DreamWorks has signed a seven-figure deal with writer John Ridley to pen the animated feature, THE UNPROFESSIONALS, reported VARIETY. The film will chronicle the misadventures of a trio of unlucky monkeys. Ridley previously worked in toon town on the Web animation series UNDERCOVER BROTHER, which was made into a live-action theatrical feature, and THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS, which was released as an animated feature compilation on DVD. Mike LaChance, Chris Cuzer and Jeffrey Katzenberg will serve as producers on the new project.
New Line Cinema have tapped writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN) to pen the screen adaptation of DC Comics' SHAZAM!. William Goldman (PRINCESS BRIDE) had been working on the script previously. The film would chronicle the easygoing Billy Batson and his superhero alter ego Captain Marvel. Batson changed by saying the word "shazam," giving the attributes to six Greek gods. The character appeared in DC Comics in the 1970s and originally appeared in the 1940s as a Fawcett Comics title.
New 3D CG feature animation studio, CritterPix Studios, located in San Rafael, California, has secured representation of Hollywood heavyweight attorneys, Jake Bloom, of Bloom, Hergott and Diemer, and also that of Fred Bernstein of Manatt, Philips and Phelps, to land a distribution deal with a studio for CritterPixs first feature project.
Despite a recent online account that Disney quietly pulled the plug in November on GNOMEO AND JULIET, the studio maintains that any rumors of its demise are premature. Indeed, producer Don Hahn told SCIFIWIRE that the computer-animated riff on Shakespeare's classic tale about two star-crossed ceramic gnomes set in England is still in development. Elton John (a co-producer through his Rocket Pictures) and Tim Rice have written songs, and Ewan McGregor is still on track to voice Gnomeo, though no mention was made about Kate Winslet still voicing Juliet.
Bill Plympton's new independent feature HAIR HIGH will have its West Coast premiere at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival on Feb. 14, 2004.
Screen Gems' street dancing movie, YOU GOT SERVED, topped the box office chart for the weekend ended Feb. 1, 2004, scoring $16.1M, despite being slowed by the exciting Super Bowl game and Janet Jackson's breast-baring half-time controversy. New Line's sci-fi thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (with VFX by Schminken Studio and Toybox), came in a distant second in its sophomore outing with $9.5M and a cume of $31.7M. Universal's ALONG CAME POLLY settled for third place with $9.3M and a total of $66M.
Cannes Film Festival has selected SHREK 2 for the main competition in the 2004 event, which runs from May 12-23. The premiere will be on May 15, at 7:30 pm and voice cast including Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas and Rupert Everett are scheduled to be attending.
Les Armateurs has announced that it will go into production on a prequel to its Annecy grand prize-winning feature KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS, titled THE CHILD KIRIKOU, reported VARIETY. Michel Ocelot, director and writer of the original, will write the new tale and direct it along with Benedicte Galup. Ocelot will split the directing duties because he is working on another project. The film has a budget set at $6 million and should reach theaters by the end of 2005.
Movie and race car legend Paul Newman will lend his voice to a car character in Pixar Animation Studios seventh animated feature, CARS, written and directed by John Lasseter, set for a holiday release in 2005 through Walt Disney Pictures.
Southpaw Entertainment has announced that it has hired SHREK 2 and SPIRIT director Kelly Asbury to write and direct a live-action/CGI fantasy adventure, titled IMAGINARY CHILDREN, reported VARIETY. Southpaw's Richard Lewis and Scott Peters came up with the concept, which follows a cartoonist whose characters consume his life's so much that he is estranged from his real child. Lewis will finance the project on his own with investments from his Southpaw partner eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll.
Producers have revealed that STUART LITTLE 3 will be an all-CG direct-to-video feature, reports Zap2it.com.
"There's a gigantic audience out there for this, but it would not pay to make it a full-out feature," said Douglas Wick, producer of the first two movies and co-writer of STUART LITTLE 2. "We just got the script and we like it, but this time there will be no live characters, it will all be CGI."
New Lines sci-fi thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (with vfx by Schminken Studio and Toybox), overtook Universals ALONG CAME POLLY at the box office with $17M for the weekend ended Jan. 25, 2004. POLLY came in second in its second outing with $16.3M and $53.2M to date. DreamWorks WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!
DreamWorks has ordered scripts for SHREK 3 and SHARK TALE 2, reported VARIETY; however, the studio would not comment when AWN followed up. The third adventure for the giant green orge will have him wrapped up in the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table legend. SHREK 2, with a budget northwards of $80 million, arrives in theaters May 21, 2004, hoping to ride the huge success of the first film, which grossed $267 million in the U.S. on its way to becoming the surprise box office champ of 2001.
Universals Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston comedy, ALONG CAME POLLY, blew away the competition, including THE RETURN OF THE KING, in its box office debut over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, ended Jan. 19, 2004, collecting $32.4M. After four weeks atop the chart, New Lines RETURN OF THE KING (with vfx overwhelmingly by Weta Digital) finally fell to second place with $12.4M and a grand $329M to date.
Brazilian magazine, SET, has posted an interview with THE LORD OF RINGS actor Sean Astin, where he mentions being in the running to direct the FANTASTIC FOUR feature. Upon the success of his short film, THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT, which he filmed while making LORD OF THE RINGS, he has had interviews to direct 20th Century Fox's feature adaptation of the Marvel comic classic. The article quotes the budget between $100 to $130 million.
TeamWorks Digital recently completed work on Warner Bros.' TORQUE, the hyper-real motorcycle racing film that opens Jan. 16. "TORQUE is a project that enabled us to provide constant input to the visual effects of the show," says TeamWorks Digital owner David Allen. "We contributed in such a way that translated the director's unique style and vision to the screen." TORQUE is directed by music video honcho Joseph Kahn, making his first feature film debut.
Paramount Pictures confirmed that it is developing a live action version of THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN, based on E.B. White's final children's book, which would include some CGI animation. Katie Ford (co-writer of MISS CONGENIALITY) will script. This marks the second film adaptation of THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. Back in 2001, Rich-Crest Animation produced an animated feature directed by Terry Noss and Richard Rich.
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.