Women’s Week news roundup: ‘Zootopia’ comes home, Paul Feig responds to ‘Ghostbusters’ backlash, ‘Mary Poppins’ returns in sequel and more

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Ginnifer Goodwin gives voice to Office Judy Hopps in "Zootopia." Disney Animation photo

Ginnifer Goodwin gives voice to Office Judy Hopps in “Zootopia.” Disney Animation photo

“Zootopia” hops into homes

Disney’s animated smash Zootopia is leaping onto Digital HD, Blu-ray, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand (does not include bonus) platforms today.

The comedy-adventure has broken records worldwide, earning more than $900 million at the global box office to date, according to a news release. It is also the best-reviewed movie of 2016 so far, garnering 98 percent “fresh” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

As previously reported, the thrilling and thoughtful animated tale represents a victory in a number of ways, not the least of which in proving that both adults and children will flock to a Disney animated movie starring a female character who is not a princess.

Directed by Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), the animated adventure tells the tale of Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a plucky small-town rabbit who dreams of becoming the first woman police officer of Zootopia, a diverse metropolis where predators and prey have evolved to the point in which they live side by side, although not always without friction. Through sheer determination and smarts, Judy achieves her goal of becoming the first rabbit officer but then struggles to prove herself as she faces prejudice and stereotypes.

Challenged by her hard-nosed chief (Idris Elba) to solve a puzzling case on a short timeline or lose her spot on the force, Judy reluctantly teams with a sly fox conman named Nick (Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery and must confront her own prejudices along the way.

Home-release bonus features include candid conversations with filmmakers and artists behind Zootopia, an alternate opening, never-before-seen characters and deleted scenes and a sneak peek at some of the hidden Easter Eggs that make reference to Disney Animation’s most beloved films and characters.

From left, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones star in the "Ghostbusters" reboot. Sony Pictures phoot

From left, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones star in the “Ghostbusters” reboot. Sony Pictures phoot

Paul Feig strikes back at ‘misogynistic’ ‘Ghostbusters’ backlash

During a recent panel discussion Producer Guild of America’s annual Produced By Conference, director Paul Feig talked about the drama that has haunted his Ghostbusters reboot. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, the reboot opens in theaters July 15.

“We still get called, in the press, a ‘chick flick.’ We are never not referred to as the ‘all-female Ghostbusters,’ which makes me crazy,” the Bridesmaids helmer said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It was my idea to do it all-female,” added Feig, who noted he was first approached to direct a sequel to the original 1984 Ghostbusters. “I wanted to do an origin story and I thought the best way to do it was by doing it with the funniest women I know.”

The backlash for the film has been intense since it was first announced, and in March, the first preview became the most disliked trailer in YouTube history. Feig said he was previously oblivious to the darker side of the online world.

“I have been hit with some of the worst misogynistic stuff,” Feig said. “I used to (hear) that people had haters and I was, like, ‘How does that happen?’”

Actor/director Elizabeth Banks appears in a scene from "Pitch Perfect 2." Photo provided

Actor/director Elizabeth Banks appears in a scene from “Pitch Perfect 2.” Photo provided

Elizabeth Banks will not direct ‘Pitch Perfect 3’

Elizabeth Banks won’t be helming the musical-comedy sequel Pitch Perfect 3 after all, according to Variety, which reports her increasingly packed schedule played a part in her exit as director.

Banks will continue to serve as producer, a role she has filled since the first film, and will reprise her role as announcer Gail. She made her feature film directorial debut with last year’s Pitch Perfect 2, which grossed $285 million worldwide, including $183 million domestically.

The multi-hyphenate can be seen next as the villain in Lionsgate’s Power Rangers reboot. She is also attached to direct films including a Charlie Angels reboot at Sony and Red Queen for Universal.

With Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow all returning and Kay Cannon again penning the script, Pitch Perfect 3 now becomes a hot job opening. Hopefully, Banks and fellow producers Paul Brooks and Scott Niemyer of Gold Circle Films will look to give a promising woman director a shot with the latest tale of the female singing group the Barden Bellas.

Gillian Anderson appears in "The X-Files." 20th Century Fox Television

Gillian Anderson appears in “The X-Files.” 20th Century Fox Television

Gillian Anderson joins Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’

The X-Files star Gillian Anderson is joining  Starz’s upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel American Gods, according to Deadline.

American Gods centers on  a war brewing between the traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world and an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), a conman who in reality is one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.

Anderson will play Media, who functions as the New Gods’ public face and sales representative by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to their screens: laptops, TVs and iPhones.

As I reported on BAM’s Blog, the cast also includes Peter Stormare, Cloris Leachman, Crispin Glover, Emily Browning and more. American Gods has started shooting its 10-episode first season in Toronto, Ontario, but Gaiman recently revealed that some shooting also is planned in Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Emily Blunt appears in "Into the Woods." Disney photo

Emily Blunt appears in “Into the Woods.” Disney photo

Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda cast in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Golden Globe Award winner Emily Blunt (Into the Woods, the upcoming Girl on the Train) and Emmy, Grammy, Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights) are set to star in Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to Disney’s 1964 classic, Mary Poppins. According to a news release, the long-in-coming sequel will be released Dec. 25, 2018.

Reuniting the director and producing team behind Disney’s hit film musical Into the Woods, the film will be directed by Oscar nominee, Emmy and Directors Guild of America Award winner Rob Marshall and produced by Marshall, Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee John DeLuca and Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Marc Platt. Blunt played the Baker’s Wife in 2014’s big-screen version of Into the Woods.

The screenplay will be written by Oscar nominee David Magee based on The Mary Poppins Stories by P.L. Travers, with Oscar nominee and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman composing an all-new score and Shaiman and Emmy nominee and Tony Award winner Scott Wittman writing original songs.

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follow a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be asked by Disney to bring P.L. Travers’ further adventures to the screen. The iconic original film means so much to me personally, and I look forward to creating an original movie musical that can bring Mary Poppins, and her message that childlike wonder can be found in even the most challenging of times, to a whole new generation,” says Marshall in the news release.

Travers introduced the world to the no-nonsense nanny in her 1934 book Mary Poppins, which Disney adapted for the screen and released 30 years later. The film, which was directed by Robert Stevenson and starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, won five Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Andrews. However, until now, the subsequent adventures of Mary Poppins remained only on the pages of Travers’ seven additional books, which she published between 1935 and 1988.


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