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New WWE game in SA

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WWE 2K16, the newest addition to the WWE video game franchise, is available now in South Africa for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 computer entertainment systems, Xbox One and Xbox 360. 

WWE 2K16 delivers an authentic WWE video game experience, including the largest roster of WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends in WWE games history, the story-driven 2K Showcase based on WWE 2K16 cover Superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin and significant additions to the game’s Creation Suite and online offerings, as well as a host of gameplay enhancements.

“WWE 2K16 builds upon last year’s foundation and delivers a great combination of authenticity, realism, gameplay and popular features,” said Greg Thomas, President at Visual Concepts. “This year’s huge roster, memorable 2K Showcase, second year MyCareer offering, additions to Creation Suite and improved Online offerings are certain to ignite the WWE Universe.”

WWE 2K16 feature highlights include:

•Extensive Roster: Offering more than 120 playable characters, including cover Superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin alongside WWE Superstars Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Undertaker and Dean Ambrose, WWE Diva Paige and NXT Superstar Finn Bálor.

•Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator: Fans who pre-ordered WWE 2K16 at any participating retailer will receive two exclusive playable versions of 2015 WWE Hall of Fame inductee and global action film icon Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 from The Terminator and from Terminator 2: Judgment Day;

• Gameplay Improvements: WWE 2K16 builds upon last year’s foundation, including key enhancements and innovations to deliver the strongest WWE gameplay experience to date. Improved controls, a new reversal system,  new pin system and chain wrestling improvements are chief among the enhancements this year;

•2K Showcase: The franchise’s popular story-based mode returns in WWE 2K16, enabling players to relive more than 25 iconic moments in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career, including matches with The Rock, Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Mr. McMahon. Along the way, they are treated to video packages featuring classic WWE footage and complete objectives to unlock legendary characters, entrance and ring gear, match types and other unlockable content;

•Creation Suite: WWE 2K16’s Creation Suite deepens the player’s arsenal with new feature options, including Create-a-Diva, Create-a-Championship, Create-an-Arena and Create-a-Show. Key improvements were also made to existing fan-favorite offerings, including Create-a-Superstar, Create-an-Entrance, Superstar Studio and Community Creations. In addition, the franchise-first WWE 2K16 Creation Studio App explores player freedom like never before through import of face and logo photos via iOS and Android devices to create custom Superstars and Divas with unique faces, tattoos, arena decals, Championship designs, electronic billboards, show logos and more;

•MyCareer: The franchise’s career-driven mode, now in its second year, will see players define their legacies by making critical choices in their quest to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. Players will begin their journey at the WWE Performance Center, and through a series of objectives, rise through the ranks to join NXT, compete to earn a spot on the WWE main roster and strive for the ultimate prize of a Hall of Fame induction. As part of the quest, players can now conduct personality-driven interviews, interfere with rivals, form tag teams or create alliances en route to defining their legendary careers;

•Online: WWE 2K16 provides players with multiple ways to play online with the WWE 2K community. No longer utilizing background matchmaking, the game now offers a prestige system that tracks user progress and results throughout their online careers. Additional online features include:

•WWE Live: WWE 2K16’s standard matchmaking option delivers more match types to compete in this year. In addition, after choosing their Superstars and match types, players will enter a practice session to warm up their Superstars while the system finds opponents and sets up matches;

•2K Tonight: This new feature delivers dynamic daily events, themed after all major WWE televisions shows and pay-per-views, with opportunities to provide players with boosts for their participation;

•Team Up: Requested by the WWE 2K community, players can now invite friends to join them in two- or three-man tag team competition against others;

•Private Match: This feature offers complete freedom for players to invite their friends to their own matches, enabling them to play online together;

•Community Creations: An online staple of the WWE 2K online experience, this feature enables users to upload, explore and download the best custom Superstars, Divas, Arenas, Shows, Movesets and logos created by the WWE Universe;

•WWE Universe: WWE 2K16 makes core improvements to stories, rivals and match card selections. In addition, for the first time, Superstars can be assigned to multiple shows, enabling players to have a broader experience;

•Overall Upgrades: For the first time, a three-man commentary team is now a part of the franchise, with John “Bradshaw” Layfield joining returning commentators Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Also new this year, seamless transitions between entrances and the start of matches now see the camera pan the arena and to the commentary team for thoughts on the upcoming matches. Significant improvements were also made to overall match presentation and flow.

•Downloadable Content and Season Pass: Players may purchase nearly all WWE 2K16 downloadable content at a reduced price point through the game’s Season Pass. Players will receive the following items as they become available:

•Accelerator: Access to all unlockable content in the game;

•2015 Hall of Fame Showcase: seven playable matches;

•New Moves Pack: more than 30 new moves;

•Future Stars Pack: five playable NXT Superstars.

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Netflix to make SA series

The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.

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World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

Pearl Thusi stars as Queen Sono in Netflix’s first original series in Africa.

“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

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Arts and Entertainment

Showmax shoots its first local drama

Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.

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The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.

As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service,  Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.

Showmax is available in 70 countries.

Photographer: Patrick Toselli

“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”

At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.

But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.

The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…

Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.

Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.

Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.

The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.

Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.

“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”

All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.

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