Currently, the National Film Board of Canada has four animation projects in production. LITTLE ARMADILLOS is based off a song by filmmaker John Forrest. The educational piece creates a world inside the body where the eardrum is a dance hall and the elbow is a playground. Animator Debra Dawson is bringing the story to life with Long John Baldry performing the title song for the film. Jill Haras is creating JOE. The film follows the true-life story of Vancouver personality Seraphim "Joe" Fortes. Born in Barbados, Fortes came to Vancouver in 1885 and taught the children of the city how to swim.
BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD and KING OF THE HILL creator, Mike Judge, is in final negotiations to helm the re-make of THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET. The Warner Bros. flick was previously touted as a vehicle for Jim Carrey. However, once original director and scribe Steve Oedekerk (ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS) left the project over budgetary and creative differences, Carrey left too. The original screenplay was written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick and then re-worked by Oedekerk. If the new deal goes through, Judge will pen a new version with Clay Tarver (SQUELCH).
Riding the hopes that fantasy will be hot after LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER, Disney has reportedly signed a multi-million dollar deal to produce the film versions of horror-film-writer-director Clive Barker's new fantasy series THE ARABAT QUARTET. Britain's EMPIRE magazine quotes a Disney spokeswoman as saying, "The work is a combination of HARRY POTTER and a contemporary WIZARD OF OZ." The first in the series is scheduled to hit bookstores next year. Barker's lawyer said that Disney inked the agreement "without reading any written words of the novels."
The Screen Actors Guild and Saban have been struggling over the issue of dubbing rules for DIGIMON:THE MOVIE. Under SAG's dubbing agreement, Saban's Bugboy Productions hired Guild actors to dub the Japanese animated film into English. The dubbing agreement does not require American actors to be paid residuals for just dubbing foreign language films. However in a letter from SAG attorney Vicki Shapiro to Bugboy Prods., SAG feels that the film was more than just dubbed.
George Lucas has decided to go mostly digital with the live-action segments of STAR WARS EPISODE II. On Sunday, April 9, 2000, Lucas said, after four months of testing high-definition cameras, he will start shooting most of the next STAR WARS installment with Sony digital cameras. Jim Morris, president of Lucas Digital, said the cameras had "exceeded expectations." In June, the film will start shooting in Australia for two months, then move to Italy and Tunisia in August for another month, followed by 18 months of post-production.
DreamWorks has brought on Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman to do voices for TUSKER. The CGI film about a herd of elephants making a trek across Southeast Asia is being directed by Tim Johnson and Brad Lewis. Foster will voice a young female elephant and Freeman will voice one of the herd's elders. The targeted release date is Christmas 2002.
In its second week in theatres, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO has swerved to #3 at the U.S. box office. With new military drama RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and ERIN BROCKOVICH finishing one and two respectively, EL DORADO settled down one spot making US$9.09 million and raising its total pile of gold to $25.1 million. ROMEO MUST DIE dive bombed from fourth to seventh. The Jet Li action flick, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, kicked in another $4.55 million to its cume of $45.8 million. FINAL DESTINATION descended into ninth place.
DreamWorks allowed Reel.com to design and host the Web site for its upcoming stop-motion feature CHICKEN RUN. Launched April 3, 2000, www.reel.com/chickenrun contains the movie trailer, screensavers and downloadable "desktop adventures" created by ToggleThis, which created the successful Virgin Atlantic/Austin Powers Web toons of last summer. DreamWorks has recently licensed out its official Web sites for AMERICAN BEAUTY and GALAXY QUEST to Amazon.com. Reel.com is an e-commerce site that sells videos and DVDs.
Indie film queen Parker Posey has joined the cast of the live-action feature rendition of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. Posey (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, SCREAM 3) will play the tyrannical record producer who is bent on controlling the minds of the world's youth. Posey joins Rachael Leigh Cook (SHE'S ALL THAT) who is set to play the title character. Tara Reid (AMERICAN PIE) is in talks to play the absentminded, blonde band member Melodie, while Alan Cumming is in talks to play the agent who discovers the tiger-like trio. Rumors still are floating on who will play the third pussycat Valerie.
With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH firmly planted at #1, DreamWorks' THE ROAD TO EL DORADO ended up finishing in second place at the U.S. box office. The newest toon featuring Elton John songs grossed US$12.85 million. The special effects enhanced action flick, ROMEO MUST DIE, slipped to #4. The Jet Li film, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, brought home $9.38 million bringing its cume to $38.8 million. Coming off its best picture win at the Oscars, AMERICAN BEAUTY finished in 6th place grossing another $5.41 million, raising its cume to $116.7 million.
The team behind INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA is back, producing ARACH ATTACK, a special effects-driven comedic thriller about a toxic waste spill that creates giant spiders. The flick is scheduled to start shooting in September in Australia. New Zealander Ellory Elkayem will direct from a script he co-wrote with Jesse Alexander. The pic is being produced by Centropolis Entertainment, the production house of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, which has teamed on the project with Warner Bros. and Australia's Village Roadshow Pictures.
HARRY POTTER has decided to sail with Chris Columbus at the helm. The director of HOME ALONE and MRS. DOUBTFIRE will steer the adaptation of J.K. Rowling's mega-selling book HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Reportedly, the sequel novel, CHAMBER OF SECRETS, is already in development. The film is being produced at Warner Bros. Steven Spielberg was in line to direct the film, however there were reported creative differences with the novel's writer Rowling.
Director of MIMIC, Guillermo del Toro is set to helm BLADE 2: BLOOD HUNT, the sequel to the hit 1998 horror film starring Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson. The film will go in front of cameras this fall. Potentially, the film could see a summer 2001 release date. Snipes is back in the title role, and Kristofferson will come back as his mentor -- even though he seemingly died in the first film. Based on the Marvel Comics hero who's part man and part vampire, Blade hunts down the walking dead as they try to liquidate the human race.
With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH staying firm at #1, the new special effects enhanced action flick, ROMEO MUST DIE, finished at #2 in the U.S. box office. In its first week in release, the new Jet Li film brought home US$18.01 million. Opening in theatres Wednesday, March 22, the Warner Bros.' martial arts pic has made a total of $24.6 million. The teen terror pic, FINAL DESTINATION, stayed dead still at third, grossing $7.22 million. The New Line flick has made a total of $20.4 million in two weekends of release.
The executive producer of STUART LITTLE, Stephen Waterman, has signed on to exec produce the new animated feature STARCARS, a co-production between Korean-based entertainment conglomerate Ameko Entertainment Company Ltd. and Hyper Image LLC, an American animation studio specializing in sci-fi CGI. Dong Chung, COO of Ameko will co-executive produce the project. "I am genuinely excited about taking animation beyond the next level and into a new universe," Waterman said.
Todd McFarlane Entertainment (TME) has agreed to work with Jodie Foster's production company, Egg Pictures, on a new film, THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS. ALTAR BOYS, directed by Peter Care and featuring Foster in a supporting role, tells the tale of a group of Catholic school friends who are caught drawing an obscene comic book. TME will produce the animation segments for the film, which is set to begin shooting in May.
Giant Studios' Motion Reality system has been selected as the technology of choice for motion-capture services on the highly anticipated New Line Cinema feature film trilogy, THE LORD OF THE RINGS. New Line Cinema has signed Wellington, New Zealand-based Weta, Ltd. to handle the visual effects, and Weta has named Giant Studios as the exclusive motion-capture resource for all three films.
Klasky Csupo and Nickelodeon Movies have tied the knot on an exclusive multi-year deal to develop and produce animated feature films. The new partnership comes from the pair's successful production of THE RUGRATS MOVIE and the forthcoming RUGRATS IN PARIS. The first two projects from the new agreement slated to hit the drawing boards are POLITENESS MAN and COOKIE COMPANY. The AUSTIN POWERS-like POLITENESS MAN is based off of Ron Barrett's classic National Lampoon comic strip. The story will follow the exploits of a secret agent, whom excels in the fields of manners, hygiene and etiquette.
With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH "busting" into first, Buena Vista's MISSION TO MARS toppled to #2 at the U.S. box office. The space mish mesh, with primary special effects by ILM and Dream Quest Images, garnered another US$11.39 million blasting its total gross to $40.6 million. The new teen horror flick, FINAL DESTINATION, crash landed at #3. The New Line fright fest grossed $10.02 million in its first week in theatres.
Ending much anticipation, Steven Spielberg has confirmed his next two projects. Going in front of cameras July 10, 2000, A.I. (artificial intelligence) was a long time work-in-progress by late great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. The Warner Bros./DreamWorks co-production takes place in the future after the melted polar ice caps have covered much of New York City and other coastal towns with water. Oscar nominated actors Jude Law (THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY) and Haley Joel Osment (THE SIXTH SENSE) will star. To start filming in April 2001, Spielberg will direct MINORITY REPORT starring Tom Cruise.
Questions have been floating around for months on how the Academy will handle the curse-word laced best song nominee "Blame Canada" at the Oscar ceremony. Producers have added more interest to the issue by naming king of improv, Robin Williams, as the singer of the song from the censor-mocking, Canada-bashing comedy, SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT. Whether "Blame Canada" song lyrics featuring the words "fuck," "fart" and "that bitch Anne Murray," will be bleeped or edited by network censors is still yet unknown.
The king of family film remakes Eddie Murphy will star in the newest redux of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. Set to direct the film is TOMMY BOY helmer Peter Segal. Fred Wolf, a former writer on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, has penned the new version of the film that follows the trials and tribulations of a man shrunk to the size of a mouse by a strange mist.
With bad reviews a side Buena Vista's MISSION TO MARS finished #1 at the U.S. box office. Serving as the closest thing to an event flick currently in U.S. theatres, MISSION TO MARS became the third highest March debut in U.S. history. The space spectacle, with primary special effects by ILM and Dream Quest Images, grossed US$22.9 million in its first weekend. Finishing in second place in its opening weekend was THE NINTH GATE, with primary special effects by Sony Imageworks and Mikros Image. Teaming Roman Polanski and the Devil once again, the film released by Artisan grossed $6.6 million.
In Chennai, India, Penta Media, 3D Max Media and Hewlett Packard have announced plans to produce a film, STARWAY, which will star two deceased Indian actors, brought back to life through CGI. The TIMES OF INDIA reported that no decision has been made on which stars would be reincarnated as themselves. In regards to ethical concerns, the newspaper published a comment from S. Rangarajan, director of special effects at Media Dreams: "This mixing of the real and unreal has a dangerous dimension.