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.
Tim Pyle Animation has developed a new technique of using CG software to create automatic "inbetween" frames for 2D animation. This allows them to turn out animation much faster and cheaper without relying on animators to draw every frame by hand.
So far the Miramax gamble of splitting up Quentin Tarantinos KILL BILL into two parts has paid off at the box office, as the bloody movie pastiche debuted with an impressive $22M gross to lead the pack for the weekend ended Oct. 12, 2003. With vfx by Centro Digital Pictures Ltd. and K.N.B. EFX Group Inc., KILL BILL VOLUME 1 knocked off Paramounts THE SCHOOL OF ROCK, which came in second at $15.4M and has collected $39.6M in second week.
German funding body FilmFoerderung Hamburg has put cash behind two animated features, reported DAILY VARIETY. Animation house Ludewig received $650,000 for its animated version of WINNETOON'S -- DER SCHATZ IM SILBERSEE, based on Karl May's 19th century novels. Gerd Ludewig will be directing. As well, FF Hamburg put up $767,000 for the sequel to the 2002 hit THE LITTLE POLAR BEAR, directed by Thilo Rothkirch and Piet de Rycker. The POLAR BEAR sequel has already drummed up $1.4 million from public funds.
At a time when 2D feature animation is currently under assault in the U.S., Montreal-based H2V Entertainment has proudly announced that its initial slate of three films are all in 2D and will be ready for distribution in April 2004. Not only that but MANGA LATINA: KILLER ON THE LOOSE, MONICA MADE IN AMERICA and PIÑATAS are all contemporary, Latino-flavored stories aimed at teens and adults.
Mondo TV S.P.A. and MIM MONDO IGEL MEDIA AG signed a deal with ndF (neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft mbH) for the co-production of two animated feature films and the second season of a 13x26 TV series based on Annette Langen and Constanza Droops German childrens books LETTERS FROM FELIX. The $5 million production budget will be divided with MIM AG responsible for $2.3 million and ndF for $2.7 million. ndFs portion will be partially funded by the German associations FFA and FFF.
Paramount Pictures THE SCHOOL OF ROCK toped the box office hcarts in its debut, taking in $19.6M for the weekend ended October 5, 2003. MGMs OUT OF TIME opened in more theaters but came in second at $16.2M. Boy Wonder Visual Effects worked on this action/thriller as did Dennis Hoffman, vfx producer and special effects director Kevin Harris, along with Tim Laundry, vfx supervisor. Universal's THE RUNDOWN, starring The Rock, dropped to third in its second week with $9.7M and a $32.67 cume.
Modern VideoFilm used da Vinci's 2K Plus color enhancement systems as a part of its digital intermediate (DI) workflow to remaster and restore Ridley Scotts new directors cut of ALIEN. The 2K Plus interfaces directly with the Quantel iQ servers in Modern VideoFilm's Glendale digital intermediate facility, enabling the staff to maintain a cohesive DI workflow that allows them to perform color correction, restoration and other post-production tasks through a single user interface.
DreamWorks confirmed that SHARKSLAYER would now be called SHARK TALE. A less violent title, which was desired, but this computer-animated tale by any other name is still about gangster sharks, opening Oct. 1, 2004. The comedic riff on THE SOPRANOS, THE GODFATHER and CAR WASH, the first computer-animated feature produced at the Glendale, California-based campus, rendered in mental ray, boasts an all-star cast of voices, including Will Smith, Robert DeNiro, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Martin Scorsese and James Gandolfini.
In what is probably the first post Cartoon Forum deal, Monster! Distributes has just secured distribution rights to THE LOST LITTLE CATERPILLAR, a new half-hour film from Icelandic-based production company CAOZ.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have announced that TIGGER MOVIE director Jun Falkenstein along with actor Will Ferrell (OLD SCHOOL, the upcoming ELF) have signed on to their animated feature CURIOUS GEORGE. Ferrell will lend his voice to the troublesome monkeys owner, The Man in the Yellow Hat. The 2D feature is being produced by Academy Award-winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The film is scheduled for release on November 4, 2005.
Universal's THE RUNDOWN, which may prove to be The Rock's breakout starring vehicle, scored a whopping $18.5M in its debut for the weekend ended Sept. 28, 2003. Topping the box office chart also gives Rhythm & Hues some vfx bragging rights as well. Disney's Diane Lane romancer, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, debuted in second place with $9.7M.
Gabor Csupo of the Klasky Csupo animation studio (RUGRATS and WILD THORNBERRYS) will make his feature directorial debut with GREEN MONKEYS, a live-action/computer-animated version of the comic strip about monkeys that act human, a spokesperson confirmed. GREEN MONKEYS is published by Dan's Papers and written by Betty and Michael Paraskevas. The project seems a perfect match for Klasky Csupo, since the strip resembles THORNBERRYS in its graphic style despite the proposed CGI makeover.
Upon the success of UNDERWORLD in its opening weekend at the box office, Lakeshore Entertainment and Screen Gems have quickly greenlit two additional UNDERWORLD films. Original films writers Danny McBride and Len Wiseman will begin writing the sequels screenplay immediately. Wiseman plans to return as director as well, hoping to start filming as soon as possible. The third film is tentatively set as a prequel to the first film.
STAR WARS: EPISODE III wrapped principal photography at Fox Studios Australia on Sept. 17, 2003, five days ahead of schedule, according to a Lucasfilm announcement.
"It's almost unheard of for a major motion picture to come in under-schedule," boasted producer Rick McCallum of the shoot that was originally scheduled for 12 weeks.
Luma Pictures helped to conjure up a dark and formidable world of werewolves and vampires in providing visual effects services for Lakeshore Entertainment's new horror thriller UNDERWORLD (opening Sept. 19, 2003). A team of some 20 artists from the studio took part in the project, crafting visuals ranging from 3D matte paintings of central Budapest, to the partial transformation of a man into a werewolf, to the creation of microorganisms representing creature transformations on a cellular level.
Carlton International has struck multiple feature, TV and home entertainment deals for its childrens animated classic, THE LAST UNICORN. First, Carlton has signed a deal with movie production company Continent Film Ltd for a live-action re-make. In addition, the film has been licensed for broadcast to Roadshow Television in Australia. Video deals have been signed with NVC Felix Film in Poland and Goldvision in France and French-speaking territories.
Hasbro Inc. has hired Hollywood heavyweight Lorenzo di Bonaventura to shop its classic G.I. JOE franchise around to studios as a live-action feature film, reported DAILY VARIETY. Di Bonaventura track record as an exec at Warner Bros. includes such franchises as THE MATRIX, HARRY POTTER, SCOOBY-DOO and BATMAN. Screenwriter Michael Gordon (LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN OBRIEN) has already been attached to pen a script.
In a further sign of its aggressive commitment to computer animation, Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios are prepping a feature based on the laidback children's book THE IGUANA BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO LIZARDS, the trades reported and the studio confirmed. Written by Tony Johnson and illustrated by Mark Teague, IGUANA concerns two brothers in Mexico (Dom and Tom) that will try almost anything, including going vegetarian and acting like dinosaurs.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, Robert Rodriguez's homage to Sergio Leone, topped the box office chart for the weekend ended Sept. 14, 2003. The Sony movie (with vfx by Hybride Technologies) scored with $23.4M. Ridley Scott's MATCHSTICK MEN, debuted in second (with vfx by Sony Pictures Imageworks), picking up a more modest $13M for Warner Bros. In third place, was another debut, the indie horror film CABIN FEVER (with vfx by K.N.B. EFX Group).