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How Walt Disney Animation Aims To Balance Original Movies And Sequels Going Forward

This is a big week for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Not only is Ralph Breaks The Internet now available for Digital Download, but the first trailer for the upcoming Frozen 2 was released earlier today. These are obviously two very different titles released by the same company, but one big thing they share in common is that they are sequels. After all, Walt Disney Animation is a studio definitely not known for theatrically-released follow-ups, and now we’re getting two of them in a row.

Naturally, this raises an important question: how will sequels be approached moving forward? The library of titles in this arena used to be limited to Rescuers Down Under and Fantasia 2000, but that was before our current Hollywood era of franchise and IP dominance. It puts Walt Disney Animation in an interesting position, and one that I got the chance to recently discuss with two members of Disney’s Story Trust: Ralph Breaks The Internet directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston.

I sat down with the filmmakers earlier this month during the home video press day for their new movie, and it was at the end of the interview that I raised the discussion about the company’s sequel philosophy. In responding to my question, they fully acknowledged the interesting position in which Disney currently finds itself when it comes to demands from the audience. Said Rich Moore,

People want sequels. They want to see their favorite characters again a story that they love – and it’s going to be tough! We have Frozen 2 coming, and people want to see Anna and Elsa on the big screen again, but I don’t think that we ever want to get into a practice where we’re just making sequels. We really doubled down on, ‘We need to create new stories.’ We can’t just get into this rut of just revisiting something that we did five years ago, and giving another chapter of that.

Walt Disney Animation isn’t exactly going sequel overboard right now (per the old saying, two doesn’t make a pattern), but they have released some massive hits in recent years with worlds fans would be eager to revisit – including Zootopia and Big Hero 6. Furthermore, we don’t exactly know a great deal about their upcoming slate right now. Frozen 2, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and set to be released on November 22nd, is the only officially announced Walt Disney Animation project that we currently know about. And while we’ll surely hear about a lot more at this summer’s D23 Expo, one has to wonder how many of the earmarked release dates in the next three years will feature familiar characters.

This isn’t a specific question that Disney is ready to answer yet, but Rich Moore was definitely happy to share how he feels all sequels need to be developed at Walt Disney Animation – noting his experience with Ralph Breaks The Internet as a prime example. Basically, the decision to make any kind of follow-up should not be motivated by box office earnings, but instead via desire and interest on behalf of the original filmmakers. Moore explained,

Really it was the love of the characters that we had for Ralph and Vanellope, and just the team that made the movie that made us go back to it. No one said to us, ‘We want you to make another Ralph movie.’ It came from us. So if we can keep it honest like that, that no one is saying make sequels, that it comes from the filmmakers, and we’re making just as much original content here, then I think we’re okay. Then it’s healthy.

Taking a wider view, the longevity of the film industry as a whole is dependent on original and diverse storytelling that shows audiences things they’ve never seen before, and within that realm Phil Johnston acknowledged the important role Walt Disney Animation serves. While every studio constantly struggles to get audiences to engage with the unfamiliar, WDAS is one of the few companies that regularly makes it work, and that success creates a certain responsibility.

If Walt Disney Animation is one of the few names in the game that can get people to “take their medicine” in the form of original characters and storytelling (oh the horror), then that’s something that they need to embrace. Said Johnston,

The beauty to me about animation at our studio is that it’s really one of the last places in big budget Hollywood filmmaking where original ideas can thrive and grow and become their own thing. Most of what exists now is existing brands or IP that lives in the world. The fact that we created Ralph and Vanellope those years ago, and we have revisited them, but I love that they live in the world and they didn’t live in the world 10 years ago, and same with Nick and Judy in Zootopia.

Continuing, Phil Johnston further explained that there is also still something incredible about leaving a particular stamp on the world as a result of your own creativity:

I love that you can still make stuff up out of your imagination, and it can become a fun, successful movie whether it’s a brand or a franchise or not. I don’t know, I’m just proud that this place is making stuff that’s original, and coming from the hearts and imaginations of the people who work here.

You can watch Rich Moore and Phil Johnston discuss the future of Walt Disney Animation Studios – and also pitch a super-weird crossover idea – by clicking play on the video below.

The next moves made by Walt Disney Animation Studios are going to be heavily scrutinized by fans and critics alike, and it should go without saying that our curiosity is piqued. We’ll continue to follow developments here at CinemaBlend, and in the meantime you can enjoy the latest hit from the filmmaking giant.

As mentioned above, Ralph Breaks The Internet, starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and Taraji P. Henson, is now available for digital purchase. And for those of you waiting for physical copies, the film will be available on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD.

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Tiffany Young’s ‘Lips On Lips’ Is A Playful Valentine’s Day Surprise

Tiffany Young‘s lips don’t lie. The pop star dropped her latest single, “Lips On Lips,” just in time for Valentine’s Day, and the melodic love song boasts a playful trop-pop beat and Young’s breathy vocals as she implores a lover to “put your lips on my lips.”

Co-written by the “Born Again” singer, “Lips On Lips” was inspired by Young’s own idea of a fairytale kiss with someone special. “I wanted to focus on romance and the sweet and special intimate moment in a kiss,” she said in a statement. “Spreading love for ALL, and I hope Valentine’s Day is ‘Lips On Lips’ day for everyone.”

“Lips On Lips” is the title track off Young’s first U.S. EP, slated for release on February 22. Lips On Lips marks a new page in Young’s story. Having found fame as a member of legendary K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation — the group debuted when Young was just 17 years old — the Korean-American singer is now doing things on her own terms.

Young, now 29, is focused on shedding more than a decade of pop-star polish and introducing herself to U.S. audiences as a confident female solo artist who’s unafraid to bare her soul. The moody pop song “Born Again,” the first single off Lips On Lips, found Young absolving herself of her painful past; while “Lips On Lips” is a little cheeky, as Young candidly tells a romantic partner exactly what she wants.

Credit Transparent Arts

“I’m experimental [as fuck] right now, but I’m also feeling fiercer than ever,” Young recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “This just felt like the right mood. Dark, edgy, romantic, raw. I’m just feeling liberated. This is my most honest and authentic self.”

And her fans are already loving this new era. Young’s Lips On Lips North American Mini Showcase Tour kicks off March 3 in Toronto, and it’s already sold out.

To hear about Young’s career journey in her own words, check out her episode of MTV News’ Homecoming.

Happy Death Day 2U’s End Credits Hint At A Potential Third Movie

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Happy Death Day 2U. If you have not yet seen the film, continue at your own risk.

Happy Death Day 2U is one of the most bonkers sequels you could ever expect out of a franchise that starts with a slasher killer vibe. Shifting most of its narrative to an 80s-style sci-fi comedy, Tree Gelbhorn’s new adventures involve some extra wrinkles that make solving this brand new time loop all the more difficult, and all the more amusing. But by time the story wraps up at the end of the film, there’s plenty of room for a third entry to take place.

What makes this potential Happy Death Day threequel even more exciting is that it’s teased in an end credits stinger that opens the door wide open for a new and even more insane entry in the series. Should Universal and Blumhouse allow writer/director Christopher Landon the opportunity to follow-up, there’s a brand new way for the series to play around with temporal physics, and a new character at the center of a true horror. Last call for spoiler adverse audiences to turn away, as we’re about to talk about how Happy Death Day 2U ends, and what it might mean for the franchise at large.

What Happens In The Ending

After solving the murder at the center of the alternate dimension time loop – courtesy of a shift triggered by the science experiment that created this whole mess in the first place – Tree finds herself back home in the right reality. With Carter still being her boyfriend, and the science experiment from one dimension successfully sending her back, it’s a pretty happy ending. Of course, that’s not where the story concludes.

During the end credits, we see the stereotypical convoy of black government vehicles storm Bayfield University’s campus. An agent introduces himself to Tree and her friends, with a vague request to come along and get whisked away to somewhere unknown. This location is eventually revealed to be a DARPA lab, where the device that Ryan and his classmates have been working on for their thesis project (codename “Sissy”) has been relocated.

Apparently, not only does DARPA know that the Bayfield students have successfully triggered, navigated, and broken a time loop, but they’re interested in running some experiments in such a scenario. The only thing left to do is figure out who the test subject will be, as the government would like to send in a guinea pig of sorts to run their tests. It’s at that moment that inspiration strikes Tree, as she knows exactly who should be used as the test subject.

This leads to the closing shot of Happy Death Day 2U, which sees Tree’s sorority sister/not so nice person Danielle (Rachel Matthews) waking up in her bed and screaming. Sounds like someone has a case of the recursive Mondays…

Why They Went With That Ending

Happy Death Day 2U has a pretty hysterical ending, with a pretty nasty character finally getting some just deserts (and possibly an opportunity to become a better person). However, it’s not just a one-off joke that we’re seeing there, as writer/director Christopher Landon chose the events in that sequence very specifically – as was recently discovered by our own Eric Eisenberg.

During the Happy Death Day 2U press junket, he spoke with the writer/director, who explained the intent of that end credits tease a little further. He admitted that part of his goal was to take a jab at the superhero trend, which are movies made with way bigger budgets, but he also wanted to lay the groundwork for an idea that he wants to execute in a potential Happy Death Day 3. Said Landon,

I think part of what we did with the end credit sequence was, we thought it was just a fun way to nod and wink to the Marvel trend, you know? Because we’re such a small movie, for me there was a certain irony in us even doing it. It’s typically reserved for much bigger movies. And so to some degree it’s kind of a wink and a nod and a laugh, but it also really is meant to key up a third movie, if we get to do it.

Post-credits scenes are far from a given in the world of small-budget horror movies, and there are surely many Happy Death Day 2U fans who didn’t think to stick around for a coda sequence, but Christopher Landon wanted to go that extra mile. In addition to playing homage to Marvel Studios’ contribution to pop culture moviegoing, however, Landon has also planted a seed for an idea that could blossom into a third film. And we have just an idea of where it might go.

What The Ending Suggests

With the government in control of Sissy, and Danielle planted in the new time loop, Happy Death Day 3 could see the bullying sorority sister becoming the new protagonist that audiences follow. Much like how Happy Death Day 2U starts off with Ryan being the focus, the second sequel could give us a new perspective of May 18th’s events as they happen again, and again – albeit now from a fresh perspective. If Danielle thought she had it rough with the special needs charity project her sorority was working on, she’s about to have a rude awakening.

Seeing as she’s a relative newbie to the time loop lifestyle, and this franchise is centered around Jessica Rothe’s Tree, there’s the potential for the Happy Death Day star to engage in yet another adventure in time, potentially with a whole new bit of genre exploration. Even better, should this third film be the one to close out a complete trilogy, we’d potentially see Danielle not only undergo her own personality changing voyage of self-discovery, but also possibly Tree completing her journey as a sage guide helping end the loop.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that Danielle doubles down on her villainous ways, creating a dark mirror of Tree’s Happy Death Day storyline and ultimately pitting her against her sorority sister in one final time breaking climax. All of this is pretty speculative, as we don’t even know if Happy Death Day 2U will hit big enough to make this third film a thing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Halsey And Yungblud Ruminate Over Their Self-Sabotaged Relationship On ’11 Minutes’

It’s no secret that Halsey is a major blink-182 fan — she’s been singing their songs in malls and name-checking them in smash singles for years — so it’s only appropriate that she’s finally linked up with blink drummer Travis Barker on wax. The two come together on “11 Minutes,” a new song that also features Halsey’s rumored boo, British rocker Yungblud.

Arriving on the eve of Valentine’s Day, “11 Minutes” is for anyone who’s feeling particularly angsty during this lovey-dovey time. Over Barker’s thunderous drumming, Halsey and Yungblud trade urgent vocals about a defective relationship: “Call me stupid, call me sad / You’re the best I’ve ever had / You’re the worst I’ve ever had / And that keeps fucking with my head.” After three minutes of their desperate rumination, the track abruptly flips into a haunting ballad, with Halsey’s fading vocals repeating “why aren’t you here?” over a spare piano. Try not to get goosebumps, I dare you.

In a statement via iHeartRadio, Yungblud explained that “11 Minutes” is all about a self-sabotaged romance. “The song tells the story of a perfect tragedy that reflects modern love within our society,” he explained. “We are so distracted and focused on what’s next, we can fail to see what is actually in front of us. We don’t realize how much we need something until it’s taken away from us.”

He added of his collaborators, “Working with Halsey and Travis was a fucking dream — at the end of the day we’re all rock kids. We grew up with a mutual adoration for the genre so it completely makes sense that we would come together and try to modernize it.”

“11 Minutes” arrived on Wednesday evening (February 13) after being announced by Halsey and Yungblud just hours earlier. However, eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that the “Without Me” singer teased a lyric of the song — “you’re the fuckin’ acid to my alkaline” — in an Instagram post back in November. Not only that, but she’s been hinting at a collaboration (and possibly a relationship?) with Yungblud for a while with pics of them together. Now if only she’d be as forthcoming about that third album of hers!

Ted Bundy Filmmaker Promises He Didn’t Plan To Put So Much Bundy Content On Netflix

Just in time for the recent 30th anniversary of the execution of Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding his life and story. Netflix recently dropped the chilling docu-series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Then, last week the streaming service picked up the crime drama Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron as Bundy. Both projects are helmed by true-crime filmmaker Joe Berlinger. Coincidence? Berlinger says yes. Here’s how he put it:

Speaking of shocking! Considering the filmmaker has a hand in both Ted Bundy films, one would imagine he planned to have them in conversation at the same time. However, per an interview with Deadline, Joe Berlinger said it just kind of happened that way.

He never intended to work on both Ted Bundy movies at once. The exclusive recordings featured in the Netflix docu-series landed on his desk in February 2017 and the script for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, penned by Michael Werwie “fell into his lap” in April. Berlinger explained the difference between the project with the following:

So while the recent Netflix docu-series release features real interviews with the serial killer while he was on death row, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a dramatic narrative that centers on his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (played by Lily Collins) as she learns over the years of his criminal activity. Kloepfer ignored the signs of the infamously handsome serial killer’s wrongdoings before playing a part in his arrest.

It’s also interesting that both projects will find a home on Netflix, but this likeness doesn’t seem to be purposeful either. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January as one of the most talked about new movies that were featured. Of course, the streaming giant had to nab the rights to the movie for $9 million, though it certainly helps for it to own both as a set.

A release date for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile hasn’t yet been set, but it likely won’t start streaming until the 2019 awards season. Since the streaming service sees awards potential in the project, the studio will also reportedly opt for a theatrical run as Roma had.

How Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol Was Originally Supposed To End For Ethan Hunt

Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has been the face of the Mission: Impossible franchise ever since the first movie came out in 1996. Many characters come and go, and some even stick around for more than one movie, but Ethan is the guy leading the charge each time. One way or another, Ethan ends up being active in the field, but apparently 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was originally supposed to conclude with him hanging up his gun and becoming the new leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF). According to Ghost Protocol cinematographer Robert Elswitt:

It was already public knowledge that Christopher McQuarrie was brought in to rewrite portions of the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol script to reintegrate parts of the story into the action, but Robert Elswitt went into great detail about what the fourth movie of the Mission: Impossible series had planned for Ethan Hunt. After three movies of fighting the bad guys, Ethan would have taken over IMF, which makes sense given that Ghost Protocol sees the then-current IMF secretary, played by Tom Wilkinson, being killed. From there, a new agent would have taken over as the hero in the field for future movies.

And it wasn’t just Ethan Hunt’s promotion that was changed for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. During his appearance on the Light the Fuse podcast, Robert Elswitt also talked about how the movie’s ending changed significantly. As he put it:

Once Christopher McQuarrie came aboard to handle rewrites, that’s when a good portion of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, primarily the latter half, was changed. This included a scene where Ethan Hunt was speaking with his IMF allies aboard a train, took over the team and laid out everything that had happened and what they will do next. As for who this agent was supposed to take over Ethan’s spot as the main action hero, my guess it was Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt. He was introduced in Ghost Protocol, and with movies like The Hurt Locker and The Town on his resume, it’s easy to see how the creative minds could have envisioned his character as a worthy successor. Brandt came back for Rogue Nation, but because Jeremy Renner was busy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he didn’t return for Fallout.

Needless to say that Ethan Hunt calling the shots at IMF is a far cry from where we are now with the Mission: Impossible franchise. Ethan is still out in the field and saving the world, and there’s no sign of that changing for Mission: Impossible 7 or 8. Christopher McQuarrie is also now spearheading the Mission: Impossible franchise as both writer and director, and all of the movies that he’s had a hand in have been met with critical acclaim. So it’s safe to say that the Mission: Impossible movies have been in good hands with McQuarrie.

Just How Green Are U.S. Airlines?

Just How Green Are U.S. Airlines?
Illustration: Brian Stauffer

Virgin Atlantic Airways flew the first biofuel demonstration flight in 2008. Eleven years later, no airline has done much more than that. One of the major elements in reducing aviation-produced greenhouse gases has yet to take off.

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Airlines advertise green initiatives and grab headlines with special flights powered partly by oil produced from plants and other green sources. But biofuel use is but a drop in a very big bucket: United Airlines, ahead of most airlines in green initiatives, burned 1 million gallons of biofuel in 2017 out of 3.36 billion gallons of jet fuel, or 0.03%.

The industry’s move toward reducing carbon emissions has been slow. Improvements in new airplanes have reduced emissions significantly, but with more airplanes flying more people, overall tonnage of carbon emitted by commercial aviation has been inching higher, not lower, in recent years.

The Environmental Protection Agency says U.S. commercial-aviation carbon dioxide emissions increased 6.2% from 2010 to 2016. Passenger-car CO2 emissions increased 1.2% over the same period.

United has been a leader among airlines in trying to advance biofuel to reduce overall airline carbon emissions. But biofuel accounted for only 0.03% of United’s fuel consumption in 2017.
United has been a leader among airlines in trying to advance biofuel to reduce overall airline carbon emissions. But biofuel accounted for only 0.03% of United’s fuel consumption in 2017. Photo: United Airlines

“It’s kind of business as usual,” says Dan Rutherford, aviation program director for the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation. U.S. airline greenhouse-gas emissions hit a new high in 2017, he says. While passenger traffic was up about 10% from 2015 to 2017, fuel efficiency improved about 3%, leaving a roughly 7% increase in emissions. It’s been pretty much the same story world-wide.

“The increases in demand continue to outstrip the improvements in fuel efficiency, so net emissions continue to rise,” Mr. Rutherford says.

Scientists say carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts as a heat-trapping blanket that raises temperatures and adds to climate change. They warn that failure to reverse the trend of increasing greenhouse gases could lead to flooding, droughts and other large-scale catastrophes.

Jet airplanes affect the climate in two ways: emitting carbon dioxide and depositing water vapor and particles at high altitude, which form thin clouds that can heat the planet. Scientists say both are minor drivers of climate change compared with other sources. World-wide, air transportation accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions.

The airline industry committed to three environmental goals in 2009 and may struggle to reach the most important objectives. Airlines are on pace to exceed a short-term goal of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% a year.

Today’s new planes are about 20% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation from the 1990s, Airbus and Boeing say, and 70% more fuel-efficient than early jets of the 1960s. On a per-passenger basis, fuel economy has improved: Airlines now fly with fewer empty seats and more seats packed into each jet. But most of the improvement has come from manufacturers. Engines get more thrust out of the fuel they burn, planes are much lighter today and aerodynamics has reduced drag.

The split wingtip on the new Boeing 737 MAX improves the efficiency of the wing and reduces fuel burn. The newest 737 reduces carbon emissions about 20% when compared with 737s produced in the 1990s.
The split wingtip on the new Boeing 737 MAX improves the efficiency of the wing and reduces fuel burn. The newest 737 reduces carbon emissions about 20% when compared with 737s produced in the 1990s. Photo: The Boeing Company

The second goal, to have all growth starting next year and beyond take place without increasing carbon emissions, will happen only by purchasing carbon offsets in the marketplace, officials say. Airlines will essentially be paying to plant trees to remove as much carbon dioxide as their new flights create.

Offsets may become a big factor in aviation, likely pushing up ticket prices in the future. Corporate contracts with airlines increasingly include an offset, airline executives say. Companies have to disclose their own environmental impact, and the carbon emissions from employee air travel factor into that.

Offsets typically aren’t expensive. Christine Boucher, Delta’s managing director for global environment, sustainability and compliance, says it costs less than $5 to offset the carbon produced by one passenger round trip between Atlanta and New York.

United and Delta offer carbon calculators and links to making contributions to environmental groups with cash or miles to offset your particular emissions on a trip. Airlines say usage is very low.

The long-term aviation industry goal, experts say, is the most difficult for the industry to achieve: a 50% reduction in the volume of emissions by 2050 compared with 2005 emissions. United, for example, has reduced emissions from 2005 levels by 16%. To get the rest of the way, the aviation industry is counting on future technologies.

“I think we have to get there. It’s not easy, but it is realistic,” says Robert Michael, senior manager of product marketing for Boeing.

Unlike ground activities like electricity generation or road transport, long-haul flying doesn’t have alternatives and will depend on liquid fuels for decades to come. The International Air Transport Association, an airline group, says electric commercial aircraft aren’t likely before 2040. Even then, the weight of batteries and the amount of power needed will be restrictive.

The Burning Question

U.S. airlines have grown more efficient, but carrying more passengers means they’ve burned more fuel in recent years.

Annual fuel consumption for U.S. airlines*

billion gallons

“Electric will not be the solution for all flights, particular long-range flights,” says Hubert Mantel, head of environmental affairs for Airbus.

Much of the hope for future improvement centers on biofuel—oil made from plants or recycled waste and refined into jet fuel that can burn with the same energy in jet engines without any changes to the engines.

What comes out the back of a jet engine burning biofuel is basically as dirty in terms of carbon emissions, though many biofuels do burn with lower sulfur emissions. The big difference in carbon is on the ground in what’s called the life cycle of the fuel.

Plant-based biofuel pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as the plants grow. Recycling carbon waste into biofuel also produces benefits on the ground. Biofuel is cleaner because no drilling is involved and refining products pollute less. If produced near airports, transporting biofuel may result in lower emissions than petroleum fuels, too. Add all that up and biofuel can be 20% to 80% cleaner than regular jet fuel, even though your flight produces the same amount of CO2.

So far, only one airport in the U.S., Los Angeles International, and three in Scandinavia have regular supplies of biofuel, and those are in very small quantities. The industry hopes it can get to 2% biofuel within the next six years.

United is working with two biofuel producers and using all the biofuel it can get. By locking in agreements with producers early, United has biofuel at reasonable prices, says Gavin Molloy, United’s vice president of corporate real estate and environmental affairs.

“If we could power all our aircraft with biofuel today, we’d probably do that,” he says.

For most airlines, cost represents the primary headwind. Biofuel can range from about $4.50 a gallon to $8.50 a gallon. The current spot price for traditional fuel is $1.87 a gallon. As a result, manufacturers have been slow to produce large quantities.

Tax incentives in California led a supplier there to focus on biodiesel for road vehicles rather than jet fuel. In January, similar tax credits were extended to aviation, and United hopes that will improve its biofuel supply.

The International Air Transport Association says aviation fuel should at least get the same tax breaks as road transportation, and is pushing governments around the world to stimulate biofuel development with tax incentives.

“It’s not a technical issue anymore,” says Michael Gill, IATA’s director of aviation environment. “The cost is the main factor.”

Write to Scott McCartney at middleseat@wsj.com

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Appeared in the February 14, 2019, print edition as ‘Airlines Struggle With the Goal of Going Green.’

Ryan Adams Accused Of Sexual Misconduct, Emotional Manipulation By Multiple Women

Singer-songwriter and producer Ryan Adams has been accused of abuse, manipulation, and sexual misconduct by several women in an exposé from The New York Times. Adams, through a lawyer, has denied the allegations.

The women who spoke about their experiences with Adams include his ex-wife Mandy Moore, singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, and more young female artists he was ostensibly mentoring. Most shared stories of Adams offering them career opportunities while simultaneously pursuing them for sex. “In some cases,” the article claims, “he would turn domineering and vengeful, jerking away his offers of support when spurned, and subjecting women to emotional and verbal abuse, and harassment in texts and on social media.”

One woman, a then-aspiring bassist identified as Ava, claims she was 14 when she entered an online relationship with Adams that eventually led to sexual conversations and an instance when he exposed himself to her over Skype. In a text message from 2014 reviewed by the Times, Adams wrote to her, “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol.”

Moore also described “psychologically abusive” behavior from her ex-husband, adding that “music was a point of control” for him. She said, “His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time — my entire mid-to-late 20s.”

Adams’s layer, Andrew B Brettler, told the Times, “Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage.” Brettler also denied the other “extremely serious and outlandish accusations” detailed in the report, calling them “grousing by disgruntled individuals.”

Read the full New York Times piece here.

See What Simon Pegg Could Look Like As The Batman’s Riddler

With Matt Reeves’ The Batman finally starting to take off, fans have been putting their heads together and drumming up some ideas for the new cast. Since the writer/director has already teased the inclusion of a rogues gallery, there are tons of possibilities for our favorite actors to portray a few of the Dark Knight’s iconic villains. So, solve this puzzle: what about Simon Pegg as The Riddler? One artist has imagined the Mission: Impossible actor as the enigmatic Edward Nygma. Check it out:

I don’t know about you, but I’m into this! The fan art from ShatterverseEnt (via Reddit) is very much in line with the vision of The Batman, which Matt Reeves has said will be a “noir” tale. Since the Caped Crusader will also be tapping into his detective skills more than ever, facing the sneaky clues the Riddler leaves behind could certainly fit right into this kind of narrative.

The last time audiences saw The Riddler on the big screen in live action, he was cleverly played by Jim Carrey and worked with Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, opposite Val Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne in 1995’s Batman Forever. Riddler is a great choice to be featured among other villains and Pegg would certainly deliver a completely different take on the character than Carrey.

He could pull off healthy combination of sinister and entertaining. Pegg is no stranger to delivering a solid performance in beloved blockbusters, such as Scotty in the new Star Trek films and as Benji in the Mission: Impossible movies. The actor has also been a part of some comedy classics including Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul.

With the recent announcement of upcoming Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 coming in summer 2021 and 2022, Simon Pegg could be booked for the foreseeable future if he signs on for the final two installments to be helmed by Christopher McQuarrie. However, since Star Trek 4 doesn’t look to be happening after being in development hell since 2015, The Batman could serve as a sweet replacement if he has the time for it.

So far, we know that Matt Reeves’ The Batman will not be featuring Ben Affleck as the titular hero. Bruce Wayne will be reportedly be played by a younger actor who has yet to be cast. Among the rogues gallery, Penguin will likely be one of the villains facing Batman. We’ll have to wait and see if Riddler ends up joining as well.

Simon Pegg could be a good choice, but Reddit users were sounding off their other ideas for Riddler, including David Tennant, Michael Emerson and Jim Parsons. There’s loads of talent to go around, and as casting begins shortly, fans will start getting some answers. The Batman is set to open on June 25, 2021, and rumor has it, the movie will begin filming fall of this year.