Warner Bros. OCEANS 12 debuted at the top of the box office with an impressive $39.1M take for the weekend ended Dec. 12, 2004, followed by New Lines BLADE: TRINITY, which bowed with $16M. Buena Vistas NATIONAL TREASURE slipped to third place with $9.8M and a total of $124M. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. THE POLAR EXPRESS is hanging in there, helped in part by IMAXs record-breaking $18M gross in 3D.
Warner Bros. THE POLAR EXPRESS continues to break box office records for IMAX this holiday season. In just five weeks, Robert Zemeckis all-CGI Christmas tale with Tom Hanks has become the highest grossing DMR (Digital Re-mastering) release ever for the large format giant.
Twentieth Century Fox has hired Sheldon Turner to pen a Magneto spinoff film from the X-MEN franchise, reports VARIETY. This will be the second film spun off from the series with Fox previously greenlighting WOLVERINE to be written by Troy scribe David Benioff. Ian McKellen has played the angry mutant leader in the X-MEN features, however the spinoff will be a prequel dealing with the characters experiences as a boy during World War II. The Prof.
Walt Disney has given is Mandeville Films production shingle the go-ahead on a remake of the SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON as well as a feature based on the classic Disneyland theme park ride JUNGLE CRUISE, reports VARIETY. Despite Disney saying it wouldnt produce any more features based on theme park rides after the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels, producer/ Mandville head David Hoberman announced in May 2004 that the studio has looking at JUNGLE CRUISE as a possible feature.
Phobos Ent. has obtained the media rights to Ursula K. Le Guin's sci-fi novel THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, reports VARIETY. Phobos head Sandra Schulberg hopes to exploit the property as both a feature and videogame.
The story is set on lost planet called Winter, whose inhabitants can physically change genders. A human emissary is sent to connect with the people of Winter to bring them back into the galactic community.
Le Guin's EARTHSEA has been adapted as the Sci Fi Channel minseries from Hallmark. This series airs Dec. 13-14, 2004.
Walt Disney and Walden Media have chosen the actor who will voice Aslan the Lion. X2: X-MEN UNITED actor Brian Cox will take the commanding role in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, directed by Andrew Adamson. The film is based on the first published book in C.S. Lewis classic childrens series.
With Disney/Pixars CARS being pushed back from Nov. 4, 2005, to June 2006, to maximize profits, Disney confirmed that the 3D-animated CHICKEN LITTLE, formerly a summer 2005 title, would now slide into the vacated Nov. 4 slot. Disney already has next summer covered with two live-action movies, THE LOVE BUG and SKY HIGH.
Kate Winslet has joined the voice cast of Aardman Animations FLUSHED AWAY. Winslet will be Rita, the female sewer rat who helps pampered rat Roddy (Hugh Jackson) survive in Ratropolis after he is accidentally flush down the toilet. The cast also includes Sir Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis.
With the original APPLESEED hitting the U.S. in January, Japanese-firm Micott & Bazara has announced a deal with Los Angeles-based Axis Ent. to co-produce two sequels in the franchise, reports VARIETY. The film will use motion-capture as well as "toon-shading," which gives 3D animation a 2D comicbook style like the original film. The two firms are looking for a distributor for the new films. Toho released the original in Japan and Geneon Ent. is handling the U.S. release.
Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures have jointly acquired the motion-picture rights to THE ANYBODIES, written by best-selling author Julianna Baggott and illustrated by Peter Ferguson, about an 11-year-old heroine with special powers to change shape.
A day after Disney/Pixar announced that CARS would be pushed back from November 2005 to June 2006 to maximize profitability, DreamWorks said it would now release SHREK 3 in May 2007 rather than November 2006.
Double Negative's work on FINDING NEVERLAND, which recently won The National Board of Reviews best film prize, involved previs (Jesper Kjolsrud), on-set supervision (Hal Couzens), impossible camera moves, magic-moment enhancements and a host of invisible effects such as crowd replication and the removal of modern anachronisms and safety rigs.
The Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation Studios have announced that they will delay the theatrical release of CARS to June 2006 from November 2005, reports REUTERS. Both companies said the move was to exploit the higher box office potential of a summer release. This move also gives Pixar more time to find a new distribution partner for its CARS-follow-up, which will be their first feature produced outside of their current Disney distribution deal, which is set of expire after the release of John Lasseters automobile epic.
Pan-European film fund Eurimages has given 3.5 million ($4.7 million) to nine international co-productions in its December session, reports VARIETY. Three of the projects were animated, including Michel Ocelot's AZUR ET ASMAR, Philippe Leclerc's LA REINE SOLEIL and Victor Maldonado and Adrian Garcias NOCTURNA. Each animated feature received up to $780,000 each.
Platinum Studios and Top Cow Prods. Inc. announced a deal in which Dimension Films has acquired the exclusive rights to develop Top Cows THE DARKNESS as a live-action feature film. THE DARKNESS is the first film deal between Platinum and Top Cow, following Platinums acquisition of the film and television rights to Top Cows comic book library this past July.
Jean-Michel Cousteau, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and 3D Ent. announced the upcoming release of SHARKS 3D, a film that brings the viewer face to face with a multitude of the world's great shark species, including the Great White, Whale Shark and Hammerhead. Audiences will experience them as they truly are in their natural habitat: not wicked man-eating creatures, but wild, fascinating and highly endangered animals.
Buena Vistas NATIONAL TREASURE still led the box office for the weekend ended Dec. 5, 2004, with $17M and a cume of $110.1M. Sony/Revolutions CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS moved up a notch to second place, garnering $11.1M and $44.9M thus far. Also moving up a slot to number three was Warner Bros. much maligned THE POLAR EXPRESS, which nonetheless is breaking records as AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE. The all-CG Christmas tale earned $10.7M good enough for $96.1M.
Walt Disney Pictures has tapped uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer to oversee G-FORCE, a live-action/CGI family film that features talking animals. Visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman (THE ROCK, KANGAROO JACK) will make his directing debut on the film, which was been in development at Yeatmans Whamaphram Prods. Disney Jason Reed will oversee the film for the studio with Whamaphram's David James serving as exec producer. Ed Kashiba will also work in a producing role on the film.
Jacob Davich has been hired for the role of the young bully in Robert Rodriguezs THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL IN 3-D. Dimension is set to release the film in June 2005. Davich, who makes his feature debut as the young Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR, will play Minus, who terrorizes 10-year-old, Max, who has a pair of imaginary superhero friends. The cast also includes George Lopez, David Arquette, Kristin Davis and newcomers Taylor Dooley, Taylor Lautner and Cayden Boyd. Rodriguez will write and direct via his Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas.
Universal Pictures has hired Chris Columbus to direct and produce the feature adaptation of Marvel Comics SUB-MARINER. Marvel Studios chairman-ceo Avi Arad and former Universal production president-turned-producer Kevin Misher will produce along with Columbus 1492 Prods. The films screenwriter David Self will serve as exec producer. Universal Pictures vice chair of worldwide production Mary Parent and vp of production Damien Saccani will shepherd the flick for the studio.
Fantastic Films Intl. is the new rep for the 3D CGI feature, THRU THE MOEBIUS STRIP, reports DAILY VARIETY. The feature, started in France, was ultimately produced by Shanghai animation studio GDC Entertainment.
German-owned Senator Intl. originally repped the film at the American Film Market in February 2004. Los Angeles-based Fantastic, now handles worldwide rights.
Tom Hanks will play famed symbologist Robert Langdon in Columbia Pictures upcoming film adaptation based on Dan Browns best-selling thriller THE DA VINCI CODE, slated for release May 19, 2006. Ron Howard will direct from a script by Akiva Goldsman, who previously collaborated on Oscar-winner A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Brian Grazer and John Calley will produce. Presumably vfx, with lots of potential for virtual environments, would be handled by Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has optioned the videogame series OZ as well as tapped creator American McGee to adapt the film script, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Bruckheimer has put in place a trilogy deal with Walt Disney Co. based on the property, which serves as a prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum book, THE WIZARD OF OZ.
McGee will pen the first films script and outline two sequels. McGee and writer Camden Joy have already completed an 500-page illustrated novelization of the game, which Warner Books will publish.
New Line Cinema and Marvel Studios have signed Nick Cassavetes (THE NOTEBOOK, JOHN Q) to direct the highly-anticipated big screen adaptation of IRON MAN. The film is scheduled to be a 2006 tentpole release. The project, which is being produced by Marvel Studios' ceo Avi Arad and Angry Films' Don Murphy, is based on a script by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and David Hayter. The studios will begin casting immediately.
With NATIONAL TREASURE and THE INCREDIBLES taking first and second place in the Thanksgiving Holiday box office ended Nov. 28, 2004, The Walt Disney Co. becomes the first studio to reap such an honor. In fact, the entire month of November belonged to the House of Mouse, as both films dominated the top of the chart also a record.