Twitter is now X—plus other pop culture news in July 2023
From Zayn Malik’s return to music and Disney’s High School Musical reunion to Elon Musk’s move to rebrand Twitter, here are the biggest pop culture news you might have missed this week.
Zayn Malik cruises on a motorbike for Love Like This
Directioners, roll up! Zayn Malik has returned for his highly anticipated new single Love Like This. The pop anthem marks his first new music in two years and his debut single for Mercury Records. The multiplatinum-selling recording artist, songwriter, producer and father is known to be a very private and quiet man, which makes his grand return to the music scene all the more exciting. Interestingly enough, the music video stars Gace Dumdaw as the artist’s love interest, who is known to be a Malik super fan—talk about manifesting your dreams!
Michelle Yeoh and Jean Todt officially tie the knot after 19 years
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After almost two decades together, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and Jean Todt are officially married! The couple said “I do” in Geneva, Switzerland on 27 July with close friends and family present. The Oscar-winning actress and former president of the International Federation of Automobile first met in 2004 and quickly got engaged just a month and a half later when Yeoh was 42 and Todt was 58. The Everything Everywhere All At Once actress took to Instagram to share a sweet post as a married couple on 30 July, including a hilarious edit of the duo in a poster as the lead of Love Never Dies, where the actress played a Bond Girl.
Barbie and Oppenheimer blow box office numbers out of the water
By now, we all know about the Barbenheimer memes that have turned the premiere of Barbie and Oppenheimer into the cinematic event of the year. Studios can thank the memes (and other genius marketing ploys) as both movies smashed the box office, making it the biggest domestic box office opening post-pandemic thus far. The Greta Gerwig-helmed movie and Christopher Nolan-directed biopic eviscerated projection numbers going into the opening weekend. Barbie was expected to bring in approximately $90 million to $110 million whilst Oppenheimer was projected to make an estimated $40 to $50 million.
In its opening weekend, Oppenheimer made a stunning $80.5 million whereas Barbie raked in a staggering $155 million domestically in the first three days. That breaks the record for a female-directed film, beating out Captain Marvel’s $153 million in 2019. Globally, the atomic bomb epic has made $209.3 million and Barbie proves to be the one with explosive appeal with a $414.4 million worldwide gross so far. Notably, Oppenheimer is yet to premiere in South Korea, Italy and China therefore numbers are projected to increase for the film once these key markets come into play.
Malaysian filmmaker Jared Lee wins Best Animation at San Diego Comic-Con 2023
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2023 has been a great year for Malaysian filmmaker and YouTuber Jared Lee for his latest work, Horologist. The short film was recently selected to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival‘s Cannes Short Film Corner, making it his debut appearance. Fast forward to 26 July, Horologist won big at San Diego Comic-Con 2023, nabbing Best Animation and making history as the first Malaysian short to premiere and win at the popular festival. “I have no words other than a big thank you to everyone who said yes to this project, and everyone who’ve supported the manga,” he shared in a post on Instagram.
Horologist is part one of Lee’s four-part anthology comic book collection titled The Grimoire. It follows the story of Sand, a shopkeeper who discovers a way to sell time itself at a heavy price and explores themes of human greed. It is created by Lee and comic artist Cross and developed by the multi-talented artists’ production company Grim Film.
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It’s a High School Musical reunion!
We’re not crying, you are. It’s the reunion many Disney hopefuls have been wanting since the High School Musical film franchise came to an end in 2008. In a teaser released by Disney+ for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, it shows very familiar faces such as Monique Coleman, Cordin Blue, Lucas Grabeel and Kaycee Stroh reprising their roles—with a twist.
It’s time for the high school reunion we’ve all been waiting for… 😉
— Disney+ (@DisneyPlus) July 25, 2023
Known to be a meta show whereby students of East High are aware that the popular HSM franchise was filmed there, the spin-off series sees the stars act in a fictional High School Musical 4 (give us the real thing!) whereby Taylor is now the principal of East High and Ryan is canonical queer.
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Whilst Stroh’s character states that Sharpay, Troy and Gabriella have been “quiet in the group chat”, fans are still holding out hope that the trio will make a surprise cameo for the episode after Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens posted photos of them outside East High last year. The fourth and final season of the show will premiere on 9 August 2023.
Twitter officially rebrands to X
In a move that had everyone scratching their heads, Elon Musk officially rebranded Twitter to X on 24 July. The entrepreneur ditched the iconic blue bird logo for a simpler white outline of his beloved alphabet, leaving users on the social app divided on the new look. In a post the day before, Musk wrote that “soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.” Truly the end of an era.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino further confirmed the transition after sharing a photo of its headquarters’ revamp. The building now sports a huge ‘X’ on its building. Whether you like it or not, X is here to stay. Here are some reactions to the news:
i appreciate elon renaming the app after me but this is honestly overwhelming
— ✟ (@LilNasX) July 23, 2023
— CommanD (@CMDGaminggs) July 24, 2023
I'm amazed at how many people think Twitter has copied the X Windows logo or some other logo. The new X logo is literally the 𝕏 glyph from Special Alphabets 4 pic.twitter.com/yCuHAF5GXn
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) July 24, 2023
X. the thing I've been trained to click when I want to exit an app. perfect. no notes.
— Wagatwe Wanjuki 🇰🇪 🇧🇸 (@wagatwe) July 23, 2023
So this app is now just X?? So THIS is an X and not a Tweet? Wtf.
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) July 24, 2023
A new Exorcist film is coming. Watch if you dare…
This fall marks exactly 50 years since the most terrifying horror film in history landed on screens, shocking audiences around the world. Now, a bone-chilling new chapter begins. Helmed by director David Gordon Green who resurrected the Halloween franchise, comes The Exorcist: Believer. Since the death of his pregnant wife in an earthquake 12 years ago, Victor Fielding has raised their daughter, Angela on his own. But things take a horrifying turn when Angela and her friend mysteriously disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them. In his terror and desperation, Victor seeks out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil. The film will premiere in cinemas on 12 October 2023.
Good Vibes Festival 2023 is officially cancelled after one day
What was supposed to be a fun-filled exhilarating music festival last weekend ended up becoming one of Malaysia’s biggest controversies of 2023. After much anticipation for Good Vibes Festival 2023 which was scheduled to occur from 21 to 23 July, the music festival was officially cancelled after just one day. The decision was made due to the “controversial conduct” of The 1975’s Matty Healy during their headlining set, as per Future Sound Asia’s press statement.
The British indie rock band was made to leave the stage an hour ahead of schedule after vocal frontman Healy spoke out against Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ laws in a speech. He was also seen with alcohol and smoking on stage and kissed his fellow guitarist live. According to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who ultimately gave the immediate cancellation directive, shared, “There will be no compromise with any party that challenges, belittle, or violates Malaysian laws.” You can read the full low-down of what transpired at Good Vibes Festival 2023 with Matty Healy here.
The Arts, Live Festivals and Events Association (ALIFE) will be holding a press conference on 27 July to discuss the recent event in more detail.
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