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‘Gods of Egypt’ Director, Lionsgate Apologize For White Cast

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gods-of-egypt-movie spoon

gods-of-egypt-movie spoonThe makers of the forthcoming film “Gods of Egypt” apologized for showcasing a predominantly white cast amid criticism over lack of diversity in a film based on Egyptian mythology.

The fantasy epic, slated for release in February, stars Scotsman Gerard Butler of “300” fame and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, best known as Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” as warring Egyptian gods. The cast also includes Australian actors Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites and Courtney Eaton, along with African-American actor Chadwick Boseman and French-Cambodian actress Elodie Yung.

The mostly white cast came under scrutiny as soon as shooting started in 2014. “And so, the time-honored tradition of Hollywood whitewashing continues,” Australian writer Ruby Hamad wrote at the time.

There was new attention in November, when production company Lionsgate released the first look at the film in character posters and a trailer.

Actress Bette Midler was among those to call out the filmmakers for casting white men in a film based on Egyptian mythology.

“Egyptians, in history and today, have NEVER been white. BRING BACK GEOGRAPHY!! It’s Africa!” she said in a tweet.

“Dear Hollywood, Egypt is in Africa. Northern to be exact. Why is that so hard to grasp? Stop gentrifying African countries,” former NFL player turned filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry said.

In a statement first reported by Forbes on Friday, director Alex Proyas acknowledged the controversy.

“The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made,” said Proyas, whose director credits include “Dark City” and “I, Robot.”

Lionsgate also weighed in on the uproar.

Gods of Egypt White Cast“We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize,” the company said in a statement. “Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”

Hollywood has a long history of casting actors of European descent to play characters of different races. Even Butler has played a role beyond his ethnic roots, starring as King Leonidas in “300,” a character based upon the real-life king of Sparta.

Thanks in part to social media, critics of “whitewashing” have been able to make their grievances known in large numbers in real time. Director Cameron Crowe came under fire for casting Emma Stone as a Hawaiian woman who is one-quarter Chinese in “Aloha,” prompting him to apologize. Filmgoers also criticized the choice of white actress Rooney Mara to play the Native American Tiger Lily in “Pan,” this year’s live-action retelling of Peter Pan.

Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson noted that the apology was different from director Ridley Scott’s response to similar criticism for “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the Biblical epic starring Christian Bale as Moses and Australian actor Joel Edgerton as Egyptian King Ramses. Scott defended the casting, saying he needed big-name leads to secure financing for the $140 million project.

The apology from Proyas and Lionsgate might be too little, too late, Mendelson said.

“With the caveat that ‘It’s my film and I can do what I want!’ is a perfectly understandable defense and with the understanding that admitting error on an already in-production film doesn’t undo the original subject of discontent, it’s a little refreshing to see the respective parties just offer a mea culpa,” he wrote.

However, if the film turns out to be a hit, “it will be used as evidence that you can get away with this kind of thing and that you shouldn’t take the ‘risk’ of crafting a movie such as this one with ethnically-accurate casts,” he said.

Shoutout: CNN

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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