How will Jar Jar look when he is 8 stories tall? This question will be answered on November 1, 2002, when a large-format version of STAR WARS: EPISODE II "ATTACK OF THE CLONES" debuts in IMAX theatres in the United States and Canada. The film will be digitally re-mastered using the proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology, which allows live-action motion pictures to be inexpensively converted into the 15/70 format for presentation on the giant IMAX screen, while maintaining and even enhancing the conventional image resolution.
In a lackluster box office weekend, teen thriller SWIMFAN took the top spot with a mere $11.3M, while last week's number one, SIGNS, fell to fourth. Overall, the top 12 films grossed $59.1 million, making it the worst weekend take of the year, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. In second was indie sensation MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, with $10.4M and $95.8M total, and in third was the crime drama CITY BY THE SEA, debuting with $8.9M. SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, grossed just $7.9M this weekend but that was enough to help M.
SHREK producer John Williams and his company Vanguard Films have partnered with Walt Disney in a deal to provide multiple CG animated projects for the studio. Vanguard will fill the void left by Pixar Animation, which has made no plans to renew its agreement with Disney once the existing production deal is fulfilled with the delivery of Pixar's next three films -- summer 2003's FINDING NEMO, holiday 2004's THE INCREDIBLES and 2005's CARS.
With only one new release this weekend, SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, was able to maintain its hold on the number one spot. The film regained the top spot last week after spending two weeks in second place, and with $16.5M for the U.S. Labor Day weekend and $195M gross to date, the crop circle caper is on its way to the $200M mark. Extreme sports flick XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, dropped a spot to third but is still performing well, with $13.1M for a total of $123.9M.
Animation production company Cornerstone Animation Inc. has acquired the rights to the comic book series MERIDIAN, and has begun developing an animated feature film based on the property. The agreement includes motion picture, television and ancillary rights to the adventure tale from CrossGen Comics. MERIDIAN tells the story of Sephie, the 16-year-old minister of the floating city of Meridian. Sephie struggles against her uncle Ilahn, the evil minister of Cacador, who tries to use her powers towards his own nefarious ends.
While sim-actress comedy SIMONE barely made a blip in the weekend box office, M. Night Shyamalan's thriller SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, rebounded to number one. After debuting in the top spot then spending two weeks in second place, SIGNS has rebounded to number one, adding $14.3M for a cume of $173.2M. SIGNS ousted two-time number one actioner XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, which dropped to second with $13.7M for a total of $106.2M. SPY KIDS 2 maintained its hold on third place for the third week in a row.
SimEx Digital Studios has recently completed a specialty venue project for LEGOland, an all-CG animated short based on the newly released LEGO Racers toy line. LEGO RACERS 4D is a high-definition 3D stereoscopic 13-minute short with in-theater special effects featuring Max, a driver for Team Nitro, and Max's nemesis Sever, driver for the Exo-Force Team. Together with six other drivers, Max and Sever bang fenders within a 20 mile-diameter racing stadium called The Drome, which provides Max and the other racers with an endless array of obstacles and landscapes.
A team of digital matte artists, computer animators and visual effects specialists from R!OT helped to build the first city on the moon for Warner Bros.' latest comedy THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH. The R!OT team prepared a series of digital cityscapes of the lunar metropolis, complete with trains, buses, holographic signage, office towers and a multitude of lunar residents on scooters. The digital shots, including several fly-overs revealing large expanses of the city, appear throughout the film. "It is a city encased in glass," said R!OT lead matte painter Rocco Gioffre.
Thanks to visual effects house ComputerCafe, a miniature zoo and menacing mutant animals are among the new adventures awaiting siblings Carmen and Juni Cortez, who are back in action in SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS. In SPY KIDS 2, a new mission takes Carmen and Juni to a mysterious island where they meet Professor Romero, a genetic scientist who has created the ultimate children's toy, a tabletop zoo featuring miniature penguins, a kangaroo, a lion and an elephant.
The top two movies held their places from last weekend, with extreme-sports actioner XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, coming in at number one with $23M, for a gross to date of $84.9M. Alien thriller SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, was in second place, with $19.5M for a cume of $150.7M. The surfer girls of BLUE CRUSH had a third place debut with $15.2M and kids' action pic SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS, with visual effects by ComputerCafe, added another $11.6M to its total for a ten day cume of $45.7M and fourth place.
SecondSun Entertainment has teamed with Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures to screen its new animated short cartoon, SOMETHING FISHY, together with the film THE MASTER OF DISGUISE, starring Dana Carvey, now in theaters. The 3-minute short, about a little shrimp and his position in the food chain, was produced by SecondSun Entertainment's 3D-animation division, Brainchild Studios, and was directed by Ed Konyha. The film was chosen by Revolution Studios from over 300 short cartoons that were submitted.
Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (ROGER AND ME, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE) is getting animated. VARIETY reports that Moore's next project will be an animated feature, co-written with cartoonists/animators Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins) and Harold Moss. Tomorrow is well known for his comic strip "This Modern World," which appears regularly in approximately 150 papers across the country, and Moss is the founder and creative director of FlickerLab in New York.
Extreme-sports actioner XXX, with visual effects by Digital Domain, was the number one film this weekend, earning $44.5M. The signs were still good for M. Night Shyamalan's crop-circle caper, which has already crossed the $100M mark after ten days in theaters. SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, dropped 51% from last weekend but still brought in $29.4M for a total of $117.9M and second place. Family friendly sequel SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS, with visual effects by ComputerCafe, debuted in third with $16.7M for the weekend and a total of $25M since its Wednesday debut. Yeah baby!
Andrew Adamson, co-director of SHREK, has been hired to direct a live-action feature film adaptation of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Producer Walden Media partnered with The CS Lewis Company to option the entire seven-part fantasy book series THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, of which THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is best-known. Writer Ann Peacock (A LESSON BEFORE DYING) will adapt the screenplay. The film does not yet have a distributor, but Walden hopes to have it in theaters by mid-2004. SHREK marked Adamsons feature film directing debut.
All signs pointed to big money at the box office this weekend, when M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller took the top spot, besting AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER and scoring August's highest non-sequel debut in history. SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, was number one with a $60.3M debut. GOLDMEMBER was second, dropping off 56% from its first weekend, but still earning a strong $30M for a two-week total of $140M. The third and fourth spots were held by two new releases, the Dana Carvey starrer THE MASTER OF DISGUISE with $17M and MARTIN LAWRENCE: LIVE with $7.5M.
GOLDMEMBER, the third installment in the AUSTIN POWERS franchise, handily topped the box office this weekend with a whopping $71.4M debut. This gives the spy spoof $75M total (including Thursday's sneak preview gross) making it the highest July debut ever. The weekend's other new film, Disney's THE COUNTRY BEARS, based on the Disneyland theme park attraction, made a lackluster sixth place debut with $5.2M. This may not bode well for Disney's upcoming features based on theme rides The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
DreamWorksSKG has thrown its hat into the anime ring with the acquisition ofthe worldwide distribution rights for the Japanese animated filmMILLENNIUM ACTRESS. The film rights, licensed from The Klockworx Co.,Ltd., include all forms of distribution including theatrical, homevideo, television and ancillary rights, and covers all markets withthe exception of Asia. Based in Tokyo, The Klockworx Co., Ltd. willoversee the film's release in Asia. Directed by PERFECT BLUE director
Despite three new films in wide release, this weekend posted a relatively low total box office. And in a repeat of the LILO & STITCH vs. MINORITY REPORT box office battle, a family film was neck and neck with an adult drama, only to lose the top spot. The continuing adventures of the animated mouse of STUART LITTLE 2 lost its hold on the number one box office spot to THE ROAD TO PERDITION. STUART LITTLE 2, with visual effects by Sony Imageworks, debuted in second place with $15.1M, following closely behind ROAD's $15.4M.
Hollywood, California-based production house Cinesite will be providing visual effects for the 20th Century Fox feature X-MEN 2, scheduled to be in theaters May 2, 2003. In this sequel to 2000's X-MEN, Brian Cox (THE BOURNE IDENTITY) portrays the villainous Stryker, a former Army commander who holds the key to Wolverine's past - as well as the future of the X-MEN. The original cast from X-MEN will return, joined by Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, a mutant who can teleport himself from one point to another almost instantaneously.
DreamWorks Pictures has enlisted Jim Carrey and Garry Shandling to voice the main characters in its upcoming 3D animated comedy OVER THE HEDGE, based on the comic strip by Michael Fry and T Lewis. OVER THE HEDGE, slated for release in 2005, will be the second computer animated project to be produced entirely at DreamWorks animation studio in Glendale, following the comedy SHARKSLAYER, which is currently in production. Produced by Bonnie Arnold (TOY STORY, TARZAN), OVER THE HEDGE follows the adventures of mischievous raccoon R.J.
Four new releases failed to attack the MEN IN BLACK's box office hold. Despite a 50% drop from last weekend's monstrous box office, MEN IN BLACK II is still number one, earning $25M and breaking the $100M mark after just 8 days. The film, with primary visual effects by ILM, has earned $133.3M since its July 4 debut. DreamWorks' THE ROAD TO PERDITION, debuted in second place with $22.1M. In third was the dragonslaying thriller REIGN OF FIRE, with visual effects by The Secret Lab, which brought in $16M, and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION managed to scare up $12.3M for fourth place.
Miramax Films is joining the ranks of studios with animation projects in the works. The independent film studio has partnered with LEGO Media to develop a CG-animated motion picture for 2004 release, based on LEGOs successful Bionicle toys and comics. In addition to the feature film project, the agreement gives Miramax worldwide distribution rights to LEGO Media's previously announced, CG-animated direct-to-video movie, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, scheduled to debut in September 2003.
Sony Imageworks first 3D animated short, a 5 1/2 minute comedy titled THE CHUBBCHUBBS, is now playing in theaters before the feature film MEN IN BLACK II. Produced by Imageworks, and directed by Eric Armstrong, animation supervisor for STUART LITTLE 2, THE CHUBBCHUBBS features an alien hero named Meeper who valiantly tries to warn the patrons of the Ale-E-Inn of impending intergalactic danger. According to VARIETY, the short was never intended for the public and was made as an internal systems test.
Aliens are proving to be big box office this summer, as MEN IN BLACK II debuts at number one, and LILO AND STITCH breaks the $100M mark after three weeks. MEN IN BLACK II, the sequel to the 1997 blockbuster, has taken in a record-breaking total of $90M since its Wednesday, July 4 debut, knocking last week's number one film MR. DEEDS, to second with $18.8M for the weekend and $74M to date.
IndustrialLight + Magic will provide the special visual effects and animationfor PETER PAN, the first live-action version of J.M. Barrie'senduring classic about the boy who doesn't want to grow up. The filmis a joint production of Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures andRevolution Studios, with P.J. Hogan (MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING)enlisted to direct. Principal photography will begin in fall 2002 inQueensland, Australia. Hogan and writer Michael Goldenberg (CONTACT)