Exploding into the top spot at the box office this Memorial Day weekend was Buena Vistas PEARL HARBOR, which made a triumphant nationwide debut, grossing $75.1 million. The 3-hour, action-packed movie is set during the time of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, where two friends (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) are caught up in the events that draw the United States into World War II. DreamWorks' CG-animated film SHREK more than withstood the heavy bombardment, slipping down one notch from first to second with $54.2 million during its second weekend.
On May 8, 2001 Argus International Film Studio signed an agreement with Germanys MC-One to produce THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING, a 70-minute animated film based on the well-known fairy tale by Hoffmann and ballet by Tchaikovsky. Directed by Tatiana Ilyina, the Russian version of the animated feature will be available at the end of 2002. The 3-minute pilot copy for THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING was awarded the World Gold Medal for best animation at the 1999 New York festivals and was in official selection at Annecy 2000.
The Walt Disney Company is moving up its large-format release of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to January 1, 2002, following on the success of last year's January 1 release of FANTASIA/2000: The Imax Experience. Produced by Don Hahn and directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has been digitally remastered and reformatted specifically for release to 15/70 and 8/70 theaters. The new version includes a never-before-seen musical sequence featuring Human Again, a song that had been written and storyboarded for the original release, but never animated.
DreamWorks' new CG-animated film SHREK rocketed to #1 at the box office in its North American debut, taking in $42.1 million. It is the second-biggest opening for an animated film and the biggest-ever for the distributor. Buena Vista's TOY STORY 2, which debuted during the Thanksgiving holiday in 1999, holds the record for animated openings with $57.4 million, while the previous biggest opening for DreamWorks was GLADIATOR with $34.8 million in May 2000. Universal's THE MUMMY RETURNS tallied $20.5 million during its third weekend to hold second place.
DreamWorks Pictures' new CG animated feature "Shrek" will be projected digitally in eleven theatres in the U.S. and Canada. This marks the first time a DreamWorks film will be shown in the digital format. In making the announcement, DreamWorks head of distribution Jim Tharp stated, SHREK represents the state-of-the-art in computer animation, so it is only fitting that it be the first DreamWorks film to be seen in this state-of-the-art format.
The English-language version of the anime thriller JIN-ROH: THE WOLF BRIGADE will have its theatrical release at New York's Cinema Village on June 22, 2001, at the Varsity Theater in Seattle on June 29, 2001 and nationally throughout the summer. A collaboration between two generations of filmmakers, JIN-ROH marries a hard-hearted script by Momoru Oshii, the internationally acclaimed maker of GHOST IN THE SHELL with the vérité direction of Hiroyuki Okiura, assistant to Oshii on GHOST. JIN-ROH's setting is Tokyo - not the Tokyo of the future, but of an alternate past.
Leslie Carlsons new short, SHRIMP AND CRAB COCKTAIL, made its debut on Ifilm May 4, 2001. This 2-minute animated short explores the shifting tides of emotion between a shrimp and crab as they flirt in an undersea cocktail lounge, with a dark twist to the old line "there are other fish in the sea." For more information, visit: www.ifilm.com/ifilm/skeletons/film_detail/0,1263,1236475,00.html. WHITE BREAD BLUES, a new animated Web series from the San Francisco office of interactive design and production company Deepend, debuts this week.
TriStar Pictures will release THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN, an animated musical film based on the novel by E.B. White, in Los Angeles, California and New York, New York on Friday, May 11, 2001. Universally hailed as a classic of children's literature, THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN follows the wonderful and witty adventures of Louie, a mute trumpeter swan who takes extraordinary steps to compensate for his lack of voice.
Premiering on the IFILM Network this week is DAMNED, a new film by Alex Crouch. Most consider a game of chess to be a fun, harmless way to pass the time, but nobody said it was fun for the pieces on the board! Witness the horrible fate of one group of chess pieces as they're thrown into the jaws of death. These guys know the true meaning of the word "Damned!" Find this short at: www.ifilm.com/ifilm/skeletons/film_detail/0,1263,1104743,00.html. .
The anime classic AKIRA, fresh from a $1 million restoration, has been released on the big screen in a few select theatres in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. With digital projection, this is the cleanest, crispest print ever seen to date. AWN was invited to a special pre-release screening and was very impressed by the quality of the print and restoration. First released theatrically in Japan in 1988, AKIRA has garnered legions of fans around the world and is still considered a masterpiece of cel animation.
Sharon Katz, creator of HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH (Audience Choice Award, Chicks 'n Flicks Film Festival), has finished her newest animated short, THE ANGEL'S FOOT CAKE / DER FUS TORT. In the film, Drinkeleh Fresserkeh decides to make a cake in the shape of an Angel's foot. The Angels take umbrage and the fun begins in this delightfully raucous modern Yiddish animated tale. The film premiers April 29, 2001 at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.
Richard Linklater's latest film, the animated feature WAKING LIFE, has been acquired by Fox Searchlight and will hit theaters later this year. Fox Searchlight acquired the worldwide distribution rights in a deal negotiated by the companys executive VP Joseph de Marco and John Sloss of the indie financing company Cinetic. The movie debuted to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
For the first time in 48 years, an animated film has been selected to compete at the Cannes Film Festival. DreamWorks SKGs SHREK, directed by Andrew Adamson and Victoria Jenson, was one of 22 films selected for official competition. The film, slated for a May 18, 2001 U.S. release, stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow, and was produced at PDI/DreamWorks, the companys Palo Alto CGI and effects unit.
Emmy-nominated director Chris Prynoski, best known for his work on BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA and the animated series MTV DOWNTOWN, has completed animation work on Tom Green's upcoming feature film FREDDY GOT FINGERED. In the film, Green plays a bizarre animator who desperately tries to win his father's approval. Prynoski, known for his edgy, underground style, provides animation that launches Green's skewed creations onto the big screen.
POKEMON 3, the third feature installment of the POKEMON trilogy, debuted in fourth place at the box office this weekend, taking in $9.18 million. SPY KIDS, Robert Rodriguez new espionage yarn, with primary visual effects by Hybride Technologies, captured first place for the second week in a row, grossing $17.8 million, with $49 million accumulated thus far. ENEMY AT THE GATES fell from sixth to seventh, grossing $3.45 million.
Look! Effects, a Hollywood, California digital effects and 3Danimation company, has completed a 5-minute 3D computer animationsequence for Metaphor Films and Gotham Entertainment's independentfeature FIRST WATCH. Featuring detailed models of planets, stars,their surfaces and movements that were based on some of the latestastronomical imaging and scientific data available, the sequenceconsists of a single, extended pull back where the camera lifts outof an aerial view of the Earth, travels through the Solar System,
SPY KIDS, Robert Rodriguez new espionage yarn, with primary visual effectsby Hybride Technologies, captured first place at the box office thisweekend, grossing $27.0 million. ENEMY AT THE GATES fell from fourth tosixth, grossing $5.3 million. The WWII sniper saga, with primary visualeffects by Das Werk, Die Nefzers, Double Negative, The Computer Film Companyand AudioMotion Ltd., has accumulated $34.2 million thus far. Dropping fromsixth to eighth was CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, which collected another
In a weekend with lackluster results at the box office, ENEMY AT THE GATES fell from second to fourth, grossing $8.4 million. The WWII sniper saga, with primary visual effects by Das Werk, Die Nefzers, Double Negative, The Computer Film Company and AudioMotion Ltd., has accumulated $26.2 million thus far. Staying in the sixth spot was CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON which collected another $4.62 million. The Oscar winner for best foreign film, with primary visual effects by Blue Sky Studios, CFC/MVFX and Manex Visual Effects, has amassed $106.26 million.
TriStar Pictures has announced that it will be putting the animated feature THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN into theaters for a limited release on May 11, 2001. Based on the novel by E.B. White, the film follows the adventures of Louie, a mute trumpeter swan who takes extraordinary steps to compensate for his lack of voice.
HANNIBAL held strong at the international box office with debuts of TRAFFIC topping charts in Australia and Italy. In France, however, HANNIBAL fended off the premiere of TRAFFIC, taking the top slot with a gross of US$3.17 million and raising its cume to $9.4 million. In second, TRAFFIC smuggled in $2.48 million. VERTICAL LIMIT climbed into the sixth spot, grossing $807,368, thus lifting its French total to $5.15 million. In the U.K., HANNIBAL hatched another $2.52 million in first, elevating its cume to $26.1 million.
Threshold Entertainment, a multimedia and intellectual property management company, announced that Dimension Films has acquired the project DUKE NUKEM: THE MOVIE. The film will be produced by Larry Kasanoff (TRUE LIES, MORTAL KOMBAT) and Threshold Entertainment. Based on the US$1 billion gaming franchise by 3-D Realms, NUKEM follows the politically incorrect title character as he travels into space to intercept an alien ship on a collision course for Earth.
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.