Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, is busy doing lots of voice work these days. In addition to Blue Sky's ROBOTS and Disney's upcoming GNOMEO AND JULIET, the Scottish actor has just been signed to voice the title character in Vanguard Animation's CG-animated feature, VALIANT. The animated comedy tells the story of a lowly wood pigeon named Valiant, who overcomes his small size to become a hero in Great Britain's Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service during World War II.
After typical studio jockeying back and forth during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, THE CAT IN THE HAT remained on top of the box office chart when all the dust settled. That is, if you count the three-day weekend and not the five-day tally. The Universal movie produced by Imagine Entertainment (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues) hauled in $24.4M for the three-day period (and $32.9M for the five days ended Nov. 30).
THE WAINSCOTT WEASEL, the popular children's book written by Tor Seidler and illustrated by the late Fred Marcelliano, is the latest property to be snatched up by Fox Studios Animation and Blue Sky Studios. Just one look at that eye patch-sporting weasel, who's in love with a beautiful silver fish, and you just know he belongs in the 3D company of Scrat.
Cinesite (Europe) Ltd announced that it has moved into production on visual effects for several major feature films, which will complete throughout 2004. These include TROY (Warner Bros.), HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (Warner Bros.), ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (Fox), AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (Walden Media), SAHARA (Paramount), KING ARTHUR (Buena Vista) and ALFIE (Paramount).
Warner Bros.' GOTHIKA, the contemporary ghost story starring Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz, marks the debut of new digital fire effects created by CafeFX. With fire a central motif in the movie, CafeFX was challenged to develop custom software for fire shading and motion in key sequences, and with creating effects that heighten the impact of other frightening scenes.
Though well short of the opening gross for the live-action HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, Universal's THE CAT IN THE HAT still attracted enough tikes and their families to pull in a sizable $38.3M in its debut. The Imagine Entertainment production, with vfx by Rhythm & Hues, ruled the box office for the weekend ended Nov. 23, 2003.
As if they hadnt sprung enough new animated features on us already (three in 2004), Montreal-based H2V Entertainment plans to produce two more theatricals starring one of the worlds most well-known toys, the Slinky. H2V Kids, a new addition to H2V and its partner UKFS, have signed a deal with DoubleTake Spring Partners, Inc. and James Industries, Inc. to launch the legendary toy into the world of animation with two movies and a TV series based on characters from the hit collection of Slinky Pets toys.
ROCKFISH, the second computer-animated short from Blur Studio, currently on the short-list for Oscar consideration, was screened publicly for the first time, Nov. 21, 2003 for a confab of journalists and animators at the Charles Aidikoff Screening Room in Beverly Hills, California.
In an interview with the TORONTO STAR, actor Andy Serkis, the man behind LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERs scene-stealing CG character Gollum, alluded to his re-teaming with RINGS director Peter Jackson as the big ape in KING KONG. The article stated, Serkis has an even bigger assignment ahead of him. Rumour has it he'll be the face of King Kong in Peter Jackson's planned 2005 remake of the legendary ape epic.
Mickey Mouse celebrates his 75th anniversary today as one of the world's most beloved cultural icons. Ever since Mickey debuted in the first synchronized sound cartoon, STEAMBOAT WILLIE, on Nov. 18, 1928, he has remained in our consciousness while also presiding as the face of The Walt Disney Co. around the globe. Today, the company honored Mickey 75th by kicking off 18 months of celebration beginning at Walt Disney World Resort with the unveiling of 75 uniquely designed, 700-pound, 6-foot-tall Mickey statues -- a tribute to Mickey from an impressive group of friends. Chairman/ceo Michael D.
DigitalFilm Tree (DFT), a post and design company specializing in Final Cut Pro (FCP) consultation and implementation, collaborated with Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch to pioneer a Final Cut Pro editing workflow for his work on Anthony Minghella's COLD MOUNTAIN, Miramax's Civil War epic starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman and prime Oscar contender, due in theaters Christmas Day.
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution has acquired the domestic distribution rights to Walden Media's adventure comedy, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, starring Jackie Chan. The film will be released by Walt Disney Pictures as a summer 2004 tentpole.
Production has been halted on the Walt Disney Co.'s A FEW GOOD GHOSTS at Feature Animation in Orlando, Florida (BROTHER BEAR, LILO & STITCH and MULAN) due to creative differences and subject matter deemed not "universally appealing." The shutdown falls on the heels of recent closures (Paris and Tokyo) and layoffs, including 50 at the Orlando facility.
New Line's Christmas satire, ELF (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues and Amalgamated Pixels) won the box office weekend ended Nov. 16, 2003. After two weeks, ELF has grabbed a tidy $70.3M. Fox's Oscar contender, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, debuted in second place with a respectable but certainly not commanding $25.1M.
Miramax has hired writer Brett Matthews to pen the theatrical installment of the LEGO BIONICLE franchise. Both the first and in-production second film in the series are direct-to-DVD releases. The BIONICLE story follows a group of intelligent biomechanical superheroes who battle the evil Makuta.
Spanish international sales firm Lumina Films has gained the overseas sales rights outside Spain to the Spanish 3D feature film MIDSUMMER DREAM, reported VARIETY. Dygra Films, producers of hit film THE LIVING FOREST, created the film. The $8 million film is a co-production with Portugal's Appia Filmes and is based on Shakespeares A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.
Salma Hayek has joined the voice cast of Puerto Rico-based Muvi Films SIAN KA'AN that consists of Alfred Molina (FRIDA, Michelle Rodriguez (GIRLFIGHT), Cheech Marin (UP IN SMOKE) and opera legend Placido Domingo. The film will be recorded in both Spanish and English by the bilingual cast.
Giant Killer Robots (GKR), an Oscar-winning vfx boutique in San Francisco, provided pre-visualization, design, effects animation, rendering and final compositing services to create the subterranean metropolis Zion in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. GKR also served as a lead coordinating firm for critical action sequences in Zion that required photorealism and precise animation. REVOLUTIONS features vfx with a Japanese anime-like feel that blends fantasy and reality.
Warner Bros. Pictures THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS topped the North American box office for the weekend ended Nov. 9, 2003, taking in $48.5 M, but fell 47% short of its predecessor, THE MATRIX RELOADED. However, REVOLUTIONS (with vfx by ESC FX, Animal Logic, BuF Compagnie, Giant Killer Robots, Tippett Studio and Tweak Films) in its revolutionary worldwide release broke the five-day overseas record with a yield of $201M. The third installment had stiff competition from New Line Cinemas ELF (vfx from Amalgamated Pixels and Rhythm & Hues), which collected $31.1M for second place.
Walt Disney has greenlit two new 3D projects from LILO & STITCH creator Chris Sanders and veteran animator Glen Keane. Carolyn Soper, vp of production for Walt Disney Feature Animation, briefly discussed the projects at a Producers Guild function on Nov. 6, 2003.
THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS made its worldwide debut on Nov. 5, 2003, taking in $43.1 million from 18,000 screens. The final installment in the cyber saga brought in $24.3 million in the U.S. and Canada where it played in 3,502 theaters. This amount makes it the third biggest Wednesday bow of all time in North America behind only STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE ($28.5M) and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS ($26.2M).
DreamWorks has tapped commercial director Noam Murro to direct the sequel to the $129 million surprise hit, THE RING, reported VARIETY. The original films star Naomi Watts has already signed on to reprise her role. The film should start filming in January and is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 10, 2004.
Warner Bros. Pictures has tapped scribes Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams (CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES) to write a live-action feature based on Cartoon Network's JOHNNY BRAVO, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, reported VARIETY. Original Film's Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein will produce, with show creator Van Partible attached as exec producer. Overseeing the film will be Original's Tania Landau and WB's Greg Silverman and Alicia Cotter. The plot will follow Johnny on his journey to find his estranged father.