Berkeley Breathed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and childrens author, is set to make his directorial debut with the filmed version of his newest book, EDWURD FUDWUPPER FIBBED BIG. Nickelodeon Movies and Storyopolis are set to produce the seven-minute short. The book will be released next month by Storyopolis and Little, Brown Co. Sources say the film will screen in theatres in the fall, which might signal its attachment to the release of RUGRATS IN PARIS, but no official word has been announced.
Former Disney chairman Joe Roths Revolution Studios will turn the Web series, LIL PIMP, into a Flash-animated feature. The MediaTrip.com series will be the first feature length film to be animated using Macromedias Flash software. Creators Paul Gilstrap and Mark Brooks with their team of four animators are set to scribe, produce and direct the project. Production on the flick could begin as early as three to four weeks. No monetary details have been released, however Gilstrap and Brooks look to make most of their money from backend revenues.
With several debuts around the globe, THE PATRIOT has won the war for international box office supremacy. Premiering at #1 in Germany, the Mel Gibson-starrer grossed a hefty $3.23 million. Slipping to second, THE PERFECT STORM garnered $1.29 million, raising its German cume to $8.62 million. Down one to #4, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 added another $1.01 million to its $22.42 million German cume. At #8, THE TIGGER MOVIE rounded up an additional $206,761, bringing its German cume to $3.97 million. In its 10th week in Germany, GLADIATOR grossed $119,979 in tenth, advancing its cume to $19.99 million.
With three major releases this past weekend, Sony Pictures HOLLOW MAN was far from invisible at the U.S. box office, finishing in first place. The INVISIBLE MAN redux, with primary visual effects by The Ranch Entertainment, Tippett Studios and Sony Imageworks, grossed US$26.41 million, giving it the second largest August opening in history. Falling to second, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS dropped 58% from its debut weekend, with a gross of $18.17 million. The phat festival, with primary visual effects by Double Negative Ltd., has rounded up $76.7 million thus far.
With MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 still holding on in many countries, PERFECT STORMs debut in Hong Kong and the U.K. shook up the international box office. Finishing at the top spot in the U.K., STORM grossed US$2.86 million over the weekend and $3.25 million since its Wednesday nod. Slipping to #2, STUART LITTLE grossed $2.08 million, advancing its British cume to $9.59 million. The U.K. sensation, CHICKEN RUN, amassed another $1.82 million in third, bringing its cume to $28.85 million.
In typical summer blockbuster fashion, the newly released NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS has dethroned last weeks U.S. box office champion WHAT LIES BENEATH. The KLUMPS Eddie Murphy-marathon, with primary visual effects by Double Negative Ltd., finished in first place with a gross of US$42.52 million. WHAT LIES came in at second with a gross of $22.86 million. The Harrison Ford haunter, with primary visual effects by SPI, has rounded up $69.35 million in only 10 days in release. In third, THE X-MEN grossed $12.68 million.
Disneys newest animated feature LILO AND STITCH has begun production. The long in the works project has begun initial production at Disneys Orlando animation studio. Some of the production is scheduled to be done in Hawaii where the story is based. The film tells the tale of a Hawaiian girl who adopts a dog that is really an evil space alien. Jason Scott Lee (RUDYARD KIPLING'S THE JUNGLE BOOK) has signed on to voice a muscular, tanned surfboard salesmen, while Tia Carrere (WAYNES WORLD) will voice Lilo's sister.
Lucasfilm and fledgling Japanese anime company, Anime World Osaka, have agreed to co-produce an animated feature film entitled, THE TINY FAIRY MIRUN. As reported in YOMIURI SHIMBUN, George Lucas will executive produce the project. Osaka is set to provide the US$18.5 million budget. Lucas is scheduled to go to Osaka in September after production calms down on STAR WARS EPISODE II to sign the official contract. In a flip-flop of the usual process, Anime World will create the master illustrations in Osaka and ship the drawings to Lucasfilm for in-betweens.
With more summer blockbusters arriving in international theatres, the old guard is weaning. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, however, is still strong, finishing atop the charts in Italy, Sweden Japan and Spain. In its second week, M:I 2 grossed another US$700,928 in Italy, raising its cume to $6.82 million. GLADIATOR is losing its power, slipping a spot in Italy to finish at #4 with a gross of $103,693, bringing its Italian cume to $8.64 million. In Sweden, GLADITOR also finished in 4th place with a gross of $217,952, advancing its cume to $3.93 million.
The live-action cast for OSMOSIS JONES just keeps getting bigger. SNLs Molly Shannon and Chris Elliot have been added to the live-action cast, which includes Bill Murray. The story centers on a man (Murray) who gets sick and the white blood cell (voiced by Chris Rock) and cold pill (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) that race to battle the virus overtaking his body. The animated portion will take place in Murrays body, while the live-action takes part in the outside world. Shannon will play Murrays daughters schoolteacher and Elliot will play Murrays best friend.
Scaring the mutants out of #1, DreamWorks WHAT LIES BENEATH finished atop the U.S. box office charts. The haunted house horror flick, with primary visual effects by SPI, grossed US$29.7 million. Slipping to second, THE X-MEN, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, CORE Digital, Digital Domain, Hammerhead Productions, Kleiser-Walczak Co., Matte World and POP Film, dropped 56% from its opening weekend, but still racking up another $23.47 million.
With nods in Brazil and Hong Kong, Disneys DINOSAUR roams atop the box office charts. In Brazil, the special effects spectacle landed $2.65 million in its debut. Whereas in Hong Kong, the blue-green beasts stomped out an amazing $1.29 million on only 43 screens! The prehistoric pic adds another name to the long time three way battle between MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, GLADIATOR and GONE IN 60 SECONDS for international box office glory. Back in Brazil, M:I 2 fell to second with a gross of $1.89 million, bringing its Brazilian cume to $5.63 million.
Making a big bang at the U.S. box office, 20th Century Foxs THE X-MEN finished at #1. The mutant mayhem, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, CORE Digital, Digital Domain, Hammerhead Productions, Kleiser-Walczak Co., Matte World and POP Film, grossed an outstanding US$54.47 million. This gross marks the second highest three-day take of the year, behind MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, and the fourth highest three-day gross of all time. Last weeks top film, SCARY MOVIE, finished in second with a gross of $26.2 million.
Sony Pictures Imageworks' Rob Legato has been named the CGI supervisor for Warner Bros.' HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Legatos credits include TITANIC for Digital Domain and the upcoming WHAT LIES BENEATH for SPI. The flick, set to bow in November 2001, is being produced by David Heyman and directed by Chris Columbus. The cast includes Maggie Smith, Tim Roth and Robbie Coltrane. Based on the best-selling book by J.K. Rowling, the film version will be an effects extravaganza with flying broomsticks and an all-CGI villain Voldemort.
PRINCE OF EGYPT-director Simon Wells has signed on to helm live-action flick, THE TIME MACHINE. Brad Silbering (CITY OF ANGELS) was first rumored to direct the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. pic based on H.G. Wells novel. This project will be Wells first foray into live-action. He was in talks to helm CASPER 2, but that film fell through due to budgetary concerns. The picture seems to be going to the right person as Simon Wells is the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE-writer Leslie Dixon has signed a US$1.5 million deal to pen the newest DreamWorks animated feature. The working title is CHAKULAN and is based on the fact that male Bengal tigers have a biological animosity toward female tigers and their cubs. The premise came from DreamWorks execs, whom recommended Dixon because she is well known for her witty banter. No producers have been asigned to the project yet, but Lance Young, DreamWorks animation development head, is overseeing the project currently.
The live-action version of DAREDEVIL has swung from Columbia Pictures to find a new home at New Regency Pictures, however, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is still attached to the project. Marvel Enterprises moved the project due to an Internet rights dispute with Columbia. New Regencys Arnon Milchan and Marvel Studios Avi Arad are producing the flick. 20th Century Fox will distribute the film. DAREDEVIL follows the adventures of attorney Matt Murdock, who was blinded by an accident with a radioactive transport truck.
With GLADIATOR's global box office dominance slowly coming to an end, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 and GONE IN 60 SECONDS have gained top spots around the world. Grossing $804,785 and raising its Swedish cume to $1.16 million, 60 SECONDS finished atop the charts in its second weekend, knocking GLADIATOR down to second where it grossed $255,829. In its second weekend in Australia, 60 SECONDS stayed off newcomer PERFECT STORM to remain at #1. 60 SECONDS grossed $3.21 million and STORM managed $2.23 million in second place.
With only one other major newcomer, the Keenen Ivory Wayans-directed teen horror spoof, SCARY MOVIE, out grossed the competition to finish atop the U.S. box office charts. Even though the weekend after July 4 usually sees low numbers at theatres, SCARY MOVIE, with primary visual effects by Centropolis Effects, managed to scare up US$42.35 million, the second largest three-day opening this year behind MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. The Independence Day champ, PERFECT STORM, slipped to second with a gross of $27.12 million.
SLACKER and DAZED AND CONFUSED director, Richard Linklater, has started the rotoscoped animation for his new feature, WALKING LIFE. The film will digitally shoot live-action actors which will then be "painted" over by artists using filmmaker Bob Sabistons new interpolated rotoscoping software. The program allows animators to stylize live-action footage with simulated brushstrokes. "WALKING LIFE is not animated in the truest sense of the word. It is a composite of wildly different, reimagined video scenes drawn in cartoon style," said Sabiston to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Swamping the July 4th holiday favorite, THE PATRIOT, Warner Bros. THE PERFECT STORM, with primary visual effects by ILM, has docked atop the U.S. box office charts. The seafaring spectacle landed an estimated US$64 million within the five-day holiday run. For the Friday-Sunday time frame, the wet wonder grossed a reported $41.5 million. The George Clooney-vehicle has the second highest debut of the year behind MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2s four-day Memorial Day holiday opening of $70.8 million.
British audience flocked to theatres to catch the first Aardman Animation feature CHICKEN RUN. In its British premiere, the clay character cavalcade racked up an amazing US$5.8 million. The fearless free-rangers knocked seven-week champion GLADITOR into second in the U.K. The Roman romp tallied up an additional $38.8 million in its international showings. The box office blood bath has brought in $165.8 million outside the U.S. Slipping for the U.S. top ten, Disneys DINOSAUR, however, stomped over the competition in Brazil to the tune of $1.6 million.
In the international box office, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 remained #1 in Australia by holding off newcomer DINOSAUR, while GLADIATOR gained the top spot in its debut in Japan. DreamWorks GLADIATOR claimed new territories in Japan, making $982,911 in its Japanese debut. Elsewhere, GLADIATOR remained at the top in Spain, the U.K., Brazil, Italy and Sweden. The Maximus money-maker grossed $1.89 million in Spain, advancing its three-week cume to $10.05 million.
Despite finishing in second place, CHICKEN RUNs U.S. opening gross was the highest animated debut in DreamWorks history. With Jim Carreys ME, MYSELF & IRENE taking the top spot in its premiere, CHICKEN RUNs US$17.51 million gross was more chicken feed than ANTZ $17.2 million debut stock piled. The future box office glory isnt bleak for the British beaks. With next weekends July 4th holiday and wonderful word of mouth, pun-squawking poultry may slip in the ranks behind big holiday new comers, but might out gross its debut with strong family attendance.
In August, Germany-based director Heinrich Sabl will start production of MEMORY HOTEL, which will feature puppets animated against live-action backgrounds. The main difficulty in filming the feature is that the filmmakers only have seven seconds to set up the new frame before it needs to be shot. This short time frame to adjust the puppets into their new position is due to continuity of the live-action environment (ie clouds, grass, trees, etc).