Entertainment

Steven Spielberg Officially Wraps Filming ‘West Side Story’ Remake Starring Rachel Zegler, Rita Moreno, And Maddie Ziegler

Steven Spielberg has kept Latin Americans on their toes throughout the summer with news and sneak peeks of his production for ‘West Side Story.’ Now, as a close to the summer, he has officially announced that the film has wrapped!

The latest update from the set of Steven Spielberg’s remake of the award-winning classic rings in a new chapter for the film. The next stages will including editing, a film release and hopefully, a diverse and culturally accurate film that does it better than the first one ever did.

To celebrate the film’s potential 20th Century Fox’s official Twitter account shared photos from the set.

Aspects of “West Side Story” might not have aged well in the almost 60 years since its debut, but there’s no denying the beloved film’s position in the classic movie canon. It’s why, when talks of a “West Side Story” remake by Steven Spielberg began to occur last summer, fans of the original film helmed by directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins and starring actresses Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, fans of the original film proved to be less than thrilled. Reasons for the knee-jerk objections to the remake ran the gamut with many of them stemming from fears that a white director like Spielberg being incapable of properly addressing the problems of the original film which included brownface and a mass of shameful Latino stereotypes. This week, after production for the film, announced the actors for the main cast of the film, fans of the 1961 film are resting a bit easier.

Earlier this year, production for the remake announced that after auditioning over 30K actors from across the globe, they have officially filled out their main cast and fans are not feeling let down.

United Artists

The original adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the Romeo-and-Juliet-like story tells of the star-crossed love between Tony, a former member of the white gang known as the Jets, and Maria, the younger sister of the leader of a Puerto Rican gang. Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner has written the adaptation of the musical originally penned by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein.

Spielberg and his team have shown to a commitment to filling out a strong and authentic cast worthy of the adaptation by searching for their actors within the Puerto Rican and extended Latinx community. Doing their due diligence for the film, Speilberg, and writers from the film reportedly met with professors and students from Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras to garner a better understanding of performing arts on the island. They have also kept an open door of communication with Hispanic heritage and advocacy groups who have helped the filmmakers behind the remake with conducting research in regards to the Latino characters of the film and their storylines.

Speaking to Deadline about his approach to casting and researching the film, Spielberg said that “When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community… I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

Newcomer Rachel Zegler is set to play star-crossed lover Maria.

rachelzegler / Instagram

Rachel Zegler is a high school student who responded to the production’s opening casting call for actors with a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa.” The 17-year-old has built a dedicated following on Youtube and Twitter in recent years, showing off her musical chops to her fans on the platforms.

Zegler recently caught the attention of the internet when she shared a viral video of her showing off her pipes.

Zegler sang a rendition of “Shallow” from the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper film “A Star Is Born.”

It’s not the first time Zegler will play Maria forever.

No doubt, Zegler’s upcoming role will garner her far more attention than this internet hit.

Broadway veteran Ariana DeBose will fill the shoes of Rita Moreno in the iconic role of Anita.

arianadebose / Instagram

The casting of 27-year-old Ariana DeBose is sure to increase excitement over the remake. Not only is the American actress, singer, and dancer of Puerto Rican-descent starred in the off-Broadway ensemble of Hamilton back in 2015 and in 2018 she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as  Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. 

Also joining the film’s ensemble are David Alvarez as Bernardo and Josh Andrés Rivera has Chino.


Read: Remembering Miranda Sanchez On The 18th Anniversary Of ‘Lizzie McGuire’

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There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

Entertainment

There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

@officialavatar / Twitter

If you’re a fan of the 2009 film “Avatar” by James Cameron, you’re likely a little over movie updates promising you that it will hit theaters soon.

In December 2009, the film smashed box office records and wrangled in a total of $2.7 billion worldwide. Soon after, Cameron revealed his plans for unleashing several sequels that would surmount the technological groundbreaker, and we were beyond elated. Which brings us to 2020.

For a literal DECADE, we’ve seen the film’s release date pushed further and further away from us and the current COVID-19 pandemic has put the fate of the franchise’s future up in the air once again.

Still, recent updates are giving us hope and some insight into what to expect.

Recently, the official Avatar Twitter account posted a new behind-the-scenes photo of Avatar 2 actors.

The new post features Zoe Saldana alongside Sam Worthington. Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. If you’re a TRUE fan of Avatar you’ll know that the upcoming sequels will feature an underwater world. The latest reveal from the Twitter account gave us a pretty fun hint at what the work going into that will look like. After all, the film’s performance capture scenes that are taking place underwater are a cinematic first!

“From the set of the sequels: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet, and Cliff Curtis taking a break from underwater performance capture for a quick photo,” the official Avatar movie account tweeted shared in a tweet from last week. “Fun fact: Much of the performance capture took place in this 900,000-gallon tank, built specifically for the sequels.”

Saldana, Afro-Latina Sci-Fi Queen, will reprise her role as Neytiri in the new series.

She is set to play alongside Worthington who will return as Jake Sully. Actress Kate Winslet joins the cast as the new character Ronal, and Curtis will play a new lead role.

Production for the first Avatar sequel was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, Deadline announced that production was picked back up in New Zealand. The decision was made because the country has new health and safety production protocols concerning COVID-19. “The country’s lockdown has been gradually eased in recent weeks and further significant relaxation is expected next week, including the permission for gatherings of up to 100 people. Domestic travel and office work is also due to resume,” Deadline reported in a piece about the sequel’s relocation. “The country has restricted international travel and required arrivals to quarantine for a period of time so the teams behind major international productions may need to wait a while longer but the path to a return is becoming clearer.”

After Avatar 2 is released on Dec. 17, 2021!!!

And the fun won’t stop there. Three more Avatar movies are expected to debut in 2023, 2025 and 2027. All featuring Saldana.

The New Mel Gibson Movie Is The ‘Tone-Deaf’ Portrayal Of A Puerto Rico Hurricane We Did Not Ask For

Entertainment

The New Mel Gibson Movie Is The ‘Tone-Deaf’ Portrayal Of A Puerto Rico Hurricane We Did Not Ask For

Lionsgate

We’ll need to take a trip down memory lane for this one.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, Mel Gibson’s career was tanking thanks to a series of controversies that were related to his homophobic, racist, and antisemitic outbursts.

In 2006, the Oscar-winning actor had been convicted of drunk driving and it had been reported that during the arrest he unleashed a “barrage of anti-Semitic remarks.” During his arrest, he accused Jewish people of being “responsible for all the wars in the world.” In July 2010, a leaked phone call between Gibson and his then-partner Oksana Grigorieva had revealed that he’d suggested that if she got “raped by a pack of n******”, it would be her fault. At the time, Gibson was barred from coming near Grigorieva or their daughter due to a domestic violence-related restraining order.

And yet, in 2020, it seems all is forgiven and Lionsgate has so wiped the racist, homophobic, and sexually abusive comments from their memory that they decided to crown him a hero.

Gibson is set to star in a heist film featuring minorities as criminals and himself as the white savior.

Recently it was announced that Mel Gibson will star in a film that features a hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico. “Force of Nature” stars Gibson as a “retired officer refusing to leave his apartment even as a category-five hurricane begins to hit Puerto Rico.” The twist? Gibson’s character is out to stop a group of local men planning to steal $55m during the catastrophe.

Seems kind of right up the alley of Alt-right men…

Soon after the trailer dropped users on Twitter were quick to slam its premise calling it “tone-deaf” and disrespectful.”

While the new film doesn’t reference the devastation of Hurricane Maria specifically, many were offended by the decision of the production company, Lionsgate, behind the film to produce it in Puerto Rico and make the islanders the villains in poor taste.

“It’s outright disrespectful to the people who went through the traumatic experience that was Hurricane Maria, for Mel Gibson and any Hollywood company to come to Puerto Rico and make a movie where the islanders are the bad guys, and he and the white people are the good guys,” one user tweeted in response to the film.

“So I just saw that Mel Gibson is trending and why… ” another user tweeted. “Dude, if you’re going to do a movie about PR being hit by Cat. 5 hurricane, could actually make it something meaningful, revolving around Boricuas that had to suffer through that kind of disaster, and not whatever this shit is?”

Many were quick to describe the film as exploitive.

Even if the film wasn’t exploitive, it is, it’s certainly a completely tone-deaf mess.

Check it out now.