Despite previous reports that the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels would be the last amusement park ride turned feature film, The Walt Disney Co. has announced that it plans to turn the Jungle Cruise ride into an adventure flick, reported HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. "It's completely inspired by and relates to the ride and will contain elements of the ride in the story," producer David Hoberman said.
DreamWorks principle Jeffrey Katzenberg announced at the Cannes Film Festival that work has already begun on SHREK 3 and SHREK 4. Katzenberg said that after the first film the studio worked out the story of Shrek and the unanswered question left open in the original. SHREK 2, which hits theaters on May 19, 2004, answers the issues surrounding how Princess Fiona was left in the tower and how her parents would react to Shrek as her husband.
Aashish Chananas Media Factor has teamed up with Indian actress Nagma to produce a 3D animated children's feature. Nagma will direct and create the story for the film, which will be in English. Nagma is multi-dashed celeb in India dabbling in fashion, the Art of Living spiritual movement as well as politics.
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American rights to Zhang Yimou's HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, which is screening out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Yimou's last film the highly anticipated Academy-Award nominated HERO will be released by Miramax in the U.S. August 20, 2004.
Sony Pictures Classics in a statement said, "This is our sixth film from a filmmaker regarded as one of the very best in the world. It is an honor and thrill for us to be working once again both with Zhang Yimou and our good friend, his producer, Bill Kong."
Universal Pictures has scooped up Doug TenNapel's graphic novel TOMMYSAURUS REX for $1 million. The Image Comics title will hit stores in the summer. As part of the deal, TenNapel would adapt the novel for the studio if they ask. BRUCE ALMIGHTY director Tom Shadyac will develop the project.
Sony-based production and management company Circle of Confusion have announced a new movie development deal with Backbone Ent. for its upcoming game, DEATH, JR. The agreement also includes a comic book. The film is being developed as a potential directing vehicle for director Larry Guterman (CATS & DOGS, SON OF THE MASK) under his producing shingle Orange Grove Ent. Guterman's partner Holly Rawlinson will co-produce the feature with Circle of Confusion.
Disney announced its plans for the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise at the North American Theatre Owners annual meeting. Production will been on booth the second and third film soon with both film arriving in theaters in 2006 released six months apart. ComingSoon.net has also confirmed that Johnny Depp's wish of Rolling Stones' Keith Richards playing Captain Jack Sparrow's dad in the sequel will come true. Depp has long said that he modeled his performance on the legendary rocker.
Dimension Films have signed on to distribute in the U.S. Gaga Communications and Crystal Sky Group's film adaptation of Namco's popular videogame franchise TEKKEN, reports VARIETY. In addition, Charles Stone (DRUMLINE) has signed on to direct. The film will have a budget around $60 million. Overseeing the production for Dimension are co-presidents Andrew Rona and Brad Weston, as well as Bob Weinstein.
Warner Bros. Pictures has signed Swedish directors Simon Sandquist and Joel Bergvall for the film adaptation of DC Comics' BOOKS OF MAGIC, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. First published as a mini-series in 1990, the comic follows a teenager who studies magic in contemporary London. Neil Gaiman, the author of the original story and the novel, will serve as exec producer.
Revolution Studios has greenlit HELLBOY II, with original film's writer and director Guillermo del Toro and producers Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Ent. and Lloyd Levin all returning. HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola is developing the new story with del Toro.
"HELLBOY was a tremendously successful and unique project," said Revolution Studios partner Todd Garner. "It was Guillermo's vision that brought the film to the marketplace, and we are delighted to be working with him again."
IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. Pictures have struck a deal where the CGI feature, THE POLAR EXPRESS will screen in IMAX 3D format day-and-date with the release of the film in conventional theaters, Nov. 19, 2004. The film will be digitally converted into IMAX 3D using both the proprietary IMAX 3D conversion process and IMAX DMR(R) (Digitally Re-mastering) technology.
Due to fan demand, DreamWorks has moved up SHREK 2 opening date from May 21 to May 19, 2004. Tickets for the blockbuster sequel will be available for advance sale on the Internet, beginning on May 7, 2004.
Continuing a collaboration that has lasted eight years, director Joss Whedon and Zoic Studios' vfx supervisor Loni Peristere are reunited for the upcoming Universal feature SERENITY. The move marks the most ambitious feature to date for Los Angeles-based Zoic.
Paramount's MEAN GIRLS raked in a surprising $24.4M for the box office lead in its debut for weekend ended May 2, 2004. The teen comedy outpaced Fox's MAN ON FIRE, last week's leader powered by Denzel Washington a post 9/11 thirst for revenge, which took in $15M for a second place finish with $44.2M. Coming in third was Sony/Revolution's Jennifer Garner comedy, 13 GOING ON 30, which collected $9.8M for a cume of $35M. Debuting in fourth, fifth and sixth were Lions Gate's GODSEND, New Line's LAWS OF ATTRACTION and DreamWorks' ENVY with $6.8M, $6.7M and $6.1M, respectively.
Universal Pictures is teaming with Charlize Theron's Delilah Films to turn Brian Michael Bendis' graphic novel JINX into a live-action feature, reports VARIETY. Oscar-winning Theron is set to star as well as produce along with partner Meagan Riley-Grant and Circle of Confusion partners David Engel, Lawrence Mattis and Jason Lust. The crime noir story follows a bounty hunter who teams with an accused murdered to locate millions in missing mob money. Bendis' other graphic novel titles include ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, DAREDEVIL, ULTIMATE X-MEN and POWERS, which is in development at Sony.
Chris Landreth's new 3D-animated short film, RYAN, will have three premieres this summer, screening at festivals in France, Canada and the U.S. The 14-minute film will have its world premiere at Cannes 43rd International Critic's Week (May 13-21, 2004). The Canadian premiere will take place at the World-wide Short Film Festival in Toronto (May 11-16). It will also screen in competition at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival (June 7-12) in France. The U.S. premiere will be at the SIGGRAPH 2004 Computer Animation Festival in Los Angeles (August 8-12).
Edward Noeltner, svp, international distribution and head of sales at Miramax Films, has opened Cinema Management Group LLC (CMG), a new international motion picture licensing, distribution, marketing and sales firm, which will be taking the indie 3D feature HOODWINKED: THE TRUE STORY OF RED RIDING HOOD to the Cannes Film Market. From writer/director Cory Edwards and his writer/co-directors Todd Edwards and Tony Leech, the animated comedy is in post-production with an August 2004 completion date. Maurice Kanbar, Sue Bea Montgomery, Preston Stutzman and David Lovegren produced this Kanbar Ent.
The Denzel Washington revenge thriller, MAN ON FIRE, outpaced the Jennifer Garner comedy, 13 GOING ON 30, at the box office for the weekend ended April 25, 2004. The Fox film grabbed $22.7M compared to Universals $21M in their debuts. Meanwhile, Miramaxs KILL BILL VOL. 2 (with vfx by K.N.B. EFX Group) slipped nearly 59% in its second week to $10.4M and a cume of $42.9M. Lions Gates THE PUNISHER (with vfx by Fantasy II Film Effects) dipped nearly 55% in its sophomore outing to finish fourth with a total of $24.1M.
After KING KONG, Peter Jackson and partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are eyeing Alice Sebold's bestselling novel, THE LOVELY BONES, reports VARIETY. Closer in tone to Jackson's HEAVENLY CREATURES than LORD OF THE RINGS, BONES tells the story of a deceased 14-year-old girl who looks down from heaven to watch her grieving family and find the person who raped and murdered her.
Independent producer Steve Bing of Shangri-La Ent. has forked over $80 million to co-finance Warner Bros. feature, POLAR EXPRESS, reports VARIETY. Bing will not take a personal producing credit on the film, but the credits will read: "a Castle Rock presentation of a Shangri-La production." Unlike gap financing that must be repaid to an investor, Bing is taking the same financial risk as Warner, who will retain distribution rights worldwide.
Warner Bros. and Scholastic are taking their animated CLIFFORDS REALLY BIG MOVIE on a bigger walk to more theaters on April 23, 3004, rolling out the theatrical to 471 houses across the U.S., following the test openings in several markets in February 2004.