The same day that Walt Disney Feature Animation officially declared the closing of its Florida unit, saying goodbye for the moment to traditional animation, it strengthened its 3D commitment by announcing the addition of A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON to its production slate.
The tug of war for box office supremacy was intense last weekend between THE RETURN OF THE KING and BIG FISH, with the Tim Burton film appearing to be the winner by a nose. But when all the numbers were officially tabulated, it turned out there was no stopping THE LORD OF THE RINGS finale, which stayed atop the chart for the period ended Jan. 11, 2004.
Newcomer Noodlesoup Productions has made an impression on Miramax, animating the opening minutes to the distributors latest release, MY BABY'S DADDY, which opened in theaters Jan 9, 2004.
"We're excited that Miramax has such faith in Noodlesoup Prods. and has given us the opportunity to work with them on another film, said Jeff Nodelman, founder and CEO of Noodlesoup. I believe this is just the beginning of a great relationship."
While 2003 produced a five percent overall drop in theater admissions, the holiday box office was helped enormously by THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING, which grabbed $28.1M over the four-day New Year's weekend ended Jan. 4, 2003, and $290.4M for its first 19 days. Overseas brings the RINGS take to $675M so far. The latest record broken was $12M for New Year's Day, besting last year's $11M from THE TWO TOWERS.
yU + co explores the elusiveness and transience of memory in its absorbing main title sequence for the new John Woo thriller PAYCHECK, which opened Christmas Day through Paramount Pictures. The design studio's mercurial graphics, where words and names form out of random characters on a computer screen before being quickly erased, serve as a subtle metaphor for the conflict that besets the film's protagonist, who is engaged in a desperate struggle to reconstruct his past.
Cinesite Hollywood will provide digital intermediate and vfx services for the Fox Searchlight release NEVER DIE ALONE. The film noir directed by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19, 2004, and is slated for wide release on March 19.
Based on cult novelist Donald Goines' book of the same name, NEVER DIE ALONE is about King David (DMX), a hard-boiled, stylish criminal who returns to his hometown seeking redemption and finding only violent death.
Platinum Studios has acquired the film rights to two indie comics THE DARK FRINGE and RUST. Platinum head Scott Rosenberg will oversee the live-action projects.
FRINGE -- created, written and inked by Eman R. Torre for Atomic Rocket Prods -- follows a cop who must decide whether he can trust the top suspect in the murder of his wife to lead him to the possible true killer. RUST, created by Steve Miller, follows a man who is accidentally covered in metal and finds solace in sculpture.
Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch chose a Rorke Data Storage Area Network (SAN) containing 1.2 terabytes of Seagate disc drives for post-production editing on Anthony Minghellas Golden Globe nominated film, COLD MOUNTAIN. Reliability was the main concern for the system that was first built and configured by DigitalFilm Tree before being shipped to the film set outside of Bucharest, Romania.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued to rule the box office, grabbing $50.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 28, 2003, and $222.2M for its first dozen days. Overseas brings the total RINGS take to $492M so far. KING also saw the biggest Christmas-day haul ever of $14.6M, a nice holiday present for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.
Disney has hired Grant Calof and Greg Lee to adapt David Wiesner's award-winning illustrated children's book THE THREE PIGS into an animated feature combining CG and traditional techniques, VARIETY reports. Like SHREK, PIGS is a postmodern take on classic fairy tales (this one was made famous by Disney, of course, in a 1933 Silly Symphony short).
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on the popular book of the same name by C.S. Lewis, will begin production in New Zealand in early 2004, industry development minister Jim Anderton said in a statement. New Zealand-native Andrew Adamson, co-director of the Oscar-winning SHREK, will be directing the live-action film. The production will use stage space and personnel in Auckland.
After successfully IMAXing THE MATRIX trilogy, IMAX and Warner Bros. Pictures will release the third installment of the HARRY POTTER film series, THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in IMAX theaters in June 2004. The highly anticipated Alfonso Cuaron-directed feature is scheduled to open June 4 in conventional theaters. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN will be digitally re-mastered through proprietary IMAX DMR technology.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING came out swinging like Gollum for that box office brass ring on Wednesday, Dec. 17, taking in a glorious $57.6M in theaters around the globe, according to New Line, including a record-breaking domestic gross of $34.1M and $23.5M in 19 territories overseas.
Whats next for IDT Ent., the Newark, New Jersey-based company thats been on quite an animation buying spree of late? Engage Christopher Reeve (star of four SUPERMAN films, THE BOSTONIANS, SOMEWHERE IN TIME AND THE REMAINS OF THE DAY) to direct an original feature length animated film. The untitled film is described as an urban fable set in the 1930s, and is expected to be completed in early 2005.
Counter-programming struck back at the box office, with the middle-aged romantic comedy SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE knocking THE LAST SAMURAI into second place for the weekend ended Dec. 14, 2003. The Sony film pairing Jack Nicholson with Diane Keaton scored $16M compared to the $14M collected by the Warner Bros. epic starring Tom Cruise (with vfx from Flash Film Works, Rising Sun and Matte World).
When the Visual Information Technology laboratory at the Canadian National Research Council started developing its high resolution 3D scanners in the early 1980s, it probably had no idea that 20 years later one of its spin-offs, XYZ RGB Inc., would be contracted to help bring the characters of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to life on the big screen.
Walt Disney has confirmed members of the voice cast of its next 3D feature, CHICKEN LITTLE. TV series SCRUBS star Zac Braff will voice the lead character, which changes the original gender of the chick from female to male. Oscar nominee Joan Cusack (IN & OUT) will voice the ugly duckling with Steve Zahn (HAPPY, TEXAS) as a fat pig named Runt, Amy Sedaris (ELF) as Foxy Loxy, Katie Finneran (YOUVE GOT MAIL) as Foxy's sidekick Goosey Lucy, Don Knotts (ANY GRIFFITH SHOW) as Turkey Mayor and Garry Marshall (ORANG COUNTY) as Father.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has resurfaced with a computer-animated feature project set in the anthropomorphized world of bees, BEE MOVIE, to be made at DreamWorks. Imagine a Manhattan-like setting buzzing with bees. That's what hooked DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg when the two recently huddled at the Hamptons and started discussing animated movie ideas.
KIM POSSIBLE exec producers Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle have been signed by Walt Disney to rewrite live-action/CG feature ENCHANTED. Adam Shankman has already signed on to direct the film.
The story starts out in an animated fairy tale where a poor girl gets banished from the kingdom by the evil queen for falling in love with the prince. Her banishment lands her in live-action New York City, which the young girl quickly falls in love with. However, things get difficult when the prince and the queen come to the real world looking for her.
LORD OF THE RINGS helmer Peter Jackson has been quoted in various trade publications saying that he would love to make J.R.R. Tolkens prequel to the RINGS series, THE HOBBIT into a feature. Jackson said if he were presented the chance, he would work with some of the same actors he worked with on the RINGS trilogy. If Jackson gets his wish, it would come after his remake of KING KONG, which is next on the directors plate as well as his visual effects house, Weta in New Zealand.
Warner Bros.' THE LAST SAMURAI (with vfx from Flash Film Works, Rising Sun and Matte World) didn't quite meet expectations in its box office bow for the weekend ended Dec. 7, 2003, what with snow storms and heavy competition from family films, but the Tom Cruise epic still conquered the box office with an impressive $24.2M. Debuting at number two was the Universal romancer, HONEY, which drew $12.8M.
Miramax has acquired a trio of classic animated stories produced by former Beatle legend Sir Paul McCartney. TROPIC ISLAND HUM, TUESDAY and RUPERT & THE FROG SONG are scheduled to be released on DVD and video in spring 2004 as part of Miramax's Family Home Entertainment. McCartney and Miramax co-chair Harvey Weinstein most recently collaborated on THE CONCERT FOR NEW YORK CITY, which raised $35 million for the victims of 9/11.
Encore Hollywood provided animation and visual effects services for Fox Home Entertainment on ALIEN 3 for the Alien Quadrilogy, the nine disc boxed set, which arrives on December 2. Computer animator Greg Tsadilas created a 3D version of a baby alien for the birth sequence, which is part of 30 minutes of added material. The birth sequence shows the newborn alien creature emerging from the carcass of an ox then fleeing down a corridor. The new creature is in a form not seen in any of the ALIEN films.