As we edge closer to Oscar time, the critics continue to weigh in with their picks. On January 2, 2002 the Online Film Critics Society gave the nod to SHREK as Best Animated Feature. If youre counting, thats three critics' awards for SHREK, one for WAKING LIFE and none for the other Academy Awards qualifiers. January 5, 2002 saw the American Film Institute (AFI) bestow Film of the Year honors on LORD OF THE RINGS, which beat out nine other nominees (including SHREK) to take home the top prize.
Epic fantasy THE LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary visual effects by WETA, ruled as the number one film for the third week in a row, nabbing another $23M this weekend to break the $200M mark after just 18 days. The AFI honored RINGS as "Film of the Year" this weekend and it has earned $205.5M after just 19 days in theaters. The drama A BEAUTIFUL MIND, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, claimed the number two spot, with $17M in its first week of wide release. The film, which is inspired by the life of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, has earned $38.2M after three weeks.
Santa Monica-based effects studio Computercafe created a "living" bomb that is extracted from a human body for the upcoming Dimension Films release IMPOSTOR. Computercafes primary visual effects contribution to the film was the 3D organic bomb featured in three scenes. Because the bomb is found nestled in the chest cavity of a human host, art director Ron Honn, animation supervisor Taron and digital effects supervisor David Ebner designed the device to resemble an internal organ.
The first installment of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING is shaping up to be a huge success for New Line Cinema. Already benefiting from repeat viewings, the film, with primary digital effects by WETA in New Zealand, continues its number one run, bringing in $56.9M over the five-day holiday weekend for an astounding two-week total of $174.1M.
Dimension Films has acquired the rights to develop and produce an animated feature based on BLOOM COUNTYs pantless penguin Opus, with creator Berkeley Breathed attached to write and direct. The project is the first from the newly established first look deal between Dimension and Storyopolis Productions. The character Opus debuted in 1980 in Breatheds BLOOM COUNTY comic strip, and eventually appeared in a series of cartoon collections, as well as children's books, an animated television special, and a line of collectible items.
As everyone predicted LORD OF THE RINGS, with primary digital effects by WETA in New Zealand, was easily number one at the U.S. box office this long, holiday weekend. Opening on Wednesday, December 19, the film pulled in over $18 million in the first 24 hours alone. As of Sunday, December 23, the film has a cume of $73.1 million and shows no sign of slowing down as other newcomers had weak openings. Ultra-slick OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, is holding strong with a second place finish of $14.6M and a cume of $95.2M.
Scandinavian animation production company Happy Life and sister company ColorPop are producing an animated feature film based on the popular Norwegian character Captain Sabretooth. THE WORLD'S MOST CRUEL PIRATE is scheduled to premiere in Norway in December 2003. Happy Life will be responsible for animating Captain Sabretooth and his fellow pirates, and Stig Bergqvist of FilmTecknarna F. Animation, who recently directed the feature RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE, has signed on to direct. The total budget of the feature is US$5.2 million.
Release dates for two potential blockbuster summer features were announced this week, but youll have to wait until 2003 to see them. 20th Century Fox will unveil X2, the sequel to their $300 million hit X-MEN, on May 2, 2003. X2 will reunite the original cast of mutants and involve the same key creative team, including director Bryan Singer; producers Ralph Winter, Lauren Shuler Donner and Avi Arad; and screenwriter David Hayter.
Now that the animated feature category is a lock, the Oscar race is on, and critics groups from around the country are starting to weigh in with their picks. Although the New York Film Critics Circle chose WAKING LIFE as best animated film of the year, SHREK is pulling ahead in the accolades department. The DreamWorks blockbuster picked up the award for best animated film from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, as well as making a list of ten nominees for best film of the year from both the AFI and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
Vanilla Sky Tops Box Office. The psychological drama VANILLA SKY, with visual effects by Digital Domain, was number one at the box office this weekend, bringing in a strong $25M in its debut. Casino heist flick OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, ran a close second earning $23M for a two-week cume of $73.3M. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, fell two spots to fourth, with $9.9M for the weekend and $253.3M to date.
The day after it was announced that the 74th Academy Awards would present an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the New York Film Critics Circle has chosen WAKING LIFE as best animated film of the year. The 37-member New York Film Critics Circle is made up of New York-based newspaper, magazine and online film critics. While the awards are responsible for generating early Oscar-buzz for the winning films, the Circle is also known for their idiosyncratic picks. Now that the Animated Feature category is a lock, the critics will be weighing in right and left with their choices.
Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning animated classic, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the January 1, 2002 release of a new Large Format Cinema Special Edition. Following the success of FANTASIA 2000, which was the first Disney film to be released in large format and grossed over $51 million, this special edition includes the newly animated six-minute musical sequence "Human Again," featuring the song written for the original film by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Months of anticipation, followed by concern that not enough films would be submitted or found eligible, have led to the announcement that the 74th Academy Awards will include a category for Best Animated Feature. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued this press release announcing that a feature-length animated film will be awarded a competitive Oscar for the first time next March at the 74th Academy Award presentations.
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Cinesite Hollywood completed two dozen shots for Universal Studios' new film SPY GAME, directed by Tony Scott and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Cinesite's work included the enhancement of reflections in an interrogation scene, blowing out a grid of lights in a night landscape scene, and adding muzzle flashes, sparks, bullet holes, dust and debris. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser said there are no blue or green screen shots in the film. A few explosions occur in the film, but they were achieved using practical, in-camera methods.
8. OCEANS ELEVEN SINKS HARRY POTTER. The remake of the Rat Pack classic OCEANS ELEVEN, with visual effects by E=mc2 and Cinesite, topped the box office this weekend, raking in $38.1M and taking the prize for the biggest December opening of all time. OCEANS ELEVEN was the only new wide release this weekend, so as each film moved down a notch to make room for the new number one, the order of the top ten stayed relatively the same.
Visual effects and design company Reality Check Studios (RCS), completed over 75 effects shots for 20th Century Fox's BEHIND ENEMY LINES, now in theaters. As the primary visual effects house for the film, RCS artists built computer-generated planes, missiles, parachutes, and pilots and enhanced shots with smoke, debris and explosions. In an 8-minute sequence during which the lead character is shot down over enemy territory, RCS had a team of 16 animators working to create extensive 3D effects where CG elements were integrated into live action footage.
Hoping to get people back in theaters to see MONSTERS, INC. one more time, Disney/Pixar has announced that they will be adding a specially-created group of animated ``outtakes'' to the end credits of the film. Creating the animated bloopers is now a tradition for Disney/Pixar and has proved very popular with moviegoers. The outtakes will be shown in theaters beginning this Friday, December 7, 2001. Audiences will also be able to download a sneak preview of the outtakes beginning Friday at www.monstersinc.com and www.apple.com/trailers.
Although its weekend take of $24.1M represents a 58% drop from last weekend, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, remained number one for the third week in a row, and crossed the $200M mark after 15 days. HARRY has earned $220.1M after three weeks of release. The rescue drama BEHIND ENEMY LINES, with visual effects by Reality Check Studios and OCS/Freeze Frame/Pixel Magic, came in a strong second, earning $19.2M in its debut.
Toronto-based visual effects company Mr. X, Inc. has been tapped by Lions Gate Entertainment for effects supervision and to create a mix of character animation, photo-realistic environments, effects animation and complete the compositing for Hypercube, the sequel to the 1997 sci-fi thriller Cube. The Mr. X team, led by president Dennis Berardi and visual effects supervisor Aaron Weintraub, are creating the effects for virtually everything that makes the cube a harrowing experience for those trapped within its confines.
DivXNetworks is offering a special program that allows independent filmmakers to license DivX video technology at no cost for certain types of limited commercial use. To promote this program DivX is showing the animated short Killer Bean 2 on the DivX site. Killer Bean 2 was released in 2000 and has been viewed over 1 million times across a number of Websites. The 7-minute short film can now be viewed in full-screen high-resolution DivX format at www.divx.com, along with the trailer for the forthcoming third installment Killer Bean 3.
Santa Monica, California-based effects studio Sassoon Film Design (SFD) completed the visual effects for New Line Cinema's LIFE AS A HOUSE, now in theaters. SFD was the primary effects house and worked with the film's producers from pre-production, supervising on set through to completion of final shots. In the film's final sequence, SFD needed to create the illusion of an idyllic neighborhood with a long helicopter shot of the house that is the center of the story.
ComputerCafe's animation team created a pair of photorealistic, "chi" police officers and their motorcycles for a critical fight scene in the new Jet Li starrer THE ONE. ComputerCafe also composited the chi stuntmen with live-action plates in which Jet Li appears to engage them in hand-to-hand combat. The finished effects shots are seamlessly intercut with other shots in which real actors and motorcycles were used. Directed by James Wong, THE ONE centers on a sheriff's deputy who confronts an evil alternate version of himself (both played by Li) from a parallel universe.
Giant Studios, the motion-capture technology and R&D provider for the LORD OF THE RINGS (LOTR) Trilogy has posted a behind-the-scenes movie produced by Weta (the primary visual effects company for LOTR) on the Giant Studios Website. The short film showcases some of the innovative motion-capture production techniques and technology developed for LOTR. In the clip, director Peter Jackson blocks scenes and places actors using Giants proprietary technology allowing Jackson to see the digital characters move through virtual sets and pre-visualize the shots.
For the second week in a row, the fantasy film HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, took the top spot at the box office. The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend helped boost the films three-day total to $57.5M for a ten-day take of $187M. Setting more records this week, HARRY POTTER has surpassed 1999's TOY STORY 2 to become the largest-grossing movie ever over the Thanksgiving holiday. The film also matched the record set by STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE by reaching the $100M mark in just 5 days.
New Line Cinema has acquired Cartoon Network's animated series SAMURAI JACK, to be adapted into a live-action feature film directed by Brett Ratner, director of the RUSH HOUR films. SAMURAI JACK tells the story of a great warrior displaced to the distant future by the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku. The world has become a bleak place under Aku's rule, segregated into fantastic tribes and policed by Aku's evil robot warlords. Samurai Jack travels this foreign landscape searching for the time portal that can return him to his home.