Peter Jacksons KING KONG captured $9.75M yesterday in its opening box office bow, ranking 21st on the all-time list of Wednesday openers. Falling well below industry expectations, the Universal Pictures release had a per-screen average of $2,735 on 3,567 screens. Overseas, however, KONG opened much stronger, pulling in $8M on 4,659 screens in 36 markets. Biggest openings were in Australia ($860,000), Germany ($664,000) and Jacksons New Zealand home ($297,000). Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com and VARIETY.
Animation master Hayao Miyazakis son Goro Miyazaki will make his feature directing debut with an animated version of Ursula K. Le Guin's EARTHSEA fantasy novel series, reports various online outlets. The Studio Ghibli production will be titled GEDO SENKI (TALES FROM EARTHSEA) and is set to hit theaters in Japan July 2006. The film will be based on the third and fourth books in Le Guin's six-volume series, which was first published in 1968. Le Guin's series was previously adapted as LEGEND OF EARTHSEA, a live-action miniseries that aired in 2004 on the SCI FI Channel.
Continuing its strategic business focus on leveraging its famous brand and legendary reservoir of comedy material, National Lampoon Inc. announced a partnership with the newly-formed Half Shell Ent. Films to develop all-new feature films based on material from the classic NATIONAL LAMPOON magazine and NationalLampoon.com.
Color grading for Universal Pictures' KING KONG was realized using media and entertainment technology from Autodesk Inc. Visual effects facility Weta Digital relied upon Autodesk's Discreet Lustre system to digitally color grade the entire film.
The third PETTSONS PROMISE (THE TOMTE MACHINE), featuring internationally popular TV-Loonland heroes Pettson and Findus (the grouchy old man Pettson and his curious little tomcat Findus), got off to a successful start in Scandinavian cinemas. In Sweden, the homeland of the popular cartoon characters, some 61,080 viewers have seen the new TV-Loonland feature film since its Nov.
Relativity Media, IDG Films, Platinum Studios and Arclight Films have announced that they have arranged financing to bring the Top Cow Prods.' WITCHBLADE comicbook to the big screen. Production will begin in 2006 on two feature films, to be shot back-to-back, based on the best-selling action/fantasy comicbook, which also earned a loyal following as a TNT television series.
Writer Jared Stern has signed a two-year overall deal with Walt Disney Feature Animation, VARIETY reports. Under the exclusive contract, Stern will write original projects for the division as well as existing projects. Sterns made his name by selling his idea for a third installment of TOY STORY to the studio when he was participant in the Feature Animation Development Program. No word has been given which project he has been assigned to first.
Rhythm & Hues took advantage of Massive Software's autonomous agent 3D animation and digital stunts system on The CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, filling the screen with fantastical CG armies that interact via artificial life. The film breaks ground for the variety of characters and animals bought to life using Massive crowds. It also for the first time demonstrates that Massive-generated performances are realistic enough to appear in close proximity to the camera and to hero characters in the scene.
Rhythm & Hues chose BlueArc's Titan Storage System as the storage foundation for the company's visual effects work on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE.
For the film, Rhythm & Hues provided 400 shots, using a production pipeline that included motion capture, modeling, rigging, animating, technical animation/fur, lighting, rendering and compositing.
Exceeding all expectations, Disney's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE bowed with a strong $65.5M at the box office for the weekend ended Dec. 11, 2005. Disney confirmed that it would now greenlight the next movie in the epic C.S. Lewis NARNIA saga: PRINCE CASPIAN. VFX provided by Rhythm & Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks, ILM and others.
Disney Feature Animation has set its sights on a 3D-animated adaptation of PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, the bestselling Peter Pan prequel penned by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, published by Disney Editions/Hyperion Books, THE GUARDIAN reports.
The movie will be scripted by Jay Wolpert (THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL) and will focus on the origins of Pan, an orphan who flees a life of servitude by stowing aboard a merchant ship and discovering a magic substance that enables him to fly.
Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios have begun prepping the 3D-animated HORTON HEARS A WHO, with ROBOTS story consultant and former Pixar animator Jimmy Hayward co-directing with ROBOTS art director Steve Martino, VARIETY reports. A spring 2008 release is set.
Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul have finished the script, and storyboarding has begun under the supervision of Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri and Blue Skys Chris Wedge, both of whom are producing.
Production on James Camerons live-action adaptation of the 12-part, futuristic manga series, BATTLE ANGEL, is scheduled to commence in February for Twentieth Century Fox, with casting underway for the young lead to play the teenage cyborg, Alita, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Mali Finn Casting has placed an online ad seeking women aged 16 to mid-20s who are athletic and agile with graceful movement and have an ear for languages and dialects. Submissions are reportedly due Dec. 19.
REAL D, a leader in the delivery of premium 3-D experiences, plans to expand to Japan with the installation of the first two screens after the successful launch of CHICKEN LITTLE in Disney Digital 3-D, which has grossed more than $7 million through the Thanksgiving weekend. REAL D will open screens at Oriental Land Co.'s AMC Ikspiari 16 and Warner Mycal's Tama for the presentation of CHICKEN LITTLE starting Dec. 23, 2005.
MUMMY director Stephen Sommers has returned to Paramount Pictures and Steven Spielbergs remake of WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, according to VARIETY. Sommers will write and direct the film with Spielberg producing. Sommers was first attached to the project in April then dropped out to helm Fox's A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. But he left MUSEUM in September. Alli Shearmur is overseeing for Paramount.
Recent winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, 39 POUNDS OF LOVE, about an Israeli 3D animator who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, will play in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theater in Santa Monica until Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005.
20th Century Fox has announced that director Tim Story and writer Mark Frost will return for the FANTASTIC FOUR sequel, VARIETY reports. The studio has set July 4, 2007, as the release date. Avi Arad, Bernd Eichinger and Ralph Winter will produce.
Stars Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis are expected to return, having signed options for a potential trilogy. However, Julian McMahon, who played villain Dr. Doom, will not return.
The original film grossed $154 million in the U.S.
At last week's press junket in New York City, director Peter Jackson admitted that he changed the animation credit for Christian Rivers and Eric Leighton on KING KONG. Originally, the duo responsible for overseeing the masterful creation of the CG gorilla (with Rivers handling previs and MoCap) was given the credit: "Animation Designed & Supervised by," which appears in the production notes. However, Jackson requested that they be acknowledged as the animation directors in the end credits.
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE continued to lead the box office for the weekend ended Dec. 4, 2005, despite a 63% decline after the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday, racking up another $19.8M. The fourth entry in the hugely successful Warner Bros. franchise (with vfx from Double Negative, Framestore CFC, MPC, ILM, Cinesite, Animal Logic, The Orphanage, BUF and Rising Sun) has a three-week cume of $229.2M.
The Jim Henson Co. has hired Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley to adapt Barbara Hodgson suspense novel THE TATTOOED MAP, VARIETY reports.
Henson Co. principal Lisa Henson previously produced the Fox/Regency film HIGH CRIMES, which Zeltser and Bickley wrote. Janet Yang, who also produced HIGH CRIMES, will produce the film along with Henson. The company purchased the rights to the book and has hired the screenwriters with its own funds.
Platinum Studios and Blue Star Pictures have signed a deal with directors Danny and Oxide Pang to direct the upcoming feature film, THE DARKNESS, based on the popular comicbook published by Top Cow Prods. Inc. Platinum Studios will finance 50% of the production. Platinum, Blue Star and the Pang Brothers are jointly looking for a writer.
OLD BOY director Park Chan-wook has lined up his next two flicks a love story set in a mental asylum and a modern-day vampire movie, reports VARIETY.
The South Korean helmer said he'll start shooting his next movie, described as an "offbeat romantic comedy," in March, for fall 2006 release. The film is part of an eight picture funding deal with CJ Ent., where all the films will be shot on HD-24p by name helmers, including Hur Jin-ho and Ryu Seung-wan.
Gold Circle Films have snatched up Tim Metcalfe and Adam Simons A HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Gold Circle head Paul Brooks and Integrated Films & Managements Andrew Trapani are set to produce with Wendy Rhoads under her first-look deal with Gold Circle.
Based on a true story, the tale follows a family forced to move near a clinic where their teenage son was being treated for cancer. After the family begins experiencing violent, supernatural events, they discover that their house was once a mortuary with a dark past.
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE and THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3-D EXPERIENCE registered the highest grossing weekend ever at IMAX theaters, with combined grosses of $3.1 million, each on 66 screens over the three-day period from Nov. 25-27.
SCI, the computer games company that owns Lara Croft, along with the TOMB RAIDER franchise, has begun talks with Paramount Pictures to venture forth with a third installment in the movie franchise, reports The Business Online. Angelina Jolie is expected to return as Lara Croft, the English archaeologist/adventurer. The previous two movies have grossed more than $450 million at the box office.