Leading visual effects developer, The Foundry, announced the completion of the first OpenFX project: the indie feature THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES, due for release in November. An open API for visual effects software, OpenFX has been used on the film in conjunction with FilmLights Baselight grading and finishing system by German vfx facility, Optical Art.
Columbia Pictures has hired Keanu Reeves to topline its long gestating THE 8TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD project, reports VARIETY. XXX director Rob Cohen will direct with Neal Moritz producing. Charlie Mitchell has been hired to rework the script from Cormac and Marianne Wibberly and Tedi Sarafian. The eighth-century tale will place Sinbad and his crew in China searching for the Lamp of Aladdin, while encountering a supernatural Chinese general, gorgeous empress and fantastical creatures. Director John Singleton was previously attached to this project.
Blur Studios short ROCKFISH will be transformed into a CG feature via Vin Diesels One Race Films. Diesel will also lend his voice to the main character. One Race is trying to secure financing for the sci-fi film, which it believes will cost under $30 million. In addition Diesel will produce alongside his partner George Zakk and Blur creative director Tim Miller, who wrote and directed the short and will direct the feature.
Disney-based Mandeville Films has announced that it will start production on a SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON remake in September at the Queenslands Warner Roadshow Studios, reports PRODUCTION WEEKLY. Greg Poiriers screenplay has set the story during the time period of the book -- the beginning of the 19th century. Based on a novel by Johann David Wyss, the story chronicles the adventures of the Robinson family after they are washed ashore on an uncharted tropical island following a stormy shipwreck. The original 1960s film version starred John Mills and Dorothy McGuire.
To open Mötley Crües Red White & Crüe Tour 2005 Better Live than Dead, fans will be treated to a clay-animated short featuring members of the band saving the world from imminent destruction. The short is taken from Dream Ent.s upcoming feature film DISASTER! THE MOVIE. Additionally, highlights of Dreams full-length theatrical feature, in which the band appears in a cameo role, will be shown during intermission at each concert. The film is scheduled for worldwide release later this year, with several distributors in the U.S.
Buena Vistas family comedy starring Vin Diesel, THE PACIFIER proved too much for MGMs GET SHORTY sequel, BE COOL, in the battle of the post-Oscar box office openers for the weekend ended March 6, 2005. THE PACIFIER (with vfx by ILM) scored $30.5M to BE COOLS $23.4M. Coming in third was Sonys Will Smith hit, HITCH, which raked in another $12.1M for a cume of $138M. Last weeks number one finisher, DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, fell to fourth and pulled in $11M and $37M to date for Lions Gate.
V FOR VENDETTA, the next futuristic thriller from the Wachowski Brothers and Joel Silver (THE MATRIX trilogy), began shooting today in Berlin, Germany, marking the directorial debut of James McTeigue, who was first assistant director on THE MATRIX movies and STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Dan Glass (BATMAN BEGINS) will serve as visual effects supervisor and London-based Cinesite will provide CGI and model work.
Christian Slater has signed on to lend his voice for the title character, IGOR, in Exodus Film Groups CGI-animated short film, IGOR: UNHOLY FRIJOLES that precedes the feature length theatrical version Igor, due out in 2007.
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier will make his directorial debut on the film adaptation of ERAGON, reports PRODUCTION WEEKLY. Production on the Fox 2000 picture will begin in July in Europe. JURASSIC PARK III scribe Peter Buchman adapted the screenplay from Christopher Paolinis bestselling fantasy novel. The story follows a farmboy who discovers a dragon egg, which leads to him becoming a Dragon Riders and battling a wicked king.
Paramount Pictures has acquired the film rights to Robert Kirkman's Image Comics title, INVINCIBLE, reports VARIETY. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Circle of Confusion partner David Alpert will produce the film for the studio. Kirkman will adapt the superhero comic, which tells the trials and tribulations of teenaged Mark Grayson, whose father is the worlds most powerful superhero. Circle's Lawrence Mattis, Jason Lust and David Engel will exec produce. Di Bonaventura's vp Erik Howsam, who brought the property to the studio, will shepherd the project.
Fox 2000 has optioned Stuart Hill's fantasy bestseller THE CRY OF THE ICEMARK, reports VARIETY. London-based Jigsaw Films Courtney Pledger and Sarah Radclyffe are set to produce. The book's U.K. publisher Barry Cunningham will serve as exec producer via his year-old Chicken House Ent. division, which handles the film and TV rights of his authors.
The quasi-Nordic prehistoric tale follows a teenage queen and her best friend as they form an alliance with werewolves, vampires and talking snow leopards to battle a massive army that is invading their homeland.
Legendary producer Robert Evans and comicbook genius Stan Lee are set to produce a new superhero franchise for Paramount Pictures titled, FOREVERMAN, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. HELLBOY scribe Peter Briggs will pen the screenplay in collaboration with Lee. Idiom Films will produce the feature along with Evans and Lees POW! Ent. No details have released about the characters or story.
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that BATMAN BEGINS will be simultaneously released to IMAX and conventional 35mm theatres on June 17, 2005. The film, which explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight's emergence as a force for good in Gotham, will be digitally re-mastered into the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology for the IMAX release. Warner Bros. Pictures will be the exclusive distributor of BATMAN BEGINS to IMAX theatres worldwide.
Peru's Alpamayo Ent. has launched the countrys first 3D feature titled PIRATAS EN EL CALLAO (PIRATES IN CALLAO), reports VARIETY. The film will be adapted from Hernan Garrido Leccas book of the same name, which chronicles the adventures of a young boy who time-travels to the 17th century to fight pirates off the coast of Peru. Eduardo Schuldt directed the film.
Lions Gates DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN toppled Sonys HITCH during the Oscar weekend for the period ended Feb. 27, 2005, ringing up $21.9M vs. $20.4M for the popular Will Smith comedy that has taken in a mighty cume of $121.4M.
DreamWorks has tapped AMERICAN PIE 2 writer David H. Steinberg to pen the animated feature, PUSS IN BOOTS, based on the character voiced by Antonio Banderas in SHREK 2, reports VARIETY. Steinberg will get a six-figure salary for the script. DreamWorks hopes to release the film in 2008 and Banderas has agreed to return as the voice of the swashbuckling feline. No official word has been announced whether the film will be a direct-to-video project or a theatrical release.
MATRIX producer Joel Silver confirmed that BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER creator Joss Whedon is being talked with to write and direct a new film version of WONDER WOMAN, reports SCI FI WIRE.
"I'm trying," Silver said in an interview at WonderCon in San Francisco on Feb. 19, 2005. "I'm trying to work a deal with Joss... I was just in the other room [where Whedon was talking about his upcoming SF movie, SERENITY]. I don't know if I could work that out. It's a complicated deal to do, but I would love him to do it. It would be great if he could do it."
Texas Instruments DLP Cinema technology, the digital cinema projection system deployed in movie theaters worldwide, played a supporting role during the production and post-production process for Martin Scorseses THE AVIATOR, which garnered 11 Oscar nominees.
Italian digital studio Videa VFX has signed on to do visual effects work on LAUGHING WATER, an Italian, British and Czech co-production based on the German novel, MINE HA HA, about the mysterious disappearance of girls at a school surrounded by a fairy tale atmosphere with dark forests and gloomy lakes.
VFXWORLD contributor Gianluca Dentici will serve as vfx supervisor, with John Irvin directing and Dante Ferretti doing the production design. Jacqueline Bisset co-stars as the headmistress.
HITCH, the Will Smith romantic comedy, seduced another $36.7M for Sony over the Presidents Day Weekend box office period ended Feb. 21, 2005. That gives it a two-week cume of $95M. Debuting in second with $33.6M was Warner Bros. CONSTANTINE, the supernatural thriller with Keanu Reeves, based on the HELLBLAZER graphic novel (with vfx by ESC Ent., Tippett Studio, Hydraulx and Spectrum Effects). Foxs warm-hearted BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE bowed in third with $13.2M.
STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH will open the 58th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, reports Londons DAILY MAIL. The final STAR WARS film, which hits theaters on May 19, will kick off proceedings on the Croisette, joining a long tradition of high-profile launches.
Warner Bros. has secured the screen rights to Welsh author Jenny Nimmos MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE and the four additional books in the fantasy series, reports VARIETY. WB-based Thunder Roads Basil Iwanyk and Alysia Cotter will produce. Neil Alsip will adapt the books. WB execs Lynn Harris and Geoff Shaevitz will oversee the project for the studio.
Disney Animation has secured the rights to Dave Barry and Ridley Pearsons bestselling children's book PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS with the intent to turn it into a CGI feature, reports VARIETY.
The loose prequel to PETER PAN follows 8-year-old Peter, shipmate Molly and a group of orphaned boy on the ship Never Land as they attempt to recover a trunk of magical starstuff, before the pirate Black Stache gets him hands on it.
Disney Editions published the book in August 2004.
Columbia-based Escape Artists has hired I, ROBOT director Alex Proyas to helm the supernatural thriller, KNOWING, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Originally DONNIE DARKO director Richard Kelly was attracted to direct and Proyas will film off Kellys rewrite of Ryne Pearsons original screenplay. Steve Tisch, Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and David Alper are set to produce.
Universal Pictures has secured the rights to Terry Brooks' book series MAGIC KINGDOM FOR SALE, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. THE MUMMY director Stephen Sommers will direct and produce. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel will adapt the screenplay. Sommers Universal-based Sommers Co. partner Bob will produce with Circle of Confusions David Alpert.
The first volume of the series follows a widowed attorney who leaves his old life behind when he responds to a mysterious ad and spends his fortune to purchase a magical kingdom.