Kodak Digital Cinema and REAL D announced that the companies have formed a strategic alliance to roll out digital 3-D cinema throughout Australia. Installation of digital 3-D cinema systems will be complete in time for the country's upcoming premiere of Disney's CHICKEN LITTLE in 3-D starting Jan. 1, 2006.
From an inviting ice castle to a thawing waterfall, many of the holiday season's movies were shaped with Autodesk Inc.'s media and entertainment software. Leading post-production facilities, including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and The Orphanage, relied on Autodesk's systems and software to realize their wildest wintry ideas.
Peter Jacksons KING KONG performed well below industry expectations with $50.1M in its initial bow for the weekend ended Dec. 18, 2005. However, with a five-day tally of $66.1M, Universal has high hopes that momentum will build for the $207M epic (with impressive vfx from Weta Digital).
Meanwhile, in its second weekend, Disneys THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (with impressive vfx of its own from Rhythm & Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks and ILM) finished second with $31.8M and a cume of $113.1M.
Universal Pictures has acquired Don Winston's supernatural spec script, OUR FAMILY TROUBLES, and will develop the drama under a new name as a starring vehicle for Reese Witherspoon, Variety reported.
Witherspoon and her Type A Films partner Jennifer Simpson are set to produce it. Universal svp Holly Bario will oversee the film.
Avid Technology Inc. announced that editing teams from Big Primate Pictures, the production company behind KING KONG, and Weta Digital, the movie's digital effects house, employed an end-to-end Avid post-production workflow to bring to life Peter Jackson's vision of the 1933 movie classic.
THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3-D EXPERIENCE, now in its second holiday season, has reached another box office milestone, surpassing $50 million at the box office since it premiered last November. The digitally re-mastered holiday classic was re-released Nov. 23 in IMAX theaters, simultaneous with its DVD launch, and has continuously been among the top 20-grossing films in North America. In its third weekend, from Dec. 9-11, the film registered an impressive 12th-place ranking on the charts, grossing $931,603 on just 66 screens.
Due to an overabundance of high-profile films, Sony has opted to move the screen adaptation of GHOST RIDER to President's Day weekend, Feb. 16, 2007, reports VARIETY. The $120-million Nicolas Cage vehicle was set to open July 14, 2006.
Massive Software continued pioneering use of the company's AI-driven 3D animation system by Weta Digital for more than 600 visual effects shots on KING KONG. The Massive work on the film, which follows Weta's industry-leading innovation with Massive on such movies as THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and I, ROBOT, creates a living, breathing backdrop of activity on Manhattan and Skull Island.
Peter Jacksons KING KONG captured $9.75M yesterday in its opening box office bow, ranking 21st on the all-time list of Wednesday openers. Falling well below industry expectations, the Universal Pictures release had a per-screen average of $2,735 on 3,567 screens. Overseas, however, KONG opened much stronger, pulling in $8M on 4,659 screens in 36 markets. Biggest openings were in Australia ($860,000), Germany ($664,000) and Jacksons New Zealand home ($297,000). Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com and VARIETY.
Animation master Hayao Miyazakis son Goro Miyazaki will make his feature directing debut with an animated version of Ursula K. Le Guin's EARTHSEA fantasy novel series, reports various online outlets. The Studio Ghibli production will be titled GEDO SENKI (TALES FROM EARTHSEA) and is set to hit theaters in Japan July 2006. The film will be based on the third and fourth books in Le Guin's six-volume series, which was first published in 1968. Le Guin's series was previously adapted as LEGEND OF EARTHSEA, a live-action miniseries that aired in 2004 on the SCI FI Channel.
Continuing its strategic business focus on leveraging its famous brand and legendary reservoir of comedy material, National Lampoon Inc. announced a partnership with the newly-formed Half Shell Ent. Films to develop all-new feature films based on material from the classic NATIONAL LAMPOON magazine and NationalLampoon.com.
Color grading for Universal Pictures' KING KONG was realized using media and entertainment technology from Autodesk Inc. Visual effects facility Weta Digital relied upon Autodesk's Discreet Lustre system to digitally color grade the entire film.
The third PETTSONS PROMISE (THE TOMTE MACHINE), featuring internationally popular TV-Loonland heroes Pettson and Findus (the grouchy old man Pettson and his curious little tomcat Findus), got off to a successful start in Scandinavian cinemas. In Sweden, the homeland of the popular cartoon characters, some 61,080 viewers have seen the new TV-Loonland feature film since its Nov.
Relativity Media, IDG Films, Platinum Studios and Arclight Films have announced that they have arranged financing to bring the Top Cow Prods.' WITCHBLADE comicbook to the big screen. Production will begin in 2006 on two feature films, to be shot back-to-back, based on the best-selling action/fantasy comicbook, which also earned a loyal following as a TNT television series.
Writer Jared Stern has signed a two-year overall deal with Walt Disney Feature Animation, VARIETY reports. Under the exclusive contract, Stern will write original projects for the division as well as existing projects. Sterns made his name by selling his idea for a third installment of TOY STORY to the studio when he was participant in the Feature Animation Development Program. No word has been given which project he has been assigned to first.
Rhythm & Hues took advantage of Massive Software's autonomous agent 3D animation and digital stunts system on The CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, filling the screen with fantastical CG armies that interact via artificial life. The film breaks ground for the variety of characters and animals bought to life using Massive crowds. It also for the first time demonstrates that Massive-generated performances are realistic enough to appear in close proximity to the camera and to hero characters in the scene.
Rhythm & Hues chose BlueArc's Titan Storage System as the storage foundation for the company's visual effects work on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE.
For the film, Rhythm & Hues provided 400 shots, using a production pipeline that included motion capture, modeling, rigging, animating, technical animation/fur, lighting, rendering and compositing.
Exceeding all expectations, Disney's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE bowed with a strong $65.5M at the box office for the weekend ended Dec. 11, 2005. Disney confirmed that it would now greenlight the next movie in the epic C.S. Lewis NARNIA saga: PRINCE CASPIAN. VFX provided by Rhythm & Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks, ILM and others.
Disney Feature Animation has set its sights on a 3D-animated adaptation of PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, the bestselling Peter Pan prequel penned by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, published by Disney Editions/Hyperion Books, THE GUARDIAN reports.
The movie will be scripted by Jay Wolpert (THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL) and will focus on the origins of Pan, an orphan who flees a life of servitude by stowing aboard a merchant ship and discovering a magic substance that enables him to fly.
Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios have begun prepping the 3D-animated HORTON HEARS A WHO, with ROBOTS story consultant and former Pixar animator Jimmy Hayward co-directing with ROBOTS art director Steve Martino, VARIETY reports. A spring 2008 release is set.
Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul have finished the script, and storyboarding has begun under the supervision of Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri and Blue Skys Chris Wedge, both of whom are producing.
Production on James Camerons live-action adaptation of the 12-part, futuristic manga series, BATTLE ANGEL, is scheduled to commence in February for Twentieth Century Fox, with casting underway for the young lead to play the teenage cyborg, Alita, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Mali Finn Casting has placed an online ad seeking women aged 16 to mid-20s who are athletic and agile with graceful movement and have an ear for languages and dialects. Submissions are reportedly due Dec. 19.
REAL D, a leader in the delivery of premium 3-D experiences, plans to expand to Japan with the installation of the first two screens after the successful launch of CHICKEN LITTLE in Disney Digital 3-D, which has grossed more than $7 million through the Thanksgiving weekend. REAL D will open screens at Oriental Land Co.'s AMC Ikspiari 16 and Warner Mycal's Tama for the presentation of CHICKEN LITTLE starting Dec. 23, 2005.
MUMMY director Stephen Sommers has returned to Paramount Pictures and Steven Spielbergs remake of WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, according to VARIETY. Sommers will write and direct the film with Spielberg producing. Sommers was first attached to the project in April then dropped out to helm Fox's A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. But he left MUSEUM in September. Alli Shearmur is overseeing for Paramount.
Recent winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, 39 POUNDS OF LOVE, about an Israeli 3D animator who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, will play in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theater in Santa Monica until Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005.
20th Century Fox has announced that director Tim Story and writer Mark Frost will return for the FANTASTIC FOUR sequel, VARIETY reports. The studio has set July 4, 2007, as the release date. Avi Arad, Bernd Eichinger and Ralph Winter will produce.
Stars Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis are expected to return, having signed options for a potential trilogy. However, Julian McMahon, who played villain Dr. Doom, will not return.
The original film grossed $154 million in the U.S.