DreamWorks Animation announced that two-time Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan and Ian McShane (TVs DEADWOOD) are joining Jack Black in the cast of KUNG FU PANDA. In addition, award-winning actress Lucy Liu is in talks with the studio to voice another main role.
New Line has hired Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins to write an adaptation of SANTAKID, based on James Patterson's children's book, reports VARIETY. The story follows a billionaires daughter who after receiving an imperfect doll for Christmas has her father buy Santa Claus and tries to improve on holiday operation. David Kirschner and Corey Sienega will produce with New Line execs Mark Kaufman, Matt Moore and Luke Ryan shepherding for the studio.
Gold Circle Films has purchased Greg Erb and Jason Oremland's pitch CREATURE FEATURE, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film centers on a 13-year-old budding horror filmmaker who discovers a mysterious old camera that brings his monster props to life. Craig Mazin will produce with Paul Brooks overseeing for Gold Circle Films.
Dimension Films has obtained the North American distribution right to CASTLEVANIA, a thriller based on the Konami videogame franchise, reports VARIETY. Paul W.S. Anderson will adapt and direct. Just last week, production house Crystal Sky Pictures purchased the film rights to the franchise.
Infamous AMERICAN HISTORY X helmer Tony Kaye is set to begin shooting the supernatural thriller, REAPER, according THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film chronicles the story of a tortured man who is visited on his deathbed by the grim reaper, who offers him a chance at eternal life, which will give the man the chance to search for his kidnapped daughter. Kaye intends to shoot the lead characters tale in HD video and the reapers tale on film. The netherworld will be photographed in black & white. The $20 million film has a cast, which will be announced at a later date.
Production and distribution company Maxmedia has optioned the film rights to the forthing Microsoft videogame KAMEO: ELEMENTS OF POWER, reports VARIETY. Maxmedia plans to team with SKY BLUE production house Sunmin Park, to adapt the animated feature. She and Jungmin Ethan Park are producing the film, which is set to being production next year.
Exceeding all expectations, CHICKEN LITTLE, Disneys first full 3D-animated feature, debuted with an impressive $40M for the weekend ended Nov. 6, 2005. It marks the best opening for a Disney animated feature since LILO & STITCHS $35.3M back in 2002. Apparently even adults flocked to the movie. In addition, the launch of CHICKEN LITTLE in digital 3D proved very promising as well, turning in an estimated $2.1M in 85 U.S. locations.
With lucrative state tax incentives in play, Digital Domains long-in-the-works project INSTANT KARMA is aptly named. The Louisiana Capital Area Economic Development Allies (LaCAEDA) announced that Emerald Bayou Studios has played a critical role in obtaining state certification for the feature film. This partnership was announced during a press conference at AFM.
Graham King's Initial Ent. Group has obtained international distribution rights for Revolution Studios' Philip K. Dick adaptation, NEXT, according to VARIETY. As part of the deal, King will gain a producer credit on the film along with star Nicolas Cage, Norm Golightly, Todd Garner and Arne Schmidt.
POSEIDON and SUPERMAN RETURNS are the latest Warner Bros. tentpole pictures to get the large format IMAX treatment. Wolfgang Petersens remake of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (with vfx from ILM and MPC) will be released May 12, 2006, on both conventional and IMAX screens. Bryan Singers SUPERMAN RETURNS (with vfx from Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm + Hues, The Orphanage and Rising Sun Pictures, among others) follows the same release pattern on June 30, 2006.
Paul W.S. Anderson, who developed a name for turning videogames into feature films such as RESIDENT EVIL and MORTAL COMBAT, has been hired by Steven Paul's Crystal Sky Pictures to turn Konami videogame franchise CASTLEVANIA into a feature, reports VARIETY. Anderson will write and direct the film. Paul and Crystal Sky president Benedict Carver will produce alongside Impact Pictures Anderson and Jeremy Bolt. The story will chronicle the origins of Dracula and the vampire-hunting Belmont Clan. Mid-2006 is set for production to start and no cast has yet been set.
Due to New Lines stalled development of an IRON MAN feature, Marvel has regained the film rights to the comicbook franchise, reports VARIETY. After the project was in development hell for more than two years, the franchises option expired this summer and Marvel opted not to renew with New Line. Now the feature will start from scratch at Marvel with a new script, which will either be produced in-house or licensed to another studio.
Rogue Films, the genre arm of Focus Features, has tapped the domestic distribution rights to HIGH TENSION director Alexandre Ajas forthcoming supernatural horror flick, THE WAITING, VARIETY reports. Rogue purchased the film from Gold Circle Films and Craven/Maddalena Films. Mandate holds the international rights.
Inspired by last years enormously successful THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE and encouraged by a flurry of interest in three-dimensional digital cinema, Walt Disney Pictures will unveil its first all CG-animated feature, CHICKEN LITTLE, in a new Disney Digital 3D process when it bows Nov. 4. This event marks the first digital 3D theatrical presentation.
Building upon the legacy of the swashbuckling hero, Zorro, Imaginary Forces (IF) designed the main title sequence for Sony Pictures THE LEGEND OF ZORRO. IF's Michelle Dougherty acted as director and art director on the film's teaser and main titles, working closely with IF founder/creative director Peter Frankfurt, as well as supervising Antonio Banderas during the shoot for the main titles.
Lions Gates SAW II (with vfx from C.O.R.E.) carved up a surprising $31.7M at the box office for its Halloween weekend bow ended Oct. 30, 2005. Sonys THE LEGEND OF ZORRO (with vfx from Peerless Camera Co. and Digiscope) debuted in a distant second with $16.3M. Universals PRIME followed in third, as another newcomer, with $6.2M. Slipping to fourth was DreamWorks DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (with vfx by Hammerhead), which brought in $6.1M for a two-week cume of $17.3M.
Disneys DINOSAUR director Ralph Zondag has been hired by Regency Enterprises to direct its first CG feature, OLLIE THE OTTER. Regency, which is based out of 20th Century Fox, is co-financing the film with CritterPix, a San Rafael, California-based animation studio. Gary Goldman is producing with Regency's Alexa Amin shepherding for the studio.
Uwe Boll, a producer/director gaining a name for himself for adapting videogames into features, has optioned the rights to the violent videogame POSTAL and announced that his film adaptation of the DUNGEON SIEGE game will be split into two films to be released a month apart from each other, reports VARIETY. Boll will release the two IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE films on Nov. 3, 2006, and Dec. 1, 2006, via his new distribution firm, Event Film. The films star Jason Statham, Ray Liotta and Leelee Sobieski.
Producers Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, chairman of Platinum Studios, and Gale Anne Hurd, founder of Valhalla Motion Pictures and producer of THE TERMINATOR and this years upcoming AEON FLUX, announced that they are developing Top Cows spiritually themed comicbook MAGDALENA as a feature film. Kevin Taft, who recently signed a writing deal for New Line Cinemas ALONE, has been tapped to pen the script.
Daniel H. Wilson, a 27-year-old Ph.D. candidate in robotics at Carnegie Mellon, has optioned the film rights to his first book HOW TO SURVIVE A ROBOT UPRISING to Michael DeLuca Prods., reports SCI-FI WIRE. A film treatment based on the book, which hits stores Nov. 7, 2005, has already been written by Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (Comedy Central's RENO 911).
Paramount is in final talks with LAYER CAKE director Matthew Vaughn to direct and produce an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's adult fairy tale STARDUST, according to VARIETY. Vaughn wrote the script with writing partner Jane Goldman.
Dimension has tapped director Mikael Hafstrom (upcoming Weinstein Co. release DERAILED) and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to tackle the adaptation of the Stephen King short story 1408, which has rewrittem by ED WOOD screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, reports VARIETY. The original script was penned by Matt Greenberg.
The long-in-the-works CG feature, FOODFIGHT!, has announced its star-studded voice cast, according to VARIETY. Charlie Sheen (TVs TWO AND A HALF MEN), Eva Longoria (TVs DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES), Wayne Brady (TVs THE WAYNE BRADY SHOW), Chris Kattan (FEVER PITCH) and Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE) will provide the voices for the Threshold Animation Studios and Lions Gate Family Ent. production.
Fox has hired SWORDFISH writer Skip Woods to turn the videogame HITMAN into a feature film vehicle for Vin Diesel, according to VARIETY. The studio purchased the film rights to the Eidos game in June from producers Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh. Diesel is set to exec produce with Daniel Alter producing and Fox president of production Hutch Parker and evp Alex Young overseeing. The story follows international assassin, Agent 47, who works for a mysterious agency dubbed the Agency.
DOOM (with vfx by Framestore CFC and Double Negative) proved to be a tepid box office leader, despite its popularity as a First Person Shooter videogame. For the weekend ended Oct. 23, 2005, the Universal release debuted at $15.4M. Bowing in second place was DreamWorks family drama, DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (with vfx by Hammerhead), which brought in $9.1M. Following in third was Aardman/DreamWorks WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT. The stop-motion gem (with vfx from MPC) took in $8.5M and now has a three-week cume of $43.9M.