Hey, hey, hey, FAT ALBERT fans, the hefty hero is coming to the big screen. Bill Cosby has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to turn his beloved animated series into a live-action film, featuring some animated moments. Cosby will executive produce the film with his wife, Camille, and write the screenplay with Charles Kipps (EXILED: A LAW & ORDER MOVIE). Producer John Davis brought the project to Fox and will produce the film through his Davis Entertainment Co. No start date has been set but the first draft of the script should be finished within two to three weeks.
With new competition very weak, HANNIBAL took a third helping at the U.S. box office, grossing another US$15.77 million. The hog-wild thriller, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has gobbled up $128.5 million to date. 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND made its opening nod in third. The high-octane crime caper, with primary visual effects by Rainmaker Digital Pictures, snatched $7.16 million. After early reports had it placing third, Disney's RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT actually finished forth, rescuing an additional $6.93 million. The saving summer vacation adventure has accumulated $22.7 million.
Inkwell Images has purchased the only existing picture and sound negatives to a series of early Max Fleischer Bouncing Ball SONG CARTUNES. Inkwell purchased the prints from New York-based Movietronics film library. One title, MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME is one of the earliest attempts at animating dialog, as a black dog character mouths, "Follow the ball and join in, everybody!" Produced in 1924, they feature synchronized sound and are part of the Library of Congress' archives, however their prints are without soundtracks.
With it already grossing out audiences in the States, HANNIBAL has begun to take a slice out of the international box office. In Italy, the blood-thirsty thriller claimed the top spot with a gross of $5.65 million. In fifth, CAST AWAY floated an additional $679,996, raising its Italian cume to $12.78 million. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON descended into sixth with a ticket-take of $529,624, lifting its Italian total to $1.14 million. In eighth, 102 DALMATIANS barked up another $284,555, bringing its Italian cume to $4.48 million.
Gobbling up tickets over the President's Day weekend, HANNIBAL remained the toast of the U.S. box office, grossing US$30 million. In merely ten-days at theaters, the cannibalistic caper, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, has scoffed down an amazing $103.9 million. Disney's TV series turned feature, RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT placed third in its debut, freezing up $10.8 million. In turn, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON slipped to fifth, with a gross of $8.77 million.
CAST AWAY is still holding strong at the international box office. In Germany, the desert island adventure rounded up another $3.73 million, escalating its cume to $21.46 million. VERTICAL LIMIT climbed into second with a gross of $1.84 million, raising its German cume to $4.34 million. In third, BEDAZZLED seduced $1.4 million, bringing its German cume to $4.49 million. THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE made its German nod in fourth with a gross of $663,408. At #8, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $477,415, pushing its German cume to $2.35 million.
HANNIBAL, the sequel to the Oscar-winning best picture SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, has slashed U.S. box office records on its way to claiming first place in its debut weekend. The cannibalistic cavalcade, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, ate up US$58 million, making it the all-time highest grossing opening weekend for an R-rated film. The blood-thirsty thriller also claimed the highest opening for a film release in January through April, beating out the re-release of STAR WARS. Still improving after 10 weeks in U.S.
Around the globe, CAST AWAY remains at the top of the international box office. In Germany, CAST AWAY claimed the top spot with a gross of $4.99 million, lifting its three-week total to $17.74 million. In second, VERTICAL LIMIT made its German debut with a gross of $2.51 million. BEDAZZLED bewitched third place, grossing $1.88 million, raising its German cume to $3.09 million. In fifth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON amazed audiences to the tune of $624,096, elevating its German cume to $1.88 million. At #6, UNBREAKABLE secured another $570,085, bringing its German cume to $12.52 million.
With live-action comedy THE WEDDING PLANNER and the debut of teen-horror flick, VALENTINE, taking the top two spots respectively, CAST AWAY floated into third for the second straight week, grossing another $7.47 million. The volleyball friendly film, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has accumulated $203 million to date. Jumping up yet another slot to finish fifth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON rescued an additional $6.82 million.
CAST AWAY continues to sail atop the international box office, with VERTICAL LIMIT making a climb upward. In Germany, CAST AWAY maintained its #1 finish with a gross of US$5.74 million, escalating its cume to $12.74 million. In second, BEDAZZLED bounced in $1.2 million in its German debut. UNBREAKABLE crash-landed in third with a gross of $954,843, pushing its German cume to $11.95 million. In seventh, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $561,558, raising its German cume to $1.25 million. POKEMON 2000 grabbed another $420,338, lifting its German cume to $6.65 million.
Cartoon Network has signed the original voices from the POWERPUFF GIRLS TV series for the upcoming feature. After long negotiations, Tara Strong (Bubbles), Catherine Cavadini (Blossom) and E.G. Daily (Buttercup) have signed deals which Brian Miller, general manager of Cartoon Network Studios, said in VARIETY, "All parties are happy at this point." He added, "It was always our intent to have the original voices. Reports of negotiation breakdown have been greatly exaggerated." The film, set for a summer 2002 release, is being written, produced and directed by series creator Craig McCracken.
With live-action comedy THE WEDDING PLANNER and drama SAVE THE LAST DANCE taking the top two slots respectively, CAST AWAY sunk to third with a gross of US$8.09 million. The island adventure, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has rescued $193.2 million to date. Next, TRAFFIC skidded into fourth with a gross of $6.46 million. The drug war saga, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has dusted off $56.19 million thus far. Leaping from eighth to sixth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON dazzled audiences to the tune of $5.06 million.
A re-mastered version of the anime classic AKIRA is coming to theaters in the U.S. Long Beach, California-based Pioneer Entertainment, a top U.S. anime licensing company, is putting US$1 million into restoring the 1988 sci-fi epic. International Video Conversations is re-mastering and re-mixing the audio in Dolby Digital AC3 Surround Sound. In addition, the film will contain a new English dub created from a fresh translation of the Japanese script. Pioneer will release this restored version on DVD and VHS in the fourth quarter.
With high-grossing nods around the globe, Tom Hanks' CAST AWAY easily floated to the top of the international box office. In Germany, CAST AWAY unseated UNBREAKABLE with an amazing ticket take of US$7.01 million. UNBREAKABLE crashed to second with a gross of $1.84 million, lifting its German cume to $11 million. In fourth, URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT slashed in another $837,915, raising its German cume to $2.6 million. At #6, POKEMON 2000 collected $700,338, growing its German cume to $6.23 million.
Comedian Adam Sandler's Meatball Animation is set to produce a feature, animated film entitled WHITEY & DAVEY. Described as a "Hanukkah musical," the story centers on Davey, a pro basketball executive, who befriends an old-fashioned coach named Whitey. Sandler will travel to the Toronto-based studio in mid-February to begin voice work for the Davey role. Traditionally animated, the feature will contain a bevy of pop tunes. The film should be finished for a Christmas 2001 release upon securing distribution.
This past weekend at the U.S. box office the top three remained the same; SAVE THE LAST DANCE remained champ with CAST AWAY taking the second spot with a gross of US$11.15 million. The Tom Hanks-starrer, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has sailed in with $182 million to date. Repeating its turn in third, TRAFFIC raced in another $8.51 million. The drug war saga, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has garnered $46.69 million thus far. In its U.S. wide release, Guy Ritchie's SNATCH scored a fourth place finish.
Columbia Pictures has snatched up the feature film rights to the comic book SPAWN. Recently, New Line Cinema, who produced the original live-action feature, let their claim on the rights expire, thus reverting them back to creator Todd McFarlane. Columbia was quick to pounce on the film rights to the popular Imagine comic book series. Already, Don Murphy has signed on to produce the next feature through Sony-based AngryFilms. Currently, McFarlane and screenwriter Steve Niles are working on the first draft of the SPAWN sequel.
Touchstone's UNBREAKABLE is truly becoming an international box office hero with top place finishes all over the globe. In France, UNBREAKABLE held on tight to the top spot, with a gross of US$4.68 million, elevating its cume to $11.74 million. At #3, CHICKEN RUN escaped with a gross of $2.64 million, flying its French cume to $11.48 million. DINOSAUR roared in at #4, grossing $2.22 million, thereby growing its French cume to $25.14 million. In sixth, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS slew $1.16 million, increasing its French cume to $2.83 million.
Sinking behind the debut of the new teen drama, SAVE THE LAST DANCE, CAST AWAY drifted into second place at the U.S. box office with a gross of US$17.15 million. The desert island drama, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has accumulated an impressive $165.1 million to date. Holding onto third, TRAFFIC drove in with another $11.17 million. The drug ring rage, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has grabbed $33.08 million so far. In fifth, after its first week in wide release, THIRTEEN DAYS thrilled audiences to the tune of $10.23 million.
Ang Lee, the director of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, is in talks to direct the feature version of Marvel Comics' THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Universal Pictures is producing the film and is scheduling it to unveil in theaters in the summer of 2003. Gale Anne Hurd is producing the flick with Marvel Studios' president Avi Arad. Lee's production partner James Schamus is also joining the producing team. Sources say that X-MEN scribe David Hayter's draft of the HULK was what lured Lee into the director's seat.
Disney's initiative to release their new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE in Spanish to theaters in Los Angeles has failed. Disney decided to place a Spanish dubbed GROOVE in theaters in 16 Latino communities alongside the English version [AWN 01/02/01]. This effort was the first time that Disney released a film in English and Spanish in the States at the same time. For years Disney has released Spanish dubbed or subtitled prints of their films to theaters that have requested them.
UNBREAKABLE was simply unstoppable at the international box office this past week. In France, the UNBREAKABLE premiere grossed an amazing US$7.06 million. Five-week champ, DINOSAUR, slipped to second with a gross of $3.87 million, escalating its French cume to $22.92 million. In third, CHICKEN RUN cooped up another $3.58 million, flying its French cume to $8.84 million. At #6, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS drummed up only $1.67 million in its French debut. In its second week in France, POKEMON 2 collected $1.31 million, pushing its cume to $2.3 million.
With little new flavor in the U.S. box office this past weekend, CAST AWAY remained on top for a third straight week, with a gross of US$22.22 million. The volleyball friendly film, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has collected $141.7 million thus far. Slipping only a slot, THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE palled around in sixth, grossing $7.46 million. The llama loving buddy flick has drummed up $62.4 million to date. Keeping its grip on seventh place, VERTICAL LIMIT landed another $5.01 million.
Continuing its lucrative path through the international box office, DINOSAUR is still roaring with POKEMON 2000 making strong debuts, including a first place finish in Germany. In Japan, DINOSAUR took the top spot with a gross of US$1.15 million, increasing its cume to $3.62 million. In third, VERTICAL LIMIT collected another $980,996 to raise it Japanese cume to $3.05 million. THE 6TH DAY claimed the fifth slot with a gross of $870,359, advancing its Japanese cume to $1.54 million. In sixth, WHAT LIES BENEATH floated $665,857 more, pushing its Japanese cume to $1.97 million.
Walt Disney has decided to release their new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE in 16 Los Angeles theaters dubbed in Spanish. The experiment is part of Disney's plan to attract Latino buying power, which is estimated to reach US$452 billion nationwide next year. For years Disney has released Spanish dubbed or subtitled prints of their films to theaters that have requested them. However, most of those films were on their third run after they had been released in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.