Disney to open first mainland China resort in Shanghai in June

Image: Shanghai Disney Resort

NBC News:

China‘s very own Happiest Place on Earth will be enchanting visitors as soon as this summer.

The Shanghai Disney Resort is slated to throw open the doors of its Magic Kingdom on June 16, becoming the first Disney destination on mainland China and the third in Asia following Tokyo Disneyland‘s debut in 1983 and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opening in 2005.

The estimated $5.5 billion resort is a joint venture between Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group, a state-owned enterprise that is holding 57 percent of the project.

The resort reflects Disney’s legendary storytelling along with China’s rich culture, and showcases some of the most creative and innovative experiences we’ve ever created,” Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to showing it to the world and sharing it with the people of China for generations to come.”

Disney is hoping to capitalize on China’s massive economic growth in recent years, although forecasts this year have sent the world’s second-largest economy into a tailspin.

The new resort broke ground in 2011 and will encompass more than 960 acres. It will include an Enchanted Storybook Castle, being billed as the largest, most technologically advanced of Disney’s fabled castles.

The park will also be home to different themes, and include Marvel and Star Wars characters owned as part of Disney’s other properties.

How anime ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ beat ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ at the box office in Japan

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Japan Times (by Giovanni Fazio):

As 2015 came to a close, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was the movie on everyone’s lips, with fans dressed up in costumes and camping out to buy tickets, and a social media presence bigger than the Jabba the Hutt. Yet, despite breaking all box-office records on its opening weekend in the United States, the new “Star Wars” ranked only No. 2 in Japan (with more than 800,000 viewers), beaten to the top spot by “Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2: King Enma and the 5 Stories, Nyan!,” which had almost 1 million viewers. A week later, this cheap and chirpy big-screen version of a Japanese kids cartoon derived from a Nintendo game kicked Jedi butt again.

So, the story would seem to be that anime still rules the domestic box office. A quick look at Japan’s top-grossing films in 2015 reveals that six out of 10 were animated movies (three of which were domestic), and anime topped the box office for 20 individual weeks with films like “Big Hero 6″ and “Bakemono no Ko” (“The Boy and the Beast”) beating competition such as “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” and “Terminator: Genisys.”

Then again, opening weekend in Japan is still based on Saturday-Sunday figures. If the Friday opening revenue for “Star Wars” was included, the film would have beaten “Yokai Watch” by a good margin. The force finally prevailed and on week three of release, “Star Wars” is No. 1.

It’s worth noting though that despite the graying of Japan, cinemas are scoring best with films aimed squarely at the pre-teen market.

Aspiring English actor caught on social media pretending to be man behind Star Wars mask, played by veteran stuntman Liang Yang

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Daily Mail UK (by Jaber Mohamed and Mark Nicol):

It was every young actor’s dream to land a starring role in the new Star Wars film.

But Alex Rolt bit off more than he could chew when he claimed he had played a stormtrooper who has become a fans’ favorite in the latest box office record breaker.

The 23-year-old hitherto unknown actor from West Sussex became an internet sensation when he revealed he had played the masked stormtrooper who shouts ‘traitor’ in an intense fight scene with John Boyega’s character, Finn.

Alex Rolt (pictured), 23, had a small part in the film but did not play the stormtrooper in the film as he claimedAlex Rolt (pictured), 23, had a small part in the film but did not play the stormtrooper in the film as he claimed

But Rolt was forced into a grovelling apology last night after he was unmasked as a fantasist who only had a bit-part as an extra in the hit movie.

Fans were impressed when Rolt said he had played the stormtrooper in an interview with his local paper.

The drama school graduate claimed he had been chosen to face off against Boyega because of his fencing experience.

He said: ‘They got me in the stormtrooper outfit but the prop didn’t have a clip or anything on the uniform, so I had to hold it in a certain way then deliver the line: “Traitor!”

Lucasfilm revealed the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really played by veteran stuntman Liang Yang (above)Lucasfilm revealed the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really played by veteran stuntman Liang Yang

The interview was picked up on social media, and Rolt was lavished with praise from fans around the world.

He tweeted: ‘Response I’ve had to playing this character has been phenomenal, thank you.’

But the young pretender was exposed by the film’s production company Lucasfilm when it revealed the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really played by veteran stuntman Liang Yang.

Rolt apologized on Twitter, saying: ‘Sorry for doing this to all the fans.Was a joke that got out of hand. My career is tarnished.’

Lightsaber kendo video brings Star Wars’ Japanese influences full-circle

We’ve heard a lot about Star Wars director George Lucas’ admiration for Akira Kurosawa movies and the samurai inspiration that spawned Darth Vader’s costume and helmet for the series.
Here we can see how the Japanese martial art of kendo, influenced the many lightsaber duels throughout the series.

Star Wars used for revival of wayang kulit, Malaysia’s old shadow puppet art form

Al Jazeera America:

The 7th installment of Star Wars is released on Friday in the United States. In 38 years, the science fiction film has grown into a global multi-billion- dollar franchise. In some places it has even influenced aspects of pop culture.

Now in Malaysia, a group of people are using it to revive interest in an old art form.

NIGO shares his Star Wars collection “RETURN OF THE NIGO”

HYPEBEAST:

Following last year’s “NIGO Only Lives Twice,” famed designers and creative polymath NIGO teams up with Sotheby’s again to launch the first-ever auction of ‘Star Warscollectibles. Comprised of over 600 original action figures, vintage film posters, and autographed ornaments, the collection is NIGO’s declaration of love for the iconic film series.

Presented in a total of 175 categories, rare pieces such as a Luke Skywalker figurine holding a “double telescoping lightsaber” is auctioned off alongside ‘A New Hope’ Stormtrooper Helmet and a Jabba the Hutt cookie jar. In this clip above, the streetwear guru shares his favorite Star Wars episode, explaining how the film’s endearing characters have helped propel his own creative work to new depth.

He also lets us in on old techniques he uses to follow to ensure his collection is up to date; by photocopying images of toys he didn’t have and creating a little flip book catalog which he’ll bring to toy fairs in America.

Is this new Star Wars promotional poster from China kinda racist? It certainly seems so

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RocketNews 24:

The promotional poster for the new entry in the Star Wars franchise appears to omit or downplay non-white actors.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will apparently be the first entry in the venerated franchise to see wide release in China. Chinese audiences’ growing clout in Hollywood almost certainly has something to do with that, with the Chinese movie market recorded as the fastest growing in the world in 2014 and expected by some to overtake the U.S. movie-going public in terms of butts in chairs by 2020.

But it appears that, in Disney’s zealous pursuit of Chinese box office money, the company has allowed a potentially serious PR gaffe in the form of Chinese promotional posters for the new Star Wars film that are similar in nearly every way to the promo posters of other regions except for the glaring omission of several non-white characters.

Hong Kong-based columnist Ray Kwong compares the English-language and Chinese promo posters

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Actor John Boyega’s character Finn – a major protagonist in the film who is also black – is shrunk wayyyyy down in size and pushed down near the bottom of the poster. At a glance, the character appears to have been erased entirely in favor of a more sprawling shot of dogfighting spacecraft. Missing entirely are Oscar Isaac, a Guatemalan-American actor portraying resistance fighter Poe Dameron, and Lupita Nyong’o, a black actress who plays a character named Maz Kanata.

At least one Chinese news outlet says Chinese analysts are brushing off the changes, denying that they’re discriminatory and arguing that the edits aimed for maximum appeal to the Chinese audience and just happened to coincidentally eliminate or downplay all non-white characters. This logic, though, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering that, this being the first Star Wars film to see wide release in China, Chinese audiences would presumably have no affinity with the returning characters from the earlier films – who seem to be emphasized and enlarged here.

Inexplicably, Chewbacca the Wookiee – who we presume needs no introduction on this site – has also been eliminated from the Chinese poster, along with some other subtle changes such as turning villain Kylo Ren more towards the viewer.

Discrimination is rampant in many parts of East Asia, including Japan, and there are many accounts of people of African descent experiencing harsher discrimination than white and Asian foreigners in these countries. In light of this, it seems that – even if the changes to the poster were made purely in the name of economic gains rather than outright prejudice – the idea of the Chinese marketing arm for Disney making these unfortunate changes by sheer, innocent coincidence would be astronomically far-fetched.

Regardless of the exact process that enabled these changes to see the light of day, it seems inevitable that Disney, notorious for carefully curating its reputation worldwide, will pull the posters in favor of something less polarizing.