FINDING NEMO, the latest computer-animated feature from pioneering Pixar Animation Studios, opened nationwide May 30, 2003 armed with blockbuster intentions and Oscar ambitions. The well-reviewed underwater comedy/adventure about father and son clown fish, boasts the voice talents of stars Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres and Willem Dafoe. It marks the fifth collaboration between Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures, who, as everyone knows, may part ways in 2005, and the first time they've dived into the summer fray.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY, the God-induced comedy starring Jim Carrey, scored highest over the Memorial Day weekend, upending the mighty MATRIX RELOADED. The Universal feature, boasting VFX by Illusion Arts (Collin Fowler was the VFX coordinator), took in $86.4M over the four-day period, while Warner Bros.' MATRIX RELOADED dropped 50% in its second week, with $45.7M, despite the biggest ever four-day gross. At $209.5M, the visual effects feast included work from Amalgamated Pixels, Animal Logic, BUF, Bullet Time, CIS, CFX, ESC Entertainment, Giant Killer Robots, PLF Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio. However, it broke international box office records around the world taking in $113.2M from 62 countries, which is the first time in history a film has surpassed the $100 million level in one weekend. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE dropped to third place, but lost less than 5%, with $18M for a $73M cume. Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED came in fourth place with $13M for a total of $192M. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Warner Bros,' THE IN-LAWS, meanwhile, debuted in the fifth spot with $9.1M. Cinesite handled VFX chores, with Randall Bahnsen serving as 3D motion tracking supervisor. Fox's DOWN WITH LOVE, featuring VFX by Asylum, hung in there in sixth place with another $5M for a total of $14.6M Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, dropped to seventh place, with $4M and a $37.3 cume. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about a teen with an animated alter ego. Disney's HOLES held onto the eighth spot with $3M for an impressive total of $60M. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work. Sony's IDENTITY plummeted to ninth place with $2.6M for a total of $49.2M. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT suffered a 32.5% drop as it rounded out the tenth spot with $2.4M for a cume of nearly $132M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and the Orphanage did VFX for ANGER.
ADV Films has acquired the rights to produce a live-action feature version of the hugely popular anime TV series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Adding to the appeal of the project, Weta Workshop, Ltd., the effects studios behind the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, will also be on board for the production as well as anime and game studio Gainax Network Systems, one of the original production studios responsible for the show.
310 Studios and Hacienda Post have recently wrapped all post production work on the upcoming direct-to-video 3D feature, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, produced by the LEGO Company, Create TV and Film, and Creative Capers Entertainment. Debuting on DVD and home video September 16, 2003, the feature film is based on the successful BIONICLE brand and will be distributed under the Miramax Home Entertainment label via Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Atlanta-based Fathom Studios has added two more top Hollywood names to its list of voices for its 3D feature film, DELGO, with the addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt (HEARTBREAKERS) and Chris Kattan (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). They join a cast which already includes Val Kilmer (TOMBSTONE), Michael Clarke Duncan (GREEN MILE), Eric Idle (MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL), and Lou Gossett, Jr. (DIGGSTOWN). Hewitt will bring to life Princess Kyla, a spitfire princess with a big heart, while Kattan will voice Filo, a fast-talking, wisecracking smart aleck.
Based on the popular comic strip, ASTERIX AND THE VIKINGS will boast a $25 million budget, making it the most expensive European animated feature in history, reported THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is an adaptation of a 1967 album, which has Vikings kidnapping little warrior Asterix, so they can learn fear, thus gaining the power to fly. The film will be completely financed by French firm M6 and Denmark's Stefan Fjeldmark (HELP, I'M A FISH) will helm the 75-minute film. Fjeldmark also co-wrote the script with Belgian Jean-Luc Goossens.
French studio Onyx Films has sold the U.S. distribution rights to its first animated feature, RENAISSANCE to Buena Vista Pictures, reported SCREEN DAILY. The film is an action/suspense flick with a mixture of CGI and re-worked black-and-white images. French firm Millimages will provide the animation for the $15 million production. Christian Volckman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1999 short, MAAZ, will direct the film. The film is still looking for further capital from the U.K., which is being negotiated at the Cannes Film Festival by Paris-based Arsan's Helene Sitbon. Independent producer Jake Eberts handled the deal with Disney. Pathe Distribution holds the French theatrical and video rights. Onyx is headed by Anton Soumache and is developing the live-action comedy LA JUNGLE and recently completed Djibril Glissant's urban live-action film LA BONNE ETOILE.
Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX: UNLOADED brought in $134.3M since its release May 15, 2003 to deliver the biggest ever four-day gross. SPIDER-MAN holds the second place record now at $125.8M, but the webbed marvel had the biggest ever three-day opening at $114.8M while UNLOAD did $91.8M over three days. The visual effects feast included work from Amalgamated Pixels, Animal Logic, BUF, Bullet Time, CIS, CFX, ESC Entertainment, Giant Killer Robots, PLF Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE remained in second place with a another $18.8M for a total of $51M in its first two weeks. Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED dropped to third place in its third week, taking in another $17.3M for a take of $174.2M. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Twentieth Century Fox's DOWN WITH LOVE, with VFX by Asylum, shot up the chart with its wide release to place fourth with $7M and a $7.1 cume. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE slipped to fifth place at $4.7M and a $32.3M total. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about the teen with an animated alter ego. Sony's IDENTITY was in sixth place, taking in $3.7M for a $45M total. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT slipped to seventh place, taking in another $3.5M to rack up a total of $128.3M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Buena Vista's comedy family/adventure HOLES dug in at eighth place with $3.2M and a $55.9M cume. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed visual effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work for the film from Walt Disney Pictures. Warner Bros./Castle Rocks' A MIGHTY WIND ebbed down to ninth place to take in $1.7M and a total of $12.1M. Searchlight's BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM held in tenth place with $1.4M and a total take of $15M. Miramax's POKÉMON HEROES debuted in 196 theaters, to take in $260,372. The three previous movies faired much better with a much wider release. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
The convergence between Hollywood movies and games plays on as Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to develop the classic 1980s THE SPYHUNTER videogame from Midway Games Inc. into a major live-action motion picture to possibly star World Wrestling Federation superstar, The Rock, who would portray Alec Sects, commander of the worlds most sophisticated spy vehicle, the G-8155 Interceptor. Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh are slated to produce a script by Michael Brandt and Derek Hass. The writers did the screenplay for Universal Pictures 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, the sequel to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, based upon another video game.
"SPYHUNTER'S fast-paced action, relentless mission-based gameplay and overall cool spy theme make it a natural for the big screen," said Helene Sheeler, vp of marketing, Midway Games. "THE SPYHUNTER deal marks the success of Midways effort to proactively showcase its top properties to the movie industry," added Steve Booth, Midway vp of licensing. "We have a rich library of popular games, which will translate well into other forms of media."
Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED ruled the box office for a second consecutive week, coming in first place at $41.4M for a take of $149M in the U.S. alone. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE debuted in second place with a respectable $27.6M. As a further treat for families, it is accompanied in many theaters by Sony Pictures Imageworks' new CG short EARLY BLOOMER. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE dropped slightly to third place in its second week at $7.8M and a $27.2M cume. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about the teen with an animated alter ego. Sony's IDENTITY slipped to fourth place, taking in $6.3M for a $39.2M take. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT was fifth, taking in another $5.5M to rack up a total of $122.9M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Buena Vista's comedy family/adventure HOLES dipped to sixth place with $4.6M and a $51.4M cume. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed visual effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work for the film from Walt Disney Pictures. Warner Bros./Castle Rocks' hilarious A MIGHTY WIND expanded to more theaters and climbed up to seventh place to take in $2.9M and a total of $9.4M. MALIBU'S MOST WANTED slipped to eighth place with $2.1M and a $31.7M cume. C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures did some of the VFX work for the Warner Bros. release. Fox Searchlight's BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM held in ninth place with $1.6M and a total take of $13M. CONFIDENCE from Lions Gate dropped to tenth place with $1.5M and a take of $11M in its third week of release. Pixel Magic and Pacific Title contributed VFX to the con-men drama. X2 will likely get shot down as well as the rest of the contenders when the highly anticipated sequel THE MATRIX RELOADED goes up May 15, 2003. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
A year into its making, Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) has unveiled a busy slate of five new projects with major animation directors and writers to create diverse, unbranded entertainment for a broad audience, as envisioned by co-chiefs, Sandra Rabins and Penny Finkelman Cox. The new stable hails from such blockbusters as THE LION KING, MONSTERS, INC., SHREK, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT and TOY STORY.
THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, the theatrical version of the popular TV series LIZZIE MCGUIRE that debuted in second place at the U.S. box office, has been given the Disney greenlight for a sequel. The Walt Disney Co. struck a deal with writer Melissa Gould to write it, even though she did not pen the first film, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. TV series exec producer Susan Estelle Janson, Ed Decter and John Strauss wrote the first movie while Gould has served as a writer on the series.
Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED generated the second-highest international gross ever for a day-and-date rollout, taking in $85.8 in the U.S. and another $69.4M internationally from 93 markets. Reviewers like this version of the Marvel Comics mutants better than the first movie. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster reigning in first place in the U.S. were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE launched in second place with a $17M take.
Portland, Ore.-based Vinton Studios will produce its first full-length feature, Tim Burton's stop-motion animated film THE CORPSE BRIDE for Warner Bros. Pictures, it was reported by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and confirmed by a WB spokesperson.
BRIDE is an offbeat fable about a young man who inadvertently becomes betrothed to a corpse. Based on a 19th century Eastern European folk tale, which is being adapted for the screen by Caroline Thompson (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), Burton is producing the film with Mike Johnson making his directorial debut.
Episode III will further connect the STAR WARS saga, bridging the prequel trilogy to the original trilogy bringing back familiar faces and places in the new STAR WARS film, which is currently in pre-production. Reprising their classic roles from the original trilogy are actors Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca the Wookiee, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Kenny Baker as R2-D2.
Actor Louis Gossett Jr. (ENEMY MINE, TOY SOLDIERS, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN), has signed on to the voice cast for the independent 3D animated fantasy/adventure film DELGO from Fathom Films. He joins a star-studded cast including Val Kilmer, Michael Clarke Duncan and Eric Idle. Gossett is voicing the character King Zahn, a benevolent but cautious leader whose plans for his peoples future are hindered only by his attachment to the past. Marc F. Adler, producer/co-director, said Gossett's voice is, "unique and the creativity he lends to his performance is inspiring.
Traditional animators' worst fears were realized as David Stainton, Disney's recently appointed head of feature animation, told the 525 animation employees gathered April 28, 2003 that he wants them to produce lush, classic fairy tales entirely on computers, according to a profile on the Disney exec in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. Animation Website forums and chat rooms have been abuzz for some time about Disney possibly eliminating traditional animation altogether at its Burbank, California studio.
Sony topped itself at the weekend box office in the U.S. with its IDENTITY debuting in first place, taking in $17M. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT dropped to second place in its third week, taking in another $16M to rack up a total of $104.5M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Buena Vista's comedy family/adventure HOLES dipped to third place with $12.9M and a $36.8M cume. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed visual effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work for the film from Walt Disney Pictures. MALIBU'S MOST WANTED came in fourth with $7.7M and $24.2M for its second week of release. C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures did some of the VFX work for the Warner Bros. release. CONFIDENCE from Lions Gate debuted in fifth place with $4.7M. Pixel Magic and Pacific Title contributed VFX in the con-men drama. BULLETPROOF MONK dropped to sixth place with $4.6M and a $19.2M cume. Eyetronics did 3D scanning, while Burt Ward and his Boy Wonder VFX did visual effects along with Ian Locke at Millwright. The main title sequence was done by New Wave Entertainment for the MGM release. Warner Bros.' WHAT A GIRL WANTS, VFX work done by Cinesite, slipped to seventh place at $3.3M and a $33M take so far. Twentieth Century Fox's PHONE BOOTH, with VFX by Asylum, dropped to eighth place taking in $3.1M and a $40.3M cume. MGM'S IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY, starring Kirk and Michael Douglas, made the top 10 box office, debuting in ninth place with $3M. New Line's docu-movie THE REAL CANCUN was the last of four debuting films, coming in at tenth place with $2.3M. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
Twentieth Century Fox has delayed its plans to release a live-action/CG animated GARFIELD movie from December 19, 2003 to June 2004. Rhythm & Hues is the primary studio doing visual effects on the movie director Peter Hewitt is adapting from the syndicated cartoon strip created by Jim Davis. The story starts as Garfield's owner, Jon, takes in sweet but dimwitted pooch Odie, turning Garfield's perfect world upside down. The lasagna-loving orange tabby tries to get Odie out of his life until the hapless pup is kidnapped by a nasty dog trainer, so Garfield pulls himself away from his beloved barcolounger to get him back. Waiting until June not only gives the effects artists more time to complete the picture, it makes good marketing sense to take advantage of the extra push GARFIELD will be getting as the sarcastic feline celebrates his 25th birthday in 2004. GARFIELD has already been made into a number of 2D animated specials and TV series produced Lee Mendelson Films, Paws Inc. and Film Roman. The comic is read in 2,600 newspapers by 260 million readers around the globe.
Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT held its first place position at the weekend box office in the U.S., taking in another $25.6M to rack up at total of $80.6M in its first two weeks of release. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER.
Warner Bros. is developing an English language, live-action version of anime classic AKIRA, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. A Warner Bros. spokesman confirmed Warner Bros., has hired comic book writer James Robinson (THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN for Twentieth Century Fox Films) to adapt the script from director Katshuhiro Otomo's 1988 movie masterpiece.
Atlanta-based Fathom Studios is orbiting closer to Hollywood by signing Val Kilmer, Eric Idle and Michael Clarke Duncan to join the voice cast of its independently produced computer-animated film, DELGO. The first full-length CG flick from a U.S. indie has been receiving lots of online attention as Fathom posts digital dailies on its Website, www.delgo.com. The fantasy adventure is about troubled youth and some unlikely friends who must save the world from itself.
Canadian independent digital animation service studio Mercury Filmworks has been selected by Warner Bros. Feature Animation to provide digital paint services for its live-action/animation feature film, LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION. Directed by Joe Dante, the production, starring Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny with a co-staring the cast of whimsical Looney Tunes characters, is scheduled for release in November 2003.
New Marvel Comics-derived project THE HANDS OF SHANG CHI has been set at DreamWorks according to VARIETY. DreamWorks' spokesperson confirms that BAND OF BROTHERS writer Bruce McKenna is doing the script to be directed by Woo-ping Yuen, renowned for his choreography on THE MATRIX and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON films. Set in China, the movie is about a young kung fu mast master who learns his father is the worst criminal in the world and does not want to follow in his footsteps, which makers are calling THE GODFATHER in reverse.
Sony/Revolutions Anger Management hit moviegoers' funnybones just right, delivering an April record $42.2M opening in first place. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Twentieth Century Fox's PHONE BOOTH, with VFX by Asylum, connected again for with second place with $7.6M and a $26.7M cume. Warner Bros.' WHAT A GIRL WANTS, VFX work done by Cinesite, slipped a little to third place at $6.3M and a $20M take so far. BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE moved up again to fourth, earning $4.5M for a $117.6M cume.