Sony's SPIDER-MAN 2 spun its way to the top of the box office weekend, ended July 12, 2004, catching another $46M in its web with a cume of $257M. The sequel (with vfx from Sony Pictures Imageworks and Radium Inc.) streaked past the $200M milestone in a record eight days, the $250M mark in a record 12 days and is fast approaching the $300M benchmark.
Fox has signed three of four members of the superhero team that will headline the studio's FANTASTIC FOUR feature, reports VARIETY. Taking the lead of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic will be Iaon Gruffudd, who played Lancelot in KING ARTHUR. THE SHIELD star Michael Chiklis will play Ben Grimm/the Thing and Chris Evans (NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE) is set to play Johnny Storm/the Human Torch.
Malaysian animation and post-production company, Side FX Sdn Bhd (Side FX), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jeddah Saudi Arabia-based animation and production house, Ella Animation (Ella), to produce an animated feature, reports THE UTUSAN EXPRESS. The film is expected to be released in August 2005 in South East Asia and the Middle East. The story will focus on Malaysian history and the influence of Islam during the reigns of the first Moslem ruler of Malacca, Iskandar Shah.
Buena Vista Intl. Japan will invest in the CGI feature, BRAVE STORY, produced by Fuji Television and Gonzo Digimation, it was reported by VARIETY and confirmed by the Walt Disney Co. This marks BVIJs first foray into local production and distribution, planning to distribute it locally in summer 2006.
BRAVE STORY, based on the best-selling novel by Miyuki Miyabe, features a 10-year-old who enters a magical world to find a cure for his mother's illness.
To be directed by Koichi Chigira, production will cost an estimated one billion yen ($9 million).
Rushes has recently completed the opening title sequence for Touchstone Pictures' KING ARTHUR (opening July 7). Loosely based on the true story that inspired the legend of King Arthur, the film focuses on the history, politics and warfare at the time of the Roman Empire's collapse in 476 AD. The title sequence sets the background from where the films narrative begins. Rushes composited sequences reflecting the passage of the Roman conquest from Samaria in Palestine, throughout Europe and reaching Britannia.
Sony's SPIDER-MAN 2 web blasted its way to two more records over the Fourth of July weekend ended July 5, 2004: the best Independence holiday grosser yet with $115.8M and the fastest six-day opener in history, with a cume of $180M.
Originally planned to kick off the summer 2005 season, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 will now open in theaters on June 29, 2005. Paramount Pictures' move is likely in response to SPIDER-MAN 2's huge box office receipts leading up to the Independence Day holiday in the States. The Tom Cruise starrer will now go head to head with 20th Century Fox's THE FANTASTIC FOUR, which is set to open July 1. Whether Fox will move F4 is yet to be seen, however Fox will be happy that it will now have May 6 all for itself for its Ridley Scott-directed Crusades epic, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Impact Pictures has announced that its next videogame-turned-feature will be DRIVER, based on Atari's top franchise, reports VARIETY. Impact co-founders Jeremy Bolt and Paul Anderson will produce the film along with Constantin Film's Bernd Eichinger. The script was written by James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan and James Roday. Constantin's L.A. head of production Robert Kulzer will exec produce.
Impact previously translated the RESIDENT EVIL videogame franchise into a film in 2002 and will be following up with the sequel RESIDENT EVIL APOCALYPSE this September.
Imax Corp. is in discussions with Sony Pictures to remaster SPIDER-MAN 2 for release in its large-format theaters, reports VARIETY. Imax is anxious to fill the empty spot in their lineup now that Warner Bros.' has pulled CATWOMAN from Imax because the visual effects won't be done in time to remaster the film for a day-and-date release July 23, 2004.
Sony's SPIDER-MAN 2 shattered the opening day record yesterday by snaring a stunning $40,442,604M in its web. That's better than SPIDER-MAN's $39.4M debut two years ago, which went on to earn $403.7M as the fifth highest grossing movie of all time. SPIDER-MAN 2 also tagged the best Wednesday opening ever, besting THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING's $34.5M.
With Chris Sanders moving forward with his animation feature AMERICAN DOG, LILO & STITCH co-director Dean DeBlois will direct a live-action version of his own script titled THE BANSHEE, reports VARIETY. The period film set in Ireland chronicles a young boy who pretends to be a ghost who ends up meeting a real ghost. The film is being produced by Sanders and DeBlois' Stormcoast Pictures with DeBlois producing. Storyline partners Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will also produce with Storyline exec Travis Knox co-producing.
Director Tim Burton is busy indeed. Simultaneous to production commencing in London on the stop-motion CORPSE BRIDE, he has also started production in the same city on CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Based on the classic Roald Dahl novel and filmed once before in 1971 as WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, CHARLIE is a Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures production.
Warner Independent Pictures has completed production in Austin, Texas on the interpolated rotoscoped feature A SCANNER DARKLY, starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Rory Cochrane. Richard Linklater directed the film as well as adapted it from the novel by Philip K. Dick. The film is a Section Eight/Detour Filmproduction. The animation technology was first employed in Linklater's 2001 film WAKING LIFE.
Johnny Depp, who plays Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, has just been tapped as one of the voice over leads in Burton's stop-motion animated feature, CORPSE BRIDE, currently in production in London for Warner Bros. Pictures. Tim Burton Animation Co. in London and Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon, are listed as animation producers.
Michael Moore's incendiary FAHRENHEIT 9/11 ignited the box office with a record $23.9M for the weekend ended June 27, 2004, the highest opener for any doc and the first to ever hit No. 1. The Lions Gate release opened in 868 theaters for a five-day cume of more than $24M and a per-screen weekend average of $27,558.
yU + co provided motion graphics design, computer animation and visual effects services for both the marketing campaign and the main title sequence of Steven Spielberg's THE TERMINAL. The studio's design team collaborated with its recently formed visual effects department to create a CG replica of an enormous "split flap" airport flight information board that spells out the film's title and other messages.
DODGEBALL star Vince Vaughn has put Warner Bros. back in gear on a live-action version of SPEED RACER, reports VARIETY. Vaughn pitched his take on the film to producers Joel Silver and Richard and Lauren Shuler Donner, which would put the actor in the role of Racer X. The actor will serve as an exec producer on the project along with David Lane Seltzer.
Once viewed as a sequel to Columbia's JUMANJI, ZATHURA, also written by novelist Chris Van Allsburg, is now being produced as a stand alone film with Tim Robbins as star. Lensing will begin in August with ELF helmer Jon Favreau in the director's chair. David Koepp, John Kamps and Eric Fogel wrote the screenplay. Michael De Luca and Bill Teitler will produce.
The story follows two brothers whose house is transported into space and wrapped up into an intergalactic adventure Robbins will play the boys' father.
KARLSSON ON THE ROOF director Vibeke Idsoe will start production on 37 1/2, a live-action tragic romantic comedy, in August, reports VARIETY. The long-time Norwegian animation director will make his live-action debut with this $2.2 million film. The BRIDGET JONES-like film is being produced by John M. Jacobsen's Filmkameratene with The Norwegian Film Fund covering half the production costs.
Whodoo EFX recently completed vfx for THE STEPFORD WIVES. Led by president/digital effects artist Helena Packer and exec producer Mark Ritcheson, the Whodoo EFX team collaborated closely with famed comedy director Frank Oz, Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund and Award-winning art director Terry Windell.
Warner Bros. Pictures, along with Atmosphere Ent. MM and Hollywood Gang Prods., will bring Frank Miller's graphic novel 300, which chronicles the legendary Battle of Thermopylae and the origins of democracy, to the big screen, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The trio of production houses has hired DAWN OF THE DEAD director Zach Snyder to the direct and do a rewrite with Kurt Johnstad. Michael Gordon wrote the first draft of the screenplay. Atmosphere's Mark Canton and Hollywood Gang's Gianni Nunnari will produce.
Geneon Ent. has acquired worldwide theatrical and home video rights from Micott & Basara to anime feature APPLESEED. The pact excludes Japan and South Korea. North American theatrical distribution is scheduled for late summer. The film will mark the debut of Geneon Films, which will focus on marketing and distributing Japanese and Asian live-action and animated features around the globe.
Fox's comedy DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY beat all comers in its debut to take the weekend ended June 20, 2004, racking up $30M. Steven Spielberg's gentle fable starring Tom Hanks, THE TERMINAL, debuted in second place, offering up $19M for DreamWorks.
French f/x house BUF Compagnie is in final negotiations to create the futuristic cityscapes and environments for Paramount's live-action version of AEON FLUX, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The Paris-based firm would handle the previs, on-set supervision and more than a hundred CG shots. The original animated series created by Peter Chung followed a female assassin who lives in the future where disease has wiped out all humans except for one protected city.
Jeep Brand and Genesis Orlando, a digital animation production company, have entered into a licensing and marketing agreement to launch the animated film property, TUGGER, THE JEEP 4X4 WHO WANTED TO FLY. Genesis Orlando created the story, which centers on a Jeep vehicle who dreams of flying like an airplane. The film is being released in connection with the official launch of the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee in fall 2004.