SPOILER: Tragedy and Perseverance as Final Season of “Star Wars Rebels” Resumes

We gave a warning about the possible eventuality of it back in early January, regarding the resumption of the final season of Star Wars Rebels this month. We knew Rebel General Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) would be rescued from the Empire, but at the cost of one of her teammates.

Season 4 of Rebels continued this Monday with a double episode airing, “Jedi Night” and “DUME”, where the Rebel unit of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) launch a rescue of the captive Hera, spearheaded by Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), her second-in-command and now lover. They even admit it freely now.

Unfortunately, death predictions were spot on, and in the climactic sequence of “Jedi Night” Kanan dies when he remains to Force-manipulate the Rebels’ escape craft while standing on an exploding fuel depot. His tragic passing serves a dual purpose though.

As revealed in the next episode “DUME”, Kanan both ensured the escape of his friends and the destruction of the depot, which holds fuel for the TIE Defenders, saving the Rebel organization and Imperial fighter-craft production. Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) tries to downplay this with a victory parade for the death of a Jedi, though her superiors are unconvinced.

Meanwhile, Hera and Ezra are devastated by the loss of Kanan, though Ezra finds renewed motivation upon meeting the unusually intelligent Loth-Wolf DUME, inspiring him to return to the Lothal Jedi Temple for helpful secrets. Thankfully Hera recovers from her own grief, and the stage is set for future confrontations.

The next couple of episodes in the final season of Star Wars Rebels (“Wolves and a Door”, “A World Between Worlds”) will air on Disney XD next Monday, February 26. The last three episodes will come on an epic 1.5-hour season and series finale to air next month, March 5.

Marvel Animation Planning “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” Animated Series with Laurence Fishburne

While Marvel is busy dominating the blockbuster movie industry with its MCU film series from Marvel Studios, it hasn’t neglected the small screen either. From intense live-action series for grown-ups to animated cartoons for the kiddies, Marvel Television and Animation have plenty of bases covered, and are developing more shows.

Now, Marvel Animation is busy with the production of an animated film in the new Marvel Rising label, entitled Secret Warriors. But they’re already collaborating on a new series with veteran actor Laurence Fishburne and his Cinema Gypsy Production. The Marvel Comics characters being considered are both old and new.

The currently-running regular comic-book title Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has been one of the best-sellers in Marvel nowadays. This is the team-up of a classic creation, Jack Kirby’s intelligent red T-Rex Devil Dinosaur (1978) and the super-smart Inhuman Lunella Lafayette aka Moon Girl (2016). Now they’re getting a show.

Marvel made the announcement recently on their official website. The statement also ties the decision to develop this new animated cartoon with the push being generated by the MCU film Black Panther for smart female characters like T’Challa’s sister Shuri.

“If this past weekend’s release of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has taught us anything, it’s that brilliant young girls run the world,” went Marvel’s announcement. “Lunella Lafayette, it’s time for you to take center stage!”

Once the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series is green-lighted, it would be distributed by Disney Channels Worldwide. But there’s no final word yet on whether it will air on Disney XD (like most Marvel animations), Channel, or Junior. In addition, Fishburne would likely be bringing creative talent into this production from his ABC series black-ish and its spinoff grown-ish. That’s all the info for now, but Disney Movies List will be watching for more.

Tokyo D23 Expo Lists Up All “Star Wars”/Marvel/Pixar Theme Park Developments

There have been so many announced new rides, attractions, and whole expansion areas being developed across the numerous Disney theme parks not just in the US but around the world, that it’s getting hard to get them all straight. Not to worry; they’re enumerating them quite neatly over in Tokyo.

Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, took to the stage during the D23 Expo at Tokyo Disney Resorts recently, and shared with the excited audience a nice summary of what to expect from their theme parks in the future. Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel are the upcoming park upgrades.

First to be featured was Galaxy’s Edge, the highly-anticipated Star Wars themed park area, which Chapek says will be “seamlessly connected” to a Star Wars hotel at least in its Disney World version at Hollywood Studios. Anaheim’s Disneyland will get one too, being constructed north of Frontierland and due 2019.

In terms of Marvel, the next important news for Disney World is a ride themed after Guardians of the Galaxy in EPCOT: an E-Ticket indoor roller coaster, one of the world’s longest. They’re even explaining the Marvel-EPCOT connection with a backstory: Peter Quill/Star-Lord visited there as a child, pre-alien abduction.

Speaking of Marvel coasters, Disneyland Paris is getting into the action too. They’re closing down the Aerosmith-themed Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster and restyling it as an Avengers attraction. Chapek adds that Hong Kong Disneyland will also get Marvel ride #2. This one’s themed after the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Finally, Pixar’s taking over at Disney California Adventure back in Anaheim. Aside from the Toy Story Land expansion, Paradise Pier will also become Pixar Pier. On April 13, a limited-engagement Pixar event will also be celebrated in DCA and Disneyland itself: Pixar Fest. That’s a lot to look forward to.

“Solo” Toy Merch Reveals Unused Design for Star Destroyer as New Imperial Ship

In the Star Wars films done by Lucasfilm under the Disney umbrella, some old discarded ideas have found new life. The X-Wing fighters used by the Resistance in The Force Awakens for example, were supposed to be the original concept drawing passed over for the look in the original trilogy.

With the second Star Wars Story movie Solo, coming this May, another recycled mechanical design from the days of Lucasfilm under George Lucas is about to see the light. This was supposedly revealed through the product preview of some Solo tie-in merchandise at the soon-to-conclude 2018 New York Toy Fair.

These Solo: A Star Wars Story toys are from Mattel, which is manufacturing them under their Hot Wheels toy line. One of them is a dead ringer for a design submitted by Colin Cantwell for a spaceship that would later become the Imperial Star Destroyer. His design drawing appears below.

The creation of the #Stardestroyer – I asked George about the scenes. We had a few words in which he described the scenes. I then asked "Is it bigger than Burbank?" to determine the size of the Imperial Cruiser and the opening scenes of the movie. The hatch concept was developed in terms of the need of actual scenes later in the movie. In the opeing I was describing something WWII-ish of a concept with a gunner in the fuscelage. The ship was designed with a lot of thought on what the viewer would experience related to the massiveness of the ship. This involved thinking of things and creating relationships between all of the ships and their interactions with each other. George and I also discussed several other topics in which I asked qualifying questions. This gave me enough information to start designing the ships. It also gave him the information to continue with his work. I was separate from George for most of that time and worked on the final products alone. I started by creating what had to be in the middle and things were added on and so forth. I basically designed this ship and other ships around the function and the impact of the ship on the viewer. The sequence of function and the emotion and it had to feel like it was already there. When starting on a ship, I never did know what it would look like by the end. PS – those fighters in the concept illustration were the original imperial attack ships. I didn't create the #TIE until much later. See the other concepts at www.cantwellcollection.com

A post shared by Colin Cantwell (@colin_cantwell) on

As seen in the illustration, while the general planes and contours of the pitch and the final appearance in the films is pretty close, this Cantwell design looks more like a space aircraft carrier than a battleship, with its open launch ports opposed to the Star Destroyers’ underside deployment bays.

The small fighter craft in the illustration are also another interesting element. They were supposed to be the Imperial star-fighters before the now-iconic TIE Fighter was finalized. The designs were later revamped into the Rebel Alliance’s A-Wing fighters. The Cantwell ship is now called the “Arrestor Cruiser” as of Solo.

Aside from the arrestor cruiser, another Solo toy from Mattel is the Imperial Hauler, a transport ship that can dock with the Conveyex, the high-speed train seen in the film’s trailer. Together these two vessels make for a great expansion of the Star Wars galaxy in Solo, premiering May 25.

Marvel’s Black Panther Now Ready to Meet & Greet at Disneyland’s Disney California Adventure

With just how big in the box office Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has been getting on its opening weekend alone (plus first-week openings where it has premiered worldwide), it was only a matter of time before Marvel’s parent company Disney decided to start capitalizing on the superhero character’s rising star.

The best way to start in that vein was to have T’Challa, Black Panther and King of Wakanda, to start appearing with his fellow Marvel Comics characters (in their MCU iterations) at Disney California Adventure, part of Anaheim’s Disneyland Resorts. Disney announced Monday that he’s ready to meet and greet.

For a limited time only, guests at DCA might be able to catch a glimpse of the Black Panther on his daily visits to the Hollywood Backlot theme area, where other Marvel characters and one dedicated attraction are located. T’Challa will be escorted at all times by his all-female bodyguard.

At certain times of the day, Black Panther and his Dora Milaje will arrive at Disney California’s Hollywood Backlot in an Avengers jeep, whereupon he and his royal guard will give guests the courtesy of having their pictures taken. Do try to be respectful to the King and his minders.

DCA is thus far, the only theme park in Disneyland Resorts and Disney World where one can meet and greet some MCU heroes, or take the first stateside Marvel-themed ride in Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! The only other Marvel attraction is the Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong Disneyland.

With its opening weekend extended to three days due to Presidents Day, the latest MCU movie starring Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther has already reached upwards of $201 million. A four-day projection would have the movie possibly hitting $235M, to become the third-largest four-day opening of all time.

Teaser Released for Disney Channel’s “Freaky Friday” TV Musical Film

Ever since it originally appeared in 1972 as a children’s novel by Mary Rodgers, Freaky Friday has been one of the most well-liked stories ever to enter the popular imagination. The concept of a mother and daughter suddenly switching bodies was just ripe for plenty of comedy and some drama.

It’s no surprise that Freaky Friday has been adapted multiple times on film, TV and stage. Disney for instance had a TV movie version starring Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman in 1995 shown on ABC. Now, they’re going to adapt the stage musical for TV on Disney Channel this year.

The original stage musical for Freaky Friday was developed by Disney Theatrical Productions, making an easy transition to television. Some of the stage performers are also reprising their roles on Disney Channel, like Heidi Blickenstaff as Katherine the mom. Cozi Zuehlsdorff will portray daughter Ellie (and Katherine post-switch, and vice-versa).

Bridget Carpenter, who wrote the book for the musical, will return to adapt it into a screenplay, while Tom Kitt and written by Brian Yorkey, who were respectively composer and lyricist, will also reprise for the TV movie’s musical numbers and soundtrack. Susan Cartsonis and Thomas Schumacher serve as producers.

A teaser for Disney’s Freaky Friday shows the signature scene where the mom and daughter switch bodies. This version has Blickenstaff’s Katherine and Zuehlsdorff’s Ellie doing a tug-of-war with an antique hourglass that triggers their “exchange”. Following a brief moment of confusion, the two of them scream in familiar fright.

Other cast members for the TV musical are Alex Désert, Ricky He, Disney Channel regular Jason Maybaum, Kahyun Kim, Dara R. Moss, Jennifer LaPorte, Isaiah Lehtinen as Karl and Sarah Willey. This latest adaptation of Freaky Friday will premiere this summer, only on Disney Channel.

No Surprise: “Black Panther” Rules in Opening Weekend, Sets New Box Office Records

Friday has finally come and gone. Black Panther, the long awaited first feature of the MCU for 2018 from Marvel Studios, finally premiered in the US and several other regions in the world. Speculation has been rampant on whether the movie would break bank or not. Nobody needed to worry.

Swinging into the third full week of February, Marvel Studios can rest easy knowing that Black Panther’s opening weekend was everything that was expected, and far beyond. What analysts saw as an easy $105-million Friday-Sunday take was handily surpassed according to ComScore. The solo adventure of T’Challa earned $192 million.

In that figure, several records were set or broken. Black Panther is now the fifth-highest gross opening of all time, just behind the first Avengers ($207M) and its sequel Age of Ultron ($191M). It’s also become the new title-holder for biggest box office debut by an African-American director, something Ryan Coogler must be happy about.

Considering that Monday, February 19, is Presidents Day, Black Panther is looking at looking at a potential holiday theater rush that could significantly balloon its figures some more. With an extended weekend to look forward to, Disney is confidently predicting earnings reaching $210M by Tuesday.

The MCU installment hasn’t been slouching at the international market either. In South Korea, where a prominent act of Black Panther was filmed in Busan, the film took a nice $25.3M, helped by its earlier premiere date. Koreans have taken positively to the character, even nicknaming him “Busan Panther” online.

It seemed only yesterday when in 2016 Deadpool, a Marvel “superhero” movie from 20th Century Fox, set a February opening weekend high with $132M. How time flies indeed. Now T’Challa is King of Wakanda and the box office for the month, and MCU fans couldn’t be any happier. Wakanda Forever.