While Aardman Animation studios in Bristol, England, was tragically engulfed in flames today, destroying its entire history, its latest stop motion feature, WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT debuted at the top of the U.S. box office for the weekend ended Oct. 9, 2005. The DreamWorks release (with vfx from MPC) posted $16M.
Rogue Pictures, Universal's NYC-based genre unit, has teamed with L.A.-based Crystal Sky Pictures to produce DOOMSDAY, the next film from DOG SOLDIERS writer-director Neil Marshall, reports VARIETY. This is the first project greenlit from Rogues new president of production Andrew Rona. The film is a futuristic action thriller with political overtones, set in northern England and Scotland. Rogue will hold worldwide rights to the film, which they hope to get into production next spring in the U.K.
Twentieth Century Fox has tapped Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps Ent. to produce the live-action/CG feature, A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. The deal will see Levy direct the picture as part of a two-year, nonexclusive, first-look production pact with the studio.
Paramount announced that ELF and ZATHURA director Jon Favreau has been hired to direct the film adaptation of JOHN CARTER OF MARS, reports the trades. Previously, SKY CAPTAIN helmer Kerry Conran was attached to direct after Robert Rodriguez had to step down from the production after he quit the Directors Guild. Exec producer Harry Knowles said on his website Aint It Cool News that Conran left the film to work on another pulp sci-fi project that he was more passionate about.
The finishing touches were completed on Warner Bros. DUMA during digital intermediate (DI) timing sessions with director Carroll Ballard (THE BLACK STALLION, FLY AWAY HOME) at LaserPacific in Hollywood. DUMA is an adventure story that revolves around the relationship between a boy and an orphaned cheetah rescued in the wilds of Africa.
Movie audiences are in for a double treat as DreamWorks bundles up an animated short featuring the adorable penguins from MADAGASCAR to play with the new movie, WALLACE AND GROMIT: CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, opening in theaters today (Oct. 5, 2005) in the U.S. The penguins star in DreamWorks Animations, A CHRISTMAS CAPER, directed by Gary Trousdale.
Columbia Pictures has tapped INDEPENDENCE DAY director Roland Emmerich to direct 10,000 B.C., a prehistoric epic that depicts tribal life at the dawn of modern man, according to the trades. This film is the first under Emmerich's production deal with Columbia, which he signed in April.
John Orloff (HBO's BAND OF BROTHERS) is writing a new draft of the script, which is based on an idea that Emmerich forged a decade ago. Emmerich and Harald Kloser wrote the original screenplay.
Director Tony Scott has left Touchstone Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer thriller DÉJÀ VU, reports VARIETY. Scotts spokesman states that the move is due to logistical and scheduling problems that were created by Hurricane Katrinas destruction of New Orleans, the films key location. Filming was set to begin today (Oct. 5, 2005).
Vanguard Films has announced that they have acquired the feature comedy GNOMES!, written by Micah Herman and Kyle Newman. The high concept plot centers on a boy who discovers that the garden gnomes in his backyard are actually alive. When the boy starts to suspect that his mom's new suitor is a gnome-eating troll, the boy enlists the gnomes' help and all sorts of trouble ensues. Herman and Newman are slated to direct the project.
Bungie, creator of the HALO game, has announced that Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have joined the film adaptation of the game as exec producers. In addition, WETA will be fabricating Covenant weapons, building life-sized Forerunner structures and handling live-action/CG integration for the project. Universals Mary Parent and Scott Stuber are producing.
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that HAPPY FEET, the animated musical comedy about a tap-dancing Emperor Penguin and his adventures in the Antarctic, will be released domestically in IMAX 3D simultaneous with the film's 2D premiere in conventional theaters on Nov. 17, 2006. The film is directed by George Miller (the BABE films and the MAD MAX trilogy), with an all-star ensemble cast, featuring the voices of Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy.
NewTek Inc. announced that Zoic Studios relied on the award-winning LightWave 3D as a key tool in producing visual effects shots for Universal Pictures SERENITY, directed by Joss Whedon film. Zoic produced about 220 shots for the film, and for many of these LightWave was used to model, texture, animate, light and render the 3D elements. Of those assets that were created in other 3D applications, many were subsequently rendered in LightWave.
For the second consecutive week, Buena Vistas FLIGHTPLAN (with vfx Lola Visual Effects and Peerless Camera Co.) led the box office for the weekend ended Oct. 2, 2005, bringing in $14.8M for a total of $45.9M. Debuting in second place was Universals SERENITY (with vfx from Zoic and Rhythm + Hues, among others), with a less than stellar $10.086M. TIM BURTONS CORPSE BRIDE, the stop motion feature with vfx from MPC, fell to third place with $10.033M. The Warner Bros. release now totals $33.1M.
If Nick Park seems slightly dazed, its understandable almost three weeks of non-stop promotion has taken him to Australia, Toronto and recently New York City on behalf of his new movie, WALLACE AND GROMIT: CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, which opens in the U.S. Oct. 7, 2005.
Renee Zellweger returns to the horror genre in the English remake of the Hong Kong horror flick, THE EYE, reports the trades. One of Zellwegers early feature film roles was as the female lead in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION, alongside Matthew McConaughey. Paramount is producing the redux via C/W Prods. heads Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.
The film follows the eerie visions a woman (Zellweger) begins seeing after she regains her sight after a cornea transplant.
Comicbook hero Lucky Luke will ride onto the bigscreen in TOUS A L'OUEST, which will be produced by Xilam, Dargaud-Marina and Lucky Comics, reports VARIETY. Fall 2007 is set for the films release. With a budget of e12 million ($14.4 million), the flick will be directed by Olivier Jean-Marie from a script by him and Jean-Francois Henry.
Loosely based on the comic THE CARAVAN, the feature will follow cowboy Luke and his talking horse Jolly Jumper as they pit themselves against their long-time enemies the hapless Dalton brothers in 19th century America.
Fox Animation has hired Matthew Weiss to pen an feature script based on the Emily the Strange character created by Rob Reger, reports VARIETY. The live-action feature will contain some animation.
Warner Independent Pictures has tapped HIGHLANDER writer Greg Widen to adapt Kelley Eskridge's sci-fi thriller SOLITAIRE, according to VARIETY. Cherry Road Films co-presidents Kendall Morgan and Bo Hyde will produce.
The story is set in a future world where the software and pharmaceutical industries are about converge and chronicles the tale of a female computer engineer who is wrongly sent to an experimental prison.
Walt Disney Pictures has hired TREMORS scribes Brent Maddock and Steve Wilson to pen an untitled film about the Navy Marine Mammal Program, reports VARIETY. Starring otters, sea lions and dolphins, the film will follow their training for military rescue operations. The project will combine the ideas of two pitches the studio has heard on the subject. Producer Patrick Aiello along with Mayhem Pictures Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray had pitched a live-action film while I AM SAM director Jessie Nelson and children's book author Nina Laden had proposed an animated film. All five will produce.
NARNIA partners Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media will reteam to produce the film adaptation of Katherine Paterson's Newberry Medal-winning children's novel, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, reports VARIETY. Gabor Csupo, co-founder of Klasky Csupo, will make his live-action directing debut on the film. Jeff Stockwell is adapting the script. Disney will be co-financier and U.S. distributor with Walden retaining international rights.
With a takeoff of $24.6M, Buena Vistas FLIGHTPLAN, the Jodi Foster airplane thriller (with vfx from Lola Visual Effects and Peerless Camera Co.), withstood TIM BURTONS CORPSE BRIDE for the weekend ended Sept. 25, 2005. However, Warner Bros. should be pleased with the $19.1M tallied by the stop-motion feature as it goes wide throughout North America. CORPSE BRIDE (with vfx by MPC) now has $19.65M. Coming in third place with $9.6M was DreamWorks romantic fantasy, JUST LIKE HEAVEN (with vfx by Big Red Pixel), which now totals $29.8M.
The world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE will take place Dec. 7 at Londons Royal Albert Hall in the presence of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Chosen as the prestigious 2005 Royal Film Performance, the premiere is a fundraising event in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. The movie opens Dec. 9 in the U.S.
Universal Pictures has forked over seven figures to Joss Whedon for him to direct his fantasy thriller spec script GONERS, reports VARIETY. Mary Parent and Scott Stuber are set to produce.
"It's the story of a young woman's journey that involves a great deal of horror and some heroics," Whedon said. "It's certainly darker than SERENITY, and there are a lot of left turns along the way. It is something I had in mind for a while, and it just poured out of me when I finished my film."
Paramount has hired Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn to write an adventure version of the legend of St. George and the dragon, according to VARIETY. Red Wagon's Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing. The studio paid high six figures against low seven figures.
The myth chronicles the knight's struggle to save a feudal princess from a fearsome beast. As a twist, the knight will be not chivalrous and the princess not chaste.
With DreamWorks Animation recently announcing its slate of upcoming films, Walt Disney Studios chairman Richard Cook announced Disneys forthcoming films at the Walt Disney Studios Showcase, which offered previews of the studio's slate through 2008 and featured cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and Elton John, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The daylong event was held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland for exhibitors, retailers, merchandisers and other business partners.