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.
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.
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.
Sony Pictures will release XXX, HELLBOY, RESIDENT EVIL 2 and ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO for the PSP on April 19, 2005, reports VARIETY. SPIDER-MAN 2 will be bundled with the first million PSP units. Pricing on the PSP flicks will be announced later next week. Sony Pictures Home Ent. plans to release four to five catalog films each week for the PSP. Since the launched of PSP in Japan in December, more than one million universal media disc (UMD) movies have been sold.
Lumina Films has hired regional stars to voice characters for each territory version of its CG feature, MIDSUMMER DREAM, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
For the U.K., Rhys Ifans, Toby Blessed and Brian Blessed have been signed on. For Spanish-speaking territories Gabino Diego, Jose Luis Gil, Emma Penella, Isabel Ordaz, Gemma Cuervo and Carmen Machi have been hired
The Foundrys Furnace proved to be an invaluable set of tools when Mumbai-based vfx studio VCL (Visual Computing Labs, a division Tata Elxsi) recently provided the 3D elements and compositing for the forthcoming Yash Raj feature, DHOOM. Led by VCLs creative director and vfx supervisor, Pankaj Khandpur, the team consisted of around eight compositors with the remainder working in 3D who, in less than eight weeks, completed 553 vfx shots, with Furnace being used on more than100 of them, for rig and wire removal.
Sony held the first three spots on the box office chart for the Valentines Weekend ended Feb. 13, 2005, with the Will Smith-starrer, HITCH, breaking the record for romantic comedy bows with $43.1M. Screen Gems BOOGEYMAN followed with $10.2 and a two-week cume of $32.7M and Sonys ARE WE THERE YET? picked up $8.2M and $61.2M. Clint Eastwoods Oscar contender, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, moved up to fourth with some big mo, knocking down another $7.4M and $44.9M so far.
20th Century Fox, which had been planning a Fourth of July-themed launch for FANTASTIC FOUR, has rescheduled the Marvel superhero actioner from July 1 to July 8, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. That cedes the holiday weekend to Steven Spielbergs WAR OF THE WORLDS juggernaut, starring Tom Cruise, with vfx by Industrial Light & Magic, which opens June 29 for Paramount Pictures.
FANTASTIC FOUR, with vfx by Canadas Soho VFX and Spectral Motion, will now go up against Sony Pictures BEWITCHED, with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, and vfx by Imageworks.
Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (the ED TV series) have been brought on board to pen the feature adaptation of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX for Universal Pictures, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Sylvain Chomet (THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE) is directing, while Gary Ross is producing through his Larger Than Life Prods. with partner Allison Thomas.
The project is based on the book, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX: BEING THE STORY OF A MOUSE, A PRINCESS, SOME SOUP, AND A SPOOL OF THREAD, by Kate DiCamillo (BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE). It won the 2004 Newbery Medal for children's literature.
BOOGEYMAN is the latest scary movie to take the box office derby, this time for the weekend of Super Bowl XXXIX ended Feb. 6, 2005. The ScreenGems thriller slashed its way to $19M, killing Universals second place finisher, THE WEDDING DATE, which bowed with $11.1M. Sonys ARE WE THERE YET? followed in third place with $10.6M and $51.2M. Foxs HIDE AND SEEK, last weeks winner, dropped to the fourth spot in its second week with $8.9M and $35.7M.
Walt Disney Pictures has plans to turn the Japanese book series, KIKIS DELIVERY SERVICE, into a live-action feature film, reports VARIETY. Oscar-winning animation director Hayao Miyazaki previously turned the series into an acclaimed anime film. Screenwriter Jeff Stockwell (THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS) will pen the script based on Eiko Kadano's books.
The story follows 13-year-old burgeoning witch Kiki who moves to the city with her talking cat Jiji where she becomes delivery person for a local bakery.
Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond films, and MGM announced that Martin Campbell will direct CASINO ROYALE, the 21st film in the 007 franchise. This is Campbell's second time as helmer of a James Bond film. In 1995 he directed the hit GOLDENEYE, which introduced Pierce Brosnan to the role of 007.
Gang of Seven (G7) Animation recently completed work on a number of animated sequences for the upcoming New Line feature film, SON OF THE MASK, the sequel to the hit film, THE MASK and stars Jamie Kennedy as animator Tim Avery. The feature is set for release Feb. 18, 2005.
GREASE producer Robert Stigwood is planning to turn The Whos seminal rock opera TOMMY in the most expensive animated feature of all time. The film would be budgeted between $300 to $400 million and would feature voice work from top singers like Robbie Williams and Bono.
"Pete Townshend is right behind this. It will feature the biggest names in the music industry. The original movie costs 3-4 million dollars but this will cost 300-400 million dollars. If you are going to do it, you've got to do it right," said Stigwood.
Foxs horror thriller HIDE AND SEEK pushed out Sonys ARE WE THERE YET? in its theatrical debut for the weekend ended Jan. 30, 2005. HIDE AND SEEK pulled in $21.9M while ARE WE THERE YET? followed at number two with $16.3M and a two-week cume of $38.4M. Meanwhile, Clint Eastwoods MILLION DOLLAR BABY took off the gloves as it entered wide release and was the biggest box office recipient as a result of its seven Oscar noms, including Best Picture. The acclaimed Warner Bros. drama knocked down $12.2M and $21.5M to finish third.
Paramount Pictures and Nick Movies have hired Robin Williams to star in a screen adaptation of the preschool book THE KRAZEES, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Sam Swope wrote and Eric Brace illustrated the book, which follows a young girl who encounters on polka-dotted krazees that emerge on gloomy days. Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman (CHASING LIBERTY) have the task of adapting the screenplay, which will include a new character for Williams to play.
The Sony comedy ARE WE THERE YET? debuted in the number one spot with $18.5M for the weekend ended Jan. 23, 2005. Paramounts COACH CARTER came in second in its sophomore week with $10.5M and $42.7M. Universals MEET THE FOCKERS dropped to third with $9.6M and $247.2M. Universals IN GOOD COMPANY took the fourth spot with $7.9M and $27.4M.
Warner Bros. Pictures' THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE has achieved a box office milestone, surpassing $40 million in total gross receipts in just 11 weeks of release. Already the highest grossing IMAX DMR (Digitally Re-mastered) release to date, having shattered the previous record of $14 million in just 22 weeks, the film continues to fill IMAX theaters well after the end of the holiday season.
Columbia Pictures has announced that Wes Bentley (AMERICAN BEAUTY) has been cast as Blackheart in the upcoming GHOST RIDER feature, reports VARIETY. DAREDEVIL helmer Mark Steven Johnson will direct the film based on the Marvel comic, which chronicles the adventures of stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) who pacts with Mephistopheles to save his true loveís life. Blackheart is Mephistopheles's son as well as chief nemesis. Michael De Luca, Avi Arad, Gary Foster and Ari Arad are producing. Shane Salerno wrote the script with rewrites by Johnson and David S. Goyer.
New Line Cinema has secured the directing serves of James Wong for FINAL DESTINATION 3, reports PRODUCTION WEEKLY. Wong helmed the original film, which he co-wrote with Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Reddick. Based on a script by Wong and Morgan, the third installment follows high school students Wendy Christensen and Kevin Fischer as they try and stop Death from killing off the survivors of a roller coaster accident. FINAL DESTINATION 2 was directed by David R. Ellis and written by J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress.
Fox 2000 has bought the film rights to U.K. author Michelle Paver's six-part children's fantasy book series CHRONICLES OF DARKNESS for Fox-based Scott Free Prods., reports VARIETY. Ridley Scott and Erin Upson are set to produce. Paver reportedly received $250,000 against $1 million for the first book, WOLF BROTHER, and is negotiating option fees for the five additional books. U.S. book rights holder HarperCollins Children's Books will release the first book in the States Feb. 15, 2005. The first book was a best seller for publishing house Orion in the U.K.
Director Robert Zemeckis will team up with PULP FICTION producer Roger Avary and comic legend Neil Gaiman to bring the old English poem, BEOWULF to the big screen. The film will utilize performance capture technology like Zemeckis used on POLAR EXPRESS. Zemeckis will direct the film from a script by Avary and Gaiman with Steve Bingís Shangri-La Ent. producing. Shangri-La is in negotiations with Sony Pictures Ent. to distribute all its films. Producers will include Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.
Touchstone Pictures announced that Stephen Fry (TVs JEEVES AND WOOSTER) has been selected to lend his voice to the Guide for THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, reports BBC News. In the film directed by Garth Jennings, The Guide is the indispensable, electronic handbook that every galactic traveler needs. The film is based on Douglas Adams famed satirical sci-fi book.
Warner Bros. Pictures has officially announced that British television helmer David Yates (STATE OF PLAY, THE WAY WE LIVE NOW) has been signed to direct HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. The film will be produced by David Heyman from a screenplay by Michael Goldenberg (WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, PETER PAN). Production on the film is expected to begin in England in January 2006.