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VARIETY – Six previous Oscar winners are among the 17 presenters announced Friday by Oscarcast producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin.

The winners who will present at the Feb. 28 Academy Awards are Patricia Arquette, Cate Blanchett, Common, Russell Crowe, Louis Gossett Jr. and Eddie Redmayne.

Also on board are Abraham Attah, Emily Blunt, Louis C.K., Chris Evans, Jennifer Garner, Michael B. Jordan, Rachel McAdams, Dev Patel, Daisy Ridley, Sarah Silverman and Sofia Vergara.

“Through their work, these artists have shown us the unique, transformative power of cinema,” said Hill and Hudlin in a statement. “We are delighted they will be joining us on the Oscars stage this year.”

The 88th Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock, will air live on ABC.

This is the third announcement of presenters. The first group was unveiled Jan. 28. The second group, announced Feb. 1, includes Steve Carell, Priyanka Chopra, Quincy Jones, Byung-hun Lee, Jared Leto, Julianne Moore, Olivia Munn, Margot Robbie, Jason Segel, Andy Serkis, J.K. Simmons, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.

TOTAL FILM – Despite getting its release date pushed seven months back to December 2017, Star Wars: Episode VIII has kicked off filming only a month later than originally planned. While several key shots were filmed late last year – to link the film to its predecessor The Force Awakens – Rian Johnson’s eagerly-awaited sequel has officially started principal photography today.

The news hails from Disney CEO Bob Iger, who made the announcement to investors during Disney’s quarterly earnings call. “There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products,” he said. “Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of Episode IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.” John Boyega, who returns to play stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter Finn, also confirmed the start of filming on Twitter.

As for the Colin Trevorrow-directed Episode IX, Iger’s comments aren’t exactly definitive. Does this mean it’s already entered pre-production? That seems a stretch, given that the movie isn’t due to hit cinemas for another three years. Seeing as Trevorrow is wrapping up work on his next film The Book Of Henry, it’s likely that he’s just diving into the story and concept stage for Episode IX.

Iger then goes on to discuss Gareth Edwards’ anthology tale Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. “Filming is virtually completed and we absolutely love what we’ve seen so far. This is the first of a set of planned stand-alone stories and we’re already in preproduction on our next one, for release in May of 2018.” That “next one” is the young Han Solo movie which has Phil Lord and Chris Miller attached to direct.

Directed by Rian Johnson, and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Benicio Del Toro, Star Wars: Episode VIII opens on December 15, 2017. The Gareth Edwards-directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16, 2016. Star Wars: Episode IX opens on May 24, 2019.

Daisy and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ are among the nominees for the 2016 Kids’ Choice Awards, which will be held on March 12 at 8 p.m. Make sure to vote here!

Favorite Movie
Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cinderella
Daddy’s Home
Jurassic World
Pitch Perfect 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2

Favorite Movie Actress
Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect 2
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2
Scarlett Johansson, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Lily James, Cinderella
Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect 2

DEADLINE – In the final feather in the cap of a memorable dealmaking Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics acquired North American rights to The Eagle Huntress, in a mid-seven-figure deal that includes select international territories including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Asia. SPC will plot a significant theatrical release for one of the best reviewed docus of 2016 Sundance, and this is just the first step for a film whose themes of female empowerment will allow it to travel far.

I’m told that Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley will narrate the documentary, this coming days after she signed on to be executive producer to use her clout to help boost the film. At the same time, several companies are negotiating for the right to turn the story of 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv and her eagle into an animated feature, and Ridley will provide the voice for the young heroine. CAA brokered the deal for the docu, and will make the deal for the animated feature.

This caps a storybook festival finish for the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section when it debuted January 24 at the Prospector Square Park Theatre. What director Otto Bell captured on screen is unprecedented, and the film will be a buzz title come the next awards season. The deal means that SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard walked off the mountain with four films, including the Frank Zappa docu Eat That Question, the Wall Street drama Equity, and the John Krasinski-directed The Hollars.

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