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WIRE Buzz: Stranger Things 4 scripts; AMC reverses mask policy; Studio Ghibli's new movie images

By Josh Weiss
Stranger Things 3

Production on Stranger Things' fourth season is still on hold, but its overall story is completed, ready to be filmed once the cameras start rolling on Hawkins again. The show's writers room teased the heck out of fans this week by posting a photo of all the scripts stacked on top of each other.

"Stranger Things 4: the complete season," reads the tantalizing caption.

Unfortunately, we don't have X-Files photo enhancement tech and can't make out the blurry writing on the top page. However, we do know that the premiere episode is titled "The Hellfire Club." Based on the image, /FILM tentatively wagers that the latest outing for the '80s-inspired series will up the usual 8-episode count of the first three seasons to 9.

Netflix released the first bit of marketing material for Season 4 back in February, confirming that Jim Hopper (David Harbour) did indeed survive the explosion under the Starcourt Mall at the end of last season. However, the fan favorite character finds himself stuck at a wintry labor camp in Russia, so it stands to reason that his upcoming arc will feature a daring escape from the Soviet Union.

"They've been putting me off for years and then they gave me these things. I'm like 'Woah, yes, we're finally going to get into this stuff that we've been talking about since day one of the first season.' This stuff is meaty, rich stuff that I've always known about him and been dying to talk about, but we haven't revealed it yet," Harbour said in early May.

After facing intense backlash over its decision to not require customers to wear face masks as part of its plan to reopen locations next month, AMC Theaters has reversed its initial strategy.

"This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of mask," the company said in a statement (read the full thing here). "At AMC Theaters, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. As we reopen theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theaters. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests."

Originally, AMC CEO Aram Aron told Variety that masks would not be required by patrons, as the company "did not want to be drawn into a political controversy." The choice received immediate pushback, drawing criticism from major directors like Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep), James Mangold (Logan), and J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

It seems as though AMC's reversal led to a veritable domino effect, because Regal changed its tune as well, tweeting that "all employees and guests will be required to wear masks."

About an hour before AMC announced its new plan, Alamo Drafthouse ensured the public that mask-wearing on the part of guests will be enforced at all of its venues.

"When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised. This is not political," reads Alamo's statement on Twitter. The tweet adds that face coverings may be removed for eating and drinking, and that if anyone shows up without a mask, they "will be given one."

Cinemark has not made masks an obligatory part of its own reopening approach, but may speak out soon in the wake of its biggest competitors implementing the policy. Cineplex, a Canadian chain that operates 165 theaters, will not be requiring face masks upon reopening, either.

The global exhibitor industry is hoping to come back to life with major studio releases like Disney's Mulan remake (July 24) and Christopher Nolan's Tenet (July 31).

Thanks to Japanese entertainment site Natalie, we have our first look at Studio Ghibli's next feature, Aya and the Witch. The CG-animated film (a departure from the studio's usual hand-drawn efforts) is based on Earwig and the Witch, Diana Wynne Jones' 2011 illustrated book for young readers,

A Harry Potter-esque story of magic and wonder, Aya follows a young orphan who finds herself adopted by a witch. Armed with her wits and the advice of a talking cat, the main character sets out to tame her new home, which seems to have a life of its own.

Gorō Miyazaki serves as director on the adaptation and in a roughly translated statement run by Natalie, voiced his hope that the project inspires children and makes adults happy. The movie is set to make its om Japan's NHK general TV this winter.

Ghibli previously adapted another Wynne Jones book, Howl's Moving Castle, in 2004.