Sony Pictures has announced that AKIRA director Katsuhiro Otomo's new film STEAMBOY will be released in U.S. theaters on March 18, 2005. The film is the most expensive anime feature ever produced at $20 million and began production in 1995. Financial issues have plagued the production. The film screened at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. Set in Victorian England, the retro sci-fi epic follows how a powerful new energy source changes the "Age of Steam."
Hot on the heals of a $18.3 million box office opening, Twisted Pictures and Lions Gate Films are moving ahead with a sequel to the horror film SAW, set for a Halloween 2005 release.
Zinc Ent. has announced it is developing a third film in its DUNGEONS & DRAGONS franchise. The second film DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 2: THE ELEMENTAL MIGHT will be released in the U.S. by Warner Bros. in 2005 with Warner Home Video handling the home entertainment distribution in the States as well as certain foreign territories. First Look Intl. holds the worldwide rights.
CATWOMAN scribe John Rogers has been hired to pen the script for DreamWorks and Paramounts feature live-action rendition of TRANSFORMERS, reports VARIETY. Angry Films head Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto are producing the film along with Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Steven Spielberg is exec producing. The picture is set for a summer 2006 release. The film will be based on the Hasbro toy line of vehicles, which transform into giant robot. DeSanto wrote the story that Rogers will base the screenplay on.
IMAX has great success with its DMR conversion of blockbuster hits, venturing internationally into China, India and soon Pakistan. But with THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE, the large-format giant will unveil the first all-CGI 3D feature on its towering screens, Nov. 10, 2004, day-and-date with the 35mm release from Warner Bros. Pictures. THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE will debut on more than 70 IMAX Theaters, the widest worldwide release ever.
Nicole Kidman is in talks to voice a streetwise sewer rat in DreamWorks upcoming animated film FLUSHED AWAY. The film is being written by Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais. Hugh Jackman has been named as the lead character Roddy with Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis playing a villainous frog and his hench-rat Spike, respectively. The story follows pampered uptown British rat named Roddy, who after being flushed down the toilet into the sewers of London, must learn how to survive in the real world.
Sonys horror hit, THE GRUDGE, led the box office chart for the second week in a row, scaring up $21.8M over the Halloween weekend ended Oct. 31, 2004, on its way to $70.6M. Universals Ray Charles biopic, RAY, debuted at number two with $20M, while Lions Gates SAW bowed in third place with $18.2M. DreamWorks 3D-animated SHARK TALE slipped to fourth with $7.5M and a whopping cume of $146.8M. Miramaxs SHALL WE DANCE? finished fifth with $6.2M and $33.9M.
Playtone has secured the film rights for Jeanne DuPrau's young adult bestseller, THE CITY OF EMBER, reports VARIETY. Partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are negotiating with Caroline Thompson (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) to write the screenplay and Gil Kenan to make his directorial debut. Walden Media is in talks to co-produce and co-finance the picture.
Walt Disney Pictures has hired Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon to pen SNOW AND THE SEVEN, a martial arts take on SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Hong Kong director Yuen Wo Ping will make his English-language directorial debut on the film. Andrew Gunn is producing with Gunnfilm's Ann Marie Sanderlin serving as exec producer. Brigham Taylor is overseeing the film for the studio. Set in 1880s British colonial China, the fantasy and martial arts film will follow the Grimm Brothers fairy tale with seven Shaolin monks aiding the heroine.
Paramount Pictures and producer Scott Rudin have teamed to remake THE BLOB, reports VARIETY. The original films producer Jack Harris worked out a deal with Warner Bros., producers of the 1958 Steve McQueen version, to bring the remake rights to Paramount where he has production deal. Studio evp Brian Witten and creative exec Ed Goemans will oversee the pic. No writer or director has been signed.
First it was Luc Bessen, now indie wunderkind Wes Anderson has moved from the live-action director's chair into more animated seating. Anderson has teamed with Revolution Studios to write and direct a stop-motion feature version of Roald Dahl's THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, reports VARIETY. Andersons producing partner on LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU Noah Baumbach will co-pen the screenplay. Sony will distribute the flick. The book finds a crafty fox and his family under threat from three dumb, plug-ugly farmers for stealing chickens.
Former Imageworks staffer Mark Stetson, who is supervising vfx for Warner Bros., was instrumental in helping Sony beat out ILM in the bidding.
Revolution Studios is set to remake John Carpenters 1980 horror flick, THE FOG, reports VARIETY. THE CORE scribe Cooper Layne has been hired to pen the screenplay. Debra Hill and Carpenter, who wrote the original, will produce along with David Foster. Production is scheduled to begin in February. The original film was set in a Northern California coastal town where a thick fog descends and brings back the drowned seaman who died in a shipwreck 100 years prior.
With George Lucas rejecting the last script from Frank Darabont, Lucas and director Steven Spielberg have hired CATCH ME IF YOU CAN/THE TERMINAL scribe Jeff Nathanson to take a crack at penning the fourth installment of INDIANA JONES, reports VARIETY.
Picture Mill introduces the unexpected world of Japanese horror with a sequence steeped in blood and fear for director Takashi Shimizus American debut, THE GRUDGE, the unexpected horror hit from Columbia Pictures and Sam Raimis Ghost House.
Geneon Ent. will be releasing the highly anticipated anime feature APPLESEED to the theaters in the U.S. Opening Jan. 14, 2005, in select cities, the film is based on the manga story by Masamune Shirow (GHOST IN THE SHELL) and directed by Shinji Aramaki (BUBBLEGUM CRISIS). APPLESEED features a groundbreaking animation style, "3D Live Anime," utilizing motion capture animation techniques. The film was released theatrically in Japan earlier this year.
Bruce Willis is set to replace Jim Carrey as the con-artist raccoon R.J. in DreamWorks' OVER THE HEDGE, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters May 19, 2006. The animated comedy is based on Michael Fry and T. Lewis comic strip. Garry Shandling will voice the pessimistic turtle Verne. The film will follow R.J.s exploitative plans after his woodland neighborhood begins to be encroached upon by a development.
Sonys Americanized horror remake of JU-ON, THE GRUDGE, toppled SHARK TALE from the top of the box office chart for the weekend ended Oct. 24, 2004, scaring up a whopping $39.1M. Meanwhile, the DreamWorks 3D-animated smash added another $14M for second place to run its impressive total to nearly $137M. Miramaxs SHALL WE DANCE moved up to third place with $8.5M and $24.4M so far. Universals FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS slipped to fourth with $6.9M and $47.2M.
Director Uwe Boll and producer Shawn Williamson have hired screenwriters David Schneider and Drew Daywalt (STARK RAVING MAD) to write a feature adaptation of Vivendi Universals videogame, HUNTER: THE RECKONING, reports VARIETY. The story follows a group of men and women who are given supernatural to combat monsters. Pre-production is scheduled to start in February in British Columbia. Boll is not new to bringing videogames to the screen with adaptations of HOUSE OF THE DEAD, ALONE IN THE DARK and BLOODRAYNE, which just finished production.
FIFTH ELEMENT director Luc Besson has cast Madonna as the lead in his big-budget CGI-animated ARTHUR. Bessons Europa Corp. will produce with Buf Compagnie providing the CG. Besson hopes to have the film in theaters by 2006.
PULP FICTION scribe Roger Avary is writing a bigscreen adaptation of the Konami videogame franchise SILENT HILL, reports VARIETY. Samuel Hadida (RESIDENT EVIL) is producing and financing the film through his Davis Film Prods. BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF helmer Christophe Gans will direct the film. Focus Features will handle sales oversees with Hadida's Metropolitan Film handling the French rights. North American rights are still available. The game follows the story of a mother and daughter who seek to discover the secrets of a seemingly abandoned town. A March production start is planned.
India's two commercially operated IMAX theaters reported the highest grossing screens in the country for SPIDER-MAN 2. The film was converted using IMAX DMR (Digital Re- Mastering) technology and released in India at the same time as the conventional 35mm version. In the 10 weeks since its release, nearly 130,000 people have visited the PRASADS IMAX Theatre in Hyderabad and the Adlabs IMAX Theatre in Mumbai to experience SPIDER-MAN 2 in IMAX's format.
The long search is finally over for the next Superman. Latino Review originally broke the news over the weekend and VARIETY confirmed that director Brian Singer has chosen relative unknown Brandon Routh to don the red cape. A contract has not been signed, but production hopes to start shooting in Australia in November. Routh has had roles on television series ONE LIFE TO LIVE, GILMORE GIRLS, WILL & GRACE and COLD CASE. He will make his film debut in the forthcoming thriller DEADLY.
Regency Enterprises and CritterPix Studios will develop Regency's first-ever CG animated feature film, based on the children's bestseller OLLIE THE OTTER by Kelly Alan Williamson. Regency will head creative development on the picture as well as has the option of investing in CritterPix and to co-finance the movie's production. Longtime Don Bluth producing partner Gary Goldman will direct the film. JC Davis, founder of Johnny Cat Prods., will exec produce.
UWPictures/O-Group, Ltd. and Three Kings Ent. have optioned YOUNG MERLIN, written by Robert Kahn. The coming-of-age story of Merlin, envisioned as the first chapter in a three-part franchise, is a live-action feature combined with CG. Purchase price for the film, budgeted at $25 million, was mid-six figures. The project will shoot in the U.K. at the end of the year.