As part of its continuing theatrical expansion in Europe, IMAX. will open a new IMAX 3D theater at Disneyland Resort Paris in June 2004, joining 46 similar theaters currently scheduled to launch throughout Europe at that time. The expansion is via a partnership with Disney as well as EuroPalaces, one of the largest commercial exhibitors in Europe.
British animator Faraz Hamed hopes to demonstrate good use of CGI and cartoony timing in his recently completed short film, PUMPING TYRE (PUMPING TIRE). The sole animator and director, Hamed squeezed in time during lunches and after work for a period of six months to animate and composited two-minute 40-second film in 3ds max.
THE HULK came out slugging last weekend with the highest June opener ever at $62.1M, despite mixed reviews about the content of Ang Lee's heady adaptation of the Marvel comic and ILM's execution of the CG monster. Universal's latest entry in the comic book genre overtook AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME for the best June debut, and tied MONSTERS, INC. as the 17th best opener of all time. It also marks the seventh consecutive straight number one opening for Marvel. THE HULK comes in third right behind SPIDER-MAN'S $114.8M opening and X2: X-MEN UNITED's $85.6M last month.
Flash specialty studio ANIMAX is producing a 35mm-animated short film for Jellyman Prods., CATCHING KRINGLE, in a mix of 2D techniques. ANIMAX is using Flash, USAnimation and traditional hand animation for the holiday themed short, featuring the voices of Danny De Vito and John Rhy-Davies, with a cameo by Larry King. The film will be ready to exhibit at film and animation festivals in time for the holiday season.
It only took Disney/Pixar's FINDING NEMO 20 days to hit the $200 million mark at the box office, which it did Wednesday, June 18, 2003, placing it number 10 on the all-time list. So far, the latest computer-animated blockbuster from the Emeryville, California studio has amassed $203,263,253 in North American theaters. That's good enough for fourth on the list of computer-animated box office champs. DreamWorks/PDI's SHREK is first with $267, 665,011; Disney/Pixar's MONSTERS, INC. is second with $255,873,250 and Disney/Pixar's TOY STORY 2 is third with $245,852,179.
Korean and Los Angeles-based 3D-animation house FX Digital/DiFarm and French-American production firm Media Concepts have partnered up to create the 3D-animated musical feature BREMEN. The two companies will share financing and ownership equally and hope to start production in late June of this year.
Universal Pictures' HULK opens June 20, 2003, offering a more heady take on the comic book genre, given director Ang Lee's interest in martial arts and existentialism (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON).
Freely adapted from the '60s Marvel comic book by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, which was also a hit TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, HULK features not one but two Oedipal plot lines. Eric Bana (BLACK HAWK DOWN) co-stars with last year's Best Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A BEAUTIFUL MIND). Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte play the troublesome dads.
Former Disney and Warner Bros. animator Jason Lethcoe is very hot. DAILY VARIETY reports that Revolution Studios has optioned his HARRY POTTER-like graphic novel, ZOOM'S ACADEMY FOR THE SUPER GIFTED, which concerns an unpopular high school girl who enrolls in a superhero academy, with the help of her mysterious father. Screenwriters are now being wooed for the live-action feature.
FINDING NEMO, the Disney/Pixar computer-animated smash, was back atop the box office chart, reeling in $28.3M in its third week. That puts it near the $200M plateau with $191.4M. The other animated opener, Paramount/Nickelodeon/Klasky Csupo's RUGRATS GO WILD, made an impressive debut in the fourth spot with $11.5M.
The animation unit responsible for Disney's DVD-premiere movies such as THE LION KING 2: SIMBA'S PRIDE has been renamed DisneyToon Studios. The new name and logo were officially unveiled on June 5, 2003, at an internal event held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The new division, which split from Walt Disney Television Animation in January, is overseen by evp Sharon Morrill, in charge of all aspects of production and development for the Disney Video Premieres and MovieToons produced by DisneyToon Studios. She reports to David Stainton, president, Walt Disney Feature Animation.
The Rugrats meet The Thornberrys and get into all kinds of island mischief on the big screen in RUGRATS GO WILD, opening nationwide June 13, 2003. Produced by Klasky Csupo, Nickelodeon Pictures and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the movie marks the fourth theatrical feature from Klasky based on its smash Nick TV series, RUGRATS and WILD THORNBERRYS.
John Eng (sequence director on RUGRATS IN PARIS and JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS) and Norton Virgien (director of THE RUGRATS MOVIE) co-direct from Kate Boutilier's script.
ROBOTS, 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studio's eagerly awaited follow-up to ICE AGE, will be powered by the celebrity voice- over work of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry and Mel Brooks. The computer-animated movie, under the helm of director Chris Wedge, has been in production for two months, and is set for release March 11, 2005.
Young males got their movie thrills last weekend with the opening of Universal's FAST AND FURIOUS sequel, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, which revved up the box office chart with $50.5M. Crystal Dowd served as VFX producer and Collin Fowler was VFX coordinator for Illusion Arts.
FINDING NEMO, meanwhile, slipped to second place after its record-breaking opening with a very impressive $46.6M, giving the Disney/Pixar hit $144M in less than two weeks.
In its continuing effort to embrace more commercial event films (with the cooperation of the CAA talent agency), IMAX will release Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX RELOADED in select theaters on Friday, June 6, 2003, and, for the first time, in various international venues through early July (including the U.K., Germany, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and Japan). The timing couldn't be better, as the second mind-bending film in the Wachowski Brothers' trilogy recently set a new international box office record in its opening weekend (more than $113M).
They're at it again. Disney announced yesterday that it's releasing the next Pixar film, Brad Bird's THE INCREDIBLES, on November 5, 2004, the same date that DreamWorks had already positioned for the launch of SHARKSLAYER, its very own computer-animated underwater answer to Pixar's FINDING NEMO. So rather than going head-to-head, DreamWorks has decided to find another slot, though the family film traffic is already heavy in November, with POLAR EXPRESS, the CGI reteaming of Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis, bowing on November 19 along with the first SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS theatrical feature.
It's only fitting that Monster Distributes has picked up all rights outside of the U.K. for a monstrous property called DOMINATOR, an 80-minute adult CGI feature from Rengamedia, which it is showcasing at Annecy. Rengamedia specializes in the development and production of animation and Manga-based projects for broadcast on TV and the Web.
FINDING NEMO, the computer-animated underwater comedy/adventure from Disney/Pixar, exceeded all expectations with a record-breaking bow of $70.3M last weekend. That's the best opening ever for an animated feature, topping the $62.6M grabbed by MONSTERS, INC., the fourth Pixar/Disney movie from 2001. It's also the best three-day gross for any Buena Vista feature, live action or animated.
It was destiny after all that the curious, unfinished 1946 animated collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali be completed. Long considered a lost cause, DESTINO was recently produced by the Disney Co. and given a surprise world premiere June 2, 2003 at the opening of this year's Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The five-minute short will also screen June 3 on the lake at 10:00 pm, with free access to all Annecians.
FINDING NEMO, the latest computer-animated feature from pioneering Pixar Animation Studios, opened nationwide May 30, 2003 armed with blockbuster intentions and Oscar ambitions. The well-reviewed underwater comedy/adventure about father and son clown fish, boasts the voice talents of stars Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres and Willem Dafoe. It marks the fifth collaboration between Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures, who, as everyone knows, may part ways in 2005, and the first time they've dived into the summer fray.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY, the God-induced comedy starring Jim Carrey, scored highest over the Memorial Day weekend, upending the mighty MATRIX RELOADED. The Universal feature, boasting VFX by Illusion Arts (Collin Fowler was the VFX coordinator), took in $86.4M over the four-day period, while Warner Bros.' MATRIX RELOADED dropped 50% in its second week, with $45.7M, despite the biggest ever four-day gross. At $209.5M, the visual effects feast included work from Amalgamated Pixels, Animal Logic, BUF, Bullet Time, CIS, CFX, ESC Entertainment, Giant Killer Robots, PLF Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio. However, it broke international box office records around the world taking in $113.2M from 62 countries, which is the first time in history a film has surpassed the $100 million level in one weekend. Sony/Revolution's DADDY DAY CARE dropped to third place, but lost less than 5%, with $18M for a $73M cume. Fox's X2: X-MEN UNITED came in fourth place with $13M for a total of $192M. Contributing VFX to the blockbuster were Cinesite, EYETECH Optics, Frantic Films, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. and Rhythm & Hues. Warner Bros,' THE IN-LAWS, meanwhile, debuted in the fifth spot with $9.1M. Cinesite handled VFX chores, with Randall Bahnsen serving as 3D motion tracking supervisor. Fox's DOWN WITH LOVE, featuring VFX by Asylum, hung in there in sixth place with another $5M for a total of $14.6M Disney's THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, dropped to seventh place, with $4M and a $37.3 cume. Rainmaker Digital Pictures did VFX for the film based on the hit TV series about a teen with an animated alter ego. Disney's HOLES held onto the eighth spot with $3M for an impressive total of $60M. Digital FilmWorks and Avtoma of L.A. contributed effects for VFX supervisor William Mesa, founder of Flash Film Works, whose studio did the majority of the work. Sony's IDENTITY plummeted to ninth place with $2.6M for a total of $49.2M. K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. did VFX work for the suspense flick. Sony/Revolutions' ANGER MANAGEMENT suffered a 32.5% drop as it rounded out the tenth spot with $2.4M for a cume of nearly $132M. Sony Pictures Imageworks and the Orphanage did VFX for ANGER.
ADV Films has acquired the rights to produce a live-action feature version of the hugely popular anime TV series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Adding to the appeal of the project, Weta Workshop, Ltd., the effects studios behind the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, will also be on board for the production as well as anime and game studio Gainax Network Systems, one of the original production studios responsible for the show.
310 Studios and Hacienda Post have recently wrapped all post production work on the upcoming direct-to-video 3D feature, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, produced by the LEGO Company, Create TV and Film, and Creative Capers Entertainment. Debuting on DVD and home video September 16, 2003, the feature film is based on the successful BIONICLE brand and will be distributed under the Miramax Home Entertainment label via Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Atlanta-based Fathom Studios has added two more top Hollywood names to its list of voices for its 3D feature film, DELGO, with the addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt (HEARTBREAKERS) and Chris Kattan (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). They join a cast which already includes Val Kilmer (TOMBSTONE), Michael Clarke Duncan (GREEN MILE), Eric Idle (MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL), and Lou Gossett, Jr. (DIGGSTOWN). Hewitt will bring to life Princess Kyla, a spitfire princess with a big heart, while Kattan will voice Filo, a fast-talking, wisecracking smart aleck.
Based on the popular comic strip, ASTERIX AND THE VIKINGS will boast a $25 million budget, making it the most expensive European animated feature in history, reported THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is an adaptation of a 1967 album, which has Vikings kidnapping little warrior Asterix, so they can learn fear, thus gaining the power to fly. The film will be completely financed by French firm M6 and Denmark's Stefan Fjeldmark (HELP, I'M A FISH) will helm the 75-minute film. Fjeldmark also co-wrote the script with Belgian Jean-Luc Goossens.
French studio Onyx Films has sold the U.S. distribution rights to its first animated feature, RENAISSANCE to Buena Vista Pictures, reported SCREEN DAILY. The film is an action/suspense flick with a mixture of CGI and re-worked black-and-white images. French firm Millimages will provide the animation for the $15 million production. Christian Volckman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1999 short, MAAZ, will direct the film. The film is still looking for further capital from the U.K., which is being negotiated at the Cannes Film Festival by Paris-based Arsan's Helene Sitbon. Independent producer Jake Eberts handled the deal with Disney. Pathe Distribution holds the French theatrical and video rights. Onyx is headed by Anton Soumache and is developing the live-action comedy LA JUNGLE and recently completed Djibril Glissant's urban live-action film LA BONNE ETOILE.