Darkwoods Prod., the production house of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION director Frank Darabont, has signed on with Himani Original Prod. to develop a CG-animated feature film, animated TV series, comic books and video games based on Bernie Wrightson's (SWAMP THING) comic book character Captain Sternn. The character originally appeared in HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE and made an appearance in the 1981 animated cult flick HEAVY METAL. Also attached to the project are writer David J. Schow (THE CROW) and Himani president/founder Kevin Kutchaver (HERCULES, XENA) as director of animation.
With a one-two punch of his own, producer Jerry Bruckheimer ruled the weekend box office like no other producer before him, with BAD BOYS II debuting impressively at an estimated $46.7M and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL hauling in a hefty $33.2M in its sophomore turn. At least for the moment, the curse of the summer sequel has been given a respite.
After the dismal box office performance of SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS ($23.4 M since July 2, 2003), DreamWorks animation head Ann Daly proclaimed in the NEW YORK TIMES that the studio will no longer be making traditionally-drawn features. Co-founder and animation guru Jeffrey Katzenberg added that the 2D art form sadly may be obsolete as a result of changing technology.
With PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK already past $85M after one week of release, Disney has acted quickly in setting course on a sequel with all of the main participants, including Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, and confirmed by a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson. No story has been conjured, but writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio are said to be huddling with the studio.
R!OT Santa Monica produced more than a dozen complex VFX shots for Warner Bros. TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (produced by C2/Intermedia), including several highly detailed 3D digital matte paintings. Specializing in creating realistic virtual environments, artists from the studio's feature film unit created a remote desert military facility, a cavernous elevator shaft, a warehouse filled with robotic weapons, aerial scenes and other hard to replicate locations.
Proxima, an Italian digital effects partner of famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome, has been handed a large portion of the VFX work on EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, the prequel to the legendary horror film that Warner Bros. will release February 6, 2004. The Paul Schrader film was shot at Cinecittà and Proxima is part of Cinecittà Digital Village, which is quickly becoming one of the most important digital arenas in Europe.
As expected, Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL blew away all comers for the weekend of July 11-13, 2003. The estimated weekend gross was a very impressive $46.4M, while the five-day figure came in at $70.4M, exceeding most expectations.
Now that director Kevin Lima (TARZAN and 102 DALMATIANS) has been signed to helm Fox's live-action/animated CAT AND MOUSE next year, the search is on to see who will perform the 2D animation for the opening 10 minutes of the comedy. According to a spokesman, the production team is meeting with animators and studios in L.A., New York and Canada. But it has not been determined whether an animation director and crew or a one-stop shop will be hired.
Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL struck box office gold in its first two days of release, bringing in $13.5M on July 9, 2003 and $10.4M on July 10. That's good news for the summer season, which needed a boost, and especially good for Disney, which now appears to have the one-two punch it desperately needed in FINDING NEMO ($282.6M) and PIRATES.
Vin Diesel will reprise his break-out role as PITCH BLACK's anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, a sci-fi action/adventure that just started shooting for Universal Pictures, in association with Radar Pictures and One Race Prods. Co-starring Colm Feore, Alexa Davalos, Karl Urban, Linus Roache, Thandie Newton and Dame Judi Dench the film is written and directed by David Twohy (BELOW and PITCH BLACK), produced by Scott Kroopf (THE LAST SAMURAI and PITCH BLACK) and Vin Diesel (XXX).
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES may have won the Independence holiday box office race for Warner Bros., taking in $44M for the weekend and $72.3M for the five-day period (bolstered by the combined VFX of Industrial Light + Magic, Anatomorphex, Pacific Data Images, Pacific Titles & Optical and Stan Winston Studio), but the big story was FINDING NEMO.
Despite a recent comment by Sean Connery (while promoting THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN in Las Vegas) that Steven Spielberg might not direct INDY IV, a spokesman for the director told VFXWorld.com that he fully intends to shoot the movie in 2004 for release in the summer of 2005.
"Somebody, somewhere, must have misunderstood something," the spokesman said. "The
STAR WARS EPISODE III, the last of the prequels to the legendary George Lucas franchise, began shooting at Fox Studios Australia, June 30, 2003. According to Starwars.com, the first scenes were shot in a new set environment with returning stars Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). Also on set was R2-D2. The final installment will see Peter Mayhew reprise his role as Chewbacca, a part he has not played since THE RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983.
HP's Linux-based technology played a critical role in the creation of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS, which opens theatrically July 2, 2003. The first film ever created entirely on Linux, SINBAD was developed on HP workstations and servers.
A free, limited edition read-along CD of SHREK AND FIONA'S HONEYMOON STORYBOOK will be given away to every child attending during the opening weekend of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS. The exclusive giveaway lasts July 2-6, for as long as supplies last.
The read-along storybook, which has an estimated value of $9.95, will be given away, one per child, with each paid admission. Theater managers will also have a limited number of rain checks on hand with instructions on how a child can receive his or her CD if the supply runs out before the end of the weekend.
DreamWorks adventure SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS hits theaters on July 2, 2003, but can it fend off tough competition from live-action films like Warner Bros. and Columbia/TriStars TERMINATOR 3:RISE OF THE MACHINES or MGMs LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE & BLONDE? With the track record of 2D features of late, it looks like an upward battle for the tradigital picture, which was directed by Tom Johnson and Patrick Gilmore, featuring the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones Joseph Fiennes and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Sony's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE (with Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage supplying the bulk of the VFX) may have won the box office derby, but its $37.6M was less than spectacular. So far, the 2003 summer box office is 2% less than last year's. Universal's THE HULK, meanwhile, plunged nearly 70% in its second weekend, adding $18.8M, still good enough for second place. The ILM VFX feast has earned $100.5M thus far.
After THE MATRIX RELOADED: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE climbed to an unprecedented $903, 241 in North America in its third weekend, IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. are continuing to discuss other possibilities for DMR conversion, including a day-and-date release of THE POLAR EXPRESS on Nov. 19, 2004, according to a recent Dow Jones Business News story.
As part of its continuing theatrical expansion in Europe, IMAX. will open a new IMAX 3D theater at Disneyland Resort Paris in June 2004, joining 46 similar theaters currently scheduled to launch throughout Europe at that time. The expansion is via a partnership with Disney as well as EuroPalaces, one of the largest commercial exhibitors in Europe.
British animator Faraz Hamed hopes to demonstrate good use of CGI and cartoony timing in his recently completed short film, PUMPING TYRE (PUMPING TIRE). The sole animator and director, Hamed squeezed in time during lunches and after work for a period of six months to animate and composited two-minute 40-second film in 3ds max.
THE HULK came out slugging last weekend with the highest June opener ever at $62.1M, despite mixed reviews about the content of Ang Lee's heady adaptation of the Marvel comic and ILM's execution of the CG monster. Universal's latest entry in the comic book genre overtook AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME for the best June debut, and tied MONSTERS, INC. as the 17th best opener of all time. It also marks the seventh consecutive straight number one opening for Marvel. THE HULK comes in third right behind SPIDER-MAN'S $114.8M opening and X2: X-MEN UNITED's $85.6M last month.
Flash specialty studio ANIMAX is producing a 35mm-animated short film for Jellyman Prods., CATCHING KRINGLE, in a mix of 2D techniques. ANIMAX is using Flash, USAnimation and traditional hand animation for the holiday themed short, featuring the voices of Danny De Vito and John Rhy-Davies, with a cameo by Larry King. The film will be ready to exhibit at film and animation festivals in time for the holiday season.
It only took Disney/Pixar's FINDING NEMO 20 days to hit the $200 million mark at the box office, which it did Wednesday, June 18, 2003, placing it number 10 on the all-time list. So far, the latest computer-animated blockbuster from the Emeryville, California studio has amassed $203,263,253 in North American theaters. That's good enough for fourth on the list of computer-animated box office champs. DreamWorks/PDI's SHREK is first with $267, 665,011; Disney/Pixar's MONSTERS, INC. is second with $255,873,250 and Disney/Pixar's TOY STORY 2 is third with $245,852,179.
Korean and Los Angeles-based 3D-animation house FX Digital/DiFarm and French-American production firm Media Concepts have partnered up to create the 3D-animated musical feature BREMEN. The two companies will share financing and ownership equally and hope to start production in late June of this year.