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Matt Damon addresses ‘The Great Wall’ criticism, plus more movie news

Matt Damon has been criticized for his role

Matt Damon has been criticized for his role in "The Great Wall." Photo Credit: Invision/AP / Chris Pizzello

WHO Matt Damon

THE MOVIE “The Great Wall”

THE DEAL The actor earlier this week responded to criticism that his upcoming film — a monster movie set in ancient China — is another example of Asian roles going to white actors. In an interview with The Associated Press, Damon said that his role was always intended to be European. He also expressed hope that the controversy would subside “once people see that it’s a monster movie and it’s a historical fantasy and I didn’t take a role away from a Chinese actor . . . it wasn’t altered because of me in any way.” The movie, scheduled for release Feb. 17, is the first English-language feature directed by China’s Zhang Yimou, whose credits include “House of Flying Daggers.”

WHO Roman Polanski

THE DEAL The director’s decades-old extradition troubles have finally come to an end in Poland, according to reports. On Tuesday, the country’s supreme court upheld an earlier verdict that Polanski, 83, cannot be extradited to the United States, where he was charged with sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 but, after agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge, fled the country before his sentencing. The director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby” has been a fugitive from U.S. law ever since. “We hope that this ruling becomes a stimulus for the American side to perhaps use existing legal opportunities to issue a ruling in absentia,” said one of Polanski’s lawyers, Jan Olszewski, “and consider the penalty served.”

THE MOVIE “How to Train Your Dragon 3”

THE DEAL Universal has pushed back the release of its animated sequel to March 1, 2019, almost a full year from the previous release date of May 18, 2018, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s almost a five-year gap since the previous film, which seems to run the risk of losing young viewers as they age out of the series. Still, Universal waited nearly four years between the first two films, and “Dragon 2” still made $177 million at the box office. “Dragon 3” will feature the usual voice cast of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill and others.

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