CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE opened to record business this past weekend, reports IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures. The film debuted in a record 65 North American IMAX theaters the widest domestic IMAX opening to date grossing an estimated record of $2.21M over the three-day period ended July 17, for a per screen average of more than $34,000. In addition, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE also set single day box office records with the biggest opening day, Saturday and Sunday for an IMAX digitally re-mastered release.
Moto Sakakibara, co-director of FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN, will direct Sprite Animations Studios first CG-animated feature film, GON. The film, slated for a 2007 release, will be based on Masashi Tanakas widely popular manga series. GON is a comical adventure about a foot-tall dinosaur living in a modern-day savanna. He shares his wit and humor in a subtle but sometimes outrageous way as he takes on beasts 10 times his size, revealing a sense of justice never before seen in the wild.
Daniel Jeannette has been hired by Animal Logic as the animation director on George Millers 3D-animated feature, HAPPY FEET, a musical comedy/adventure about a tap dancing penguin that cant sing.
For HAPPY FEET, Jeannette will be ensuring that the performance arc of the characters from motion capture and animation through to their on-screen presence fulfills Millers creative vision.
Steve Buscemi, John Cleese and Jay Leno have joined the cast of Exodus Film Groups CG-animated short film IGOR: UNHOLY FRIJOLES. Buscemi will voice the part of "Scamper," a super intelligent, yet sarcastic lab rabbit, while Cleese will lend his voice to the character of "Dr. Glickenstein," Igors evil master. Buscemi and Cleese join Christian Slater, who stars in the title role of "Igor" as well as Jay Leno. The film, which is in production, precedes the feature-length theatrical version IGOR, due out in 2007.
Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures have confirmed that they will be developing a 3D CGI feature version of THE SMURFS. Jordan Kerner will produce. The project is envisioned as a trilogy with the first film hopefully coinciding with the 50th anniversary of THE SMURFS in 2008. The unwraps story will be written by Herb Ratner.
Kerner Ent. production head Paul Neesan, who helped acquire the rights, will exec produce along with Nick svp Julia Pistor. Paramount vp Matt Jackson will shepherd the project.
Walt Disney Pictures confirmed at San Diegos Comic-Con on Sunday that Liam Neeson will be voicing Aslan the Lion in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, opening Dec. 9. Aslan, the noble ruler of the magical world of Narnia, is mostly a CG character, except for a crucial scene involving animatronics from K.N.B. EFX under the supervision of Howard Berger.
Director Darren Aronofsky (PI, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM), Regency Enterprises and Warner Bros. Pictures have invited 15 artists, including top graphic artists from the comic book world, to create original works of art interpreting Aronofskys forthcoming sci-fi fantasy film, THE FOUNTAIN, which will be released this fall (tentatively in December).
Beginning in mid-August, these images will be released on the films official website at www.thefountainmovie.com. A new interpretation will appear approximately once per week leading up to the films release.
Columbia Pictures' all-CG feature, MONSTER HOUSE, the second production to utilize the new performance capture technique developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, will be released in more than 100 theaters in REAL D's digital 3D format day-and-date with its regular national release on July 21, 2006.
The imagery for the ImageMovers/Amblin production of MONSTER HOUSE is being overseen by Imageworks, which also oversaw the first performance capture feature, THE POLAR EXPRESS, which was a phenomenal success in IMAX 3D with the help of Imageworks.
Tim Burtons CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (with delightful vfx from MPC, Framestore CFC, Cinesite and Digital Domain), which opened with a very sweet $56.1M for the weekend ended July 17, 2005, proved to be the best July opening ever for Warner Bros. It was also the best opening ever for a PG-rated movie in July as well as Johnny Depps best bow.
Softimage Co. announced that leading visual effects studios Giant Killer Robots (GKR) and Stan Winston Digital used SOFTIMAGE|XSI software to create several key visual effects and environments for Foxs FANTASTIC FOUR.
The TRANSFORMERS live-action feature, based on the globally popular franchise will open July 4, 2004, announced DreamWorks, Hasbro Inc. and Paramount Pictures.
The movie will be directed by Michael Bay (THE ISLAND and ARMAGEDDON) from a screenplay being written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (THE ISLAND). Steven Spielberg is exec producing with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto (the first two X-MEN) and Don Murphy (THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) serving as co-exec producers.
Four-time Academy Award winner Ben Burtt will direct the live-action feature film adaptation of Hurricane Ent.s flagship comic book property CHASSIS. It is being produced by Hurricane Ent. along with Josh Morris and Kevin Cleary of Content House.
Twentieth Century Foxs FANTASTIC FOUR exceeded all expectations with a fantastic $56M debut for the weekend ended July 10, 2005, signifying the fifth best opening for a comicbook movie. Coupled with solid holdover business from WAR OF THE WORLDS and BATMAN BEGINS, FANTASTIC FOUR (with vfx principally from Giant Killer Robots, Stan Winston Digital and Soho VFX) helped snap the 19-week year-to-year box office skid.
Switch VFX, a Toronto-based visual effects studio, recently completed work on LAND OF THE DEAD, the latest installment in legendary filmmaker George A. Romeros DEAD horror franchise.
Switch VFX was responsible for 155 of the films more than 300 shots. Headed up by visual effects supervisor Jon Campfens, Switch VFX created complex zombie decapitations, digital gore, matte paintings and greenscreen composites.
New Line Cinema has tapped Josh Olson (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) to adapt Naoki Urasawas best-selling manga series, MONSTER, into a live-action feature, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. In addition, Olson will write a treatment for a sequel, which he would also write.
Both Paramount and Columbia are readying their own 9/11 films.
Paramount Pictures will finance and distribute an untitled feature about the rescue of two Port Authority police officers from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Oliver Stone will direct with Nicolas Cage starring. Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher will produce alongside Moritz Borman, the former Intermedia ceo who produced Stone's ALEXANDER. Andrea Berloff has penned the script.
Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company is set to develop and produce a feature adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's CAT'S CRADLE, reports VARIETY. Appian Way will partner with manager-producer Hillard Elkins' Elkins Ent. on the project.
James V. Hart (SAHARA) and his son Jake Hart (GLENGARRY, BOB ROSS) have adapted the novel, which is an apocalyptic tale following humans race to recover the world's most dangerous substance, Ice-Nine, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature.
BATMAN BEGINS: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE continued to post impressive box office results over the holiday weekend, according to IMAX and Warner Bros., grossing approximately $1.45 million on 55 North American IMAX screens from July 1-4, 2005. The film has shown strong legs since debuting in IMAX theaters, setting numerous records for a Hollywood simultaneous release, including best seven-day opening and fastest grossing 2D IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) title.
David Fincher, director of PANIC ROOM and FIGHT CLUB, has signed with Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures to helm two pictures ZODIAC, starring Mark Ruffalo, and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, reports VARIETY.
20th Century Fox has bought the rights to Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon's TOKYO GHOST STORY script for Davis Ent. to produce, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The supernatural thriller is based on the Japanese Yurei myth, where the ghost of a jilted lover who commits suicide returns to torment and ruin their former lover.
Peter Kang will oversee the film for the studio. Davis Ent.'s evp production Brian Manis brought the script to Davis president Wyck Godfrey, who took it to Kang.
Lions Gate has secured the North American rights to HIGHLANDER THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, the fifth film in franchise, reports VARIETY. Sales agent IAC Film struck this deal, along with 20 others, via its work at this years Cannes.
Creator Davis Panzer is planning three HIGHLANDER features over the next two years, starting with THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, directed by Bret Leonard and starring Adrian Paul as the immortal Scottish swordsman.
There definitely were fireworks for Steven Spielbergs WAR OF THE WORLDS, which hauled in $77M for the Independence Day holiday weekend ended July 4, 2005. It ranks second only to SPIDER-MAN 2s $88.2M for Independence Day holiday bows. Overall, WAR OF THE WORLDS grabbed $112.7M in its first six days, the best opening for Paramount Pictures, the best single-day opener for star Tom Cruise and the fastest movie to cross the $100M mark for Spielberg.
Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys Davies, Ron Perlman, Matthew Lillard, Burt Reynolds and Kristanna Loken are set to star in director Uwe Boll's the sword-and-sorcery videogame DUNGEON SIEGE, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The $60 million adaptation starts filming July 3, 2005, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Steven Spielbergs WAR OF THE WORLDS bowed with the seventh highest Wednesday opening ever of $21,256,483 in 3,908 theaters domestically (SPIDER-MAN 2 holds the record with $40.4M). Meanwhile, the $135M sci-fi remake grabs an estimated $13.350M overseas in 46 territories, though it has yet to open in 10 markets, including the U.K., France, Belgium and Korea.
The opening day number represents the largest in Paramount history and for star Tom Cruise.
Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.
Ghost House Pictures announced that Kristen Stewart (PANIC ROOM), Dylan McDermott (TVs THE PRACTICE), Penelope Ann Miller (THE RELIC, CARLITO'S WAY) and John Corbett (MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, TVs SEX AND THE CITY) have joined the Untitled Pang Brothers Horror Project, which started shooting recently in Saskatchewan, Canada.