New Line's Christmas satire, ELF (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues and Amalgamated Pixels) won the box office weekend ended Nov. 16, 2003. After two weeks, ELF has grabbed a tidy $70.3M. Fox's Oscar contender, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, debuted in second place with a respectable but certainly not commanding $25.1M.
Miramax has hired writer Brett Matthews to pen the theatrical installment of the LEGO BIONICLE franchise. Both the first and in-production second film in the series are direct-to-DVD releases. The BIONICLE story follows a group of intelligent biomechanical superheroes who battle the evil Makuta.
Spanish international sales firm Lumina Films has gained the overseas sales rights outside Spain to the Spanish 3D feature film MIDSUMMER DREAM, reported VARIETY. Dygra Films, producers of hit film THE LIVING FOREST, created the film. The $8 million film is a co-production with Portugal's Appia Filmes and is based on Shakespeares A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.
Salma Hayek has joined the voice cast of Puerto Rico-based Muvi Films SIAN KA'AN that consists of Alfred Molina (FRIDA, Michelle Rodriguez (GIRLFIGHT), Cheech Marin (UP IN SMOKE) and opera legend Placido Domingo. The film will be recorded in both Spanish and English by the bilingual cast.
Giant Killer Robots (GKR), an Oscar-winning vfx boutique in San Francisco, provided pre-visualization, design, effects animation, rendering and final compositing services to create the subterranean metropolis Zion in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. GKR also served as a lead coordinating firm for critical action sequences in Zion that required photorealism and precise animation. REVOLUTIONS features vfx with a Japanese anime-like feel that blends fantasy and reality.
Warner Bros. Pictures THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS topped the North American box office for the weekend ended Nov. 9, 2003, taking in $48.5 M, but fell 47% short of its predecessor, THE MATRIX RELOADED. However, REVOLUTIONS (with vfx by ESC FX, Animal Logic, BuF Compagnie, Giant Killer Robots, Tippett Studio and Tweak Films) in its revolutionary worldwide release broke the five-day overseas record with a yield of $201M. The third installment had stiff competition from New Line Cinemas ELF (vfx from Amalgamated Pixels and Rhythm & Hues), which collected $31.1M for second place.
Walt Disney has greenlit two new 3D projects from LILO & STITCH creator Chris Sanders and veteran animator Glen Keane. Carolyn Soper, vp of production for Walt Disney Feature Animation, briefly discussed the projects at a Producers Guild function on Nov. 6, 2003.
THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS made its worldwide debut on Nov. 5, 2003, taking in $43.1 million from 18,000 screens. The final installment in the cyber saga brought in $24.3 million in the U.S. and Canada where it played in 3,502 theaters. This amount makes it the third biggest Wednesday bow of all time in North America behind only STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE ($28.5M) and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS ($26.2M).
DreamWorks has tapped commercial director Noam Murro to direct the sequel to the $129 million surprise hit, THE RING, reported VARIETY. The original films star Naomi Watts has already signed on to reprise her role. The film should start filming in January and is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 10, 2004.
Warner Bros. Pictures has tapped scribes Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams (CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES) to write a live-action feature based on Cartoon Network's JOHNNY BRAVO, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, reported VARIETY. Original Film's Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein will produce, with show creator Van Partible attached as exec producer. Overseeing the film will be Original's Tania Landau and WB's Greg Silverman and Alicia Cotter. The plot will follow Johnny on his journey to find his estranged father.
While Dimension's SCARY MOVIE 3 barely kept its hold on first place for the Halloween weekend ended Nov. 2, 2003, Disney's BROTHER BEAR, despite only two days of expanding nationwide, finished second, gathering a huggable $19.4M. With a per screen average of $6,404, BROTHER BEAR has now risen to $19.8M, making a good case for traditional animation given the right vehicle.
The simultaneous release of Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS on Nov. 5, 2003 in 35mm and IMAX/15/70 represents a first for a live-action Hollywood film and the prestigious large format corporation, which is attempting to increase both its commercial appeal and profitability as a result of its aggressive repurposing strategy.
Right upon the heals of MGMs announcement that it has enlisted Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes to remake THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, Dimension Films plans to produce a film based on the life of George Lutz, who lived in the real Long Island haunted house, which the 1979 film was based on, reported VARIETY. Dimension obtained Lutzs life rights and a finished script from Nu Image. The film is scheduled to hit theaters early next summer.
North Carlina-based indie filmmakers Brett Ingram (director, co-producer, co-editor) and Jim Haverkamp (co-producer, co-editor) are profiling underground clay and line animator Bruce Bickford in a new documentary titled MONSTER ROAD. Bickford is best known for the dark and magical animations he did for musician Frank Zappa in the 1970s, and has been doing independent work since then, almost all of which has never been released.
The long in-development film adaptation of Maurice Sendaks childrens book classic WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE has been assigned by Universal to director Spike Jonze (ADAPTATION), reported VARIETY. Tom Hanks Playtone production house has long been developing the film as a CGI project, but Universal agreed to go live-action upon hearing Jonzes vision. Originally animation vet Eric Goldberg (ALADDIN) was attached to direct, but he left to go work on LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION after WILD THINGS seemed to be stalling.
Oscar-nominated actors Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes have signed on to lend their voices to THE WALLACE AND GROMIT MOVIE, reported Channel 4 News. Bonham-Carter will voice new character Lady Tottington and Fiennes will give life to Lord Victor Quatermaine. Aardman Animations will begin production on the film, subtitled CURSE OF THE WERERABBIT, this week for a scheduled 18-month production slate.
While Dimension's SCARY MOVIE 3 debuted in the top spot for the pre-Halloween weekend ended Oct. 26, 2003, scaring up $48.1M, the real story was Disney's BROTHER BEAR platforming in two theaters in Los Angeles and New York. The studio's second to last traditionally animated feature for the foreseeable future growled its way to $291,940, for an astounding per-screen average of $145,970. BROTHER BEAR should have a more formidable gross when it opens wide next weekend.
Artisan Entertainment has announced that upcoming release on August 27, 2004 of the feature film rendition of Marvel Comics MAN-THING. Produced by Marvel Studios and Fierce Entertainment in association with German equity fund Screenland Movieworld, the film just wrapped production after an eight-week shoot in Sydney, Australia. Effects pioneer Brett Leonard (THE LAWNMOWER MAN, T-REX BACK TO THE CRETACEOUS) directed the film. Hans Rodionoff (THE HOLLOW) adapted the comic for the screen.
Sony Pictures Animation confirms that it is proceeding with feature plans for its Oscar-winning animated short film THE CHUBBCHUBBS!, by Eric Armstrong, along with production of a follow-up short for theatrical distribution next summer. The computer-animated feature about an intergalactic janitor-turned singer that hooks up with the Chubbchubbs to save the universe will be penned by Dan Wilson and Dave Gilbreth (SMART AND SMARTER). A director is still being sought for the feature.
Videovision Entertainment has acquired worldwide distribution rights to THE LEGEND OF THE SKY KINGDOM. The film is the first animated feature produced in Africa and created using a method dubbed Junkmation, which employs found junk to create characters and sets. The film tells the story of a group of children who escape a cruel orphanage and embark on a quest to find the fabled Sky Kingdom. Roger Hawkins directed the film with Phillip Cunningham producing and Minali De Silva handling art direction.
Firedog LLC has started pre-production in Los Angeles on its $2 million independent, animated feature film, FIREDOG, with principal production to be carried out at Camp Chaos Studios. Aaron Henry and Eric Treibatch of Ent. Consulting Group and Scott Duthie will produce, Clifford Matthews will exec produce original screenplay by Glen Stephens to be directed by Duthie.
Digital Production Solutions (DPS), the animation unit of IDT Media, has entered into a production services agreement with German-based Berlin Animation Film (BAF) as the sole animator of HAPPILY N'EVER AFTER, a computer-animated feature that reworks classic Grimm Bros. fairy tales.
New Line's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake upended Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL VOLUME 1 from the top of the box office chart, scoring $28M for the weekend ended Oct. 19, 2003. With vfx by Centro Digital Pictures Ltd. and K.N.B. EFX Group Inc., the Miramax film declined nearly 44% in its second week, picking up $12.4M and $43.2M to date. Debuting in third place was Fox's courtroom thriller, RUNAWAY JURY, which tagged $11.8M.
Artbeats has announced the expansion of its royalty-free stock footage library. The new collections include high-quality images that include: Chicago Aerials, Mountain Peaks, Middle East, Rural Lifestyles, Sharks, Winter Lifestyles and Winter Scenes.