New Line Cinema has officially greenlit production on THE GOLDEN COMPASS, the highly anticipated adaptation of the first of author Philip Pullman's bestselling HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. Production on the $150 million film is scheduled to begin Sept. 4, 2006, in the U.K., with Oscar-nominated writer/director Chris Weitz (ABOUT A BOY, ANTZ) at the helm. Digital Domain reportedly will handle vfx with Oscar nominee Mike Fink (CONSTANTINE, X-MEN, X-2) serving as visual effects supervisor.
At Cine Expo in Amsterdam, 20th Century Fox enticed European exhibitors with its planned X-MEN spinoff WOLVERINE with rumors flying that the studio is setting 2007 as the release year for the film. WOLVERINE star Hugh Jackman confirmed his involvement via video from his native Australia during the Gold Reel Awards luncheon. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER originally reported that film was certainly set for next year, but has since removed mention of 2007 from its Cine Expo piece.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Ent. have bought J. Michael Straczynski's thriller THE CHANGELING, with Ron Howard interested in directing, reports VARIETY. Brian Grazer will produce.
Billed as being based on actual events, the story follows a mother who prays for the return of her kidnapped son. However when her prayers are seemingly answered, she starts to believe the boy who comes back is not her child.
Twentieth Century Fox and producers John and Jordan Davis have snatched up the rights to the young adult fantasy book series by Scott Westerfeld, which starts with UGLIES, reports VARIETY.
Futuristic story finds kids labeled "uglies" until they turn 16 and get surgically transformed into the attractive "pretties," who live to the glamorous part of town. A precocious teen is threatened with being denied the procedure unless she spies on a friend who skipped the operation and joined a rebellious group.
Adam Sandler and his magical Universal Remote were enough to lure viewers away from CARS, as CLICK debuted at the top of the box office chart for the weekend ended June 25, 2006. The Sony/Revolution comedy/fantasy with vfx from Sony Pictures Imageworks grabbed $40M vs. $23.2M for the Disney/Pixar animated feature, which has now collected $156.6M in three weeks. Paramounts NACHO LIBRE dipped to third in its second stead with $12.6M and a cume of $53.2M.
When SUPERMAN RETURNS debuts on IMAX screens June 27 and June 28 with 20 minutes in 3-D, the conversion was achieved with the help of inventor and computer graphics pioneer David M. Geshwind, president of Three Dimensional Media Group Ltd. (3DMG).
The company has licensed two U.S. Patents to enable IMAXs conversion. However, while Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, time constraints prevented IMAX from converting the entire movie.
Fido Film, one of Scandinavias leading visual effects studios, completed work on FROSTBITEN, Swedens first vampire feature, directed by Anders Banke.
Frostbiten issomething truly unique in the Scandinavian film industry, especially in terms of visual effects, said Janak Thakker, vfx supervisor/lead animator at Fido Film. The project provided us with many exciting challenges ranging from digital face replacements and digital make-up, to full CG creatures
Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST will makes its world premiere on Saturday, June 24, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The sequel, with nearly 1,000 vfx shots from Industrial Light & Magic and considerable character animation advancement, opens July 7.
Paramount Pictures and Marvel Ent. will kick off the 2008 summer movie-going season on May 2, with IRON MAN, the first motion picture to be produced by Marvel under its alliance with Paramount. Jon Favreau will direct.
DAWN OF THE DEAD director Zach Snyder has been hired to develop and direct WATCHMEN, the long-in-development adaptation of seminal DC Comics limited series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, for Warner Bros. Pictures, reports the trades. Alex Tse will pen the script, which is being produced by Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin.
WATCHMEN, at various points, has been in development at Fox, Universal and Paramount with such filmmakers as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Greengrass and David Hayter attached.
Anime Expo and FUNimation Ent. have announced that the U.S. premiere of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE MOVIE - CONQUEROR OF SHAMBALLA will be held at Anime Expo in the Main Events hall in the Anahiem Convention Center on Monday, July 3, 2006, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. The event will be hosted by Anime Expo 2006 official Guests of Honor Japanese movie director Seiji Mizushima, Japanese voice actor for Edward Elric, Romi Paku, U.S. voice actor for Edward Elric, Vic Mignogna, FUNimation Guest U.S. English dub director, Mike McFarland and special guest Masahiko Minami, president of Studio Bones.
Spanish distributor New World Films Intl has obtained all Spanish rights to Luc Besson's live-action/animated family film ARTHUR AND THE MINIMOYS, reports VARIETY.
Adapted and directed by Besson, the film follows the story of 10-year-old Arthur, who ventures into the secret world of the Minimoys. Live-action stars are Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow, with Madonna, Snoop Dogg and David Bowie providing voices.
ARTHUR was acquired by Madrid-based company New World from Besson's EuropaCorp at May's Cannes market.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX -- the third Harry Potter film to be converted into IMAX's format -- will be simultaneously released to both IMAX and conventional theaters on July 13, 2007. There is also the possibility of converting part of THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX into IMAX 3-D for broader appeal, as was done with SUPERMAN RETURNS.
Rhythm & Hues utilized the Massive AI-based 3D animation system as part of its vfx arsenal for Universals THE FAST & THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT.
The work follows on the heels of Rhythm & Hues' epic visual effects for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, and saw the facility extending its command of Massive to meet such diverse new challenges as digitally creating Tokyo street scenes.
Last year at Comic-Con, director Bryan Singer said he was open to the notion of converting SUPERMAN RETURNS to IMAX 3-D, but wouldve preferred shooting it in true 3-D with multiple cameras. However, after seeing a test of the trailer this year by IMAX, Singer became a quick convert. Although there wasnt sufficient time to convert the entire live-action feature, IMAX has still managed to convert 20 minutes using a proprietary 2-D to 3-D system, which includes technology licensed from Three-Dimensional Media Group Ltd. and invented by David M. Geshwind.
Disney/Pixars CARS had plenty in the tank to outpace the competition in its second weekend at the box office. For the period ended June 18, CARS grabbed $33.7M, down 44%, for a cume of $117M. Following in the second through fourth spots were newcomers NACHO LIBRE, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT and THE LAKE HOUSE.
Rainmaker Ltd. Partnership (Rainmaker) completed 170 CG shots on the new Fox release, GARFIELD: A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES. Full CG face replacements were completed on the film's new character, Winston the bulldog, and on eight other talking animals. Completing the task in just eight weeks, the Rainmaker team was led by visual effects supervisor Charlene Eberle and visual effects producer Jinnie Pak.
Paramount Pictures has snatched up the screen rights to the Max Brooks novel WORLD WAR Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR in a high-six-figure deal, according to VARIETY. Brad Pitt's Plan B is set to produce.
Brooks' follow-up to satire THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE spurred a bidding battle, which also included Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprios Appian Way.
The story is a somber tale of the aftermath of a war fought against an army of humans who were inflicted with a virus, died and were reanimated into flesh-eating zombies.
Warner Bros. has hired Boaz Yakin (REMEMBER THE TITANS) to write and possibly direct a re-envisioned CONAN THE BARBARIAN, based on Robert E. Howards original character, VARIETY reports. WB hopes to start production in early 2007 with Irving Azoff, Jon Jashni, Richard Alexander and Akiva Goldsman producing. Peter Sederowsky and Fredrik Malmberg of Paradox Ent., the intellectual property company that owns the rights to the Howard estate, will exec produce.
The season is ripe for beloved Girls brand Strawberry Shortcake to star in her first theatrical movie, SWEET DREAMS. American Greetings Corp. (AG), creator and owner of Strawberry Shortcake, DIC Ent. (DIC), the exclusive worldwide licensing agent and production company, along with Fox Home Ent. announced today (June 15, 2006) the STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE feature film will premiere in movie theaters across the U.S. in October 2006.
Paramount Pictures and Steven Spielberg are developing a space travel tale about a group of explorers who travel through a wormhole into another dimension, reports VARIETY. Spielberg plans to direct with Lynda Obst producing.
Based in real science, the plot will be based on a treatment by Kip S. Thorne, a Caltech physicist who's an expert on relativity. Thorne is most famous for his controversial theory that wormholes not only exist, but can be accessed and used as portals for time travel.
Twentieth Century Fox became the first Hollywood studio this year to hit the $1 billion mark at the overseas box office, thanks to Blue Skys animated ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN ($441M) and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND ($160.6M), according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
2006 marks the second consecutive year that Fox has led the pack in the race to break the billion-dollar threshold. But last year it took Fox International about three weeks longer, bolstered by STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Commercial director Dario Piana will make his feature directorial debut with THE DEATHS OF IAN, according to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Stan Winston Prods is producing the independent horror film, written by Brendan Hood, produced by Stan Winston and Brian Gilbert. The flick tells the story of an all-American guy who is murdered each day by horrifying pursuers, only to wake up in slightly different lives to experience the terror of being murdered again.
Lionsgate announced its acquisition of U.S. and Canadian rights to the computer-animated family comedy HAPPILY NEVER AFTER is directed by Paul J. Bolger and written by Robert Moreland. The film was produced by John H. Williams (Oscar-winning SHREK), BAF Berlin Animation Film and BFC Berliner Film Companie, co-exec produced by Ralph Kamp and Louise Goodsill of Odyssey Ent., and exec produced by Rainer Soehnlein, ceo of BFC Berliner Film Companie. It stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver, Freddie Prinze Jr., George Carlin, Wallace Shawn and Andy Dick.
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies have optioned the CG family pitch MAYFLY from writing team Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick (THE SANTA CLAUSE, SPACE JAM), reports VARIETY.
With mayflies sometimes only living a matter of days, a young bug accidentally oversleeps and must live for the moment with the help of his tortoise friend, who could live to be 100 years old.
Nick Movies exec Julia Pistor will produce.