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Star Wars Fans Invited To Join Epic Global Event On YouTube

Toy unboxing phenomenon goes live globally for the first time ahead of ‘Force Friday’

Online event featuring talent from the Maker Studios network gives fans first look at film-inspired toys ahead of midnight madness at retail

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens products are set to be unveiled in the world’s first-ever global live toy unboxing event. Unfolding over 18 hours in 15 cities and 12 countries, the event will see highlights from the range of epic merchandise revealed in a rolling New Year’s Eve style celebration featuring top digital stars from the Maker Studios network.

Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the Saga,” says Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Kicking off in Sydney, Australia on the morning of September 3, and continuing through Asia, Europe, Canada, and North & South America, selections from the new toy line will debut to global fanfare leading up to retailers around the globe opening their doors at midnight.

“Over the course of 18 hours, some of Maker Studios’ biggest stars will each be unboxing a new toy from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens product line in a different city around the world and sharing the experience live on YouTube.” said Leslie Ferraro, President, Disney Consumer Products. “We’ve seen tremendous excitement for these new products and can’t wait to see the global reaction from the Star Wars fan community.”

The Star Wars YouTube channel will host the live stream, which kicks off with the first unboxing in Sydney, Australia at 7:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, Sept. 3 (5:45 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 2), with the grand finale at Lucasfilm in San Francisco at 8 a.m. PDT  (11 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, Sept. 3. Each of the 15 locations will reveal a new product inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

These “unboxing” videos will feature online personalities sharing the excitement of opening the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Unboxing videos overall have captivated millions of Internet viewers and continue to grow in popularity. Eighteen of the top 100 most viewed YouTube Channels worldwide are dedicated to toys and toy unboxings. These 18 channels accounted for 8.1 billion views in Q1 2015.[1]

“We’re excited to be part of this first-of-its-kind initiative,” said Chris M. Williams, Chief Audience Officer, Maker Studios. “The unboxing world continues to expand rapidly as audiences around the world connect with digital creators who share their passions. This shared fandom helps attract billions of monthly views and consistently puts the genre at the top of the YouTube charts.”

The global unboxing event will incorporate traditional toy unboxers such as the popular EvanTubeHD, channels featuring families such as Bratayley, lifehack specialists such as ExpCaseros, gamers such as AlexBy11 and Star Wars fans from around the world, including Chris Pirillo, bringing with them a broad audience and appeal. The global line-up includes:

COUNTRY CITY MAKER TALENT LOCAL TIME 9/3 EDT
Australia Sydney Bratayley 07:45 17:45 9/2
Japan Tokyo Einshine 11:00 22:00 9/2
Korea Seoul Dollastic 12:00 23:00 9/2
Hong Kong Hong Kong Dante Basco 12:00 00:00 9/3
France Paris AyPierre 09:00 03:00 9/3
Spain Madrid AlexBy11 11:00 05:00 9/3
Germany Berlin Reyst 12:00 06:00 9/3
England London GamingBeaver 11:30 06:30 9/3
Brazil Rio de Janeiro Malena010102 08:30 07:30 9/3
USA New York EvanTubeHD 08:30 08:30 9/3
Canada Toronto Quill18 09:00 09:00 9/3
USA Chicago HobbyKidsTV 08:30 09:30 9/3
Mexico Mexico City ExpCaseros 09:30 10:30 9/3
USA San Francisco Chris Pirillo 08:00 11:00 9/3

The full schedule also is available at www.StarWars.com.

Several countries will join the live stream from YouTube Spaces (Berlin, Tokyo, London), with Star Wars commentators Anthony Carboni and Andi Gutierrez hosting the event from the YouTube Space, Los Angeles.

Fans can tune in to watch live unboxings at home or on mobile devices, and also enjoy the latest trailers on the upcoming movie, commentary from special guests, fun product videos and demos, and footage from recent Star Wars events.

The global celebration culminates at midnight local time, when many retailers around the world will open their doors to fans to purchase Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys, collectibles, books, apparel and more. Visit starwars.com for more details on participating locations. Additionally, select Disney Store locations around the world will take part.  More details are available at www.DisneyStore.com/ForceFriday.

Fans are encouraged to document their experiences around the event on social media using the hashtag #ForceFriday.

South Africa is getting into the action too!

Happening now until 7 September, visitors to Sandton City in Johannesburg and Canal Walk in Cape Town, will be able take a trip through the Star Wars universe that will showcase art gallery installations of some of the most iconic moments from the six Star Wars films. Together with fun facts and behind the scenes details, the installation will also feature some of the iconic Lego® Star Wars sets that have captured the imaginations of young (and old) fans alike for decades.

The details:

  • Sandton City: Mr Price Court (Rivonia Road, Sandton)
  • Canal Walk Shopping Centre: Edgars Court (Century City Boulevard, Milnerton)

The Black Box:

Visitors to the exhibition will notice a mysterious black box, situated in the center of the exhibition. As Star Wars: The Force Awakens product is steadily revealed across the globe in celebration of Force Friday (4 September), the black box will be unveiled, showcasing the brand new products and merchandise from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with information on where South African Star Wars fans will be able to get their hands on the product.

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Disney Channel Open Window To DStv Compact And Extra

To celebrate the exclusive launch of the highly anticipated Disney Channel Original Movie, Descendants, Disney Channel (DStv channel 303) will be open to DStv Extra and Compact customers from 8 September to 28 September 2015.

Descendants is a musical fantasy television movie featuring the children of Disney’s most infamous villains. Set in present-day magical kingdom of Auradon, the story follows Prince Ben, the son of King Beast and Queen Belle, who’s poised to take over the throne. His first official proclamation is to give redemption to the children of defeated and exiled villains and give them a chance to live in Auradon. The teenage children of the likes of Maleficent, Cruella de Vil and the Evil Queen are then granted permission to attend prep school alongside the kids of Disney heroes’ like Fairy Godmother, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan. What follows is a classic Disney superhero vs supervillain showdown – will these children follow in their parent’s evil footsteps or will they choose to embrace their goodness and save the kingdom? Starring Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart and Sofia Carson, Descendants will premiere on Disney Channel (DStv channel 303) on Friday, 18 September at 5pm.

DStv customers can also look forward to the launch of a new season of the hit telenovela, Violetta (Season 3) which premiers on 21 September at 4:10pm. This will be followed by Disney Channel’s first South African local production, I Love Violetta on Friday 25 September at 5pm. I Love Violetta is a companion series hosted by three local presenters who were selected from hundreds of entries following a nationwide talent search earlier this year, who will be taking viewers through all things Violetta.

The entertainment doesn’t stop there! Customers will also get to catch brand new premiere episodes of new and fan favourites such as Jessie, Liv & Maddie, I Didn’t Do It and The Next Step as well as a slew of classic original Disney movies like The Incredibles, Enchanted and The Princess Diaries.

The whole family is in for a treat this September as DStv Extra and Compact customers get to sample some of Disney Channel’s exclusive hit shows and original classics, only on DStv Channel 303.

For more information, visit DStv.com.

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Nick Soul Continues To Shine – This Time In Music

Celebrated actor, singer and master of ceremonies, Nicholas Nkuna a.k.a Nick Soul has hooked up with award-winning music producer Kris J for his debut album project.

Family, fans and friends of Nick Soul are in for a treat as one of the songs, “Colours” will be revealed during his 27th birthday celebration taking place this Sunday 30 August at the legendary Hard Rock Café in Sandton, Johannesburg. Denise Zimba, the controversial Vuzu presenter, will be hosting the event.

“I can’t wait to release my debut album, it’s inspired by my life journey with all its blessings, heartache, fun and so on; things that are common to all of us” commented Nick Soul.

In 2012, Nick Soul was catapulted onto the world stage at the tender age of 23 when he was cast as ‘Simba’ in The Lion King, United Kingdom and Ireland tour. He was also the youngest (at age 22) to ever play ‘Phantom’ in Phantom of the Opera (Monte Casino Teatro, Johannesburg 2011-2012).

Kris J has been on the South African Music scene for close to a decade and has worked with big names in the industry such as Euphonik, Oskido, Vusi Nova, DJ Cindo, Big Nuz, Donald and many more.

“It’s expected for producers to give positive comments about the artists they work with but I must say Nick Soul is exceptional as he brings a unique style into the ever-changing music industry; I believe his style will resonate throughout Africa and beyond” shared Kris J.

Other artists to Kris J’s resume include Stone Bwoy from Ghana, Victor Pedro from Nigeria, Buffalo Soldier from Zimbabwe and Big Nelo from Angola.

From hustling in the in streets of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga to gracing world famous stages, Nick Soul is one of the freshest faces in Mzansi and is also well-known for his role as ‘Sakhile’ in SABC1’s hit series Skeem Saam.

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The Writers’ Table Screen Writing Initiative

Ochre Moving Pictures and Rififi Pictures in association with Indigenous Films and Times Media Films will be launching the second of its training programmes for screen writing in September 2015. Following its initial programme targeting writing for soap opera, the second programme will target the category of feature film writing.

The programme will target the development of low budget film projects that fall under the categories of Comedy, Coming of Age and family orientated films specifically targeting Black South African audiences. The programme, which will be offered free of charge to successful applicants, is facilitated through guidance and nurturing by leading industry professionals. Successful applicants will begin the programme with a film project of their own that fits the targeted genre and will be given support and guidance in developing their idea. At the end of the programme at least two projects will be selected and the candidates funded for a script development phase and the projects will then be financed as part of an annual slate of low cost local productions to be produced by Ochre Moving Pictures and Rififi Pictures.

The programme, will consist of full day workshops every week with schedules of work to be completed between each workshop. Applicants must be able to commit to an eight week period and have the time and capacity to deliver the workload to deadlines. The programme will begin on the 26th of September 2015.

Applicants are not required to have any formal qualifications, but must provide proven records of their writing skills and experience through the submission of any piece of writing (not necessarily for screen) which has appeared in the public domain (published, produced or appeared online) as well as a short outline of their project in no more than 250 words in English. Applicants are also required to be able to verbally pitch an idea in English.

Both pieces of writing, along with a short CV must be emailed to info@ochre.co.za attention Liesl Thomson by 09h00 on Monday 31st of August 2015. No late applications will be accepted. Successful applicants will be notified by email or phone on 11th of September 2015.

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New SA Films Opening On 28 August Home In On Crime And Corruption

Corruption, fraud and bribery make the headlines every day in South Africa, so it’s no surprise that that local filmmakers are delving into what has become a national sport in the country.

Friday, 28 August sees the opening of two new films that tackle the issue of corruption, albeit in very different ways. The first is Leon Schuster’s latest comedy caper, Schuks! Pay Back the Money. Directed by Gray Hofmeyr, it stars Schuster setting off on a riotous journey to pay for what he has done, after losing rugby’s Currie Cup. In lieu of a R1 million fine, the Sports Minister (Desmond Dube) offers Schuks a lifeline to create a documentary film that shows South Africa in a positive light. Schuks meets two clueless crooks, an enterprising traffic officer and a conniving pawnbroker, along the way, and his “documentary” features a series of candid camera gags.

At the other end of the spectrum is filmmaker Jyoti Mistry’s new film ‘Impunity’, a profound investigation into contemporary South Africa and the seat of power. ‘Impunity’ was made possible through a generous grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the principal funder, to Blackboard Trust.

In a country where people who commit crime are often seen to be exempt from punishment, or free from the consequences of their actions, the film reflects on the nature of corruption and violence.

“The film invites self-reflection,” says Mistry. “Having screened the film at the Toronto Film Festival in 2014, and earlier this year at the Durban International Film Festival, I’m interested to see how general South African audiences respond to the story and the visual language of the film.”

‘Impunity’ tells the story of an attractive young couple, Derren (Bjorn Steinbach) and Echo (Alex McGregor), who work as waiters. A Special Crimes Unit investigator Dingande Fakude (Desmond Dube) and a local police detective and trained psychologist Naveed Khan (Vaneshran Arumugam), take them in for questioning after a high-profile murder.

The two lawmen find themselves caught up in political corruption and conspiracy when they investigate the gruesome killing of a cabinet minister’s daughter, found in an exclusive African safari resort after a party celebrating her engagement to a rising political star.

It soon becomes clear that Derren and Echo, who were working as waiters at the engagement party, are caught up in a frenzied, bloody adventure. As Dingande and Naveed begin to piece events together, it seems the perpetrators will be brought to book. Instead, however, they are drawn further into the high-profile murder case. Eventually, as they uncover a trail of murders, they are faced with a moral dilemma involving the new political elite.

The film is interspersed with cuts to security-cam and news footage of violence, both criminal and accidental, as well as newspaper headlines highlighting some of the estimated 650 000 violent crimes that take place each year. The Toronto Film Festival organisers described “‘Impunity’” as “an eye-opening jolt, casting an unwavering gaze on South Africa’s increasingly troubling surrender to the banality of violence.”

‘Impunity’ is produced by Blackboard Trust, Shadowy Meadows Productions and Bioskope Pictures, with additional funding from the Department of Trade and Industry, National Film and Video Foundation, and the Gauteng Film Commission. The film opens in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town on 28 August.

impunity_film

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Brotherhood Of Blades (DVD): Review

The Film

Xiu Chun Dao, or Brotherhood Of Blades (to use it’s English name), is a story set in the late Ming Dynasty. Telling the story of three (Lu Jian Xing, Shen Lian and Jin Yichuan)Palace Assassins, as they struggle to maintain their honour and ethics, amidst all the corruption, and evils of the city, where life is taken in an instant by the stroke of a sword.

While the story is about the three elite warriors, it goes far beyond this, inviting the viewer to take a peak under the veil of secrecy and into this secret world.

Sworn brothers, the bond between these three is tested to breaking point, as they both struggle to maintain this connection, and fulfil their own goals.

While Brotherhood Of Blades is full of expertly choreographed and executed fight scenes, masterfully directed, with such skilled fighters that it feels more like a ballet, and it is only once blood is spilt, that one remembers the characters are likely fighting to the death, and not merely dancing.

While these fights are plentiful, the story is not just one about violence and corruption, at its heart, it is a love story. A love for a beautiful young girl, admired from afar for many years, and a story of love for a brother in arms, for whom one would give their life.

Brotherhood Of Blades is an enjoyable tale, with excellent choreography, and anyone who enjoys the martial arts is sure to add this to their collection.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning there are no visible artefacts, and it can be scaled up to a larger, or higher resolution screen, via software or hardware.

As the film dialogue is in Mandarin, with some Mongolian, English viewers will be reliant on subtitles. This are rather fast to appear on-screen in several places, which would prompt slower readers to pause the disc on occasion in order to keep up with what is being said. Thankfully this doesn’t cause one to be totally lost. Viewers with smaller, or older screens might have a bit of a tough time with the test, if it is not clear on their screens, however those with larger screens (especially those with flat panels) shouldn’t have any problem.

Audio is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, adding to the on-screen action, and broadening the story environment, drawing the user in to the drama, and making them a part of the action.

There is unfortunately no bonus content on the disc, other than a few trailers at the beginning.

Brotherhood Of Blades is available for purchase now, on disc, in South Africa.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Nightcrawler (DVD): Review

The Film

Nightcrawler, starring Oscar nominated Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom, on his journey from petty thief to not only an observer of the news, but a manipulator and participant. Working at times with new veteran Nina (Rene Ruso). We are taken on a trip into the sordid underground of freelance news reporting, where being first is all that matters, and where some will step over morals and ethics in order to make a quick buck.

For those who missed the cinema release of Nightcrawler, this is certainly a display of filmmaking and acting talent that is not to be missed.  Those who did catch it on the big screen, the value in multiple viewings is still quite high, and affords the viewer more time to notice and marvel at the increasing psychosis and moral decay of Louis. While the plot should not come as much of a surprise in subsequent viewings, there is opportunity, given hindsight, to pick up on the subtle hints and foreshadowing that are easy to miss the first time, especially given the pace of some events.

Nightcrawler remains a top film, and an excellent addition to any aficionados movie collection.

Read the full Nightcrawler film review here.

Disc And Bonus Features

As any disc should be these days, this one is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning the image is clear, with no visible on-screen artefacts. For those with larger, or higher resolution screens, they would have the option to scale the image up if they have the relevant hardware or software capability to do so.

Sound is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, adding to the on-screen action, and helping to make the viewer a part of the action and drama, as those unfold.

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc, apart from a few trailers at the beginning.

Nightcrawler is available now for purchase, on disc, in South Africa.

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Demonic (DVD): Review

The Film

While investigating the violent and bloody murders of a group of college students, Detective Lewis (Frank Grillo) finds the traumatised John (Dustin Milligan). With the help of his girlfriend, police psychologist Dr. Klein, Lewis begin to uncover the strange supernatural tale that lead to this event.

Demonic presents the story of the gruesome events of the house to us in the form of footage recovered as the students filmed their activities, while attempting a seance and investigate murders that too place in the house previously. This attracts the attention of an evil, and so sets the path of death, destruction and fear.

The viewer is as much in the dark as the police as the story begins, and learns new information along with Lewis and Klein, as fast as the police technical team can recover the video footage of corrupted hard drives. This not only keeps the tension high, but also introduces enough twists, turns and uncertainty that one never quite able to out-guess the plot, and make predictions on the story.

Demonic is a creepy horror, filled with a handful of the jump-scare cliches, but it builds enough tension and fear to be enjoyable to fans of the genre. The characters are well cast, and tend so slew away from the stereotypical personalities that many other films in this genre tend to contain, and present us with characters with some substance.

Well presented, and enjoyable, Demonic is definitely one for fans of horror.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning those who wish can scale this up to a higher resolution via hardware or software. The video looks good in a higher resolution screen.

Audio is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, and make extensive use of this, from the many subtleties throughout the film, to some rather creepy moments, instilling in the viewer the need to resist looking behind oneself, just to make sure there isn’t anything there.

There is unfortunately no additional content on the disc, other than a few trailers at the beginning.

Demonic is available to purchase now, on disc, in South Africa.

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Verskietende Ster To Premier At Silweskermfees

‘Verskietende Ster’, the new film directed by Darrel James Roodt, has been officially selected to premiere on 27 August, at the fifth kykNET Silwerskermfees, which takes place from 26 to 29 August in Camps Bay, Cape Town. This year’s festival features 15 short films as well as numerous full length and documentary films.

The film tells the story of musical prodigy Phillip Schuman, a talented 15-year-old pianist whose genius is threatened by weight of the world. When subject advisor Max du Toit, sees him performing one of his own compositions, he immediately recognises that the boy has the talent to become a modern Beethoven. He takes Phillip under his wing but soon realises that things are not going to be as easy as he might have thought.

Phillip’s father Tomas is mourning the death of his beautiful wife Maria, and forbids Phillip from ever touching a piano again. What follows is a true life drama about the conflicted relationship between a boy and his father. When Tomas reveals a shocking truth, Phillip is forced to choose between forgiveness and living in the past.

The film, which features a number of industry heavyweights, was produced by long-time collaborators Philo Pieterse and Stefan Enslin.

“We are incredibly proud that Verskietende Ster has been selected to screen at the Silwerskermfees,” says Pieterse. “The film is not simply an inspirational tale that shows how there is a reason why certain people are born with special talents, but it’s also a moving exploration of the power of forgiveness. It’s a stirring story that is bound to move audiences, and we look forward to the response of the festivalgoers, who are true film lovers.”

A stalwart of the local film industry, Pieterse, and his production company Philo Films, has been involved with some of the highest grossing South African films, including e’Lollipop, the runaway success Platteland and, most recently, the hugely popular Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente.

Enslin, who wrote the screenplay for ‘Verskientende Ster’ also wrote the novel of the same name on which his screenplay is based. Enslin is the founder of Faith in Motion Productions, a film production company focusing on stories with an inspirational message. He acted as consultant producer and script editor for the box office hit Klein Karoo (2013), and also co-wrote and produced Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente.

Roodt is one of South Africa’s most dominant and prolific directors and screenwriters. In 1992 he directed the critically acclaimed film Sarafina. His 2004 film ‘Yesterday’ was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film stars young actor Deànré Reiners in the role of Phillip Schuman. Reiners will be familiar to soapie fans for his role as Emil in Binnelanders. In 2014, his matric year, he appeared in Roodt’s “Seun”, which premiered at the Silwerskermfees, and he won the “Audience Choice” award for best Actor. In the role of Tomas Schuman is Hykie Berg, a former ‘Survivor SA’ winner, who appeared in ‘Klein Karoo’, ‘Plek van die Vleisvreters’ (2004) and ‘Forsaken’ (2015). Jana Strydom, best known for her television roles in ‘7de Laan’, ‘Erfsondes’ and ‘Swartwater’, plays Maria Schuman.

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M-Net Movies And MultiChoice Launch Star Wars Pop-Up Channel

M-Net Movies and MultiChoice are making African television history with a new pop up channel featuring all six epic films from the Star Wars Saga. From 31 August until 13 September DStv Premium customers will be transported to a galaxy far, far away with a special channel on M-Net Movies 109. This groundbreaking two week long addition to the existing nine M-Net Movies channels on DStv is the continent’s very first events channel built around international movies, as well as Africa’s first channel dedicated to all things Star Wars.

Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and all the other iconic Star Wars characters will wield their lightsabers on channel 109 on DStv Premium, which will feature all the Star Wars movies, as well as other programming linked to the franchise.

Each day of the week, starting 31 August, the M-Net Movies Star Wars channel will screen one of the blockbusters that dominated global popular culture since its epic release in 1977 – from the cult classic Star Wars: A New Hope with which George Lucas introduced us to Star Wars mythology to 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith which was praised for its mind-blowing digital effects. The movies will play in chronological order of release at 19:30 CAT as well as at 06:00 CAT on the same day, while those who missed out on the action during the week can binge-watch the entire galactic saga from beginning to end on Sundays.

The movies will be interspersed with animated features and series, featurettes, documentaries and other delights from the Star Wars universe.

“This is a great coup for us,” says M-Net CEO South Africa Yolisa Phahle.”Creating a movie channel dedicated to Star Wars is an initiative that Star Wars fans will enjoy, but we also hope to introduce this iconic programming to a new audience. Pop-up television channels are currently all the rage worldwide and our M-Net Movies Star Wars channel once again shows that we continue to align ourselves with the hottest trends and biggest brands whilst embracing the future of visual entertainment.”

With this M-Net Movies Pop-Up channel fans will be able to enjoy all their favourite Star Wars battles, plots and characters before the cinematic release of the brand-new Star Wars film later this year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is due for release by the Walt Disney Company in December 2015.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, to audiences in this first-for-Africa television event with DStv,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for The Walt Disney Company Africa. “This is a perfect opportunity for families to experience some of the world’s most unforgettable characters and stories to screens across the continent.”

In addition to the Star Wars content available to DStv Premium customers on channel 109, young and old alike can also look forward to a magical Star Wars online experience on www.mnet.tv.

From Wookies to Droids and bounty hunters to Sith lords, the M-Net Movies Star Wars Pop-Up channel, exclusive to DStv Premium, will be a gateway to the Galactic Empire. For the full schedule as well as the latest information go to mnet.tv/starwars.

May the force be with you!