Despite leading the pack in its debut, New Lines MONSTER-IN-LAW did nothing to quell the 12-week dry spell at the box office that should get a big jolt with this weeks anticipated monster hit, STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH. The Jennifer Lopez/Jane Fonda comedy collected $23.1M for the weekend ended May 15, 2005. That was better than two other newcomers: KICKING & SCREAMING, which kicked up $20.1M for Universal, thanks to the presence of Will Ferrell, and UNLEASHED, which grabbed $10.9M for Universals specialty division, Focus.
The Jim Henson Co. is in the planning stages for a sequel to its 1982 fantasy cult classic, DARK CRYSTAL, reports VARIETY. David Odell (THE MUPPET SHOW) is writing THE POWER OF THE DARK CRYSTAL along with Annette Duffy. No director has been announced as of yet. Odyssey Ent. will worldwide sales for the film.
The film will combine live action, animatronic characters and CG animation and is set to start filming this fall. The film will be available in the early part of 2007.
Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group is the pre-production stages on a sequel to Stephen Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE, according HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Chow and his writing team from HUSTLE, including Tsang Kan Cheong, have been writing the first draft while on the 30-country Sony Pictures Releasing International press tour for the original film.
"He works well within our system," Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia md Barbara Robinson said. "He knows we love (HUSTLE); he's seen the way we've gotten behind him, and we have great distribution clout."
France's most successful movie franchise ASTERIX THE GAUL will return to the big screen, reports VARIETY. The last effort to bring the franchise back a Viking-themed installment was turned down by the original ASTERIX cartoon books rights holders. Now Thomas Langmann (BLUEBERRY) has devised a new script ASTERIX AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES with director Frederic Forestier attached.
Melwood Pictures and Exodus Film Group announced that they have optioned the rights to world-famous magician and illusionist Nicholas Nights CG-animated/live-action feature film PAVLOVS DOG.
Celluloid Dreams has inked several animation deals, which includes THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS, GRASS ROOTS, KIRIKOU AND THE WILD BEASTS and WALLACE AND GROMIT, reports VARIETY.
Celluloid Dreams will handle international sales on a feature length clay-animation adaptation of cult 1960s comic series THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS.
DreamWorks Animation SKG has announced their next film collaboration with Aardman, a new comedy entitled CROOD AWAKENING. The announcement was made during a tribute to Aardman at the Cannes Film Festival, by DreamWorks Animation ceo Jeffrey Katzenberg, together with Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton.
CROOD AWAKENING will mark DreamWorks fourth film collaboration with Aardman, following 2000s CHICKEN RUN, this years WALLACE & GROMIT THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT and FLUSHED AWAY, which is planned for release in 2006.
CritterPix Studios has added key talent for a team now in pre-production on its first feature-length film, OLLIE THE OTTER, according to Kelly Williamson, ceo of CritterPix. The feature, budgeted at $30 million, is about the misadventures of a sea otter and his landlubber and oceanic friends, and is being produced in association with New Regency Prods.
From Pixar, Chris Rock has signed on as CG supervisor. While at Pixar, Rock was a technical director on MONSTERS, INC., FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES and CARS.
SHREK producer John H. Williams has partnered again with U.K.-based sales and financing company Odyssey Ent. to bring the animation producer's latest project, RIBBIT, to the market, according to HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The new deal between Williams Ealing Studio-based Vanguard Animation and Odyssey is the fourth time Odyssey has taken international sales duties for the Oscar-winning producer's properties.
Sherman Oaks, California-based Swordplay Entertainment Inc., has begun principal production on the animated feature film, CONAN: RED NAILS, based on the classic story by the best-selling fantasy author Robert E. Howard, a new 2D/3D animated feature film, targeting a fall 2006 release on video/DVD, with a theatrical release pending test screening. New Line Home Entertainment has acquired all North American distribution rights to the animated feature film.
Anima Estudios has announced with the support of Fidecine Mexico the release of its second feature animated film, IMAGINUM. The film will be released in theaters nationwide in August 2005, distributed by Videocine, the movie production and distribution company of Televisa.
The main characters are voiced by Eugenio Derbez (Mexico´s most popular comedian), Giovanni Florido, Ilse Olivo and Ruben Trujillo.
Universal has secured the film rights to the young adult fantasy novel series OUTCAST, reports VARIETY. Charlie Mitchell (forthcoming THE CHILDREN OF THE DUST BOWL) has been hired to adapt the screenplay. Additionally, Mitchell will produce along with Donaldson/Sanders' Peter Donaldson and Circle of Confusion's Jason Lust.
On a film already in production, Hugo Weaving, who has been immortalized as Agent Smith in THE MATRIX films and his elfin role in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, will replace James Purefoy (RESIDENT EVIL) as the star of V FOR VENDETTA, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The reason for the move was not announced, but the film is still set to hit theaters Nov. 4, 2005. The cast also includes Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, Rupert Graves and Stephen Fry.
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN opened lukewarmly for Fox yet still managed to lead a weak box office for the weekend ended May 8, 2005. Ridley Scotts epic about the Crusades took home $19.6M (with vfx from The Moving Picture Co., Double Negative, Framestore CFC and Clear), ahead of Warner Bros. HOUSE OF WAX (with vfx by Photon VFX), which bowed with $12M.
Director Ridley Scott, whose epic about the Crusades with Orlando Bloom, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, opens today (May 6, 2005 through Twentieth Century Fox), told VFXWORLD that the hybrid of live action and CGI that predominates the industry today is very dangerous.
He recounted how Doug Trumbull advised him 25 years ago on BLADE RUNNER to shoot live whenever possible, and he only selectively goes digital to enhance reality out of necessity. It isnt easy getting 70,000 troops out there in one shot, Scott admits.
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE, the highest grossing and most successful IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) release to date, will return to IMAX theatres in November 2005. First released on Nov. 10, 2004, and co-financed by Shangri-La Ent., the film broke virtually every box-office record for a digitally re-mastered Hollywood film in IMAX's format, and set the record for the highest grossing week in IMAX's 35-year history.
IDT Ent. Sales (IDTeS) will attend Marché du Film in Cannes with a slate of new animated and live-action theatrical features. Among the new properties to be offered are the highly anticipated horror anthology MASTERS OF HORROR, featuring the most prominent horror directors, the thriller ROOM SI starring Jerry OConnell and Christine Taylor, and two-time Oscar-nominee Bill Plymptons animated HAIR HIGH, which was just selected to screen at the prestigious Melbourne International Film Festival for 2005.
Korean animation house DG Spot and its production division Morph have bought the rights to graphic novel MASTERMINDS and plans to turn it into an animated feature. The property is the lead franchise of Los Angeles-based animation house MasterMinds Unlimited. Production on the film, which will include a role voiced by Stan Lee, is set to begin this summer.
Buena Vistas THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (with vfx by Cinesite) topped the box office chart in its debut for the weekend ended May 1, 2005, collecting $21.1M. Universals THE INTERPRETER, last weekends winner, slipped to second place, with $13.8M for a two-week total of $43.1M. The other big opener, XXX: STATE OF THE UNION (with vfx from ILM), didnt fare so well for Sony Revolution, as Ice Cube stepped in for Vin Diesel. The Lee Tamahori actioner netted a disappointed $12.7M for a third place finish.
Crossing over from small screen to big screen fans, 20th Century Fox has been exercising some synergy, releasing AMERICAN DAD: INSIDE THE CIA, a never-before-seen short, running exclusively before the film FEVER PITCH, starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. The three-minute short, which is a take-off on CIA training films from the 50s, is screening before the Fox film, FEVER PITCH, holding in seventh place at the box office in the U.S. in its fifth week of release while the Fox TV series, AMERICAN DAD, premiered May 1 9:30 pm on FOX.
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE will be simultaneously released to both IMAX and conventional theatres on November 18, 2005. The film is based on the best-selling J.K. Rowling book and is the fourth installment of the tremendously successful HARRY POTTER film series, which has grossed a total of more than $2.6 billion around the world. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE will be digitally re-mastered into IMAX's format through the company's IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology and released to the worldwide IMAX theatre network.
Marvel Enterprises Inc. and Paramount Pictures announced that they have entered into an agreement under which Paramount will distribute a slate of feature films to be produced by Marvel, which include titles such as CAPTAIN AMERICA and NICK FURY. Marvel also announced a new, non-recourse financing facility to be provided by Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. that will allow the company to produce its own slate of feature films based on its renowned comic book characters.
Platinum Studios and The Shop Prods. have chosen Alan McElroy (SPAWN) to write the screenplay for the $18 million budgeted first ever CG theatrical horror feature, BONESAW, based on the Platinum Studios graphic novel by acclaimed Scots writer Rob Moran. Relativity Management, one of Hollywood's leading talent management firms, will be co-financing the picture and is arranging the international elements. Production is set to begin in early 2006, and be completed fall 2007. McElroy will be splitting his time between his Ohio home and the Vancouver production offices of BONESAW.
Digital Vision announced that Industrial Light & Magic has used its AGR4 ME motion-compensated grain & noise management system to prepare the digital cinema master for George Lucas STAR WARS: EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, which hits theaters May 19, 2005.
DreamWorks Animation has assembled a top-tier roster of voice talent for its upcoming computer-animated comedy, BEE MOVIE, which will star the films co-writer and producer Jerry Seinfeld. Starring opposite the famed comic will be Academy Award-winner Renée Zellweger (COLD MOUNTAIN, CHICAGO). BEE MOVIE is slated for release on November 2, 2007, following the May 18, 2007 release of the third SHREK movie.