Sony Pictures Animation has acquired a pitch from FAST AND THE FURIOUS screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson that takes place in the mythical paradise of Shangri-La. Known for edgy material, Thompson, whose credits also include HOLLOW MAN, might not be the most obvious choice for animated fare. But Sony Animation VP Penney Finkelman Cox explained, "Thats exactly what makes Garys point of view as a writer so appealing to our creative instincts.
SCORPION KING star and wrestling champ The Rock may be cooking up a plan to play Johnny Bravo in the live-action feature film adaptation of the animated series. According to VARIETY, Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired the JOHNNY BRAVO feature film rights from Cartoon Network and creator Van Partible (who will exec. produce) in hopes of putting The Rock in the starring role. Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein will produce for Warner Bros. via their Original Film production banner.
DreamWorks' new thriller THE RING, with visual effects by Tippett Studios, Rhythm & Hues and Asylum, debuted at number one this weekend with $15M. The film is a remake of the Japanese hit RINGU, about a cursed videotape that causes all those who watch it to die within seven days. THE RING certainly put a curse on RED DRAGON, which dropped to third after holding the top spot for two weeks. The serial killer thriller, with visual effects by Cinesite, earned $8.8M for a two-week total of $77.8M. JONAH: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE has edged out action comedy THE TUXEDO for eighth place.
C21 Media reports that Jim Henson Pictures' TIME DOGS will be the first project for The Shop Productions, a new Canadian animation company set up by former Mainframe Entertainment president and CEO Ian Pearson. The CG animated comedy was written by Christopher Leone and Laura Harkcom and stars Zack and Dingo, a real dog and a robot dog. The two friends must travel through time to save their master, inventor Dr Quirk, and all dogs from a life of slavery under the Grand High Dogcatcher.
Last week's number one film, RED DRAGON, held off six new wide-release films this weekend to hang on to the top spot. The thriller, with visual effects by Cinesite, earned $17.6M for a two-week total of $67.2M. Theatergoers are still sweet on SWEET HOME ALABAMA, which stayed in second adding $14.1M, for a total of $84.5M. Two new releases the romance BROWN SUGAR and the action flick THE TRANSPORTER, took third and forth, with $11M and $9.1M, respectively.
Opening in just 940 theaters, JONAH: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE had a solid debut weekend, earning $6.5M for sixth place. A retelling of the biblical story of Jonah, starring a humble cast of vegetables, JONAH will expand into more theaters this Friday, ramping up to wide release on October 18th. Given the popularity of the VEGGIETALES stories, and that this is the first family-friendly release since August, JONAH looks to have some staying power at the box office. The number one film this weekend was RED DRAGON, the "prequel" to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL. The thriller debuted with $37.5M.
The high-tech suit worn by Jackie Chan in the action comedy THE TUXEDO didn't protect the film from being solidly trounced by Reese Witherspoon's romantic comedy SWEET HOME ALABAMA, as the two new releases battled it out for the top spot. SWEET HOME ALABAMA landed in first place with $35.6M, while THE TUXEDO, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, had a so-so $15M debut, which was good for second. Last week's number one film BARBERSHOP moved to third with $10M and a two-week total of $51.3M. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING landed in fourth with $9.4M and a cume of $136.6M.
Premiering in just 26 theaters up against four major wide releases, Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY averaged an amazing $17,307 per screen average for $450,000 and 18th place. The film is currently playing in ten cities and will expand into more North American locations on October 4. Last week's number one film BARBERSHOP cut down the competition, staying in first place with $13.3M and a two-week total of $38.8M. In second place is the comedy THE BANGER SISTERS with a $10.3M debut, pushing MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING to third, with $10M and a cume of $124.3M.
Variety reports that Michael Chabon, Pulitzer-prize winning author and comic book aficionado, will be re-writing the script for the newly titled THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the sequel to this summer's amazing blockbuster hit SPIDER-MAN. Chabon, whose comic-book coming of age tale THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY is currently being developed as a live-action feature, also authored THE WONDER BOYS, which was adapted to a film starring Michael Douglas and Spidey himself, Tobey Maguire.
Nearly two years have passed since Disney's animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE was released, but the documentary made during the production is just now seeing the light. THE SWEATBOX details the troubled production of THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE. Or rather the turning of KINGDOM OF THE SUN into THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE. Produced and directed by John Paul Davidson and Trudi Styler (musician Sting's wife), the documentary premiered this September at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and is now playing in Los Angeles for Academy consideration.
Cinesite Europe has been awarded a major portion of the visual effects for the Paramount film TOMB RAIDER 2. Based on the popular series of TOMB RAIDER video games, this sequel to LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER features Angelina Jolie reprising her role as Lara Croft. The movie is slated for a summer 2003 release. Cinesite will be completing 3D animation sequences that constitute a significant amount of the total visual effects shots in the film.
After 22 years of retirement, Ray Harryhausen has teamed with Los Angeles-based stop-motion studio Screen Novelties, Intl. to complete a new short film entitled THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE. Originally begun in 1952 as part of his MOTHER GOOSE series, the project was shelved when Ray's career began to take off. He had always intended to finish the film and now, fifty years later, Harryhausen, along with Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh of Screen Novelties, Intl., have completed the project.
The big-budget special effects films have officially been taken over by low budget indies at the box office. With no new release blockbusters in sight, the well-reviewed comedy BARBERSHOP took the number one spot with $20.6M. In second for the second weekend in a row was MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, adding $10.7M and crossing the $100M mark. In third was another indie, ONE HOUR PHOTO, which earned $8.6M after expanding into wide release. The thriller, which stars Robin Williams, has earned $14.5M to date. Last week's number one SWIMFAN, sank to fourth place, with $6M and a cume of $19.6M.
How will Jar Jar look when he is 8 stories tall? This question will be answered on November 1, 2002, when a large-format version of STAR WARS: EPISODE II "ATTACK OF THE CLONES" debuts in IMAX theatres in the United States and Canada. The film will be digitally re-mastered using the proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology, which allows live-action motion pictures to be inexpensively converted into the 15/70 format for presentation on the giant IMAX screen, while maintaining and even enhancing the conventional image resolution.
In a lackluster box office weekend, teen thriller SWIMFAN took the top spot with a mere $11.3M, while last week's number one, SIGNS, fell to fourth. Overall, the top 12 films grossed $59.1 million, making it the worst weekend take of the year, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. In second was indie sensation MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, with $10.4M and $95.8M total, and in third was the crime drama CITY BY THE SEA, debuting with $8.9M. SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, grossed just $7.9M this weekend but that was enough to help M.
SHREK producer John Williams and his company Vanguard Films have partnered with Walt Disney in a deal to provide multiple CG animated projects for the studio. Vanguard will fill the void left by Pixar Animation, which has made no plans to renew its agreement with Disney once the existing production deal is fulfilled with the delivery of Pixar's next three films -- summer 2003's FINDING NEMO, holiday 2004's THE INCREDIBLES and 2005's CARS.
With only one new release this weekend, SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, was able to maintain its hold on the number one spot. The film regained the top spot last week after spending two weeks in second place, and with $16.5M for the U.S. Labor Day weekend and $195M gross to date, the crop circle caper is on its way to the $200M mark. Extreme sports flick XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, dropped a spot to third but is still performing well, with $13.1M for a total of $123.9M.
Animation production company Cornerstone Animation Inc. has acquired the rights to the comic book series MERIDIAN, and has begun developing an animated feature film based on the property. The agreement includes motion picture, television and ancillary rights to the adventure tale from CrossGen Comics. MERIDIAN tells the story of Sephie, the 16-year-old minister of the floating city of Meridian. Sephie struggles against her uncle Ilahn, the evil minister of Cacador, who tries to use her powers towards his own nefarious ends.
While sim-actress comedy SIMONE barely made a blip in the weekend box office, M. Night Shyamalan's thriller SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, rebounded to number one. After debuting in the top spot then spending two weeks in second place, SIGNS has rebounded to number one, adding $14.3M for a cume of $173.2M. SIGNS ousted two-time number one actioner XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, which dropped to second with $13.7M for a total of $106.2M. SPY KIDS 2 maintained its hold on third place for the third week in a row.
SimEx Digital Studios has recently completed a specialty venue project for LEGOland, an all-CG animated short based on the newly released LEGO Racers toy line. LEGO RACERS 4D is a high-definition 3D stereoscopic 13-minute short with in-theater special effects featuring Max, a driver for Team Nitro, and Max's nemesis Sever, driver for the Exo-Force Team. Together with six other drivers, Max and Sever bang fenders within a 20 mile-diameter racing stadium called The Drome, which provides Max and the other racers with an endless array of obstacles and landscapes.
A team of digital matte artists, computer animators and visual effects specialists from R!OT helped to build the first city on the moon for Warner Bros.' latest comedy THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH. The R!OT team prepared a series of digital cityscapes of the lunar metropolis, complete with trains, buses, holographic signage, office towers and a multitude of lunar residents on scooters. The digital shots, including several fly-overs revealing large expanses of the city, appear throughout the film. "It is a city encased in glass," said R!OT lead matte painter Rocco Gioffre.
Thanks to visual effects house ComputerCafe, a miniature zoo and menacing mutant animals are among the new adventures awaiting siblings Carmen and Juni Cortez, who are back in action in SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS. In SPY KIDS 2, a new mission takes Carmen and Juni to a mysterious island where they meet Professor Romero, a genetic scientist who has created the ultimate children's toy, a tabletop zoo featuring miniature penguins, a kangaroo, a lion and an elephant.
The top two movies held their places from last weekend, with extreme-sports actioner XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, coming in at number one with $23M, for a gross to date of $84.9M. Alien thriller SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, was in second place, with $19.5M for a cume of $150.7M. The surfer girls of BLUE CRUSH had a third place debut with $15.2M and kids' action pic SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS, with visual effects by ComputerCafe, added another $11.6M to its total for a ten day cume of $45.7M and fourth place.
SecondSun Entertainment has teamed with Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures to screen its new animated short cartoon, SOMETHING FISHY, together with the film THE MASTER OF DISGUISE, starring Dana Carvey, now in theaters. The 3-minute short, about a little shrimp and his position in the food chain, was produced by SecondSun Entertainment's 3D-animation division, Brainchild Studios, and was directed by Ed Konyha. The film was chosen by Revolution Studios from over 300 short cartoons that were submitted.
Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (ROGER AND ME, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE) is getting animated. VARIETY reports that Moore's next project will be an animated feature, co-written with cartoonists/animators Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins) and Harold Moss. Tomorrow is well known for his comic strip "This Modern World," which appears regularly in approximately 150 papers across the country, and Moss is the founder and creative director of FlickerLab in New York.