Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Is “Wakanda Forever”? Or A Passing Fancy? Reviews for “Black Panther” Sequel Held til Last Minute, Disney Shields Cast from Press Questions About Shut Down


Tonight, after having a strange premiere last week in Hollywood, Disney screens “Wakanda Forever” in New York. Press is not invited, just as they were shunned last week out west.

The press screenings for “Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to Disney’s $700 million blockbuster “Black Panther,” are next week. Reviews are being held until two days before the movie opens in previews on Thursday, November 10th.

The press knows the story of “Wakanda Forever,” how director Ryan Coogler had to recover from the tragic loss of star Chadwick Boseman. Disney has already leaked that the Boseman’s T’Challa, the real Black Panther, dies in the new film. Of what? I’ve heard that it’s just announced he’s passed away from a vague illness.

Disney is heavily promoting the women of “Wakanda Forever” since the only other big male actor of the first film, Michael B. Jordan, played a villain who was killed off. (He’s said to appear somehow in the sequel, maybe in a dream or as an apparition.) Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya also opted out of “Wakanda Forever” after “Black Panther.” That leaves the most likely candidate for new Black Panther in the person of Letitia Wright. She plays Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. In the Marvel comics on which this is all based, Shuri assumes the role. So it follows that she will do the same in “Wakanda Forever.”

Wright posed a lot of problems during the filming of “Wakanda Forever.” She is a vaccine denier, rumored to have gotten COVID at one point. Shooting on the film stopped for several weeks beginning last Thanksgiving when Wright was said to have suffered an injury to her arm. But the injury happened in September, and Wright could not and did not return to the set until the following February. (I doubt her pay was docked.)

Tonight’s events include a screening for the Guilds at the DGA, another one on West 34th St.. — a theater typically used for Black films, plus a party that some of the cast will attend without being questioned about anything by rogue reporters. (This was the same in Hollywood.) Angela Bassett, who plays Queen Ramonda, will not be in attendance. Neither will Michael B. Jordan, who did attend the Los Angeles screening, but is getting ready to promote his “Creed III” coming shortly.

Disney is playing all this close to the vest, apparently, counting on “Black Panther”‘s success to cause a stampede the first weekend — predicting $175 million — before reality sets in. Will fans embrace Wright as the Black Panther? Time will tell.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News