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.
Miramax has acquired the North and South American distribution rights to CG-animated feature SPRUNG! THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT from Pathe Pictures Intl., reports VARIETY. In post-production and set to be completed in January, SPRUNG is based on the U.K. puppet TV series. Pathe will release the film in France and the U.K. in February.
Independent-minded effects studio CaféFX helped design the mysterious fantasy world of Eric Small's directorial debut, THE DUST FACTORY, the indie film currently being distributed by MGM.
THE DUST FACTORY is an adventure about the love and friendship between two teenagers who help each other through a difficult time in their lives.
Julia Roberts has been hired to lead to voice cast for Warner Bros. and Playtones production of ANT BULLY, directed by JIMMY NEUTRON creator John Davis, reports VARIETY. The cast also includes Zach Tyler, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Giamatti, Alan Cumming, Cheri Oteri and Ricardo Montalban. Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will produce along with Davis and his DNA Prods.
The animated feature THE EASTER EGG ESCAPADE will make its West Coast debut at the 8th Annual Hollywood Film Festival, on Oct. 17 at 5:00 p.m., at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. In attendance will be Sandra Bernhard (TVs ROSEANNE), who voices one of the main characters and will help director John Michael Williams introduce the movie. Guests will be greeted by the films seven-foot mascot, Good Gracious Grasshopper. A 30-minute Q&A with Bernhard and Williams immediately follows the screening.
After last weeks announcement that San Francisco-based animation studio Wild Brain had inked a multi-year deal to make 3D-animated films with Miramax and Dimension Films, AWN got a few more details about OPUS, the proposed spin-off of the wisecracking penguin from Berkeley Breatheds Pulitzer Prize-winning BLOOM COUNTY strip.
Pixel Magic recently took on the duty of chasing bank robber supermodels through Grand Central Station and the streets of New York for Foxs TAXI, culminating in a high-speed car duel on an elevated unfinished highway by performing more than 300 visual effects. They included greenscreen composites, CG cars, CG bridges, CG matte paintings, wire removals and assorted fixes.
SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW director Kerry Conran has selected screenwriter Ehren Kruger (THE RING and THE RING 2) to rewrite A PRINCESS OF MARS, which has been retitled JOHN CARTER OF MARS, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER reports.
The Paramout Pictures production, based on the first installment in Edgar Rice Burroughs 11-book series, concerns a Civil War vet who is mysteriously transported to Mars, where he faces even more fantastic adventures. Alphavilles Jim Jacks and Sean Daniel are producing. Mark Protosevich turned in the previous draft.
DreamWorks SHARK TALE withstood Universals football pic, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS in its second outing at the box office for the weekend ended Oct. 10, 2004. The 3D-animated gangster satire dipped 34% but still managed a hefty $31.3M for a total gross of $87.3M, while second place finisher, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, caught $20.2M worth of tickets. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Ent. made company history by crossing the $1B threshold in both North America and overseas for the third year in a row. This puts it in the company of Disney and Warner Bros. for such a feat.
Warner Bros. Pictures has joined DreamWorks on the production of Michael Bays THE ISLAND, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The two studios will share the cost of the $100 million film with DreamWorks distributing the film in the U.S. and Warner taking the film internationally. Caspian Tredwell-Owen wrote the original screenplay, with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci turning other drafts. Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Ian Bryce are producing.
Walt Disney Co. is simultaneously working on two new TOY STORY sequels, according to Disney ceo Michael Eisner, who listed some of the studios film plans at a Goldman Sachs investment conference in Manhattan, NEW YORK NEWSDAY reports.
Eisner added that while computer-animated movies are the current rage, success would come down to storytelling and emotion, and not just technology.
Its official: the MPAA rating board has given Paramount Pictures' TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE an R rating. Previously cuts of the film were receiving the NC-17 rating. The all-marionette political and action film satire will launch in 800 theaters on Oct. 9 and widen on Oct. 15.
The film will be rated R for "graphic, crude & sexual humor, violent images & strong language; all involving puppets." Apparently, scenes of graphic puppet sex had to be cut from the film to ensure it the R, which is part of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stones deal with the studio.
Jan De Bont has signed on to direct the big screen adaptation of Steve Altens shark thriller MEG, reports VARIETY. HELLBOY producers Guillermo del Toro, Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin will produce along with CHUD.com creator Nick Nunziata and Ken Atchity. The story follows explorer Jonas Taylor who has a terrifying encounter with a 20-pound Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark.
Dimension Films has acquired the remake rights to the Korean horror film RYEONG (THE GHOST) from Showbox, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Vertigo Ent.'s Roy Lee, Doug Davison and Sonny Mallhi will produce. The original Tae-Kyeong Kim-directed film followed the mystery of amnesic teenage girl who discovers that she is somehow connected to a murderous ghost who is killing people one by one. Dimension co-presidents Andrew Rona and Brad Weston, and Dan Levine, svp production and development, will oversee the project. Vertigo Ent.
20th Century Fox has tapped TROY screenwriter David Benioff to write the X-MEN spinoff, WOLVERINE, reports VARIETY. Fox hopes to have Hugh Jackman reprise his role as the superhero. The assignment will net Benioff seven figures. The writer pitch the idea to 20th Century Fox president Hutch Parker and svp Alex Young, who'll oversee the project.
Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto and Dakota Fanning are all in talks to co-star along with Tom Cruise in Steven Spielbergs big budget rendition of H.G. Wells WAR OF THE WORLD, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Robbins would play astronomer Ogilvy while Otto and Fanning would plays Cruises wife and daughter respectively. The film will be a super fast production due to Paramounts desire to have this film be its tentpole for next summer after MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 was pushed back a year.
Fox 2000 has hired John Woo to direct HE-MAN, a live-action flick based on Mattel's MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE toy line, reports VARIETY. Adam Rifkin will write the screenplay. Woo will also produce the film with Terence Chang through their Lion Rock Prods. Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler and director of production Rodney Farrell will Shepard the project. The original story follows half Earthling/half Eternian Prince Adam, who receives the superpowers of Castle Grayskull when he turns 18 in an effort to defend his home world from the evil plans of Skeletor.
DreamWorks got the big opening it was seeking from the 3D-animated SHARK TALE, considering the timing of its IPO to spin off the animation division, but the actual gross of $47.6M was $2M less than the early estimate.
Still, while not quite the best October opening ever, SHARK TALE delivered the goods and won the box office derby for the weekend ended Oct. 3, 2004, far surpassing the other notable debut, Buena Vistas LADDER 49, which came in second with $22M.
Sony Pictures Animation has added LION KING director Roger Allers as a director on its first 3D feature, OPEN SEASON. Additionally, the studio has hired Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman (CHICKEN LITTLE) to draft a script. Allers will be joining Jill Culton in the directors chair as well as Anthony Stacchi who will serve as co-director.
20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios have hired Simon Kinberg to write the script for X3, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The deal will earn the writer a high-six-against-seven-figure sum. Kinberg isnt new to comic book inspired features having done rewrites on ELEKTRA and FANTASTIC FOUR. Details of the plot have not been announced.
As the sole visual effects facility on Working Title Films WIMBLEDON, Moving Picture Co. (MPC) completed 230 vfx shots with a high level of involvement throughout the entire production. The feature was digitally graded in the MPC Digital Lab under the guidance of Martin Kenzie. Australian Wimbledon champion Pat Cash served as tennis advisor on the film, which was granted unprecedented access to 2004s Championships by The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTCC).
Production on the live-action rendition of AEON FLUX will restart on Oct. 4, 2004, reports VARIETY. Due to a back injury suffered by star Charlize Theron, Paramount and MTV had to put the film on hiatus Aug. 31. Karyn Kusama- directed film has Theron performing the action intensive role of an assassin 1,000 years in the future. Valhalla Prods. and Lakeshore Ent. are also producing. Producers are Valhalla head Gale Anne Hurd, MTV Films president David Gale and Greg Goodman. VP Pamela Abdy is sheparding for Paramount.
TOKYOPOP Inc. has inked actress Melissa Joan Hart (SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH) and screenwriter Dan Gordon (WYATT EARP, THE HURRICANE) for a live-action feature film development project inspired by SAMURAI GIRL: REAL BOUT HIGH SCHOOL (SG: RBHS), one of its top manga and anime properties.
In creating the main title sequence for the new Buena Vista Pictures release THE LAST SHOT, yU + co found inspiration in an unlikely place: amid the clutter of a movie theater floor. The design studio designed and produced a magical opener for the film that takes the audience on a looping journey along theater aisles and over seats to discover the names of the films cast and crew written on candy wrappers, woven into upholstery and tattooed to the legs of a patron. The result is a visual tour de force and the perfect set up for the offbeat crime caper that follows.
Framestore CFC provided a total of 20 vfx shots along with digital mastergrade for the new British thriller, LAYER CAKE, which opens Oct. 1 in the U.K. It stars Daniel Craig, Kenneth Cranham, Michael Gambon, Nathalie Lunghi and Sienna Miller. Based on JJ Connelly's London crime novel, LAYER CAKE marks the directorial debut of producer Matthew Vaughn (LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING GUNS).