The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences final deadline for entry forms looms large for the Animated Feature and Animated Short categories. This is the first year for the highly anticipated Animated Feature film category and as of Tuesday, October 30, 2001 the Academy had received five applications. It requires eight eligible films to activate a category, so if you have an animated feature film that is eligible, get in those applications! The deadline for completed applications for both animated feature and animated short films is November 1, 2001.
Sci-fi drama K-PAX, with primary visual effects by Centropolis Effects, LLC, landed in the number one spot this weekend, earning $17.5M in its debut. The film, which stars Kevin Spacey as a man who claims to be an alien from the planet K-Pax, was Universal Pictures sixth film this year to open at number one. Last weeks number one film FROM HELL, with primary visual effects by Digiscope and Illusion Arts, fell to third, bringing in $6.1M, a 45% drop from its debut. The Jack the Ripper saga ended its second week with $20.8M gross.
Japanese animated series and cult classic SPEED RACER may finally make its way to the big screen, reported VARIETY. The concept has been in development at Warner Bros for over ten years, with the likes of Julien Temple and Alphonso Cuaron mentioned to direct a script by J.J. Abrams. The studio has finally given EL DIABLO writers Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring the job of working on a new script for the feature film. Hype Williams is set to direct. No word on who will step into Speeds shoes, but Johnny Depp had once been mentioned to star.
The Hughes brothers Jack the Ripper flick, FROM HELL, based on the graphic novel of the same name, took the number one spot this weekend. The thriller, with primary visual effects by Digiscope and Illusion Arts, earned $11.3M in its debut. Last weeks number one film, TRAINING DAY, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, fell to third, still managing a weekend take of $9.5M, raising its cume to $57.5M after three weeks. The Hong Kong action film IRON MONKEY, with primary visual effects by MetroLight, dropped to tenth bringing in $3.2M for a $10.8M gross.
The Hong Kong action flick IRON MONKEY, with primary visual effects by MetroLight, debuted in sixth place this weekend bringing in just over $6 million. Made in 1993 but picked up for distribution by Miramax in 2001, the film did well, topping teen thriller JOY RIDE, with primary visual effects by Spectrum Effects Inc., which finished its second week in eighth place with $4.9M and $14.7M total. Still in front is TRAINING DAY, with primary visual effects by Cinesite.
Visual effects company Cinesite photographed and composited specially bred and trained roller pigeons for the Warner Bros. Pictures feature film TRAINING DAY, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. In one scene, Hawke is driving down a street and sees pigeons out the window. The two birds separate and come tumbling down directly toward the camera and then catch themselves. In another scene, the camera angle is above, looking down at a street as the birds tumble down.
Once again, box office totals on are the rise buoyed by three new releases this weekend. Leading the pack is the crime-drama TRAINING DAY, with performing pigeons and other visual effects by Cinesite, which opened with $22.6M. The modeling mayhem of ZOOLANDER kept it high on the charts, dropping just two places to finish fourth with $9.5M and $28.3M total. RUSH HOUR 2, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, is in the top ten for its 10th week pulled in $1.7M, raising its cume to $221.5M total.
Hayao Miyazaki's film PRINCESS MONONOKE was the top grossing film in Japan until TITANIC was released in 1998 and broke box office records, becoming the highest grossing film in that country. This week VARIETY reported that Hayao Miyazaki's latest feature SPIRITED AWAY has set a new audience record in Japan, surpassing the mark held by TITANIC. Since its July 20, 2001 debut, SPIRITED AWAY has been seen by 16.9 million viewers, while TITANIC saw 16.8 million admissions total after its release.
Three new releases helped the weekend box office rebound from the poor performance of the past few weeks. Box office receipts were up 52% this weekend with the three debut films taking the top three spots on the chart. The fashion-world parody ZOOLANDER took second place with $15.7M in its debut weekend. ZOOLANDER is the first film to be released that has digitally removed the World Trade Center from the skyline of downtown New York.
Computercafe has produced more than 30 visual effects shots for the feature film MEGIDDO: OMEGA CODE 2. The visual effects and animation studio provided 3D animation, visual effects production and compositing services, including modeling and animating precise computer graphic models of a variety of modern warplanes and helicopters. The studio created the opening shot of the film's climactic battle sequence, in which a squadron of F-15 fighter jets swoop out of the sky on a bombing run. Many of the shots that Computercafe created involved air combat.
Stanley Kubrick's award-winning classic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, will be shown in limited exclusive engagements beginning October 5, 2001, and continuing through the end of the year. Audiences will be able to see the acclaimed science fiction epic in a pristine 70mm print, with a digitally restored and fully remastered soundtrack. The new print premieres October 5 at the Cinerama Theater in Seattle. Subsequent engagements will follow at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and The Uptown in Washington, D.C.
With only one new film in wide release, it was another slow weekend at U.S. movie theaters. Box office totals slumped even lower than last week, making this weekend a 52-week low. However, two limited release films made a good showing at the box office this weekend. Anime thriller VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST, debuting in just six theaters, managed to bring in a healthy $4,255 per screen. The Armegeddon-themed MEGIDDO: OMEGA CODE 2, with visual effects by Computercafe and Cinesite, did well in limited release as well, debuting in thirteenth place with $1.6M from 314 theaters.
With only two new films in wide release this weekend and in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, North American box office totals fell to their lowest level this year. Last week's number one film THE MUSKETEER, with primary visual effects by Das Werk, slipped two places to land at number three, adding $5.3M for $17.6M total to date. JEEPERS CREEPERS, with primary visual effects by E=MC2 and Max Ink Cafe LLC, continued its downward slide coming in seventh with $3.9M and $29.7M total.
Manga Entertainment Ltd. will release IG Studios BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE on DVD and VHS on September 17, 2001. The story revolves around Saya, a teenaged assassin sent to vanquish the blood-sucking fiends that have concealed themselves among humans at an air force base in Japan. This highly touted film was the best feature winner at the 2001 World Animation Celebration and is Japans first fully digitally-animated feature. The DVD will feature "The Making of BLOOD" documentary, image gallery, original Japanese theatrical trailers and Web links.
Director James Cameron's production company has signed on to develop a live-action version of Top Cow Prods.' popular comic book FATHOM. Created and illustrated by Michael Turner, FATHOM tells the story of young Aspen Mathews. After being found on an abandoned yacht with no memory of her past, she grows up and becomes an Olympic swimmer and marine biologist. During her research, she discovers a mysterious underwater race and her own aquatic powers. It is unlikely an animated version will ever see light though.
Despite generally poor reviews, the swordplay actioner THE MUSKETEER, with primary visual effects by Das Werk, managed to leap to the front of a rather wan pack during the first weekend of the fall movie season bringing in $10.7M for its debut. JEEPERS CREEPERS, with primary visual effects by E=MC2 and Max Ink Café LLC, fell three spots from last week's number one to come in fourth with a weekend gross of $6.1M, bringing its two week total to $24.3M.
Stockholm-based animation company Filmtecknarna has created four 2-minute long animated treatments of the Venice Biennale logo, projected onstage during the opening and closing events at the 58th International Venice Film Festival, August 29-September 8, 2001. Drawing on such diverse inspiration as the Italian comic La Lineau and shadows cast by people as they walk across the stage, the four spots experiment with organic shapes that shift and change to form the logo.
The new horror film JEEPERS CREEPERS, with primary visual effects by E=MC2 and Max Ink Café LLC, debuted at number one earning $15.8M over the four-day Labor Day weekend. RUSH HOUR 2, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, held the number two spot for the fourth consecutive week with a four-day take of $11.8M bringing its total gross to $198.9M. Holding steady in fifth place is the road comedy RAT RACE, with animated opening titles by Wild Brain, which has grossed $37.8M after 17 days.
Excited about seeing Hayao Miyazaki's new film SPIRITED AWAY? Don't hold your breath. Disney has no plans of releasing the film in the U.S. In an Inside.com article, David Jessen, vice president of acquisitions at Disney's Buena Vista, said he has seen the film and that he likes it, but that other Disney executives have not. Disney currently has no official plans to release any more of Miyazaki's films in America, he said, adding "we are strategizing now worldwide." The reason for the move is the disappointing results of PRINCESS MONONOKE.
With AMERICAN PIE 2 staying a third week in the top spot, RUSH HOUR 2 held tight in second with JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK debuting in third. RUSH HOUR 2, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, took home another US$11.4 million, raising its cume to $183.3 million. JAY & SILENT BOB, with primary visual effects by Digital Research Lab, MetroLight Studios and Tigar Hare Studios, racked in $11.1 million, making it the highest opening for a film from director Kevin Smith.
Believe it or not, but model Fabio has formed an animation company. The yet untitled firm is producing a feature based on the Marvel comic, THOR: GOD OF THUNDER. "To me, the future of TV and movies is going to be 3D animation," said Fabio to PEOPLE magazine. "Sad to say, but I think actors are going to be out of jobs." The 42-year old former romance novel cover model currently works out of his six-room Los Angeles home.
Riding on the success of SHREK, DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg has announced that two CGI films will go into production simultaneously at PDI/DreamWorks. Three films are currently in pre-production, and once solidified, will go into production. The first project is TUSKER, which has been floating round the studio for years. The action-adventure story is set in Southeast Asia and will follow a herd of elephants.
With OSMOSIS JONES slipping out of the top ten, the U.S. box office remained mostly live-action. With AMERICAN PIE 2 claiming the top spot for a second straight week, RUSH HOUR 2 held tight to the #2 slot, grossing US$19.2 million. The kung-fu caper, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has racked up $164.8 million. RAT RACE, with animated opening titles by Wild Brain, debuted at #3 with a gross of $11.8 million. At #6, CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, with primary visual effects by Double Negative, sung home $7.1 million in its premiere.
Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken has joined the voice cast of Columbia Pictures' STUART LITTLE 2. He joins a voice cast, which includes Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane, Steve Zahn and Melanie Griffith. Walken will voice the character of Falcon, a sharp-beaked villain who puts Stuart and a new friend in danger. Scheduled to hit theaters July 19, 2002, the sequel follows the continuing adventures of Stuart (voiced by Fox), the beloved mouse who was adopted by the Littles, a human family. Rob Minkoff will return as the director of the film.
Wild Brain has completed production on the animated opening title sequence for Paramount's upcoming film RAT RACE, directed by Jerry Zucker (AIRPLANE!). Wild Brain director Julia Tortolani provided the title design and animation. The opening title sequence features animated Photo Collage Puppets of the movie's characters. The sequence comes to a climax when four of the characters take the director's credit and run across the desert, through a collaged version of Las Vegas and into the front door of the Venetian Hotel.