New Line Cinema has hired ABOUT A BOY director Chris Weitz to helm the film version of Philip Pullman's award-winning fantasy book series, HIS DARK MATERIALS, reports VARIETY. Tom Stoppard (BRAZIL) wrote the adaptation of the first novel THE GOLDEN COMPASS. The series chronicles two kids in parallel universes who battle shape-shifting creatures, witches and armored polar bears. New Line production president Toby Emmerich will oversee the film.
Even though the next SUPERMAN feature still lacks a headliner, Warner Bros. has assigned the picture's f/x work to ESC Ent, with Stan Winston consulting on the design of a prototype Superman's suit. Kim Libreri will serve as visual effects supervisor on the film, which hopes to go before cameras early next year. The film is being scheduled for a summer 2006 release. CHARLIE'S ANGELS helmer McG will direct the flick from a script by ALIAS creator J.J. Abrams.
DreamWorks' SHREK 2 exceeded all expectations by collecting $108M over the weekend ended May 23, 2004, and $128.9M for its first five days. That's the best opening ever for an animated feature (besting FINDING NEMO) and the second biggest opening ever (behind only SPIDER-MAN). SHREK 2 also posted the best single day gross (Saturday's $44.8M), the third best five-day opening and the widest opening ever (on 4,163 screens).
If seeing the next HARRY POTTER adventure on the big screen isn't big enough for you, Warner Bros. Pictures is releasing HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in select IMAX theatres day-and-date June 4, 2004 with the regular theatrical release. The film has been digitally re-mastered with IMAX DMR technology. The film is scheduled to expand into additional IMAX theatres over the summer.
Wild Brain has teamed up with Casey Silver Prods., to develop its feature version of the LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD take titled BIG, BAD WOLF, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is being financed through Casey Silver's discretionary fund with Universal. Mike Glock has been hired to pen the script, which will come from the wolf's point of view that he was framed. As part of the deal, Wild Brain may co-finance the film with Universal.
Universal has confirmed that MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 director John Woo will be in the driver's seat for the feature film adaptation of Midway Games' SPY-HUNTER, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is set to star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Based on arcade classic, SPY-HUNTER follows Alec Sects, a former F-15 pilot and a current member of the International Espionage Services' Spy Hunter team.
Due to his leaving the Director's Guild to co-direct SIN CITY with the comic creator Frank Miller, helmer Robert Rodriguez has stepped down as director of the Paramount adaptation of the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-book JOHN CARTER OF MARS series, A PRINCESS OF MARS, reports IGN FilmForce. Rodriguez couldn't stay on MARS because Paramount under DGA guidelines can't employ directors who are not members of the guild. Despite not having a director, Paramount still plans to go into production on the film next year.
DreamWorks Pictures' SHREK 2 breathed a little life into the box office on Wednesday, posting $11.8M - tops for an animated feature's mid-week bow, according to distribution head Jim Tharp.
The box office figures are especially impressive coming on a non-holiday week with schools still in session across the country. The movie could reach $80M through the weekend.
Filmax Intl.'s animated feature EL CID: THE LEGEND will be coming to the U.S. via distributor Hannover House, reports VARIETY. The film will hit theaters in September 2004, marking Hannover's first foray into wide distribution.
Warner Bros. has snatched up the rights to the fantasy novel series XANTH to be produced by TROY helmer Wolfgang Petersen along with TROY writer David Benioff and Diana Rathbun of Petersen's Radiant Prods, reports VARIETY. Radiant's Samuel Dickerman will exec produce.
A SPELL FOR CHAMELEON is the first book in the series, which chronicles a boy named Bink in the world of Xanth, where all the inhabitants must possess magical powers or face banishment.
Warner Bros. and Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers have bought the film rights to Ian Ogilvy's yet-to-be-published three book series, MEASLE AND THE WRATHMONK with the intention to turn the story into a "performance capture" animated film like Zemeckis' POLAR EXPRESS, reports VARIETY. Zemeckis, along with ImageMovers partner Jack Rapke and president Bennett Schneir, made the purchase.
This week marks the start of production on the Spanish-language feature MAYA, produced by actor Bruno Bichir and pop singer Emmanuel for Escarabajo Producciones. Ricardo Arnaiz will direct the $3 million budgeted film with animation supervision being handled by Mike Kunkel (TARZAN, HERCULES). Music will be supervised by Antonio Zepeda. Lending voice talent will be actor Andres Bustamante (TV's TELETON). The film is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2005.
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.
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.
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."