Rumors on the Internet have been buzzing of late that graphic puppet sex will land SOUTH PARKs Trey Parker and Matt Stones new marionette film, TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. However, the demented duo are contractually obligated to give distributor Paramount Pictures a cut that squeaks out an R-rating, reports VARIETY. Parker and Stone are not new to debating issues with the MPAA. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, UNCUT also received an NC-17 at first.
Valhalla Motion Pictures and MTV Films have announced the supporting cast for their live-action adaptation of Peter Chungs animated cult TV series, AEON FLUX. Joining Oscar-winning actresses Charlize Theron (MONSTER) and Frances McDormand (FARGO) will be Marton Csokas (XXX), Jonny Lee Miller (HACKERS), Sophie Okonedo (DIRTY PRETTY THINGS), Amelia Warner (QUILLS) and Caroline Chikezie (U.K. TVs THE FOOTBALLERS WIVES. The flick is scheduled for theatrical release in 2005. Paramount Pictures and Lakeshore Ent. will distribute.
Sony Pictures Animation has put its second CG-animated feature into production, SURFS UP, a documentary-style look at penguin surfing, co-directed by Ash Brannon (TOY STORY 2) and Chris Buck (TARZAN), slated for a 2007 release.
Unlike the buddy comedy, OPEN SEASON, directed by Jill Culton, which will have a very graphic and squash-and-stretch design, SURFS UP will contain a much more natural approach.
Disney Pictures has released the date for Andrew Adamson's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, reports the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. Fans will be able to catch the film Dec. 9, 2005. In addition, Sony Picture Imageworks has been hired to do 400 effects shoots for the film, whose main f/x house is Rhythm & Hues. New Zealand's Weta Workshop will create the makeup prosthetics for all of the creatures.
Ian McKellen has signed on to voice for the magical character Zebedee in Pathe's feature version of THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT, reports VARIETY. The cast already includes Robbie Williams, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and Bill Nighy. The CG flick is set for a U.K. release in February 2005. The original TV series was created in the late 1960s by Serge Danot, and was later adapted into English by Eric Thompson.
SPY-HUNTER producers Adrian Askarieh and Chuck Gordon have obtained the feature rights to Midway's PSI-OPS videogame, reports VARIETY. The producers hope to secure a director and pitch the project to various studios by the beginning of September. The story follows a psionic agent who has had his memory erased that must infiltrate a band of rogue agents who were in training with him.
Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Productions have made it official J.J. Abrams will make his theatrical directing debut onMISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3. Originally set to hit theaters next summer, the film will now start shooting in the summer of 2005. Abrams is best known as the creator and director of such hit series as FELICITY, ALIAS and his new series LOST. Previously, NARC director Joe Carnahan had long been attached to direct the film, but had "creative differences" with the studio, leading to his stepping down from the film earlier this year.
Omation Studios, a division of O Ent., has installed 100 seats of SOFTIMAGE|XSI software to serve as the primary 3D production environment for its upcoming animated feature film, THE BARNYARD, written, directed and coproduced by Steve Oedekerk, Omation Studios and O Ent. The film, which offers a glimpse into the hidden world of what barn animals do when humans aren't looking, is currently in production with an extensive team of CG artists, animators, compositors and modelers using SOFTIMAGE|XSI software to bring an entire cast of singing and dancing characters to life.
It looks like the heavy vfx duties on the new WAR OF THE WORLDS feature from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks will be done by vfx supervisor Dennis Muren and Industrial Light & Magic, according to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Steven Spielberg is directing the remake of H.G. Wells novel with Tom Cruise set to star in the pic stet to shoot in November 2004.
Ben Kingsley has been signed to play the vampire Kagan, the evil ruler of an army of bloodsuckers, in the film adaptation of the videogame BLOODRAYNE, opposite Kristanna Loken (TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES), the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported. The film chronicles the adventures of a half-vampire, half-human in 18th-century Romania who has the super strength of a monster countered by the emotions of a person.
Project postponements have freed up actor Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg to team up again in the re-make of H.G. Wells THE WAR OF THE WORLDS for a fast track investment for DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures.
Cruise had been set to work on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 until a delay while Spielbergs untitled project on the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics has also been pushed back. Cruise and Spielberg collaborated successfully on MINORITY REPORT.
Ronald Shusett, co-creator of the ALIEN film series, and comic-book specialist Daniel Alter have optioned the feature-film rights to the sci-fi title MEGACITY, which Alter discovered at the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. MEGACITY will be published by Devil's Due via an arrangement with the Korean entity Studio Ice.
Digital Domain and Barnet Bain Films have acquired the film rights to Richard Bach's bestselling novel ILLUSIONS: THE ADVENTURES OF A RELUCTANT MESSIAH, according to DAILY VARIETY.
French filmmaker Yann Samuell is reportedly set to direct the adaptation, the inspirational account of an encounter with a modern-day messiah. The book has sold 15 million copies for author Bach, who also penned JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL.
DreamWorks is in negotiations with Ewan McGregor (BIG FISH) to star in Michael Bay's next sci-fi feature, THE ISLAND, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Caspian Tredwell-Owen (BEYOND BORDERS) wrote the spec screenplay, which chronicles a harvested being" who tries to escape the utopian facility he is housed in. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (TV's ALIAS) have been hired to polish the script. Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Ian Bryce (CATCH ME IF YOU CAN) are set to produce. Marc Haines will oversee the project for the studio, which hopes to starting filming in the fall.
Howell, New Jersey-based NT Limited, a focused animation house, has announced the production of its first animated film, DAY OF THE PIGMAN. The film is scheduled for release in the spring of 2005 on DVD.
DreamWorks' COLLATERAL led the box office for the weekend ended Aug. 8, 2004, with $24.7M in its debut, besting M. Night Shyamalan's THE VILLAGE, down 67.8% in its second week with $16.4M. The horror film (with some vfx by ILM) has collected $85.6M for Disney's Buena Vista so far. Universal's THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (also with vfx by ILM) finished third with $14.3M and $124.6M.
20th Century Fox has pulled the plug on X-MEN helmer Brian Singer's two-year first look deal, now that the director has signed on to direct Warner Bros. SUPERMAN, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Singer's Bad Hat Harry production company, which was based on the Fox lot, was asked to clear out its offices. Singer, who is working on SUPERMAN out of the Warner lot, does not have a overall deal with Warner, despite his development of the remake of LOGAN'S RUN.
Josh Hutcherson (THE POLAR EXPRESS) and Jonah Bobo (AROUND THE BEND) have cast in Columbia Pictures' film rendition of ZATHURA, reports VARIETY. Based on the book by children's author Chris Van Allsburg, the story follows two young brothers whose house is launched into space. Tim Robbins plays their father. Jon Favreau (ELF) will direct with Michael De Luca and Bill Teitler producing. Ted Field and Louis D'Esposito will serve as exec producers with Peter Billingsley co-producing. The screenplay was penned by David Koepp. Columbia hopes to have the film in theaters in 2005.
VAN HELSING writer-director Stephen Sommers, along with his producing partner Bob Ducsay, has landed the rights to FLASH GORDON, which the duo will develop for Universal, reports VARIETY. Sommers will write the FLASH screenplay, but has yet to decided whether he will direct. Hearst Corp.'s King Features Syndicate, who owns the rights to the character, have assigned Rick Karo to produce for the company. Overseeing the project for Universal will be vice chairman Scott Stuber and vp of production Dylan Clark.
Square Enix Co., Ltd. has announced that it will screen a special preview edition of the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN at the 61st Venice International Film Festival, September 1-11 in Venice, Italy. The film is a direct-to-DVD CG-animated sequel to FINAL FANTASY VII, one of the best-selling PlayStation videogames of all time. FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN will be shown as part of "Venezia Digitale," the new digital image category of the festival. Since the product is still in development, a special preview will be screened at the festival.
Picture Mill was the production company behind the opening and closing sequences for THE VILLAGE. Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan contacted Picture Mill soon after principal photography was done, to begin developing concepts for the titles.
Having the potential to fall into the "what were they thinking" remake category, Warner Bros. Pictures and Thunder Road Prods. has announced they will produce a live-action remake of the 1967 Rankin & Bass animated cult hit, MAD MONSTER PARTY?, reports VARIETY. Warner obtained the rights from Canal +, which gained them from Embassy Pictures, which produced the original animated special. John Pardee and Joey Murphy will write the script with Thunder Road's head Basil Iwanyk producing along with Chris Peters and Jackie Gilardi, who brought the project to the studio.