‘Wicked’ movie release delayed, ‘Minions’ pushed to 2021

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This image released by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures shows characters, from left, Kevin, Gru, voiced by Steve Carell and Stuart in a scene from “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” Universal Pictures said Thursday, March 19, 2020, that the animated film will not be completed by July 3 due to circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. (Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures via AP)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Wicked” fans are going to have to wait even longer to see Stephen Daldry’s film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical. Universal Pictures on Wednesday announced that another handful of theatrical release dates are shifting due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has bumped “Wicked” off the calendar entirely for the moment.

The studio said that “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which was unable to be finished for its planned summer 2020 release because of the outbreak, is being pushed back a year to July 2021. “Sing 2” will now come out on “Wicked’s” original date of December 22, 2021.

Hollywood studios have been scrambling to revise business plans amid the pandemic, which has closed theaters nationwide and halted productions indefinitely. The summer movie season has already taken a hit, with the recent postponements of “Wonder Woman 1984,”“F9” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”And a handful of films have been taken off the calendar including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” Marvel’s “Black Widow” and the Tom Hanks World War II drama “Greyhound.”

Universal says that “Wicked” will be restored to the release calendar at a later time.

DOLLY DONATES, READS BOOK TO CHILDREN

Country icon Dolly Parton is making a big donation to help fund coronavirus research, as well as taking time out every week to read children’s books online to kids everywhere.

The “9 to 5” singer, actress and philanthropist tweeted Wednesday that she’s donating $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, for coronavirus research.

Additionally, she’s working with her charity, The Imagination Library, t o read a children’s book on YouTube every Thursdayat 7 p.m. Eastern for 10 weeks. The Imagination Library provides free books by mail to children in all 50 states.

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL SINGER TESTS POSITIVE

Ray Benson, lead singer of the influential Grammy-winning country band Asleep at the Wheel, says he has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but he is recovering at home.

Benson said in a statement on Wednesday that he had been feeling fatigued and had headaches, but it took several days before doctors would give him a test for the virus. He said he feels lucky and noted that his symptoms thus far have not included fever or coughing.

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AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr and Entertainment Writer Kristin M. Hall contributed to this report.

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