Spurred by the box office success of the first animated PATORUZITO film, Jorge Rodriguez of Red Lojo Ent. has announced plans to exploit the franchise in features, television and merchandising, reports VARIETY. The story follows a boy who fights to claim the title of cacique (chief) of his tribe in Patagonia. A new studio will launch in April to handle the animation on the property.
In the latest jostling for prime release dates, Disney confirmed that VALIANT, the initial 3D-animated outing from Ealing Studio-based Vanguard Animation in the U.K. (the studios heir apparent to Pixar?) will fly in U.S. theaters on April 15, 2005. With Disneys own CHICKEN LITTLE now flying the coop in November, this highly anticipated story of a World War II carrier pigeon should fill the bill nicely.
What do a disfigured musical genius, aviation pioneer Howard Hughes and a resurrected vampire have in common? This holiday season, their stories are being told using digital content creation tools from Discreet.
Paramounts LEMONY SNICKETS A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATELY EVENTS, with Oscar-contending vfx by ILM, finished first in its opening weekend with $30M for the period ended Dec. 19, 2004. Warner Bros. OCEANS TWELVE dropped to second with $18.1M for a two-weeks bounty worth $68.5M. Sonys SPANGLISH debuted in third with $8.8M.
BLADE: TRINITY director David Goyer has signed on to write, produce and direct a film adaptation of DC Comics Flash for Warner Bros. Pictures, reports VARIETY. His wont be the first time that Goyer has entered the DC superhero universe he wrote the script for BATMAN BEGINS.
Harrison Ford is set to star in the feature film version of the forthcoming Iraq War book, NO TRUE GLORY: THE BATTLE FOR FALLUJAH, reports VARIETY. Universal-based Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher have optioned the book, which will be published by Bantam in May. Carla Santos Shamberg will produce with Shamberg and Sher.
CROUCHING TIGERs Chow Yun-Fat is in negotiations to play the villain in the upcoming PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels, reports APPLE DAILY. The actors wife, Jasmin Chan Wui-nin, said the actor will play the famous 19th century Chinese pirate Cheung Po Tsai for the second and third installments of the franchise. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley are expected to return in their roles.
Hot on the heels of the record-setting THE POLAR EXPRESS: AN IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE, IMAX and Warner Bros. Pictures will next bring Tim Burtons CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY to IMAX theaters, day-and-date with conventional theaters on July 15, 2005. The event marks the seventh IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) collaboration between IMAX and Warner Bros.
Director Chris Weitz has stepped down as director on HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, citing the expansive technical challenges. New Line will launch a search for a new director immediately. The ABOUT A BOY helmer made it clear that the move was not due to creative differences, thus heading off rumors that the move was over the recent announcement that the film would secularize the Philip Pullman novel in an effort to make the film not seem anti-religious. Weitz penned the screenplay, which will be used by the new director.
Platinum Studios and Relativity Management have signed a deal with Vancouver-based the Shop Animation Studios to develop and co-produce a CG feature based the Italian comicbook series DYLAN DOG: THE FOURTH KINGDOM. Production will begin in March and Relativity will handle all foreign sales. The Shop co-founder Ian Pearson will direct, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Gavin Blair. Producers include Aaron L. Gilbert, president/co-founder of the Shop, and Platinum Studios chairman Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Relativity ceo Ryan Kavanaugh will exec produce with Ervin Rustemagic.
How did Pixel Magic create realistic driving and flying sequences for James Brooks dialogue-heavy film SPANGLISH (opening Dec. 17 through Columbia Pictures) without hindering his ability to elicit great performances on set? Answer: By creating a shooting environment that complemented the director's style.
SHARK TALE co-writer/co-director Rob Letterman has inked a deal with Universal to write his first live-action film, reports VARIETY. The film is titled THE UNPROFESSIONALS, a military comedy similar in tone to STRIPES. THE FAST AND FURIOUS producer Neal Moritz is in talks to produce. Universal production exec Scott Bernstein will shepherd the project.
Warner Bros. OCEANS 12 debuted at the top of the box office with an impressive $39.1M take for the weekend ended Dec. 12, 2004, followed by New Lines BLADE: TRINITY, which bowed with $16M. Buena Vistas NATIONAL TREASURE slipped to third place with $9.8M and a total of $124M. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. THE POLAR EXPRESS is hanging in there, helped in part by IMAXs record-breaking $18M gross in 3D.
Walt Disney has given is Mandeville Films production shingle the go-ahead on a remake of the SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON as well as a feature based on the classic Disneyland theme park ride JUNGLE CRUISE, reports VARIETY. Despite Disney saying it wouldnt produce any more features based on theme park rides after the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels, producer/ Mandville head David Hoberman announced in May 2004 that the studio has looking at JUNGLE CRUISE as a possible feature.
Phobos Ent. has obtained the media rights to Ursula K. Le Guin's sci-fi novel THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, reports VARIETY. Phobos head Sandra Schulberg hopes to exploit the property as both a feature and videogame.
The story is set on lost planet called Winter, whose inhabitants can physically change genders. A human emissary is sent to connect with the people of Winter to bring them back into the galactic community.
Le Guin's EARTHSEA has been adapted as the Sci Fi Channel minseries from Hallmark. This series airs Dec. 13-14, 2004.
Twentieth Century Fox has hired Sheldon Turner to pen a Magneto spinoff film from the X-MEN franchise, reports VARIETY. This will be the second film spun off from the series with Fox previously greenlighting WOLVERINE to be written by Troy scribe David Benioff. Ian McKellen has played the angry mutant leader in the X-MEN features, however the spinoff will be a prequel dealing with the characters experiences as a boy during World War II. The Prof.
Warner Bros. THE POLAR EXPRESS continues to break box office records for IMAX this holiday season. In just five weeks, Robert Zemeckis all-CGI Christmas tale with Tom Hanks has become the highest grossing DMR (Digital Re-mastering) release ever for the large format giant.
Walt Disney and Walden Media have chosen the actor who will voice Aslan the Lion. X2: X-MEN UNITED actor Brian Cox will take the commanding role in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, directed by Andrew Adamson. The film is based on the first published book in C.S. Lewis classic childrens series.
With Disney/Pixars CARS being pushed back from Nov. 4, 2005, to June 2006, to maximize profits, Disney confirmed that the 3D-animated CHICKEN LITTLE, formerly a summer 2005 title, would now slide into the vacated Nov. 4 slot. Disney already has next summer covered with two live-action movies, THE LOVE BUG and SKY HIGH.
Kate Winslet has joined the voice cast of Aardman Animations FLUSHED AWAY. Winslet will be Rita, the female sewer rat who helps pampered rat Roddy (Hugh Jackson) survive in Ratropolis after he is accidentally flush down the toilet. The cast also includes Sir Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis.
With the original APPLESEED hitting the U.S. in January, Japanese-firm Micott & Bazara has announced a deal with Los Angeles-based Axis Ent. to co-produce two sequels in the franchise, reports VARIETY. The film will use motion-capture as well as "toon-shading," which gives 3D animation a 2D comicbook style like the original film. The two firms are looking for a distributor for the new films. Toho released the original in Japan and Geneon Ent. is handling the U.S. release.
Double Negative's work on FINDING NEVERLAND, which recently won The National Board of Reviews best film prize, involved previs (Jesper Kjolsrud), on-set supervision (Hal Couzens), impossible camera moves, magic-moment enhancements and a host of invisible effects such as crowd replication and the removal of modern anachronisms and safety rigs.
Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures have jointly acquired the motion-picture rights to THE ANYBODIES, written by best-selling author Julianna Baggott and illustrated by Peter Ferguson, about an 11-year-old heroine with special powers to change shape.