In July, Warner Bros. will start shooting HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE at Leavesden Studios in the U.K. The deal with Warner is similar to the one Lucasfilms struck for EPISODE 1. The production will occupy the entire 286-acre studio for about 18 months. The movie is based on the young adult book by the same name, which follows a young wizard during his training. Chris Columbus is directing the film. The scheduled release date for the picture is November 2001. No doubt the production will tap into the local talent just like George Lucas did for his 13-month PHANTOM MENACE shoot.
DreamWorks' GLADIATOR continues to plunder the pockets of moviegoers around the globe. Complete box numbers from Germany, France, Australia and a number of other countries were not available due to local holidays, however GLADIATOR looks like it is still slaying the competition. The bloody blockbuster is still topping the charts after five weeks in release in both the U.K. and Australia, regaining the top spot from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 in the later. In its four weeks in release, the Roman revenge tale took the #1 spot in both Italy and Spain.
With the new actioner from Nicolas Cage racing in to the #1 spot at the U.S. box office, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 fell to #2 in its third weekend in theatres. Disneys GONE IN 60 SECONDS grossed US$25.33 million on its way to receiving the checkered flag. MISSION, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, grossed another $17.23 million, raising its exploding cume to $158.1 million and is on a pace to beat the finishing cume of the original MISSION installment. Disneys DINOSAUR has slipped to fourth grossing another $8.82 million.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Cartoon Network are joining forces to bring THE POWERPUFF GIRLS to the big screen. The shows creator Craig McCracken will supervise the feature. This film marks the first-ever feature based on an original Cartoon Network series. This collaboration will be the first production of a full-length animated film at the newly opened Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California. THE POWERPUFF GIRLS is targeted for a summer 2002 release.
Imax Corp. has struck a deal that will bring DreamWorks and PDIs newest 3D animated feature SHREK to the giant screen. Opening December 2001, six months after its initial theatrical release, the ogre odyssey will arrive in Imaxs 150 digital 3D theatres. Imax will foot the US$10 million bill to transfer the two-dimensional cartoon to eye-popping 3D. SHREK follows the misadventures of an annoyed ogre and his new frustratingly friendly fairy-tale neighbors.
Stan Lee Media has announced a teaming with producer Mark Canton (RED PLANET), which will bring a live-action version of the Internet animated series 7TH PORTAL to the big screen. With no studio yet attached, Canton plans to take the project to Warner Bros. where he has a production deal. Currently, Canton is set to produce the feature with Stan Lee Media co-founders Stan Lee and Peter Paul serving as executive producers. Canton told the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "The opportunity to work on the new characters and stories created by Stan Lee is about as exciting as one can imagine.
Opening this past weekend in Australia, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 uncovered US$3.7 million in 3 days on 366 screens. The total is the highest weekend take of all time for foreign distributor UIP, which also released GLADIATOR and PHANTOM MENACE Down Under. The spy sensation also racked up $893,000 on 39 screens in Singapore and $488,000 on 38 screens in Malaysia. GLADIATOR still scored big receipts raising its international cume to $97 million. The period-piece pit-fight landed atop the German, British and Italian box office.
Beating out the only major new release BIG MOMMAS HOUSE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 finished atop the U.S. box office for the second straight weekend. The TV series redux grossed another US$27.02 million. The sensational sequel, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, has now topped the scales by making $130.7 million in only one and a half weeks in theatres. Now proving that Martian Lawrence in a rubber fat ladys suit is more attractive to moviegoers than realistic talking dinosaurs, Disneys DINOSAUR slipped to #3, making $12.04 million.
Making history on June 6, 2000, 20th Century Foxs TITAN A.E. was beamed digitally from a remote location to an Atlanta theater during the Supercomm trade show. The film was sent from Qwest Communications Cyber Center in Burbank, California using a secure Internet transmission protocol developed by Cisco Systems Inc. Up until now, digital projection systems played the movies on the screen from DVD-like disks. Many studios, however, question the security of sending their top-secret premieres over satellite and Internet lines.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has released a study that violence in G-rated films is on the rise. Two researchers from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis looked at all 74 G-rated films released on video prior to September 1999. The report lists at least one act of violence in every film; 46 films contained at least one character injured and over half of the 74 films had a character killed. The movies averaged 9.5 minutes of violence, up from 6 minutes in 1940. "A G-rating does not automatically signify a level of violence acceptable for very young viewers.
With GLADIATOR opening wider in Europe, the DreamWorks darling finished atop six box office charts. Still reigning in Australia and the U.K., the Roman rampage made another US$2.42 million and $2.95 million respectively. The Australian total for hometown boy Russell Crowes action debut is $10.19 million, while the flick has grossed $16.81 million in Britain. The worldwide wonder had successful premieres in Germany, Italy, Sweden and Hong Kong making over $10 million in the four countries combined.
In easily the biggest box office weekend of all time, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 rode in atop the U.S. box office charts. In the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, the motorcycle-cruising crime caper grossed a phenomenal US$70.82 million. Since opening on Wednesday, May 24, the John Woo-directed actioner has exploded forth with a $91.82 million total. Disneys DINOSAUR has already slipped to second rustling up another $32.04 million.
Mainz, Germany-based ZDF Enterprises is planning to re-invent the popular TV detective DERRICK as an animated feature film. Last year DERRICK finished its unprecedented 24-year run on German television and 100 plus other territories worldwide. The theatrical release is being produced by ZDF, Ireland-based Magma Film and Hamburg-based neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft (ndF). The producers on the project are ndF's Matthias Walther, Magma Film's Ralph Christians and ZDF's senior VP of North American operations, Horst Muller. The trio have been developing the project for the last two years.
London-based feature film visual effects company Mill Film has been assigned the principal visual effects for the highly anticipated Paramount Pictures' TOMB RAIDER. Directed by Simon West (CON AIR, THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER), the live-action feature film is inspired by the popular interactive video game of the same name. Principal photography is scheduled to start at Pinewood Studios this summer.
For the week ending May 21, GLADIATOR still reigned in the U.K. and Australia and conquered new territory in Italy. By more than doubling the debut of FINAL DESTINATION, the DreamWorks colossal hit grossed another US$5.11 million in the U.K. The world champ has garnered $13.96 million on the British Isle. More than tripling the second placed newcomer ROMEO MUST DIE, the Roman ruler grossed $3.32 million in Australia, raising its cume in that country to $7.79 million. In its Italian premiere, the maker of Maximus coin landed $1.89 million.
Proving the further back in history movies go the more money they make, Disneys DINOSAUR stepped over the two week champion GLADIATOR. The nine-digit price-tagged prehistoric epic grossed US$38.85 million. DreamWorks GLADIATOR dazzled audiences to the tune of another $19.75 million. The Roman romp in only three weeks of release has made a total of $103.1 million. Slipping a spot to #4, U-571 grossed an additional $4.64 million. The Universal U-boat adventure has made $64.39 million thus far in the U.S. New Lines FREQUENCY dropped to 5th place making $4.34 million.
More than doubling the gross of new comer BATTLEFIELD EARTH, GLADIATOR reins a top the U.S. box office for the second weekend. The DreamWorks epic, with primary special effects by Mill Film Ltd., grossed US$24.65 million. The Roman actioner has now made $73.66 million in just over a full week in release. The critically panned BATTLEFIELD EARTH finished in second despite reviews stating it is the worst film in years. The sci-fi flick based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard grossed $11.55 million. Universals U-571 slipped a spot to third grossing another $5.74 million.
At the international box office, DreamWorks GLADIATOR conquered Australia and the U.K. while MISSION TO MARS landed on top in Italy and Germany. For the week ending May 11, 2000, GLADIATOR reigned by grossing US$4.53 million in Australia and $5.37 million in the U.K. in its first week in release in both countries. The global gladiator hit has now grossed nearly $86.56 worldwide. Buena Vistas part APOLLO 13-part 2001 space epic, MISSION TO MARS remained atop the charts in Italy where it grossed another $524,264, raising its Italian cume to $1.92 million.
Author and writer John Ridley (THREE KINGS) has signed a deal with Universal and Imagine to scribe a live-action version of his Web toon UNDERCOVER BROTHER. The blaxploitation-spoof currently airs on Urban Entertainment and is the first Web created project to make the jump to the big screen. Ridley is getting a US$1 million dollar advance on the script and could wind up with $2 million if the script is green-lighted.
Slaying the competition at the U.S. box office, DreamWorks' GLADIATOR easily finished in the top spot. The Roman action epic, with primary special effects by Mill Film Ltd., grossed a Goliath US$34.82 million, which is nearly the combined gross of the rest of the top ten films. GLADIATOR dethroned two-week box office champ U-571, which fell to second. The Universal World War II submarine story grossed another $7.77 million bringing its total theatre receipts to $49.59 million. Despite horrid reviews from about every source, THE FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS managed to finish in third place.
With live-action Julia Roberts-starrer ERIN BROCKOVICH reigning the international box office, POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and STUART LITTLE started their descent down the charts. For the week ending May 4, 2000, STUART LITTLE fell from the #1 spot in Australia to land in 2nd place. The Columbia pic grossed another US$1.53 million Down Under, raising its cume in the country to $10.7 million. The radiant rodent also fell from the top spot in Germany and Hong Kong to land in fourth place in both countries. STUART's gross in Germany was $516,789, raising its German cume to $4.75 million.
POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and STUART LITTLE are struggling over who will nab the top spot at international box offices. For the week ending April 26, 2000, POKEMON took Spain and Italy. Around the globe POKEMON finished in 2nd in the U.K. in its second weekend in theatres; 3rd in Germany in its second weekend in theatres; and 4th in France and Sweden. Already in the U.K., POKEMON has grossed a total of $13.14 million in only one week of release. STUART LITTLE finished at #1 in Germany, Australia and Hong Kong.
Three members of Hollywoods top talent has signed on to voice characters in Warner Bros. live-action-animated flick, LIKE CATS AND DOGS -- Academy award winner Susan Sarandon (DEAD MAN WALKING), Tobey Maguire (CIDER HOUSE RULES) and Academy award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (THE GREEN MILE). Maguire will voice the lead pup who helps protect a dog allergy vaccine from a crew of crafty cats. Bringing life to the pups street-wise mentor mutt will be Sarandon, who recently provided voice work for the upcoming RUGRATS IN PARIS.
Universals submarine sensation, U-571, has left new films in its wake as it sails into the #1 spot at the U.S. box office for the second straight week. The World War II flick finished atop new comers THE FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS and FREQUENCY with a gross of US$12.2 million and floating its total box office take to $38.11 million. Rolling into second place was Universals prequel to their 1994 hit THE FLINTSTONES. With a new cast, the prehistoric pic, with primary visual effects by Metrolight Studios, "rocked" up $10.52 million.
With strictly live-action taking the top U.S. box office gold, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO finished at #5. The DreamWorks' disappointment made another US$6.16 million bringing its total treasure count to $33.04 million. Leveling out its descent, FINAL DESTINATION finished in ninth for the second straight week. The New Line flick grossed another $3.05 million bringing its total cume to $38.21 million. ROMEO MUST DIE, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, plummeted to 12th with a gross of $2.67 and bringing its cume of $49.73 million.