‘Wonder Woman’ sequel is a go

Wonder Woman will be back for another solo adventure.

Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics announced a sequel to the Gal Gadot-led superhero film during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

The studio also said it intends to do a standalone film starring Batgirl and a sequel to “Suicide Squad.”

Gadot made an appearance at the news-packed panel, along with other members of the “Justice League” cast.

Ben Affleck (Batman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), Ray Fisher (Cyborg) and Jason Mamoa (Aquaman) were also on hand to reveal a new trailer for the film, which is due out November 17.

The announcement of a “Wonder Woman” sequel was not a surprise.

Director Patty Jenkins, whose return for the sequel has not been officially announced, has been pitching her ideas for the followup in the weeks since “Wonder Woman’s” opening.

To date, “Wonder Woman” has grossed more than $385 million domestically and $770 million worldwide. It is expected to surpass Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” as the summer’s top grossing movie by the end of its theatrical run.

“Wonder Woman’s” surpassed expectations right out of the gate. It brought in $103.1 million in North America during its opening weekend, becoming the biggest opening for a female director, beating the record set by Sam Taylor-Johnson and “Fifty Shades of Grey” in 2015.

The film has continued to soar, seeing declines much smaller than other DC/Warner Bros. superhero films — an indication of a word-of-mouth boost.

No release date for the “Wonder Woman” sequel was announced.

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Movie legend George A. Romero, creator of ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ dies

George A. Romero, the writer and director behind the cult-classic horror flick “Night of the Living Dead,” died Sunday. He was 77.

Romero has been called the “father of modern horror films.” He died following “a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” his longtime production partner Peter Grunwald told CNN.

Grunwald said Romero passed away “peacefully in his sleep” while “listening to the score of ‘The Quiet Man,’ one his all-time favorite films, with his wife Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side.”

“[Romero] leaves behind a loving family, many friends and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time,” Grunwald said.

Romero was born in 1940 in New York City. His big break came with the release of “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968, which was his first feature-length movie and made on a $114,000 budget. The movie, snubbed by the mainstream press, became a smash hit among horror aficionados and gore lovers.

Romero worked on several other projects to little box office success before the first “Living Dead” sequel, “Dawn of the Dead,” debuted in 1979 to great fanfare and critical acclaim. An initial backlash to some graphic special effects helped boost the film’s notoriety, drawing more to theaters.

“Romero has created the ultimate American nightmare. We are feeding on ourselves. Some consider this one of the most important American films of the last decade and it should be seen,” a review in the “Motion Picture Guide” reads.

Romero continued his work in the horror genre throughout the 1980s. In 1990, he rewrote the original “Living Dead” screenplay for the franchise’s first remake. That was followed by “Land of the Dead” in 2005.

In 2006 Romero made “Diary of the Dead,” launching a new cycle of “Living Dead” zombie flicks, which also includes 2009’s “Survival of the Dead.”

His most recent project was a a graphic novel entitled “Empire of the Dead,” which was published by Marvel.

New York magazine writer Cynthia Heimel wrote in 1980 that Romero “is known for making the most grisly, horrifying movies you’re ever likely to see.”

Mike Drucker, the standup comedian and “Late Night” jokes writer, credited Romero with “reinventing” zombies, which, since his 1968 creation, have become ubiquitous in movies, films and books.

World famous horror writer Stephen King called Romero his “favorite collaborator.”

Romero directed several movies based on King’s work, including the “Creepshow” films.

–CNN’s Evan Simko-Bednarski and Lawrence Crook III contributed to this report.

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Disney unveils footage of ‘Star Wars,’ ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ ‘Lion King’

A galaxy far, far away, a TV legend front and center in an adaptation with a modern twist, and an adorable lion cub were the stars of the live-action presentation at Disney’s D23 event, at which the studio unveiled multiple highly anticipated sneak peeks on Saturday.

Among the most anticipated first looks was for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Director Rian Johnson was joined by cast members Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro to show a new behind-the-scenes featurette with looks at the upcoming film.

Those hoping for a full “Star Wars” trailer were let down, but Disney did have the first extended look at “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Director Ava DuVernay, young star and newcomer Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and Oprah Winfrey all took the stage to introduce the new trailer for what DuVernay called “a family story wrapped in an epic adventure.”

Kaling emphasized, however, that the film, based on the 1962 novel, is filled with modern flare.

The quotations spoken by her character, Mrs. Who, for example, were updated to be more “inclusive.” Mrs. Who quotes Jay-Z, among others, Kaling said.

Jon Favreau, director of “The Lion King,” brought with him a piece of footage that elicited the most nostalgic feelings among the audience.

The footage shown from the live-action “The Lion King” was a shot-by-shot remake of the opening scene from the animated film, complete with “The Circle of Life” blaring in the background and a first look at CGI Simba.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn told the crowd the live-action version would be “respectful and faithful to “The Lion King” you already know and love.”

A full trailer for “Mary Poppins Returns” was not ready for D23, but star Emily Blunt and director Rob Marshall presented a rough cut of scenes accompanied by a Disney orchestra.

In the footage, which was not made available to the public, there were sneak peeks of the characters played by Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury.

“I needed to try to pay homage to Julie Andrews but carve out a new space for myself,” Blunt said of taking the role.

The film will be released Christmas 2018.

On the news front, Disney confirmed the development of a live-action “Mulan” film, a project with Dwayne Johnson called “Jungle Cruise,” and the start of production for “Dumbo,” from director Tim Burton, coming in 2019.

The studio showed off a replica of the Dumbo that will be featured in the live-action film, a blue-eyed elephant measuring 3.5 feet tall and 5.5 feet wide, that earned swooning from the audience.

Disney also announced the cast of “Aladdin,” following reports last week that they were having trouble finding a star for the film.

Mena Massoud, (“Jack Ryan”) will play the title role, Naomi Scott (“Power Rangers”) will play Jasmine and Will Smith will take on the role of Genie.

The panel followed what was a slower news event on Friday.

At its animation presentation, Disney announced a couple of untitled projects, including a movie set in a suburban fantasy world about two teenage brothers hoping to spend one magical day with their late father.

The studio has several major features in the pipeline, previewing “Frozen 2,” “Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4.” A 21-minute featurette based on “Frozen,” “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” will also precede its next animated movie, “Coco,” which premieres this fall.

CNN’s Brian Lowry contributed to this report.

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Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 revealed

A new group of stars will be getting stars.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 was announced Thursday with inductees from the fields of music, movies, TV, radio and live theater.

The 12 celebrities to be honored from the television industry include the late Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, Anthony Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Lynda Carter, Simon Cowell, Taraji P. Henson, Eric McCormack, Ryan Murphy, Niecy Nash, Mandy Patinkin, Shonda Rhimes and RuPaul.

From the film industry, Jack Black, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Goldblum, F. Gary Gray, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Lawrence, Gina Lollobrigida, Minnie Mouse, Nick Nolte and Zoë Saldana will be given stars.

Music and performance veterans Mary J. Blige, Richard Branson, Petula Clark, Harry Connick, Jr., Snoop Dogg, Ice T, Carrie Underwood and “Weird” Al Yankovic, Charles Aznavour, Lin-Manuel Miranda, radio host Steve Jones and the late comedian Bernie Mac will also get spots on the Walk of Fame.

Miranda and Yankovic were actually dining together when the announcement was made. The “Hamilton” creator couldn’t help but document the moment on Twitter.

“The craziest part of all this was I WAS HAVING LUNCH WITH @alyankovic WHEN SOMEONE TOLD US WE’D BOTH BE GETTING STARS,” Miranda tweeted, along with a photo of the duo. “FOR REAL.”

Bindi Irwin celebrated the news by sharing a photo of herself as a child with her father.

“Dad changed the world by reaching out to people through their television screens to bring them on the adventure of a lifetime. To have his name on a Hollywood Star means the world as we carry on his important work,” her caption read.

Irwin died in 2006 after a stingray punctured his heart.

Dates for the star ceremonies have not yet been announced.

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Coroner: Carrie Fisher died of sleep apnea, other factors

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Actress Carrie Fisher died of sleep apnea and other undetermined factors, a coroner told The Associated Press Friday.

Officials could not conclusively determine a cause of death, the AP said.

Fisher had a buildup of fat in the walls of her arteries, Los Angeles coroner’s officials said in a news release.

The “Star Wars” actress had also taken multiple drugs, but investigators could not say whether they contributed to their death, the wire service said.

Fisher was 60 when she went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 23 aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles. She died four days later at a hospital. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died the following day at the age of 84.

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Todd Fisher, her brother, said he wasn’t surprised. “There’s nothing about this that’s enlightening,” he told the AP.

He also said it wasn’t surprising that “Carrie did drugs,” he said. Many of the drugs were prescribed by doctors to try and treat her mental health conditions, he said.

“I am not shocked that part of her health was affected by drugs,” Todd Fisher said.

 

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