Former Disney and Warner Bros. animator Jason Lethcoe is very hot. DAILY VARIETY reports that Revolution Studios has optioned his HARRY POTTER-like graphic novel, ZOOM'S ACADEMY FOR THE SUPER GIFTED, which concerns an unpopular high school girl who enrolls in a superhero academy, with the help of her mysterious father. Screenwriters are now being wooed for the live-action feature.
FINDING NEMO, the Disney/Pixar computer-animated smash, was back atop the box office chart, reeling in $28.3M in its third week. That puts it near the $200M plateau with $191.4M. The other animated opener, Paramount/Nickelodeon/Klasky Csupo's RUGRATS GO WILD, made an impressive debut in the fourth spot with $11.5M.
The animation unit responsible for Disney's DVD-premiere movies such as THE LION KING 2: SIMBA'S PRIDE has been renamed DisneyToon Studios. The new name and logo were officially unveiled on June 5, 2003, at an internal event held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The new division, which split from Walt Disney Television Animation in January, is overseen by evp Sharon Morrill, in charge of all aspects of production and development for the Disney Video Premieres and MovieToons produced by DisneyToon Studios. She reports to David Stainton, president, Walt Disney Feature Animation.
The Rugrats meet The Thornberrys and get into all kinds of island mischief on the big screen in RUGRATS GO WILD, opening nationwide June 13, 2003. Produced by Klasky Csupo, Nickelodeon Pictures and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the movie marks the fourth theatrical feature from Klasky based on its smash Nick TV series, RUGRATS and WILD THORNBERRYS.
John Eng (sequence director on RUGRATS IN PARIS and JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS) and Norton Virgien (director of THE RUGRATS MOVIE) co-direct from Kate Boutilier's script.
ROBOTS, 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studio's eagerly awaited follow-up to ICE AGE, will be powered by the celebrity voice- over work of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry and Mel Brooks. The computer-animated movie, under the helm of director Chris Wedge, has been in production for two months, and is set for release March 11, 2005.
Young males got their movie thrills last weekend with the opening of Universal's FAST AND FURIOUS sequel, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, which revved up the box office chart with $50.5M. Crystal Dowd served as VFX producer and Collin Fowler was VFX coordinator for Illusion Arts.
FINDING NEMO, meanwhile, slipped to second place after its record-breaking opening with a very impressive $46.6M, giving the Disney/Pixar hit $144M in less than two weeks.
In its continuing effort to embrace more commercial event films (with the cooperation of the CAA talent agency), IMAX will release Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX RELOADED in select theaters on Friday, June 6, 2003, and, for the first time, in various international venues through early July (including the U.K., Germany, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and Japan). The timing couldn't be better, as the second mind-bending film in the Wachowski Brothers' trilogy recently set a new international box office record in its opening weekend (more than $113M).
They're at it again. Disney announced yesterday that it's releasing the next Pixar film, Brad Bird's THE INCREDIBLES, on November 5, 2004, the same date that DreamWorks had already positioned for the launch of SHARKSLAYER, its very own computer-animated underwater answer to Pixar's FINDING NEMO. So rather than going head-to-head, DreamWorks has decided to find another slot, though the family film traffic is already heavy in November, with POLAR EXPRESS, the CGI reteaming of Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis, bowing on November 19 along with the first SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS theatrical feature.
It's only fitting that Monster Distributes has picked up all rights outside of the U.K. for a monstrous property called DOMINATOR, an 80-minute adult CGI feature from Rengamedia, which it is showcasing at Annecy. Rengamedia specializes in the development and production of animation and Manga-based projects for broadcast on TV and the Web.
FINDING NEMO, the computer-animated underwater comedy/adventure from Disney/Pixar, exceeded all expectations with a record-breaking bow of $70.3M last weekend. That's the best opening ever for an animated feature, topping the $62.6M grabbed by MONSTERS, INC., the fourth Pixar/Disney movie from 2001. It's also the best three-day gross for any Buena Vista feature, live action or animated.
It was destiny after all that the curious, unfinished 1946 animated collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali be completed. Long considered a lost cause, DESTINO was recently produced by the Disney Co. and given a surprise world premiere June 2, 2003 at the opening of this year's Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The five-minute short will also screen June 3 on the lake at 10:00 pm, with free access to all Annecians.
FINDING NEMO, the latest computer-animated feature from pioneering Pixar Animation Studios, opened nationwide May 30, 2003 armed with blockbuster intentions and Oscar ambitions. The well-reviewed underwater comedy/adventure about father and son clown fish, boasts the voice talents of stars Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres and Willem Dafoe. It marks the fifth collaboration between Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures, who, as everyone knows, may part ways in 2005, and the first time they've dived into the summer fray.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY, the God-induced comedy starring Jim Carrey, scored highest over the Memorial Day weekend, upending the mighty MATRIX RELOADED. The Universal feature, boasting VFX by Illusion Arts (Collin Fowler was the VFX coordinator), took in $86.4M over the four-day period, while Warner Bros.' MATRIX RELOADED dropped 50% in its second week, with $45.7M, despite the biggest ever four-day gross. At $209.5M, the visual effects feast included work from Amalgamated Pixels, Animal Logic, BUF, Bullet Time, CIS, CFX, ESC Entertainment, Giant Killer Robots, PLF Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio. However, it broke international box office records around the world taking in $113.2M from 62 countries, which is the first time in history a film has surpassed the $100 million level in one weekend. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE dropped to third place, but lost less than 5%, with $18M for a $73M cume. Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED came in fourth place with $13M for a total of $192M. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Warner Bros,' THE IN-LAWS, meanwhile, debuted in the fifth spot with $9.1M. Cinesite handled VFX chores, with Randall Bahnsen serving as 3D motion tracking supervisor. Fox's DOWN WITH LOVE, featuring VFX by Asylum, hung in there in sixth place with another $5M for a total of $14.6M Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, dropped to seventh place, with $4M and a $37.3 cume. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about a teen with an animated alter ego. Disney's HOLES held onto the eighth spot with $3M for an impressive total of $60M. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work. Sony's IDENTITY plummeted to ninth place with $2.6M for a total of $49.2M. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT suffered a 32.5% drop as it rounded out the tenth spot with $2.4M for a cume of nearly $132M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and the Orphanage did VFX for ANGER.
ADV Films has acquired the rights to produce a live-action feature version of the hugely popular anime TV series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Adding to the appeal of the project, Weta Workshop, Ltd., the effects studios behind the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, will also be on board for the production as well as anime and game studio Gainax Network Systems, one of the original production studios responsible for the show.
310 Studios and Hacienda Post have recently wrapped all post production work on the upcoming direct-to-video 3D feature, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, produced by the LEGO Company, Create TV and Film, and Creative Capers Entertainment. Debuting on DVD and home video September 16, 2003, the feature film is based on the successful BIONICLE brand and will be distributed under the Miramax Home Entertainment label via Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Atlanta-based Fathom Studios has added two more top Hollywood names to its list of voices for its 3D feature film, DELGO, with the addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt (HEARTBREAKERS) and Chris Kattan (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). They join a cast which already includes Val Kilmer (TOMBSTONE), Michael Clarke Duncan (GREEN MILE), Eric Idle (MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL), and Lou Gossett, Jr. (DIGGSTOWN). Hewitt will bring to life Princess Kyla, a spitfire princess with a big heart, while Kattan will voice Filo, a fast-talking, wisecracking smart aleck.
Based on the popular comic strip, ASTERIX AND THE VIKINGS will boast a $25 million budget, making it the most expensive European animated feature in history, reported THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is an adaptation of a 1967 album, which has Vikings kidnapping little warrior Asterix, so they can learn fear, thus gaining the power to fly. The film will be completely financed by French firm M6 and Denmark's Stefan Fjeldmark (HELP, I'M A FISH) will helm the 75-minute film. Fjeldmark also co-wrote the script with Belgian Jean-Luc Goossens.
French studio Onyx Films has sold the U.S. distribution rights to its first animated feature, RENAISSANCE to Buena Vista Pictures, reported SCREEN DAILY. The film is an action/suspense flick with a mixture of CGI and re-worked black-and-white images. French firm Millimages will provide the animation for the $15 million production. Christian Volckman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1999 short, MAAZ, will direct the film. The film is still looking for further capital from the U.K., which is being negotiated at the Cannes Film Festival by Paris-based Arsan's Helene Sitbon. Independent producer Jake Eberts handled the deal with Disney. Pathe Distribution holds the French theatrical and video rights. Onyx is headed by Anton Soumache and is developing the live-action comedy LA JUNGLE and recently completed Djibril Glissant's urban live-action film LA BONNE ETOILE.
Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX: UNLOADED brought in $134.3M since its release May 15, 2003 to deliver the biggest ever four-day gross. SPIDER-MAN holds the second place record now at $125.8M, but the webbed marvel had the biggest ever three-day opening at $114.8M while UNLOAD did $91.8M over three days. The visual effects feast included work from Amalgamated Pixels, Animal Logic, BUF, Bullet Time, CIS, CFX, ESC Entertainment, Giant Killer Robots, PLF Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE remained in second place with a another $18.8M for a total of $51M in its first two weeks. Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED dropped to third place in its third week, taking in another $17.3M for a take of $174.2M. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Twentieth Century Fox's DOWN WITH LOVE, with VFX by Asylum, shot up the chart with its wide release to place fourth with $7M and a $7.1 cume. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE slipped to fifth place at $4.7M and a $32.3M total. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about the teen with an animated alter ego. Sony's IDENTITY was in sixth place, taking in $3.7M for a $45M total. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT slipped to seventh place, taking in another $3.5M to rack up a total of $128.3M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Buena Vista's comedy family/adventure HOLES dug in at eighth place with $3.2M and a $55.9M cume. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed visual effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work for the film from Walt Disney Pictures. Warner Bros./Castle Rocks' A MIGHTY WIND ebbed down to ninth place to take in $1.7M and a total of $12.1M. Searchlight's BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM held in tenth place with $1.4M and a total take of $15M. Miramax's POKÉMON HEROES debuted in 196 theaters, to take in $260,372. The three previous movies faired much better with a much wider release. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
The convergence between Hollywood movies and games plays on as Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to develop the classic 1980s THE SPYHUNTER videogame from Midway Games Inc. into a major live-action motion picture to possibly star World Wrestling Federation superstar, The Rock, who would portray Alec Sects, commander of the worlds most sophisticated spy vehicle, the G-8155 Interceptor. Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh are slated to produce a script by Michael Brandt and Derek Hass. The writers did the screenplay for Universal Pictures 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, the sequel to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, based upon another video game.
"SPYHUNTER'S fast-paced action, relentless mission-based gameplay and overall cool spy theme make it a natural for the big screen," said Helene Sheeler, vp of marketing, Midway Games. "THE SPYHUNTER deal marks the success of Midways effort to proactively showcase its top properties to the movie industry," added Steve Booth, Midway vp of licensing. "We have a rich library of popular games, which will translate well into other forms of media."
Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED ruled the box office for a second consecutive week, coming in first place at $41.4M for a take of $149M in the U.S. alone. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE debuted in second place with a respectable $27.6M. As a further treat for families, it is accompanied in many theaters by Sony Pictures Imageworks' new CG short EARLY BLOOMER. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE dropped slightly to third place in its second week at $7.8M and a $27.2M cume. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about the teen with an animated alter ego. Sony's IDENTITY slipped to fourth place, taking in $6.3M for a $39.2M take. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT was fifth, taking in another $5.5M to rack up a total of $122.9M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage did VFX for ANGER. Buena Vista's comedy family/adventure HOLES dipped to sixth place with $4.6M and a $51.4M cume. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed visual effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work for the film from Walt Disney Pictures. Warner Bros./Castle Rocks' hilarious A MIGHTY WIND expanded to more theaters and climbed up to seventh place to take in $2.9M and a total of $9.4M. MALIBU'S MOST WANTED slipped to eighth place with $2.1M and a $31.7M cume. C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures did some of the VFX work for the Warner Bros. release. Fox Searchlight's BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM held in ninth place with $1.6M and a total take of $13M. CONFIDENCE from Lions Gate dropped to tenth place with $1.5M and a take of $11M in its third week of release. Pixel Magic and Pacific Title contributed VFX to the con-men drama. X2 will likely get shot down as well as the rest of the contenders when the highly anticipated sequel THE MATRIX RELOADED goes up May 15, 2003. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
A year into its making, Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) has unveiled a busy slate of five new projects with major animation directors and writers to create diverse, unbranded entertainment for a broad audience, as envisioned by co-chiefs, Sandra Rabins and Penny Finkelman Cox. The new stable hails from such blockbusters as THE LION KING, MONSTERS, INC., SHREK, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT and TOY STORY.
THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, the theatrical version of the popular TV series LIZZIE MCGUIRE that debuted in second place at the U.S. box office, has been given the Disney greenlight for a sequel. The Walt Disney Co. struck a deal with writer Melissa Gould to write it, even though she did not pen the first film, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. TV series exec producer Susan Estelle Janson, Ed Decter and John Strauss wrote the first movie while Gould has served as a writer on the series.
Twentieth Century Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED generated the second-highest international gross ever for a day-and-date rollout, taking in $85.8 in the U.S. and another $69.4M internationally from 93 markets. Reviewers like this version of the Marvel Comics mutants better than the first movie. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster reigning in first place in the U.S. were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE launched in second place with a $17M take.
Portland, Ore.-based Vinton Studios will produce its first full-length feature, Tim Burton's stop-motion animated film THE CORPSE BRIDE for Warner Bros. Pictures, it was reported by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and confirmed by a WB spokesperson.
BRIDE is an offbeat fable about a young man who inadvertently becomes betrothed to a corpse. Based on a 19th century Eastern European folk tale, which is being adapted for the screen by Caroline Thompson (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), Burton is producing the film with Mike Johnson making his directorial debut.