Universal has obtained the film rights to Darren Shan bestselling childrens book series, CIRQUE DU FREAK, reports VARIETY. Brian Helgeland is attached to write/ exec produce with Lauren Shuler Donner producing. Helgeland plans to base the first film on the first three books in the dozen-book series. Universal hopes this will be a new trilogy for them. The storys main character is named Darren Shan and follows him to an illegal freak show where he is lured into becoming a vampire's assistant in order to save his best friend's life.
Disney has hired scribes Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal to draft a remake screenplay for the 1982 cult classic, TRON, reports VARIETY. Brigham Taylor will supervise the new film.
For the remake the computer world will be expanded with the computer programmer will get trapped in the cyberworld of the Internet. Steven Lisberger wrote and directed to original film, which utilized cutting-edge graphics.
Sony has purchased Trevor Sands sci-fi script RESURRECTION, reports VARIETY. Mosaic Media's Charles Roven and Alex Gartner are producing. Shannon Gaulding will shepherd the project for Columbia, with Gloria Fan watching over for Mosaic. The studios are quiet about the flick, which is described as an imaginative sci-fi action-adventure set in the distant future.
Sands wrote the adaptation of Martin Caidins novel, THE SIX BILLION DOLLAR MAN, for Dimension. He will also write and direct THE FOUR JACKS for producer Holly Wiersma (WONDERLAND).
Eyetronics, an international provider of high resolution scanning services and animation-ready 3D models, is coming off its most successful year yet and looks to 2005 with a prestigious slate of projects, including RACING STRIPES, ELEKTRA, the much anticipated CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, BATMAN BEGINS, THE BROTHERS GRIMM, LEGEND OF ZORRO, THE ICE PRINCESS and TRANSPORTER II. Among the recent feature films employing Eyetronics scanning services are ALEXANDER, BLADE: TRINITY, MASTER AND COMMANDER, KING ARTHUR, THE LAST SAMURAI and XXX.
Swedens Traktor has optioned Paul Sloans sci-fi thriller screenplay, SIPHON, reports VARIETY. Traktor will produced the flick with Bryan Brucks. Set in a futuristic world, a female detective tracks a serial killer that may not be human with a most advanced technology available.
Buena Vista has set plans for a June 2005 release of Hayao Miyazakis highly anticipated animated feature, HOWLS MOVING CASTLE. Since its release in Japan six weeks ago, the film has garnered more than $100 million at the box office. In South Korea, the film is smashing box office records in becoming the most successful Japanese film ever in South Korea.
Universals MEET THE FOCKERS took first place for the first official weekend of the new year, ended Jan. 9, 2005, taking in $28.5M with an impressive three-week cume of $204.3M. Supernatural thriller WHITE NOISE, also from Universal, opened surprisingly strong in second place with $24.1M. Miramaxs THE AVIATOR (with vfx by Sony Pictures Imageworks and CaféFX) maintained its altitude at number three with $7.5M for a cume of $42.8M.
Jim Henson Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures have teamed to turn the 2001 children's book THE WITCH'S CHILDREN, written by Ursula Jones and illustrated by Russell Ayto, into a feature film, reports VARIETY. The picture book tells the tale of several witches-in-training whose magic goes awry. Scribe Aline Brosh McKenna (LAWS OF ATTRACTION) will weave the simple story into a tale of a single-mother witch who leaves her magical, but morally questionable, world to raise her kids in the suburbs.
McG's production firm Wonderland Sound & Vision and James Stern's Endgame Ent. are set to co-produce horror flick, STAY ALIVE, reports VARIETY. First time director/writer Brent Bell will helm the picture, which follows a group of New Orleans teens as they play a videogame that spurs the losers own death in real life. Endgame will finance the film, which will start shooting in March. Matthew Peterman. McG, Peter Schlessel and Stern will produce, with Wonderland's David Manpearl as co-producer.
For Bryan Singers SUPERMAN, Warner Bros. has cast BEYOND THE SEA co-stars Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth as villain Lex Luthor and plucky reporter Lois Lane, respectively. Spaceys deal is locked and Bosworth is in negotiations. The summer tentpole with begin filming in Sydney on March 3, 2005. In October, newcomer Brandon Routh was cast to play the Man of Steel.
ADV Films announced the American theatrical premiere of A TREE OF PALME, which will take place at Houstons Rice Cinema starting Jan. 14, 2005. A TREE OF PALME is a modern retelling of the classic PINOCCHIO story with a sci-fi/fantasy twist. The cinematic Japanese animated feature was written and directed by animator Takashi Nakamura, who served as a chief animator on AKIRA.
Walt Disney's Touchstone Pictures has hired director Gregor Jordan (BUFFALO SOLDIERS) to rewrite and direct the adaptation of John Christopher's THE TRIPODS TRILOGY, reports VARIETY. Disney has had the properties rights since 1997 and both Darren Lemke and Terry Hayes have written scripts based on the series.
Universals MEET THE FOCKERS set two additional records over the New Years holiday weekend ended Jan. 2, 2005, while hauling in $41.7M: the largest New Years Eve gross of $12,140,181 and the largest New Years Day gross of $18,271,940. The impressive cume to date stands at $162.4M.
Warner Bros. Pictures' THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE again set new records for an IMAX film by amassing more than $5.45 million from Dec. 26 through Jan.1, making it the highest grossing week in IMAX's history.
Hayao Miyazakis lastest HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE drew 1 million viewers in South Korea in its opening weekend, reports ASIA PULSE.
"Never before has any Japanese film reached such numbers in such a short period of time," Kang Eun-gyeong of Laughing Boa said.
The film opened on 237 screens in Korea on Dec. 23, 2004, becoming the first Japanese movie that ranked first in the local box office in its debut week (Dec. 23-26) with 770,000 viewers. Miyazakis last film SPIRITED AWAY was only seen by 2 million viewers in its entire run in Korean theaters.
CaféFX used its CG skills to recreate the 1935 world speed record-setting flight for THE AVIATOR, as well as additional shots of Howard Hughes reviewing a fleet of Lockheed Constellation aircraft.
CaféFX artists additionally used NewTeks LightWave 3D in the production of content and shots for FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX and BLADE: TRINITY.
With Blue Sky Studios wrapping production on ROBOTS (which parent company Twentieth Century Fox will release March 11, 2005), director Chris Wedge took time out to talk to VFXWORLD about his eagerly-awaited follow-up to ICE AGE. The 3D-animated feature will open day-and-date in IMAX DMR on IMAX screens around the globe.
Universals MEET THE FOCKERS was a no brainer in its box office debut for the yuletide period ended Dec. 26, 2005. It took in a hefty $46.1M for the weekend and $70.5M for the five days, including a record-breaking $19.1M for Christmas Day.
However, the rest of the field was less impressive and overall box office for 2004 was barely ahead of last year, with attendance down for the comparable period.
These days vampires dont merely poof away with a fabled stake through the heart, they combust into bits and vaporize away. At least thats what happens when vampires are vanquished in New Line Cinemas BLADE: TRINITY, thanks to scanning technology from Eyetronics.
POW! Entertainment and Stan Lee, the legendary creator of superheroes, has created a new superhero who, unlike all the others, is actually based on a living, breathing human being, performing his fantastic deeds in the real world. Its based on Jay J. Armes, possibly the world's most successful and colorful crimefighter, who possesses steel-clawed prosthetic hands and a lie-detecting tiger.
Warner Bros. Pictures' THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE surpassed $20 million in total box office receipts in only six weeks to continue its record-setting pace for a commercial IMAX release.
Intuition and S2 Intl. have struck a project-by-project production alliance, reports VARIETY. The duo will first team on KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS director Michel Ocelots new animated feature, AZUR ET ASMAR.
Spurred by the box office success of the first animated PATORUZITO film, Jorge Rodriguez of Red Lojo Ent. has announced plans to exploit the franchise in features, television and merchandising, reports VARIETY. The story follows a boy who fights to claim the title of cacique (chief) of his tribe in Patagonia. A new studio will launch in April to handle the animation on the property.
In the latest jostling for prime release dates, Disney confirmed that VALIANT, the initial 3D-animated outing from Ealing Studio-based Vanguard Animation in the U.K. (the studios heir apparent to Pixar?) will fly in U.S. theaters on April 15, 2005. With Disneys own CHICKEN LITTLE now flying the coop in November, this highly anticipated story of a World War II carrier pigeon should fill the bill nicely.