Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Names and faces


■ Taika Waititi, the New Zealand filmmaker of Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok, will direct a new Star Wars film. Waititi had for months been expected to take the reins of the galaxy far, far away, having already directed the season finale of the Star Wars streaming spinoff

The Mandaloria­n. But the Walt Disney Co. waited until the franchise’s unofficial holiday, May the Fourth, to make Waititi’s hire official. Waititi will co-write the film with Krysty Wilson-Cains, who wrote the World War I thriller 1917 with Sam Mendes. Both Waititi and Wilson-Cains were screenplay nominees at the Academy Awards earlier this year: Wilson-Cains for the original script to 1917 and Waititi for his adapted Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit. Waititi won. The announceme­nt potentiall­y suggests the new path forward for Star Wars theatrical films following considerab­le upheaval in Lucasfilm’s developmen­t plans. In December, Lucasfilm wrapped up the Skywalker saga with the release of The Rise of

Skywalker. But that release was the worst reviewed of the previous eight Star Wars films and not as strong at the box office. It grossed $1.08 billion. To help rejuvenate the franchise, Disney has turned to Marvel president Kevin Feige (who produced Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok) and Jon Favreau, creator of the well-received The Mandaloria­n.

■ Stephenie Meyer’s long-awaited prequel to her Twilight series is coming out Aug. 4, the author announced on her website, www.stepheniem­, Monday. The Midnight Sun is narrated from vampire Edward Cullen’s perspectiv­e. Meyer had abandoned The Midnight Sun more than a decade ago after part of it leaked online. Her Twilight series has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and was adapted into a blockbuste­r film franchise that starred Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, the teenager who falls in love with him. Meyer had kept her fans in suspense all weekend with a countdown clock on her site that promised a major announceme­nt. The site soon crashed Monday morning, but the book was also announced by Meyer’s publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. “It feels strange to be making this announceme­nt when the world is suffering through a pandemic, and no one really knows what’s next. I thought seriously about delaying this announceme­nt until things were back to normal; however, that felt wrong, considerin­g how long those who are eager for this book have already waited,” Meyer said in a statement. “So, I hope this book gives my readers a little pleasure to anticipate and, after it arrives, a chance to live in an imaginary world for a while.”

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