Southpaw Entertainment has announced that it has hired SHREK 2 and SPIRIT director Kelly Asbury to write and direct a live-action/CGI fantasy adventure, titled IMAGINARY CHILDREN, reported VARIETY. Southpaw's Richard Lewis and Scott Peters came up with the concept, which follows a cartoonist whose characters consume his life's so much that he is estranged from his real child. Lewis will finance the project on his own with investments from his Southpaw partner eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll.
Producers have revealed that STUART LITTLE 3 will be an all-CG direct-to-video feature, reports Zap2it.com.
"There's a gigantic audience out there for this, but it would not pay to make it a full-out feature," said Douglas Wick, producer of the first two movies and co-writer of STUART LITTLE 2. "We just got the script and we like it, but this time there will be no live characters, it will all be CGI."
New Lines sci-fi thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (with vfx by Schminken Studio and Toybox), overtook Universals ALONG CAME POLLY at the box office with $17M for the weekend ended Jan. 25, 2004. POLLY came in second in its second outing with $16.3M and $53.2M to date. DreamWorks WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!
DreamWorks has ordered scripts for SHREK 3 and SHARK TALE 2, reported VARIETY; however, the studio would not comment when AWN followed up. The third adventure for the giant green orge will have him wrapped up in the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table legend. SHREK 2, with a budget northwards of $80 million, arrives in theaters May 21, 2004, hoping to ride the huge success of the first film, which grossed $267 million in the U.S. on its way to becoming the surprise box office champ of 2001.
Universals Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston comedy, ALONG CAME POLLY, blew away the competition, including THE RETURN OF THE KING, in its box office debut over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, ended Jan. 19, 2004, collecting $32.4M. After four weeks atop the chart, New Lines RETURN OF THE KING (with vfx overwhelmingly by Weta Digital) finally fell to second place with $12.4M and a grand $329M to date.
Brazilian magazine, SET, has posted an interview with THE LORD OF RINGS actor Sean Astin, where he mentions being in the running to direct the FANTASTIC FOUR feature. Upon the success of his short film, THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT, which he filmed while making LORD OF THE RINGS, he has had interviews to direct 20th Century Fox's feature adaptation of the Marvel comic classic. The article quotes the budget between $100 to $130 million.
TeamWorks Digital recently completed work on Warner Bros.' TORQUE, the hyper-real motorcycle racing film that opens Jan. 16. "TORQUE is a project that enabled us to provide constant input to the visual effects of the show," says TeamWorks Digital owner David Allen. "We contributed in such a way that translated the director's unique style and vision to the screen." TORQUE is directed by music video honcho Joseph Kahn, making his first feature film debut.
Paramount Pictures confirmed that it is developing a live action version of THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN, based on E.B. White's final children's book, which would include some CGI animation. Katie Ford (co-writer of MISS CONGENIALITY) will script. This marks the second film adaptation of THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. Back in 2001, Rich-Crest Animation produced an animated feature directed by Terry Noss and Richard Rich.
The same day that Walt Disney Feature Animation officially declared the closing of its Florida unit, saying goodbye for the moment to traditional animation, it strengthened its 3D commitment by announcing the addition of A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON to its production slate.
The tug of war for box office supremacy was intense last weekend between THE RETURN OF THE KING and BIG FISH, with the Tim Burton film appearing to be the winner by a nose. But when all the numbers were officially tabulated, it turned out there was no stopping THE LORD OF THE RINGS finale, which stayed atop the chart for the period ended Jan. 11, 2004.
Newcomer Noodlesoup Productions has made an impression on Miramax, animating the opening minutes to the distributors latest release, MY BABY'S DADDY, which opened in theaters Jan 9, 2004.
"We're excited that Miramax has such faith in Noodlesoup Prods. and has given us the opportunity to work with them on another film, said Jeff Nodelman, founder and CEO of Noodlesoup. I believe this is just the beginning of a great relationship."
While 2003 produced a five percent overall drop in theater admissions, the holiday box office was helped enormously by THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING, which grabbed $28.1M over the four-day New Year's weekend ended Jan. 4, 2003, and $290.4M for its first 19 days. Overseas brings the RINGS take to $675M so far. The latest record broken was $12M for New Year's Day, besting last year's $11M from THE TWO TOWERS.
Platinum Studios has acquired the film rights to two indie comics THE DARK FRINGE and RUST. Platinum head Scott Rosenberg will oversee the live-action projects.
FRINGE -- created, written and inked by Eman R. Torre for Atomic Rocket Prods -- follows a cop who must decide whether he can trust the top suspect in the murder of his wife to lead him to the possible true killer. RUST, created by Steve Miller, follows a man who is accidentally covered in metal and finds solace in sculpture.
Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch chose a Rorke Data Storage Area Network (SAN) containing 1.2 terabytes of Seagate disc drives for post-production editing on Anthony Minghellas Golden Globe nominated film, COLD MOUNTAIN. Reliability was the main concern for the system that was first built and configured by DigitalFilm Tree before being shipped to the film set outside of Bucharest, Romania.
yU + co explores the elusiveness and transience of memory in its absorbing main title sequence for the new John Woo thriller PAYCHECK, which opened Christmas Day through Paramount Pictures. The design studio's mercurial graphics, where words and names form out of random characters on a computer screen before being quickly erased, serve as a subtle metaphor for the conflict that besets the film's protagonist, who is engaged in a desperate struggle to reconstruct his past.
Cinesite Hollywood will provide digital intermediate and vfx services for the Fox Searchlight release NEVER DIE ALONE. The film noir directed by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19, 2004, and is slated for wide release on March 19.
Based on cult novelist Donald Goines' book of the same name, NEVER DIE ALONE is about King David (DMX), a hard-boiled, stylish criminal who returns to his hometown seeking redemption and finding only violent death.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued to rule the box office, grabbing $50.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 28, 2003, and $222.2M for its first dozen days. Overseas brings the total RINGS take to $492M so far. KING also saw the biggest Christmas-day haul ever of $14.6M, a nice holiday present for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.
Disney has hired Grant Calof and Greg Lee to adapt David Wiesner's award-winning illustrated children's book THE THREE PIGS into an animated feature combining CG and traditional techniques, VARIETY reports. Like SHREK, PIGS is a postmodern take on classic fairy tales (this one was made famous by Disney, of course, in a 1933 Silly Symphony short).
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on the popular book of the same name by C.S. Lewis, will begin production in New Zealand in early 2004, industry development minister Jim Anderton said in a statement. New Zealand-native Andrew Adamson, co-director of the Oscar-winning SHREK, will be directing the live-action film. The production will use stage space and personnel in Auckland.
After successfully IMAXing THE MATRIX trilogy, IMAX and Warner Bros. Pictures will release the third installment of the HARRY POTTER film series, THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in IMAX theaters in June 2004. The highly anticipated Alfonso Cuaron-directed feature is scheduled to open June 4 in conventional theaters. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN will be digitally re-mastered through proprietary IMAX DMR technology.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING came out swinging like Gollum for that box office brass ring on Wednesday, Dec. 17, taking in a glorious $57.6M in theaters around the globe, according to New Line, including a record-breaking domestic gross of $34.1M and $23.5M in 19 territories overseas.
Whats next for IDT Ent., the Newark, New Jersey-based company thats been on quite an animation buying spree of late? Engage Christopher Reeve (star of four SUPERMAN films, THE BOSTONIANS, SOMEWHERE IN TIME AND THE REMAINS OF THE DAY) to direct an original feature length animated film. The untitled film is described as an urban fable set in the 1930s, and is expected to be completed in early 2005.
When the Visual Information Technology laboratory at the Canadian National Research Council started developing its high resolution 3D scanners in the early 1980s, it probably had no idea that 20 years later one of its spin-offs, XYZ RGB Inc., would be contracted to help bring the characters of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to life on the big screen.
Counter-programming struck back at the box office, with the middle-aged romantic comedy SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE knocking THE LAST SAMURAI into second place for the weekend ended Dec. 14, 2003. The Sony film pairing Jack Nicholson with Diane Keaton scored $16M compared to the $14M collected by the Warner Bros. epic starring Tom Cruise (with vfx from Flash Film Works, Rising Sun and Matte World).