Disney is becoming a giant screen fan. After the success of FANTASIA 2000 ($60.5M) and the favorable box office numbers received by the recent release of the large format BEAUTY AND THE BEAST ($12.5M and counting) is it any wonder? Now Walt Disney Pictures has decided to release its upcoming holiday animated feature TREASURE PLANET simultaneously in 35mm venues as well as in large format cinemas. This is the first time a major studio feature has been specifically formatted for both 35mm and the giant screen to receive a same day-and-date release.
ADV Films is bringing Chaos! Comics' LADY DEATH to life. Artists at SunMin Image Pictures in Asia under the supervision of director Young H. Sang will be animating the digital feature, based on Brian Pulido's original story. Set in 15th century Sweden, a wrongly accused young woman named Hope is sent to Hell where she is transformed into Lady Death and forced to battle Lucifer in his own domain. Executive producer and ADV co-founder John Ledford hopes to create a new production model with LADY DEATH that redefines the relationship between Asian animation studios and Western creators.
War drama BLACK HAWK DOWN, with visual effects by The Mill and Asylum, stayed on top of a crowded box office this weekend, earning $17M for a cume of $58.9M. Holding in second place were the talking dogs of SNOW DOGS, with $13.1M for a two-week total of $38.8M. Two new releases filled the fifth and sixth spots: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO in fifth place with $11.4M and supernatural thriller THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, with visual effects by Cinesite, landed in sixth, earning $11.2M in its debut weekend.
Creepy thriller THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES hits theaters Friday, January 25 featuring approximately 60 visual effects shots provided by Cinesite. Directed by Mark Pellington, the film is based on the true story of a bridge that collapsed during the 1960s. According to the legend, strange phenomena were reported prior to the collapse, including visions of the mysterious Mothman of the title. The images of the Mothman used in the film were very quick, according to Cinesites visual effects supervisor Laurel Klick.
Although it didnt make the original list of qualifying films for the Animated Feature Oscar, an Academy representative has confirmed that the animé feature VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST is in fact a qualifying entry. The film was initially rejected on a technicality -- the official screen credits form was not submitted. One of the Academys rules states that all forms must be completed and turned in prior to the deadline.
After reigning at number one for four weeks, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary visual effects by WETA, took a tumble to third place in the face of two new flicks released this week. LOTR took in $13M for a cume of $245.9M. War drama BLACK HAWK DOWN, with visual effects by The Mill, made a stellar showing in wide release, earning $29M this weekend for a total of $30.8M and the top box office spot. In second place was the family-friendly comedy SNOW DOGS, with $17.5M. A BEAUTIFUL MIND, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, was fourth, with $11M for the weekend and $73.9M to date.
It looks as though audiences will finally get to see the animation Todd McFarlane created for the Jodie Foster-produced film THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS. The film was completed in 2000 and set to debut at Sundance 2001, but the premiere was delayed because the animated sequences were not finished. The film will now debut on January 18 at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Peter Care directed this Southern Gothic drama set in the 70s, which centers on the efforts of Catholic schoolboys to retrieve an obscene comic book they've drawn.
Fantasy actioner THE LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary visual effects by WETA, held on to the top spot in its fourth week in theaters with $16.2M, just edging out the number two film A BEAUTIFUL MIND, which took in $15.2M in its second week in wide release. That gives LORD a smashing cume of $228.3M. A BEAUTIFUL MIND, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, has grossed $58.4M so far. OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, slid another spot to fourth, earning $7.7M for a generous 6-week cume of $162.7M.
SHREK continued its award winning streak this weekend by picking up the Peoples Choice Award for favorite motion picture and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice Award for best animated feature. In the pre-Oscar animated feature race, SHREK has been the recipient of the majority of critics kudos, however WAKING LIFE did manage to grab the nod from the New York Film Critics Circle. The next major awards presented are the Golden Globes, where SHREK is the lone animated film in competition for Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the eight films being considered for Achievement in Visual Effects for the 74th Academy Awards. Fifteen-minute clip reels from each of the following films will be screened for the Visual Effects Award nominating committee on February 6. The members will then nominate three for Oscar consideration.
The films are:
A. I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
BLACK HAWK DOWN
CATS AND DOGS
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
As we edge closer to Oscar time, the critics continue to weigh in with their picks. On January 2, 2002 the Online Film Critics Society gave the nod to SHREK as Best Animated Feature. If youre counting, thats three critics' awards for SHREK, one for WAKING LIFE and none for the other Academy Awards qualifiers. January 5, 2002 saw the American Film Institute (AFI) bestow Film of the Year honors on LORD OF THE RINGS, which beat out nine other nominees (including SHREK) to take home the top prize.
Epic fantasy THE LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary visual effects by WETA, ruled as the number one film for the third week in a row, nabbing another $23M this weekend to break the $200M mark after just 18 days. The AFI honored RINGS as "Film of the Year" this weekend and it has earned $205.5M after just 19 days in theaters. The drama A BEAUTIFUL MIND, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, claimed the number two spot, with $17M in its first week of wide release. The film, which is inspired by the life of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, has earned $38.2M after three weeks.
Santa Monica-based effects studio Computercafe created a "living" bomb that is extracted from a human body for the upcoming Dimension Films release IMPOSTOR. Computercafes primary visual effects contribution to the film was the 3D organic bomb featured in three scenes. Because the bomb is found nestled in the chest cavity of a human host, art director Ron Honn, animation supervisor Taron and digital effects supervisor David Ebner designed the device to resemble an internal organ.
The first installment of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING is shaping up to be a huge success for New Line Cinema. Already benefiting from repeat viewings, the film, with primary digital effects by WETA in New Zealand, continues its number one run, bringing in $56.9M over the five-day holiday weekend for an astounding two-week total of $174.1M.
Dimension Films has acquired the rights to develop and produce an animated feature based on BLOOM COUNTYs pantless penguin Opus, with creator Berkeley Breathed attached to write and direct. The project is the first from the newly established first look deal between Dimension and Storyopolis Productions. The character Opus debuted in 1980 in Breatheds BLOOM COUNTY comic strip, and eventually appeared in a series of cartoon collections, as well as children's books, an animated television special, and a line of collectible items.
As everyone predicted LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary digital effects by WETA in New Zealand, was easily number one at the U.S. box office this long, holiday weekend. Opening on Wednesday, December 19, the film pulled in over $18 million in the first 24 hours alone. As of Sunday, December 23, the film has a cume of $73.1 million and shows no sign of slowing down as other newcomers had weak openings. Ultra-slick OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, is holding strong with a second place finish of $14.6M and a cume of $95.2M.
Scandinavian animation production company Happy Life and sister company ColorPop are producing an animated feature film based on the popular Norwegian character Captain Sabretooth. THE WORLD'S MOST CRUEL PIRATE is scheduled to premiere in Norway in December 2003. Happy Life will be responsible for animating Captain Sabretooth and his fellow pirates, and Stig Bergqvist of FilmTecknarna F. Animation, who recently directed the feature RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE, has signed on to direct. The total budget of the feature is US$5.2 million.
Release dates for two potential blockbuster summer features were announced this week, but youll have to wait until 2003 to see them. 20th Century Fox will unveil X2, the sequel to their $300 million hit X-MEN, on May 2, 2003. X2 will reunite the original cast of mutants and involve the same key creative team, including director Bryan Singer; producers Ralph Winter, Lauren Shuler Donner and Avi Arad; and screenwriter David Hayter.
Now that the animated feature category is a lock, the Oscar race is on, and critics groups from around the country are starting to weigh in with their picks. Although the New York Film Critics Circle chose WAKING LIFE as best animated film of the year, SHREK is pulling ahead in the accolades department. The DreamWorks blockbuster picked up the award for best animated film from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, as well as making a list of ten nominees for best film of the year from both the AFI and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
Vanilla Sky Tops Box Office. The psychological drama VANILLA SKY, with visual effects by Digital Domain, was number one at the box office this weekend, bringing in a strong $25M in its debut. Casino heist flick OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, ran a close second earning $23M for a two-week cume of $73.3M. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, fell two spots to fourth, with $9.9M for the weekend and $253.3M to date.
The day after it was announced that the 74th Academy Awards would present an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the New York Film Critics Circle has chosen WAKING LIFE as best animated film of the year. The 37-member New York Film Critics Circle is made up of New York-based newspaper, magazine and online film critics. While the awards are responsible for generating early Oscar-buzz for the winning films, the Circle is also known for their idiosyncratic picks. Now that the Animated Feature category is a lock, the critics will be weighing in right and left with their choices.
Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning animated classic, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the January 1, 2002 release of a new Large Format Cinema Special Edition. Following the success of FANTASIA 2000, which was the first Disney film to be released in large format and grossed over $51 million, this special edition includes the newly animated six-minute musical sequence "Human Again," featuring the song written for the original film by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Months of anticipation, followed by concern that not enough films would be submitted or found eligible, have led to the announcement that the 74th Academy Awards will include a category for Best Animated Feature. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued this press release announcing that a feature-length animated film will be awarded a competitive Oscar for the first time next March at the 74th Academy Award presentations.
* * *
Cinesite Hollywood completed two dozen shots for Universal Studios' new film SPY GAME, directed by Tony Scott and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Cinesite's work included the enhancement of reflections in an interrogation scene, blowing out a grid of lights in a night landscape scene, and adding muzzle flashes, sparks, bullet holes, dust and debris. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser said there are no blue or green screen shots in the film. A few explosions occur in the film, but they were achieved using practical, in-camera methods.
8. OCEANS ELEVEN SINKS HARRY POTTER. The remake of the Rat Pack classic OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, topped the box office this weekend, raking in $38.1M and taking the prize for the biggest December opening of all time. OCEANS ELEVEN was the only new wide release this weekend, so as each film moved down a notch to make room for the new number one, the order of the top ten stayed relatively the same.