early pre-production with the ‘Ms. Marvel’ showrunners returning to direct from a script by Chris Bremner. The filmmakers, who also helmed Warner Bros.’ scrapped ‘Batgirl’ movie, directed 2020’s ‘Bad Boys for Life’, which reunited Smith and Lawrence as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, 25 years after the first ‘Bad Boys’ film was released.

Shortly after the threequel hit theaters, Sony announced that a fourth ‘Bad Boys’ film was in development, and ‘Bad Boys for Life’ went on to earn $426.5 million at the worldwide box office as one of the last pre-pandemic era blockbusters.

Smith and Lawrence announced that the upcoming movie was officially charging ahead by releasing a reunion video on social media with the caption, “IT’S ABOUT THAT TIME!”

The video follows Smith as he drives to Lawrence’s home (camera in tow), saying, “Yo, I’ve got an announcement. Y’all better stop scrolling.” As a little hint, Smith plays the opening bars of “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee’s song from the 2003 ‘Bad Boys II’ soundtrack. “I wish I was you, not knowing what I’m about to show me.”

Arriving at Lawrence’s door, the duo declare that the fourth film is officially on the way. “It’s about that time!” Lawrence yells. “Bad boys for life baby,” Smith chimes in, calling out the duo’s catchphrase and reinforcing the “For life,” as they comically acknowledge that the third film’s title effectively wasted the pun they could’ve used for the upcoming fourth movie. “We shouldn’t have called it that though,” Smith quips.

In July, Lawrence gave an update on the project in an interview for the cover of Ebony magazine, confirming that the movie was still in development after Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, which had caused some to speculate about its fate.

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How ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ passed $2 billion globally

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After six weeks of release, James Cameron’s blockbuster sequel ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ has surpassed $2 billion in global ticket sales. It’s the sixth film in history — and first in pandemic times — to cross the coveted milestone, joining an exclusive club that includes ‘Avatar’, ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Titanic’, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.

The long-delayed sequel opened in December and remained hugely popular in the weeks since its release. Helping it to soar like the original, the release was boosted by Imax and 3D screens, as well as repeat customers across all ages and demographics, propelling ticket sales to dizzying heights. It is expected to continue, even if slowly, garnering brisk box office.

Disney, which holds the rights to ‘Avatar’ after acquiring 20th Century Fox in 2019, spent roughly $460 million to produce and promote ‘The Way of Water’, making it one of the most expensive films ever.

Cameron is responsible for three of the six highest-grossing movies of all time. He’s also the only director with three films to cross $2 billion. Notably, Zoe Saldaña, who plays Neytiri in the ‘Avatar’ series, has now starred in four of the six films to cross $2 billion. She also appears in both ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, reprising her ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ role of Gamora.

‘The Way of Water’ has officially hit the lofty goal that Cameron set for himself prior to the film’s release. Before the sequel opened in theaters, he told GQ that ‘Avatar 2’ represents “the worst business case in movie history” because it needs to become one of the three or four top-grossing movies of all time to break even. (Analysts believe the film’s breakeven point was close to $1.5 billion, so ‘The Way of Water’ has already been in the black.) But in the coming days, it’ll take down the fourth- and fifth-biggest movies, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ ($2.07 billion) and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ ($2.04 billion), to achieve that feat.

The original ‘Avatar’, which debuted in theatres 13 years ago, remains the biggest movie of all time, with $2.9 billion.

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‘Avatar 2’ hits $1.4 billion after $86 million new year haul

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ loomed large at the box office during the New Year’s holiday, generating a towering $86.3 million over the four-day weekend. Through New Year’s Day, the blockbuster sequel has grossed $444.4 million in North America and roughly $1.4 billion globally. It has been holding strong in the time since its release, dropping only 8% in its third weekend in theaters. Over the traditional three-day period, the movie brought in $66.8 million, which marks a 4% increase from its sophomore outing.

With its worldwide ticket sales, ‘Avatar 2’ stands as the 14th-highest global release in history, just ahead of ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’. After only three weeks, it’s already primed to pass Paramount and Tom Cruise’s box office smash ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ ($1.488 billion) as the highest-grossing movie released in 2022.

‘Avatar 2’ is expected to remain a top draw throughout the month of January, which will be necessary to justify its massive price tag. Cameron estimated the $350 million-budgeted movie (not including at least $100 million in marketing fees) needs to generate roughly $2 billion to break even, though analysts believe the threshold to profitability is probably closer to $1.5 billion. As a plus, it looks to hit that benchmark in a matter of days.

The original ‘Avatar’ was released in 2009 and stands as the highest-grossing release in history with $2.97 billion worldwide. The follow-up film, which debuted 13 years later after many, many delays, will struggle to make that much money because the global box office hasn’t fully rebounded from the pandemic. Moreover, China, a major theatrical market, is experiencing a resurgence of COVID and Russia, another big territory, won’t have access to the film.

The film stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver, in the sequel which follows the Sully family as they head underwater to battle the elements and keep the Na’vi safe from humans.

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