John Boyega: Disney Sidelined his “Star Wars” Character

In an interview with British GQ magazine published on Sept. 2, 2020, actor John Boyega candidly criticized how The #Disney Company treated himself and his character of Finn in the #StarWars sequel trilogy. In other words, #racism marred his time spent in a galaxy far, far away. Boyega said,

“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

In the first sequel trilogy film (“Star Wars: #TheForceAwakens”, directed by J.J. Abrams), Boyega played Finn, a former Stormtrooper who wielded a lightsaber, as a major driving force of the narrative. But in the following two films (“Star Wars VIII: #TheLastJedi” and “Star Wars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker”), Disney & #LucasFilm gave more space to Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and sidelined Finn.

But John Boyega wasn’t only referring to himself, he was also talking about the other people of color in the cast. Namely, Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran and Oscar Isaac: who he feels suffered the same treatment. Boyega acknowledges that some people will say he’s “crazy” or “making it up”, but the reordered character hierarchy of “The Last Jedi” was particularly hard to take. Boyega went on to say the following in the interview:

“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience…’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”

In an August, 2018 essay published in the New York Times, Kelly Marie Tran, who is Vietnamese-American and was introduced in “The Last Jedi” before being sidelined in “The Rise of Skywalker”, wrote about the her own ordeal with racism, saying she had gone “down a spiral of self-hate” due to all the harassment she had received:

“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them. Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”

“[Society] taught me I existed only in the background of their stories, doing their nails, diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests—and perhaps the most damaging—waiting for them to rescue me. And for a long time, I believed them.”

When John Boyega’s face first appeared from beneath a stormtrooper helmet in the first released trailer for “The Force Awakens”, racist hashtags like #BoycottStarWarsVII suddenly appeared on social media. Boyega acknowledged the boycotts in the British GQ magazine directly, saying that he was

“the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race.… It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, I got given this opportunity, but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me. Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and Black that and you shouldn’t be a stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”

Then there was Disney’s official poster for “The Force Awakens” released in China. While it was very similar to the one released in the U.S., Boyega’s image as Finn, which was prominent in the U.S. poster, was severely shrunk in the Chinese one.

"Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens" Posters

“Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” Posters released in the U.S. (Left) and China (Right).

John Boyega’s words in the interview are an indictment on the systemic mistreatment of black characters in blockbuster films, saying,

“They’re always scared. They’re always fricking sweating.”

Boyega also viewed the return of director J.J. Abrams to “The Rise of Skywalker” as a salvage job, saying,

“Everybody needs to leave my boy alone. He wasn’t even supposed to come back and try to save your shit.”

While Boyega acknowledged that “Star Wars” was an “amazing opportunity” and a “stepping stone” that has precipitated so much good in his life and career, he was palpably exhilarated to be finally saying all this. To dismiss his words as merely professional bitterness or paranoia is to miss the point. His primary motivation is to show the frustrations and difficulties of trying to operate within what can feel like a permanently rigged system. He is trying to let you know what it feels like to have a boyhood dream ruptured by the toxic realities of the world.

John Boyega

John Boyega

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Bob Iger Stepping Down as Disney CEO

CNBC is reporting that Bob Iger is stepping down as #Disney CEO effective immediately. The man responsible for purchasing #StarWars and #LucasFilm from George Lucas in 2012, Iger will become executive chairman. Bob Chapek, who most recently served as chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, will assume the role of CEO.

Bob Iger

Bob Iger

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MCU to Lose Spider-Man over Sony/Disney Profit Sharing Kerfuffle, Ending 2015 Partnership

A 2015 agreement between #Sony Pictures Entertainment and #MarvelComics (under the ownership of Disney) has permitted Marvel to be able to have the character #SpiderMan appear in multiple MCU movies to joy of many fans. That agreement now appears to be in jeopardy after Sony walked away from talks with Disney after Disney wanted to change the profit-sharing split to a 50/50 split on future film profits, as well as continued access to Kevin Feige, who has produced some of the MCU’s most profitable films.

According to Deadline’s Mike Fleming, Jr.:

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige won’t produce any further Spider-Man films because of an inability by Disney and Sony Pictures to reach new terms that would have given the former a co-financing stake going forward. Disney asked that future Spider-Man films be a 50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios, and there were discussions that this might extend to other films in the Spider-Man universe. Sony turned that offer down flat, and I don’t believe they even came back to the table to figure out a compromise.

With Sony walking away, they’re taking the rights to use Spider-Man with them. This now means that future MCU movies probably won’t have the web-slinger again, even though he appeared in several very profitable MCU films:

The agreement also allowed Kevin Feige’s involvement in the two most recent standalone Spider-Man films, which also performed very well at the box office:

  • “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, which earned $880,166,924 worldwide
  • “Spider-Man: Far from Home”, which earned $1,110,682,751 worldwide making it Sony’s highest grossing film ever.

Together, these 5 films earned have earned $7,988,469,578 worldwide, which is $4-billion more than the worldwide combined earnings for the 5 Sony-only Spider-Man films that preceded them: $3,963,259,504 (“Spider-Man”, “Spider-Man 2”, “Spider-Man 3”, “The Amazing Spider-Man” & “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”).

Naturally, fans aren’t happy about the loss of Spider-Man in the MCU, but the only players who can do anything about it are Sony and Disney. Actor Tom Holland is also apparently not happy about the split.

Robert Downy, Jr. & Tom Holland

Robert Downy, Jr. & Tom Holland in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

References

Huge Opening Day Crowds at “Galaxy’s Edge”, Disneyland’s “Star Wars”-themed Area, with Some Guests Stealing “Souvenirs”

So just how crowded was the new #StarWars-themed area called “Galaxy’s Edge” at #Disneyland? The area reached capacity on opening day (Monday, June 24, 2019) in under an hour. And, even before “Galaxy’s Edge” had reached its maximum capacity, the wait for the “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run” ride was three hours.

After the area had reached capacity, guests would be allowed to come back later in the day with a “boarding party,” or a virtual queue; but the land was packed almost immediately.

Disneyland had opened the immensely popular land 30 minutes early, at 7:30 a.m. By 8:20 a.m., no more walk-ins were allowed. Then the Disneyland app made it clear that some people might not get in at all:

“Entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or its experiences is not guaranteed.”

By 4:45 p.m. (9 hours & 15 minutes later), the park was able to turn the queue off; at which point guests were once again allowed to enter the land at their leisure, according to Disney.

Wait times for the area’s only ride, the “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run”, varied over the course of the day, but averaged to around an hour after the initial opening line had gone through according to park officials.

Some guests then complained about a number of purchasable items having sold out, including some light sabers and droid personality chips.

Now, barely open a month, and only recently opened to the public on Monday, “Galaxy’s Edge” has already spawned a growing underground market of unauthorized park “collectibles.” Drink coasters from Oga’s Cantina are one popular item. Maps of “Galaxy’s Edge” are also appearing on online auction websites, as are eatery Docking Bay 7 sporks, a combination of fork and spoon.

  • The going price for an Oga’s Cantina coaster is $10. (The coasters are emblazoned with sayings written in Aurebesh, a “Star Wars” language.)

  • The postcard-like cards from the Oga’s Cantina virtual queue.
  • The color-coded flight crew cards visitors receive when they ride the “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run” ride are selling for $20 apiece online.
  • The very popular menus for Oga’s Cantina are being sold for $40.

As the Orange County Register described it:

The “free” collectibles in Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that didn’t have a price tag and weren’t nailed down have found their way to cyberspace with many of the five-finger discount items showing up on the secondary market.

A simple search for “Galaxy’s Edge” on the eBay online shopping site reveals a slew of purloined items that probably should not have left the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre land at the Anaheim theme park.

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Disney Announces 3 New “Star Wars” Films; Reschedules “Avatar” Sequels & Other Films

To seemingly not much fanfare on social media yesterday or today, #Disney announced that there will be 3 new #StarWars films to be released in 2022, 2024 & 2026. In the same announcement, Disney also said that the #Avatar film sequels are being pushed back 1 or more years each, as follows:

  • “Avatar 2”: from Dec. 18, 2020 to Dec. 17, 2021
  • “Avatar 3”: from Dec. 17, 2021 to Dec. 22, 2023
  • “Avatar 4”: from Dec. 20, 2024 to Dec. 19, 2025
  • “Avatar 5”: Dec. 17, 2027

The reasoning for this move was to alternate between “Star Wars” sequels and “Avatar” sequels in the months of December to avoid having the franchises compete for box office receipts at the same time.

The resulting combined schedule for the two franchises is as follows:

  • “Avatar 2”: Dec. 17, 2021
  • “Star Wars (10?)”: Dec. 16, 2022
  • “Avatar 3”: Dec. 22, 2023
  • “Star Wars (11?)”: Dec. 20, 2024
  • “Avatar 4”: Dec. 19, 2025
  • “Star Wars (12?)”: Dec. 18, 2026
  • “Avatar 5”: Dec. 17, 2027

Disney’s announcement also included the rescheduling of large number of other films, including a number of films that Disney acquired with its purchase of Fox. Some of these films now no longer have scheduled release dates.

  • “The New Mutants” (Fox): from Aug. 2, 2019 to April 3, 2020
  • “Artemis Fowl” (Dis): from Aug. 9, 2019 to May 29, 2020
  • “Cruella” (Dis, previously “Untitled Disney Live Action”): Dec. 23, 2020
  • “Nimona” (Fox): from Feb. 14, 2020 to Mar. 5, 2021
  • “Gambit” (Fox): from Mar. 13, 2020 to removed from schedule.
  • “Untitled Fox Marvel” (Fox): from June 26, 2020 to removed from schedule.
  • “Untitled Fox Marvel” (Fox): from Oct. 2, 2020 to removed from schedule.
  • “Untitled Fox Marvel” (Fox): from Mar. 5, 2021 to removed from schedule.

References

Disney CEO Bob Iger: Star Wars Movies on Hiatus after Ep. IX; Disney+ Streaming Service

#Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that #StarWars movies will go on #hiatus after the release of Episode IX on December 20, 2019 during an interview with Bloomberg TV, even though he also said that he’s not at all concerned that consumers may be overexposed to the Star Wars brand. “We have not announced any specific plans for movies thereafter,” Iger said during the interview on Thursday. “There are movies in development, but we have not announced them.”

As to whether or not consumers are overexposed or oversaturated with Star Wars, toy sales have been sluggish since the release of “Star Wars XIII: #TheLastJedi” in December, 2017. The subsequent film, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, which was released in May, 2018, also had very poor box office receipts.

Bob Iger also said that the #DisneyPlus (Disney+) streaming service will begin on Nov. 12, 2019 and that the monthly subscription will cost $6.99 per month.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

Bloomberg TV Interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger

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As of Midnight Tonight, Disney Owns 21st Century Fox

As of midnight tonight, #Disney becomes the owner of #21stCenturyFox.

The deal (which was first announced in December 2017) will see Disney absorb the 21st Century Fox movie and TV divisions. That includes film rights to the #XMen, #Deadpool, and #FantasticFour, as well as James Cameron’s #Avatar franchise, the speciality distributor Fox Searchlight (which released Oscar winners “The Shape of Water” and “The Favorite”), and TV hits like #TheXFiles and “Empire”.

While the future of the #MarvelComics properties that 21st Century Fox had film rights to remains under, here is Ryan Reynolds view on the acquisition as he shared on Twitter:

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