As expected, Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL blew away all comers for the weekend of July 11-13, 2003. The estimated weekend gross was a very impressive $46.4M, while the five-day figure came in at $70.4M, exceeding most expectations.
Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL struck box office gold in its first two days of release, bringing in $13.5M on July 9, 2003 and $10.4M on July 10. That's good news for the summer season, which needed a boost, and especially good for Disney, which now appears to have the one-two punch it desperately needed in FINDING NEMO ($282.6M) and PIRATES.
Now that director Kevin Lima (TARZAN and 102 DALMATIANS) has been signed to helm Fox's live-action/animated CAT AND MOUSE next year, the search is on to see who will perform the 2D animation for the opening 10 minutes of the comedy. According to a spokesman, the production team is meeting with animators and studios in L.A., New York and Canada. But it has not been determined whether an animation director and crew or a one-stop shop will be hired.
Vin Diesel will reprise his break-out role as PITCH BLACK's anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, a sci-fi action/adventure that just started shooting for Universal Pictures, in association with Radar Pictures and One Race Prods. Co-starring Colm Feore, Alexa Davalos, Karl Urban, Linus Roache, Thandie Newton and Dame Judi Dench the film is written and directed by David Twohy (BELOW and PITCH BLACK), produced by Scott Kroopf (THE LAST SAMURAI and PITCH BLACK) and Vin Diesel (XXX).
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES may have won the Independence holiday box office race for Warner Bros., taking in $44M for the weekend and $72.3M for the five-day period (bolstered by the combined VFX of Industrial Light + Magic, Anatomorphex, Pacific Data Images, Pacific Titles & Optical and Stan Winston Studio), but the big story was FINDING NEMO.
Despite a recent comment by Sean Connery (while promoting THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN in Las Vegas) that Steven Spielberg might not direct INDY IV, a spokesman for the director told VFXWorld.com that he fully intends to shoot the movie in 2004 for release in the summer of 2005.
"Somebody, somewhere, must have misunderstood something," the spokesman said. "The
STAR WARS EPISODE III, the last of the prequels to the legendary George Lucas franchise, began shooting at Fox Studios Australia, June 30, 2003. According to Starwars.com, the first scenes were shot in a new set environment with returning stars Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). Also on set was R2-D2. The final installment will see Peter Mayhew reprise his role as Chewbacca, a part he has not played since THE RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983.
A free, limited edition read-along CD of SHREK AND FIONA'S HONEYMOON STORYBOOK will be given away to every child attending during the opening weekend of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS. The exclusive giveaway lasts July 2-6, for as long as supplies last.
The read-along storybook, which has an estimated value of $9.95, will be given away, one per child, with each paid admission. Theater managers will also have a limited number of rain checks on hand with instructions on how a child can receive his or her CD if the supply runs out before the end of the weekend.
DreamWorks adventure SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS hits theaters on July 2, 2003, but can it fend off tough competition from live-action films like Warner Bros. and Columbia/TriStars TERMINATOR 3:RISE OF THE MACHINES or MGMs LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE & BLONDE? With the track record of 2D features of late, it looks like an upward battle for the tradigital picture, which was directed by Tom Johnson and Patrick Gilmore, featuring the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones Joseph Fiennes and Michelle Pfeiffer.
HP's Linux-based technology played a critical role in the creation of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS, which opens theatrically July 2, 2003. The first film ever created entirely on Linux, SINBAD was developed on HP workstations and servers.
Sony's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE (with Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage supplying the bulk of the VFX) may have won the box office derby, but its $37.6M was less than spectacular. So far, the 2003 summer box office is 2% less than last year's. Universal's THE HULK, meanwhile, plunged nearly 70% in its second weekend, adding $18.8M, still good enough for second place. The ILM VFX feast has earned $100.5M thus far.
After THE MATRIX RELOADED: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE climbed to an unprecedented $903, 241 in North America in its third weekend, IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. are continuing to discuss other possibilities for DMR conversion, including a day-and-date release of THE POLAR EXPRESS on Nov. 19, 2004, according to a recent Dow Jones Business News story.
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.
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.
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.
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.