Despite the threat of an actors' strike at the end of June, Columbia Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have decided to start the production of MEN IN BLACK 2 on June 3. Priority will be set on New York exteriors and heavy effects shots. Therefore, if an actors' strike does disrupt shooting the visual effects artists can start on the effects in the interim. The first MEN IN BLACK stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are set to return with Barry Sonnenfeld reprising his role as director.
On Monday, November 20, 2000, DreamWorks announced it would release its US$186.6 million summer blockbuster GLADIATOR on Imax screens. The film will hit theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto and other major cities on Wednesday, November 22, one day after it hits video stores on VHS and DVD. The flick will be shown in its original 35mm format. No details on the financial terms of the deal between Imax and DreamWorks were released. When Disney's FANTASIA/2000 played on the giant screens in January, the two companies split the proceeds 50/50.
GLADIATOR director Ridley Scott and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer have teamed up to produce a new pirate picture entitled CAPTAIN KIDD, based on the life of the 17th century pirate. The film will be a co-production between Disney and Scott's Scott Free Films with Scott directing. Disney bought the idea in a near six-figure deal with writers Doug Cook and David Weisberg (THE ROCK and DOUBLE JEOPARDY).
SCARY MOVIE, WHAT LIES BENEATH and CHARLIE'S ANGELS all held strong at the international box office. In Italy, SCARY MOVIE debuted at #1 with a strong gross of US$2.28 million. Dropping a lofty 59%, X-MEN fell to sixth, grossing $466,646, thereby lifting its Italian cume to $4.1 million. In seventh, FREQUENCY channeled $460,570 in its Italian premiere. In France, SCARY MOVIE held onto the top spot with a gross of $2.32 million, raising its cume to $15.24 million. The French debut of SHAFT, therefore, had to settle for second, grossing $1.62 million.
At this weekend's box office, Universal's HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS thieved the U.S. crown with a multi-record breaking premiere. The GRINCH grossed US$55.08 million, making it the biggest debut for star Jim Carrey and director Ron Howard, best non-holiday debut in November, biggest opening for a non-sequel and the eighth biggest weekend gross of all time. Therefore, Paramount and Nickelodeon's THE RUGRATS IN PARIS had to settle for a second place premiere. The second feature based on the wildly popular RUGRATS TV series, with animation by Klasky Csupo, grossed $22.72 million.
John Logan, co-writer of DreamWorks and Universal's GLADIATOR, has been tapped to scribe the tenth installment of Paramount Pictures' STAR TREK film series. The currently untitled project will be produced by Rick Berman and will feature the cast from the STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION TV series. So far no director has been signed. The STAR TREK movie franchise has grossed more than US$1 billion at the box office and more than $5 billion with merchandising and home video revenue.
Stan Lee Media (SLM) has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Pictures to develop a new feature film based on the Conan character. Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of THE MATRIX, have signed on to produce with CONAN THE BARBARIAN director John Milius set to write and direct. The deal allows SLM to exploit the brand across several media outlets with an animated series in the works for television and Internet distribution. SLM only bought the rights to Conan from Conan Properties, Inc. in September.
AtomFilms has signed a deal with Century Theatres to screen six short films before each feature showing at the newly opened CineArts 6 in Evanston, Illinois. This move is part of Atom's plan to spur other theater chains to start screening shorts. The screenings also provide eligibility for the short subjects to be nominated for the Oscar, which could gain even more exposure for Atom and its film library. Harry Warren, AtomFilms' VP of broadcast and theatrical distribution, said, "AtomFilms strives to provide the best exposure for its talented filmmakers.
Over the past week at the international box office, DreamWorks' WHAT LIES BENEATH and Miramax's SCARY MOVIE have fought it out for global wealth. In the U.K., WHAT LIES over took the top spot by grossing US$2.98 million, thus pushing its 3-week U.K. cume to $12.28 million. Dropping 64% in its fourth full week, DINOSAUR fell to fourth in the U.K., with a gross of $1.44 million, escalating its cume to $17.44 million. In seventh, THE LITTLE VAMPIRE grabbed $670,689, growing its U.K. cume to $4.52 million. In Australia, WHAT LIES BENEATH's debut claimed first place with a gross of $1.72 million.
X-MEN director Bryan Singer is in early talks with Fox to take the helm of the X-MEN sequel. When signing onto the first film, the original cast, which included Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, agreed to return for up to two sequels. The talks may be just a matter of ironing out financial terms, for Singer said going into the first picture he was interested in developing the film into a franchise. A start date and how Singer will work around his prior directorial commitments are yet to be announced. X-MEN has grossed US$157.2 million in the States alone.
At this weekend's U.S. box office, CHARLIE'S ANGELS held back the debut of Adam Sandler's LITTLE NICKY, which has the comedian playing the Devil's son. ANGELS kicked in another US$24.61 million. The sexy super-agent flick, with primary visual effects by Flash Film Works, has seduced $75.01 million in just 10 days. LITTLE NICKY, with primary visual effects by VisionArt, Pixel Magic and Rhythm & Hues, had to settle for second with a gross of $16.06 million. Having its release date pushed from the heavy effects laden summer, Warner Bros.' RED PLANET still had a disappointing debut in fifth.
Pixar Animation Studios has started production on FINDING NEMO, its fifth CGI collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. The studio described the film as an underwater adventure about a father who must find his kidnapped son. Andrew Stanton (co-director of "A Bug's Life") had been tapped to write and direct the project. The film is scheduled for a summer 2003 release, which would be the first for a Pixar 3D-animated picture. However, Disney's traditionally animated feature LILO & STICH is scheduled for release around the same time.
Imax has canceled plans to release DreamWorks' 3D feature SHREK on 150 giant screens. Apparently, increased costs associated with creative changes at DreamWorks have led to Imax abandoning the project. Last month, Imax's stock dropped 70% after the company reported an earnings loss warning for the quarter. This project originally looked like a promising financial boost for Imax (and the distribution of animation) after their big success with the release of FANTASIA/2000. SHREK is scheduled to arrive in regular theaters on May 18, 2001.
SCARY MOVIE continues to do well internationally with other thrillers and chillers claiming victories around the globe. In France, SCARY debuted in first place with a gross of $5.36 million. Down to #6, THE CELL captured $568,287, increasing its French cume to $1.78 million. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON jumped in at #7, grossing $560,303 thus elevating its French cume to $6.3 million. THE ROAD TO EL DORADO made its French premiere in eighth with a gross of $473,842. In Mexico, SCRAY MOVIE also claimed the top spot with a gross of $1.4 million, advancing its cume to $3.72 million.
By knocking the four-week box office champion MEET THE PARENTS out of the top spot, CHARLIE'S ANGELS was truly blessed at this week's U.S. box office. The 1970s TV-show remake, with primary visual effects by Flash Film Works, racked up an amazing US$40.13 million. In other debuts, DreamWorks' golf fantasy, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, came in at #3. The links lullaby, with primary visual effects by PDI, grossed an estimated $11.52 million. Falling from fourth to land in sixth, BEDAZZLED danced in with another $4.66 million.
Denmark's A. Film has a hit animated feature on their hands. HELP! I'M A FISH opened in its home country at the end of September and held the top spot for two weeks. In addition to its success in theaters, a song from the film has topped the Danish pop charts. A. Film partner Stefan Fjeldmark wrote and co-directed the film with Michael Hegner. Fjeldmark was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the short WHEN LIFE DEPARTS and served as an animator on such feature films as FERNGULLY, A TROLL IN CENTRAL PARK and THE PEBBLE AND THE PENGUIN.
This past week, the international box office got a bit frightful with SCARY MOVIE, WHAT LIES BENEATH and HOLLOW MAN taking top spots around the globe. In Mexico, SCARY MOVIE debuted in first place with a gross of $2.33 million. In second, WHAT LIES scared audiences to the tune of $917,416, lifting its Mexican cume to $6.23 million. U-571 thrilled audiences in third, with a gross of $648,055, raising its Mexican cume to $1.6 million. In sixth, HOLLOW MAN made $406,055 disappear from Mexican moviegoers' pockets, advancing its cume to $5.14 million.
Dimension Films has just signed on to foot part of the US$75 million bill for the film version of Marvel Comics GHOST RIDER. Dimension joins Castle Sky Productions as the production companies on the flick. Crystal Sky Entertainment CEO Steven Paul, Marvel Studios head Avi Arad and actor Jon Voight are producing the flick with Dimension handling Stateside distribution. David Goyer will write and Stephan Norrington will direct the live-action adaptation. The team last collaborated on BLADE.
After making its initial nod last weekend in second place, the bewitching comedy BEDAZZLED fell to fourth place at the U.S. box office. Coming in behind MEET THE PARENTS, the debut of BLAIR WITCH 2 and REMEMBER THE TITANS, the Elizabeth Hurley devil dance, with primary visual effects by Rhythm & Hues, grossed US$7.83 million, down 41% from its debut, thereby lifting its 10-day cume to $24.15 million. The only other F/X flick in the top ten was the premiere of THE LITTLE VAMPIRE, which flew in at #6.
With HOLLOW MAN claiming strong debuts in Germany and Italy, WHAT LIES BENEATH and X-MEN hold on tight to other tops spots around the world. In first place, HOLLOW MAN scored big in its German premiere with a gross of US$3.78 million. SCARY MOVIE came in right behind with a gross of $3.47 million, raising its German cume to $8.84 million. WHAT LIES BENEATH sunk to third with a gross of $1.37 million, lifting its German cume to $7.11 million. In seventh, FINAL DESTINATION piled up $487,846, bringing its German cume to $6.66 million.
Director Richard Bazley is finishing up on a 7-minute theatrical short entitled THE JOURNAL OF EDWIN CARP, which was animated using Macromedia's Flash. Produced by Ray Bengston, the film is based on the book of the same name by Richard Haydn (voice of the caterpillar in Disney's original animated ALICE IN WONDERLAND). The short features the voice talents of British actor Hugh Laurie (STUART LITTLE, live-action 101 DALMATIONS). Richard Bazley was a lead animator at Disney and later at Warner Bros. on THE IRON GIANT.
With the Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller comedy, MEET THE PARENTS, taking the top stop for the third straight week, the new devilish comedy, BEDAZZLED, debuted in #2. The sell-your-soul side-splitter, with primary visual effects by Rhythm & Hues, seduced US$13.11 million out of U.S. moviegoers' pockets. Losing 59% at the ticket window, New Line's LOST SOULS scored only $3.24 million in seventh. The evil enchanter, with primary visual effects by Cinesite and yU + Co, has scared up $12.88 million in total in 10 days. Coming in 8th, the reissue of THE EXORCIST spun another $2.91 million.
With WHAT LIES BENEATH slowly sinking, THE X-MEN have claimed debut victories around the globe. In Spain, the mighty mutants premiered in first with a gross of US$2.02 million. In its second week in Spain, THE CELL fell to third, grossing $997,797 thus elevating its cume to $2.02 million. Dropping 46%, HOLLOW MAN placed sixth with a gross of $381,275, lifting its Spanish cume to $8.86 million. In eighth, NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS fell a humongous 52%, grossing $315,201 and raising its Spanish cume to $1.65 million.
In February, Warner Bros. will start shooting their live-action adaptation of SCOOBY-DOO. Raja Gosnell, director of HOME ALONE 3 and the Drew Barrymore comedy NEVER BEEN KISSED, will direct the film from a script by James Gunn, with Chuck Roven producing. The picture will shoot in Australia and no cast has been announced. The story will feature the gang of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby, but no specific plot summary has been release.
Slipping from second to fourth, THE EXORCIST still scared up more money than the debut of DIGIMON: THE MOVIE. The horror classic, with digital clean-up by Pacific Title Digital, possessed another US$4.44 million, levitating its reissue cume to $23.94 million. 20th Century Foxs DIGIMON: THE MOVIEs premiere placed an unimpressive fifth, grossing $4.23 million. With a gross of $3.72 million, ALMOST FAMOUS fell three slots to finish sixth. The 1970s coming-of-age tale, with primary visual effects by Manex and Pacific Title Digital, has pushed its cume over the $23.26 million mark.