With Steven Seagal and rapper DMX's EXIT WOUNDS topping the charts in the U.S., ENEMY AT THE GATES shot into second. The WWII sniper saga, with primary visual effects by Das Werk, Die Nefzers, Double Negative, The Computer Film Company and AudioMotion Ltd., collected US$13.81 million in its debut. Warner Bros.' SEE SPOT RUN slipped to fourth, grossing out audiences to the tune of $5.01 million. The gaseous giggler has amassed $24.81 million thus far. In sixth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON secured another $4.04 million.
Luxembourg-based Oniria Productions has announced that work has started on RENART, THE FOX, a new computer-animated feature film. RENART will be directed by Thierry Schiel, who has helmed Oniria's nearly completed CGI feature TRISTAN & ISOLDE. Along with Schiel, Sophia Kolokouri will produce the film. RENART, THE FOX, based on the widely-known fable LE ROMAN DE RENART, spells out the hilarious adventures of the cunning Renart, an outlaw who pursues riches to support his children.
Warner Bros. has decided not to award the US$30 million visual effects contract for the MATRIX sequels to Manex Entertainment, despite its Oscar-winning work on the original film. Warner has decided to go with ESC Entertainment, which officially formed on Friday, March 9, 2001 and employs many of the technicians and artists that worked on the original MATRIX. In turn, Manex is seeking a judicial order to assure it has a role in the film, due to its extensive pre-production good-will work already completed. The company has developed a proprietary facial-scanning system for the sequels.
Gobbling up the competition, HANNIBAL dined atop the box office charts in a host of new countries. In France, the cannibalistic cavalcade collected an impressive US$6.23 million in its debut. VERTICAL LIMIT climbed into fifth with a gross of $1.46 million, lifting its French cume to $4.35 million. In sixth, 102 DALMATIANS collared another $1.38 million, raising its French cume to $13.51 million. In Mexico, HANNIBAL premiered in first with an amazing ticket-take of $2.71 million. At #5, RED PLANET dusted off $390,792, growing its Mexican cume to $1.04 million.
Golden Harvest, one of the leading Hong Kong production and distribution studios, has announced that it will produce its first animated feature. The film will be based on the popular Hong Kong comic strip MY LIFE AS MCDULL, which follows the exploits of a pig named McMug. The budget for this mature-themed cartoon is set at US$1.28 million. Golden Harvest managing director Phoon Chiong Kit said, "Animations generally aren't very financially viable because it takes a lot of money to promote a new cartoon character. But with MCDULL, having the comic strip already so popular helps."
With THE MEXICAN retaining the top spot and the live-action thriller 15 MINUTES debuting in second, Warner Bros.' SEE SPOT RUN held steady in third, grossing US$6.61 million. The feces-joke ridden family film has scooped up $17.98 million so far. HANNIBAL fell from second to fourth with a gross of $5.85 million. The hog-wild horror flick, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has dined on $151.5 million thus far. Slipping two slots to finish seventh, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON drummed up another $4.26 million. The highest grossing foreign language film in U.S.
Big Idea Productions has announced that production has started on their first theatrical release, JONAH: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE. The CGI-animated film is slated to hit theaters in 2002. Big Idea's direct-to-video series VEGGIETALES has sold more than 20 million units to date. The film will be a humorous retelling of the Bible story of Jonah and the whale. Currently, Big Idea is searching for a distribution partner. A sneak peek of the feature will be previewed on the March 27 video release, LYLE, THE KINDLY VIKING.
Originally slated as a direct-to-video, the sequel to Disney's 1953 classic PETER PAN will now be released on the big screen. The film is scheduled to hit theaters in the spring of 2002. The project was shelved in the fall of 1999, but was revived little over a year ago. Like TOY STORY 2 and THE TIGGER MOVIE, Disney's execs liked the would-be direct-to-video so much they decided to give it a theatrical run. PETER PAN: RETURN TO NEVERLAND will be set during the World War II air raids on London, and finds Peter Pan on the trail of Captain Hook after the pirate kidnaps Wendy's daughter, Jane.
In a battle for first, THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE and HANNIBAL went toe to toe in Sweden and the U.K., with the cannibalistic cringer taking a good chunk out of the rest of the international box office. In Sweden, HANNIBAL knocked GROOVE out of the top spot with a gross of $1.02 million. GROOVE grabbed second, grossing $456,488, thereby lifting its Swedish cume to $1.44 million. Jumping up a spot to #7, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON floated $107,750, pushing its Swedish cume to $1.23 million. In ninth, CAST AWAY rescued another $90,711, raising its Swedish cume to $2.36 million.
With live-action comedy/adventure THE MEXICAN taking first, three-week champion HANNIBAL slipped to second with a gross of $10.05 million. The brain-eating adventure, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has gobbled up $142.8 million. Warner Bros.' SEE SPOT RUN posted a third place debut. The gross-out family comedy took home $9.72 million. Holding its ground in fifth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON floated another $4.91 million. The romantic fantasy, with primary visual effects by Blue Sky Studios, CFC/MVFX and Manex Visual Effects, has secured $88.66 million thus far.
Adam Sandler's feature foray into animation has dropped the controversial name. Originally titled, WHITEY & DAVEY, the feature will be distributed through Columbia TriStar under the new name ADAM SANDLER'S 8 CRAZY NIGHTS. Production on the traditionally animated film is being done at Sandler's Toronto animation studio Meatball Animation. Called a "Hanukkah musical," the toon centers on Davey, a pro basketball executive, who befriends an old-fashioned coach named Whitey. The toon is set to hit theaters on December 14, 2001.
While HANNIBAL took a strong hold around the international box office, Disney's THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE danced its way to number one in Sweden. In Italy, HANNIBAL reclaimed the top spot with a gross of $3.47 million, elevating its cume to $9.12 million. At #5 in Italy, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON floated another $820,649, pushing its total to $1.97 million. In Australia, HANNIBAL retained the #1 slot, grossing $3.29 million, thus escalating its cume to $3.54 million. At #2, CAST AWAY foraged $755,639, lifting its Australian cume to $10.39 million.
Hey, hey, hey, FAT ALBERT fans, the hefty hero is coming to the big screen. Bill Cosby has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to turn his beloved animated series into a live-action film, featuring some animated moments. Cosby will executive produce the film with his wife, Camille, and write the screenplay with Charles Kipps (EXILED: A LAW & ORDER MOVIE). Producer John Davis brought the project to Fox and will produce the film through his Davis Entertainment Co. No start date has been set but the first draft of the script should be finished within two to three weeks.
With new competition very weak, HANNIBAL took a third helping at the U.S. box office, grossing another US$15.77 million. The hog-wild thriller, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has gobbled up $128.5 million to date. 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND made its opening nod in third. The high-octane crime caper, with primary visual effects by Rainmaker Digital Pictures, snatched $7.16 million. After early reports had it placing third, Disney's RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT actually finished forth, rescuing an additional $6.93 million. The saving summer vacation adventure has accumulated $22.7 million.
Inkwell Images has purchased the only existing picture and sound negatives to a series of early Max Fleischer Bouncing Ball SONG CARTUNES. Inkwell purchased the prints from New York-based Movietronics film library. One title, MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME is one of the earliest attempts at animating dialog, as a black dog character mouths, "Follow the ball and join in, everybody!" Produced in 1924, they feature synchronized sound and are part of the Library of Congress' archives, however their prints are without soundtracks.
With it already grossing out audiences in the States, HANNIBAL has begun to take a slice out of the international box office. In Italy, the blood-thirsty thriller claimed the top spot with a gross of $5.65 million. In fifth, CAST AWAY floated an additional $679,996, raising its Italian cume to $12.78 million. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON descended into sixth with a ticket-take of $529,624, lifting its Italian total to $1.14 million. In eighth, 102 DALMATIANS barked up another $284,555, bringing its Italian cume to $4.48 million.
Gobbling up tickets over the President's Day weekend, HANNIBAL remained the toast of the U.S. box office, grossing US$30 million. In merely ten-days at theaters, the cannibalistic caper, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has scoffed down an amazing $103.9 million. Disney's TV series turned feature, RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT placed third in its debut, freezing up $10.8 million. In turn, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON slipped to fifth, with a gross of $8.77 million.
CAST AWAY is still holding strong at the international box office. In Germany, the desert island adventure rounded up another $3.73 million, escalating its cume to $21.46 million. VERTICAL LIMIT climbed into second with a gross of $1.84 million, raising its German cume to $4.34 million. In third, BEDAZZLED seduced $1.4 million, bringing its German cume to $4.49 million. THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE made its German nod in fourth with a gross of $663,408. At #8, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $477,415, pushing its German cume to $2.35 million.
HANNIBAL, the sequel to the Oscar-winning best picture SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, has slashed U.S. box office records on its way to claiming first place in its debut weekend. The cannibalistic cavalcade, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, ate up US$58 million, making it the all-time highest grossing opening weekend for an R-rated film. The blood-thirsty thriller also claimed the highest opening for a film release in January through April, beating out the re-release of STAR WARS. Still improving after 10 weeks in U.S.
Around the globe, CAST AWAY remains at the top of the international box office. In Germany, CAST AWAY claimed the top spot with a gross of $4.99 million, lifting its three-week total to $17.74 million. In second, VERTICAL LIMIT made its German debut with a gross of $2.51 million. BEDAZZLED bewitched third place, grossing $1.88 million, raising its German cume to $3.09 million. In fifth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON amazed audiences to the tune of $624,096, elevating its German cume to $1.88 million. At #6, UNBREAKABLE secured another $570,085, bringing its German cume to $12.52 million.
With live-action comedy THE WEDDING PLANNER and the debut of teen-horror flick, VALENTINE, taking the top two spots respectively, CAST AWAY floated into third for the second straight week, grossing another $7.47 million. The volleyball friendly film, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has accumulated $203 million to date. Jumping up yet another slot to finish fifth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON rescued an additional $6.82 million.
CAST AWAY continues to sail atop the international box office, with VERTICAL LIMIT making a climb upward. In Germany, CAST AWAY maintained its #1 finish with a gross of US$5.74 million, escalating its cume to $12.74 million. In second, BEDAZZLED bounced in $1.2 million in its German debut. UNBREAKABLE crash-landed in third with a gross of $954,843, pushing its German cume to $11.95 million. In seventh, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $561,558, raising its German cume to $1.25 million. POKEMON 2000 grabbed another $420,338, lifting its German cume to $6.65 million.
Cartoon Network has signed the original voices from the POWERPUFF GIRLS TV series for the upcoming feature. After long negotiations, Tara Strong (Bubbles), Catherine Cavadini (Blossom) and E.G. Daily (Buttercup) have signed deals which Brian Miller, general manager of Cartoon Network Studios, said in VARIETY, "All parties are happy at this point." He added, "It was always our intent to have the original voices. Reports of negotiation breakdown have been greatly exaggerated." The film, set for a summer 2002 release, is being written, produced and directed by series creator Craig McCracken.
With live-action comedy THE WEDDING PLANNER and drama SAVE THE LAST DANCE taking the top two slots respectively, CAST AWAY sunk to third with a gross of US$8.09 million. The island adventure, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has rescued $193.2 million to date. Next, TRAFFIC skidded into fourth with a gross of $6.46 million. The drug war saga, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has dusted off $56.19 million thus far. Leaping from eighth to sixth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON dazzled audiences to the tune of $5.06 million.
A re-mastered version of the anime classic AKIRA is coming to theaters in the U.S. Long Beach, California-based Pioneer Entertainment, a top U.S. anime licensing company, is putting US$1 million into restoring the 1988 sci-fi epic. International Video Conversations is re-mastering and re-mixing the audio in Dolby Digital AC3 Surround Sound. In addition, the film will contain a new English dub created from a fresh translation of the Japanese script. Pioneer will release this restored version on DVD and VHS in the fourth quarter.