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Marvel superheroes return to Chinese cinemas after nearly four years

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Marvel superheroes return to Chinese cinemas after nearly four years

Marvel’s superheroes began their return to China’s massive movie market after an apparent ban of nearly four years on Tuesday, with fans streaming into cinemas to watch “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”.

The Disney-owned studio’s hugely popular franchises have been absent from Chinese screens since 2019, with no explanation.

Marvel blockbusters have raked in billions globally, and their return to one of the world’s biggest movie markets means hundreds of millions of dollars in potential earnings for Disney — the first Black Panther film alone took in $105 million at Chinese cinemas.

“I’m super excited,” said a woman named Chen, beaming as she lined up to enter a packed theatre in Shanghai for the midnight premiere of “Wakanda Forever”.

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“I’ve had to use streaming sites to watch the last couple of movies… But I hope this means I’ll watch Marvel movies more often in theatres now.”

The end of the apparent block on Marvel films has coincided with China’s loosening of the strict zero-Covid policies that disrupted its entertainment industry for years.

China’s communist rulers have also recently eased a tech crackdown, including on the lucrative gaming sector.

“Because of Covid, it’s already been a long time since we’ve been to the cinema,” said hospital worker Kun, 25, who came to the Shanghai theatre to watch “Wakanda Forever” with his friends.

“We still have to work tomorrow but it’s a rare opportunity so we came here.”

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For one mother-and-son duo at the Shanghai cinema, the return of Marvel revived a family tradition.

“He’s always been a Marvel fan — during the Avengers series, we would always watch the midnight screening,” said Lin Fan, with her visibly excited 13-year-old son Jiang Xiaoyi.

Next up for Chinese Marvel fans is “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, set for release on February 17.

Lucrative market
“Spider-Man: Far from Home” was the last Marvel film released in China, in July 2019.

The China Film Administration, affiliated with the Communist Party’s propaganda department, has not given a reason for the absence of Marvel films from cinemas.

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During that period, Disney declined requests by censors to remove references to same-sex relationships in Marvel films, including 2021’s “Eternals” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” a year later.

However, the global media giant has also faced accusations of bending to Beijing’s will.

Its remake of “Mulan” faced boycott calls after it emerged that some of the scenes were filmed in China’s Xinjiang, where widespread rights abuses against the region’s Muslim population have been widely documented.

And two episodes of the popular animated show “The Simpsons” have been unavailable on the company’s Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong — one that references the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and another mentioning “forced labour camps” in China.

Regulators and Disney have not publicly commented on the apparent restriction of these episodes.

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A 2020 report by the anti-censorship group Pen America said Hollywood studios changed scripts, deleted scenes and altered other content to avoid offending Chinese authorities.

The report said they had to completely avoid sensitive issues including Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the portrayal of LGBTQ characters and Taiwan — a self-ruled island China considers its territory.

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Sania Mirza performs Umrah, shares photos on Instagram

Sania Mirza performs Umrah, shares photos on Instagram

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Sania Mirza performs Umrah, shares photos on Instagram

Former India tennis player Sania Mirza, the wife of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, has performed Umrah along with his son.

Ms. Mirza took to Instagram where she shared a slew of photos captured in Makkah and Madina, the holiest places for Muslims in the world.

“Allhamdulillah May Allah accept our prayers,” she captioned the photos as she can we seen wearing black “Abaya” while posing for the clicks.

Last month, Sania Mirza retired from the game after suffering a shock defeat in final game of the career.
She played along with Madison Keys of the US when the pair was defeated by Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova in the women’s doubles match at the Dubai Open. The 36-year-old was playing the last tournament of her glorious career after announcing her retirement plans.

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The former women’s doubles world number one was ranked at 28 in the latest Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings. She had won six Grand Slam titles and 43 major titles in the celebrated career spanning over wo decades.

She is the only Indian woman to top doubles rankings, and achieve a career-high singles ranking of 27.

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Food poisoning lands Alizeh Shah in hospital

Food poisoning lands Alizeh Shah in hospital

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Food poisoning lands Alizeh Shah in hospital

Lollywood diva Alizeh Shah has proved her mettle in the showbiz industry with her exceptional acting skills and reached the heights of stardom

She used to treat the fans with her beautiful clicks and videos on Instagram. This time around, the Ehd-e-Wafa famed star has fallen ill as she posted her photo from the hospital bed.

She can be seen lying on a hospital bid where she is receiving IV treatment. Taking to Instagram stories, she wrote: “Pls pray for me. I got food poisoned”.

Alizeh Shah debuted her acting career in 2016, with a supporting role Alina in Choti Si Zindagi. Later, she performed roles in Ishq Tamasha, Ehd-e-Wafa, Hoor Pari, Jo Tu Chahey, Mera Dil Mera Dushman, Bebessi and Taqdeer.

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Taylor Swift kicks off US Eras Tour at Super Bowl stadium

Taylor Swift kicks off US Eras Tour at Super Bowl stadium

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Taylor Swift kicks off US Eras Tour at Super Bowl stadium

Taylor Swift opened her U.S. concert series with a three-hour tour of her career.

Swift kicked off the first concert of the 52-date Eras Tour with a six-song set from her album “Lover” on Friday night at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, where the Super Bowl was played a month ago.

“I don’t know how to address the way this is making me feel right now,” Swift, who hasn’t toured since 2018, said early in the show.

She ended the concert with a seven-song set from her latest album “Midnights,” closing with the song “Karma.”

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In between she played clusters of songs from most of her albums — and just one, “Tim McGraw,” from her 2006 self-titled debut. In the end it took 44 songs and just over three hours for her to span her 17-year career.

Having not toured for her previous three albums, this concert series is intended to play catchup by providing the live debut of many of those songs. When Swift announced the tour in November she called it “a journey through the musical eras of my career (past and present!).”

Swift seemed to acknowledge the Ticketmaster furor that sullied the run-up to the tour when she told the crowd of more than 70,000 that she understands it took “considerable effort” for them to be there.

After another show at the same venue Saturday night, the tour moves on to Allegiant Stadium outside Las Vegas and then AT&T Stadium near Dallas.

It concludes with two Los Angeles-area shows in August.

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