Warner Bros. V FOR VENDETTA (with vfx by Cinesite, Double Negative and Baseblack) turned out to be one of the better openings for a graphic novel adaptation, with a smashing $25.6M to lead the box office for the weekend ended March 19, 2006. Paramounts FAILURE TO LAUNCH (with vfx by Lola Visual Effects) slipped to second in its second week, posting $15.6M for a cume of $48.2M. Following in third was Buena Vistas THE SHAGGY DOG (with vfx from Tippett Studio and Stan Winston Studio), which barked up another $13.3M for a two-week cume of $35.6M.
Director Jesse Rosensweet, winner of the Cannes Film Festivals 2002 Jury Prize for his stop-motion short, THE STONE OF FOLLY, will direct Canadas first stop-motion animated feature, NEWTON AND LEO. The film will be produced by Dean English of Vancouver-based Perfect Circle Prods. Karen Powell is serving as exec producer.
Universal Pictures has tapped Benicio Del Toro to headline its remake of the horror classic, THE WOLF MAN, reports VARIETY. SEVEN writer Andrew Kevin Walker will pen script from which Scott Stuber, Rick Yorn, Mary Parent and Del Toro will produce.
Like the original 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. film, the redo will be set in Victorian England where a man who returns from America to his ancestral homeland and is transformed into werewolf after being bitten.
Newcomers won the weekend box office race as FAILURE TO LAUNCH (with vfx by Lola Visual Effects) netted success for Paramount, debuting in the top spot with $24.4M over the weekend ended March 12, 2006. Buena Vistas The Shaggy Dog (vfx from Tippett Studio and Stan Winston Studio) captured the second spot in its debut with $16.3M while yet another newcomer, THE HILLS HAVE EYES from Fox SearchLight Pictures (vfx by Rez-Illusion) placed third, posting $15.7M. Warner Bros. 16 BLOCKS (with vfx by LairdFX and Mr. X) slipped to fourth, taking in another $7.4M for a $22.8 cume.
Revealed at the Walt Disney shareholders meeting last week, Brad Bird will take the creative reins of Pixar Animation Studios' RATATOUILLE. Developed in-house for several years, Oscar-winning short-film director Jan Pinkava (GERI'S GAME) was long attached to the project as its helmer, but officially no director has been chosen yet.
The story follows a skinny rodent who views himself a gourmand, living in a Parisian restaurant.
A sneak peek of the film was introduced by John Lasseter and shown to attendees at Friday's meeting.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein are developing a stage version of martial arts Oscar winner CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON as well as the five books into a TIGER film franchise of three prequels and a sequel, reports VARIETY.
The Weinstein Co. have gained the worldwide rights to develop and produce a stage adaptation of Chinese author Wang Du Lu's CRANE IRON PENTALOGY, a series of books the fourth installment being CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.
John Cusack will headline in the theatrical adaptation of Stephen King's short story 1408 for DERAILED director Mikael Hafstrom, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Dimension Films, reports VARIETY. The script was written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (ED WOOD).
Cusack will play a debunker of paranormal occurrences who encounters real horror when he checks into notorious Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel.
1408 debuted in the King audio book, BLOOD AND SMOKE, and was later included in King's 2002 short story collection, EVERYTHING'S EVENTUAL.
The Jim Henson Co. has optioned feature film rights to SF Saids fantasy novels VARJAK PAW and its sequel THE OUTLAW VARJAK PAW, reports VARIETY. The company plans to develop the property as an animated film.
The books illustrator Dave McKean, who directed the Henson film MIRRORMASK, is set to direct. McKean will team with Said to adapt the screenplay.
The original book follows a Mesopotamian blue kitten as he learns he is part of a mystical tradition of magical martial arts and sets out to save his family.
HOUSE OF SAND AND FOGs Vadim Perelman is set to adapt and direct a film based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Award-winning fantasy novel THE GIVER for 20th Century Fox and Walden Media, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Perelman will work from an earlier draft written by Todd Alcott.
The story is set in an idyllic future society where all memory of human history has been erased. A 12-year-old named Jonas life is turned upside down when he inherits the role of the Giver the sole keeper of human emotions.
The first 3D-animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES feature from The Weinstein Co. and Warner Bros. Pictures will find its way to theaters in North America on March 30, 2007. That means it will go head-to-head with Disneys next 3D-animated feature, MEET THE ROBINSONS, which has just been pushed back from Dec. 15 of this year.
Warner Bros. Pictures will handle domestic distribution and the Weinstein Co. will distribute overseas.
Walt Disney Pictures has launched the official website for Pixars CARS (http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/cars/) and will premiere the latest theatrical trailer March 9 on a variety of broadcast outlets, basic cable channels, Internet sites, in person at the Disney Theme Parks, ESPN Zones, Disney Stores (in more than 300 mall and shopping center locations across the U.S. and Canada) and on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square.
On the heels of receiving his KING KONG Oscar, Joe Letteri of Weta Digital will next supervise vfx for THE WATER HORSE from Walden Media, Beacon Pictures and Revolution Studios.
OPEN SEASON, the first 3D-animated feature from Sony Pictures Ent., will open in IMAX 3-D simultaneously with the conventional release on Sept. 29. Sony Pictures Releasing will be the exclusive distributor of movie to IMAX theaters worldwide.
OPEN SEASON is directed by Roger Allers (THE LION KING), Jill Culton (who worked on Disney/Pixars MONSTERS, INC. and TOY STORY 2) and co-director Anthony Stacchi (whose credits include ANTZ).
OPEN SEASON stars the vocal talents of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing and Gary Sinise.
MEET THE ROBINSONS, Walt Disney Feature Animations 3D-animated follow-up to CHICKEN LITTLE, has been pushed back from Dec. 15 to March 30, 2007 (with a simultaneous platform in Disney Digital 3-D), the studio confirmed. This will apparently give first-time director Steve Anderson more time to finish and fine-tune, not surprising given the new Pixar merger and the director-friendly mandate under president Ed Catmull and chief creative officer John Lasseter.
TYLER PERRYS MADEAS FAMILY REUNION led the box office for the second consecutive week with $12.6M, despite a 58% drop, over the traditionally slow Oscar weekend ended March 5, 2006. The Lionsgate release has attracted a two-week cume of $47.7M. Bowing in second was Warner Bros. 16 BLOCKS (with vfx by LairdFX and Mr. X), posting $11.8M. Slipping to third with $10.1M and a cume of $58.6M was Buena Vistas EIGHT BELOW (with vfx by Stan Winston Studio, Stan Winston Digital, Illusion Arts, CIS Hollywood & ILM).
Rez-Illusion Visual Effects has completed 136 visual effects shots for Fox Searchlights THE HILLS HAVE EYES (opening March 10).
Directed by Alexandre Aja, the film is a remake of Wes Cravens 1977 cult classic and tells the terrifying story of the Carter family that strays unwittingly into a government atomic testing zone while traveling and becomes the prey of cannibalistic mutant human monsters.
Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures announced plans to develop and produce SAW III for an October 27, 2006, wide release. SAW II helmer Darren Lynn Bousman will return to direct the film from a story by Leigh Whannell and James Wan (SAW, SAW II) and screenplay by Whannell. The Twisted Pictures team of Mark Burg and Oren Koules will also return as producers with Whannell and Wan set to exec produce.
Independent distributor Screen Media Ventures has secured all domestic rights to the CG-animated and live action feature MEE-SHEE: THE WATER GIANT, which stars Bruce Greenwood and Rena Owen, reports VARIETY. Jim Henson's Creature Shop provide the vfx.
Film Sales Co. represented the film, budgeted at $25 million and produced by Rainer Mockert and Barry Authors, who wrote the screenplay. John Henderson directed.
The story tracks the adventures of an 8-year-old who discovers a Loch Ness monster-like creature that he must protect from poachers.
Adlabs Films of the Ambani Group will team with Chennai-based Ocher Studios Pvt Ltd. to co-produce an animation project featuring the Southern superstar Rajnikanth, reports TAMIL STAR.
The project is aimed at Indian and international audiences. The film would be Adlabs first foray in animation.
Ocher Studios is headed by Latha Rajnikanth, the wife of the superstar actor.
The Weinstein Co. has acquired rights in all English speaking territories to the CG live-action hybride film ARTHUR AND THE MINIMOYS, based on Luc Besson's best-selling children's book by the same title. The screenplay was adapted by Besson, the award winning writer/director/producer behind such movies as THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC and LA FEMME NIKITA. Besson is directing the film, which features Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow, and the voices of Madonna, Snoop Dogg, and David Bowie. The film is in production and is being produced by EuropaCorp.
Two-time Oscar-winning vfx supervisor John Dykstra will make his directorial debut on TORTOISE AND HIPPO for Walden Media and Relevant Ent, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
"It's a dream come true," Dykstra said. "The biggest thing to me is that having waited this long (to direct a feature) has provided me with an understanding of how films are made, and the critical component is collaboration. I'm really looking forward to telling this tale in the company of such a great team."
Dimension Films has snatched up John Unholz's superhero spoof COMIC BOOK: THE MOVIE, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The spec sold for mid-six against seven figures after going out wide to studios on the morning of Feb. 23, 2006. Dimension purchased the script that night after it drew interest from multiple studios.
Reminiscent of the SCARY MOVIE franchise, this film spoofs comicbook-based films. There are no producers or director attached yet.
Alexander Franklin is overseeing for Dimension.
THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3-D EXPERIENCE passed $60 million, making it the highest grossing IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) release to date, IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures reported. Showing on 83 screens worldwide, the film passed $15 million in its second season, when it was re-released the same day as the film's DVD launch on Nov. 23, 2005.
Toronto-based visual effects firm Mr. X Inc., has completed the visual effects work on 16 BLOCKS, the new Warner Bros. Pictures release (March 3) from director Richard Donner. The action thriller, which stars Bruce Willis and Mos Def, required the sorts of invisible enhancements that have become increasingly common in the past few years.
"Dick (Donner) was not looking to add splashy 'in your face' visual effects," recalled visual effects supervisor Evan Jacobs. "In fact, I think the audience will be hard-pressed to pick out our work on this film."
Korean production company Younggu-Art Movies hopes to make a big bang in the U.S. in November with the release of its effects-laden D-WAR feature, reports VARIETY. Directed by Shim Hyung-rae with Younggu-Art Movies providing the vfx, the $145 million sci-fi flick combines Korean folklore, U.S. actors and Los Angeles locations.