BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE from Buena Vista brought in an exceptionally big weekend box office debut for the month of March in North America. Taking in roughly $31.7M, it was the third best ever debut in March, behind 20th Century Fox's ICE AGE ($46.3) and New Line's BLADE 2 ($32.5M). TEARS OF THE SUN, with visual effects by ILM, debuted in second place with $17.2M while OLD SCHOOL, vfx by Gray Matter FX, slipped a notch to third place at $9.2M and a cue of $50.8.
Fast on the heels of the recent deal with producer Chris Wedge, Twentieth Century Fox Features has signed a multi-year exclusive deal with ICE AGE producer Lori Forte. Forte is developing several animated features for Fox and will serve as producer on a potential ICE AGE sequel. "Lori is a spectacular producer and a critical part of the future that we are building with Blue Sky," said Chris Meledandri, president of 20th Century Fox Animation, who announced Forte's deal. ICE Age is nominated for the Best Animated Feature film Academy Award.
Warner Bros.' hip hop King Fu actioner CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE (Bryan Hirota was vfx supervisor) debuted at the top of the weekend box office in North America, taking in $17.1M, followed by OLD SCHOOL, vfx by Gray Matter FX, holding at second place at $13.8M and a cume of $37.2M. DAREDEVIL, with primary vfx by Rhythm & Hues, Pixel Magic and Digital Domain, dropped to third pulling in an estimated gross of $11M, and a total of $84.1M. HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, with visual effects by Pixel Magic, dropped to fourth place taking in $10.1M and a $77.5M total.
Constantin Film in Germany is driving the latest game-to-screen crossover, optioning the film and television rights to Infogrames' DRIVER video game franchise. Impact Pictures, a subsidiary of Constantin, is slated to start shooting the motion picture later this year. "This is a great opportunity to develop the extremely cool game character of Tanner into a very believable and iconic action movie hero," said Jeremy Bolt, the movie's producer. Tanner is an undercover policeman hired by the mob as a getaway driver. Bolt set up Impact Pictures with writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson.
Director Chris Wedge is on fire, signing a five-year, multipicture exclusive deal with 20th Century Fox that includes a potential ICE AGE sequel and a new film ROBOTS, it was announced Thursday by Chris Meledandri, president of Twentieth Century Fox Animation. Wedge is also receiving the first ever Animation Director of the Year Award at ShoWest during a gala Tuesday, March 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada and is nominated for an Oscar.
SHREK producer John Williams and his company Vanguard Films will produce a live-action theatrical adaptation of children's book TED for Nickelodeon Movies, starring a CG-animated version of the lead character. Ted is the mischievous imaginary friend of a young boy in the book of the same name by best-selling author/illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi. Rob Moreland (HAPPILY EVER AFTER) is adapting TED for Vanguard and Greenlight Media. TED will be rendered entirely in CG amongst a live-action cast and environment.
Veteran animation director Ralph Bakshi (LORD OF THE RINGS, HEAVY METAL, COOL WORLD) is joining forces with REN & STIMPY creator John Kricfalusi to produce a slate of low-budget animated features aimed at adults, according to VARIETY. Both animators are known for locking horns with studio and network execs while creating some of the most influential animation productions. Bakshi and Kricfalusi plan to make animated features, costing under $10M, that are an alternative to the family slates at the majors.
DAREDEVIL managed to cling onto its top box office position at theaters in North America for a second weekend (primary vfx by Rhythm & Hues, Pixel Magic and Digital Domain), holding off a challenge from DreamWork's school party film OLD SCHOOL. The Marvel Comics blind superhero flick pulled in an estimated gross of $18.9M, and moved its estimated 10-day cume to a healthy $70.3M.
Popular comic book cat and animated TV star GARIFELD will display his CGI stripes in a new live-action motion picture Twentieth Century Fox plans to release in U.S. theaters December 19, 2003. Peter Hewitt directs the picture, which is adapted from the syndicated cartoon strip created by Jim Davis and read in 2,600 newspapers by 260 million readers around the globe. The story starts as Garfields owner, Jon, takes in sweet but dimwitted pooch Odie, turning Garfields perfect world upside down.
Moviegoers lifted DAREDEVIL out of relative comic book hero obscurity as the Twentieth Century Fox theatrical release starring Ben Affleck took in $43.5M, the biggest haul ever for a movie opening over Presidents Day weekend. Based on the Marvel Comics blind superhero, the film easily surpassed the previous best of $20.3M for last year's JOHN Q and was the second-best February debut ever behind HANNIBAL two years ago at $58M. Rich Thorne supervised visual effects for Fox with work done primarily by Rhythm & Hues, Pixel Magic and Digital Domain.
Banking on the success and visibility of THE JUNGLE BOOK and its many reissues over the past 35 years, Walt Disney tests the market for a new storyline and new songs featuring many of the same characters from the classic. THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 debuts Friday, February 14 in the U.S. Directed by Steve Trenbirth, produced by Christopher Chase and Mary Thorne, the original screenplay by Karl Geurs, picks up where man-cub Mowgli is torn between two words.
JM Entertainment, based in Seoul, Korea and Glendale, California, has started production on its first 2D/3D animated feature film THE TOY WARRIOR. Hollywood TV animation writer Brian Swenlin wrote the script about the Land of Toys, an imaginative world ruled by the popular doll, Princess Sherbert. When a dark force threatens her toy kingdom, Jinoo, a trouble-making boy from the real world, must save the day. JM Entertainment president Ji-Moon (Jeff) Lim and Seoul Movie president Chang-Rok Jun are executive producers.
Canada's first full-length 3D animated feature film P3K, PINOCCHIO 3000, is currently in production in Montréal, and has recently added Malcolm McDowell, Howie Mandel and Whoopi Goldberg to its cast of voices. McDowell plays Mayor Scamboli, a technocratic megalomaniac who rules the megapolis of Scamboville with an iron fist. Mandel plays Spencer, Gepettos trusted cyborg-penguin assistant who helps him create Pinocchio, a very special robot equipped with a one-of-a-kind P3K processor that endows him with the lively imagination of a youngster.
Moviegoers opted for comedy at this weekend's U.S. box office, with HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, visual effects by Pixel Magic, debuting at number one with $23.7M. Cinesite and Effects Assoc. in the U.K. did visual effects for SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, which debuted at No. 2 with $19.6M. CHICAGO, with visual effects from Toybox and Film Effects Inc., moved up to third place, taking in $10.7 to bring its total to $63.8M, while THE RECRUIT, featuring effects by Pacific Title, dropped to fourth place with $9.2M and a cume of $29.8.
Richard Bazley, a lead animator on the animated features HERCULES, POCOHONTAS, OSMOSIS JONES and IRON GIANT, among others, has come on board as director of BA20's 78 x 7-minute Flash animation series RIP, THE ANGRIEST PIG IN THE WORLD. Created by cyberpunk author Steve Aylett, and produced by BA20 Entertainment, the series is described as "Tex Avery doing Beavis & Butthead." Bazley's company Bazley Films will produce the show in the U.K.
French animation studio Action Synthèse is currently in production on the upcoming CG feature THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT, using SOFTIMAGE|XSI to animate this remake of the '60s children's cult television series. THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT will star Australian pop star Kylie Minogue as Florence and fellow singer Robbie Williams as the world-weary dog Dougal, along with ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS star Joanna Lumley as Ermintrude the cow.
Warner Bros. Pictures has subcontracted Cinesite Europe with all the model unit construction and miniature photography for the third HARRY POTTER film: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. Construction work will begin immediately on the models of Hogwarts, Privet Drive, a huge marble staircase and other significant structures within the film. The model building will continue until May 2003 at the Shepperton Studios workshops, with photography scheduled to begin in early June.
Three new films took the top three spots at this weekend's U.S. box office, with the action film THE RECRUIT debuting at number one with $16.5M. Right on THE RECRUIT's heels is FINAL DESTINATION 2, with visual effects by Pixel Magic. The thriller sequel arrived in second place on its debut with $16.2M. In third place was DreamWorks' motorcycle racing flick BIKER BOYZ, with primary visual effects by R!OT, earning $10.1M. KANGAROO JACK is still proving popular at the box office, slipping just two spots to fourth place.
Abi Feijó, former ASIFA International president and founder of animation studio Filmógrafo, is appealing for the animation community's help. Casa de Animação, a 1500 square meter facility located in the Portuguese city of Porto, that encompasses a theatre, a space for exhibitions, a library/video library, an archive, a production studio, a training studio, a cafeteria and a small gift shop, is currently facing some adversities due to a breach of agreements by Portuguese officials.
USA TODAY brings us the news that Robert De Niro has come on board DreamWorks' upcoming animated feature SHARKSLAYER to voice Don Lino, the "Godfather" of all sharks, replacing THE SOPRANOS' James Gandolfini. De Niro joins Will Smith (ALI, MEN IN BLACK) who voices Oscar, a young fish that is found at the scene of the crime when the son of Don Lino gets killed. Oscar takes advantage of this opportunity to play the hero, but soon finds that there are serious consequences to his posing as the great Sharkslayer.
Brooklyn, New York-based animation company Charged Productions has teamed with Nickelodeon to produce a studio ID to introduce Nickelodeon's latest feature film, THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE. The 15-second ID, "Dog Nose," features the antics of a 3-foot tall puppy puppet filmed in stop-motion. The seeking snout of the animated pup sniffs the camera, until the Nickelodeon Movies logo is revealed. The ID ends with the playful pooch licking the lens. The spot is also being used as a channel identification logo on-air.
Attention Academy Members! Completed Oscar nomination ballots must be returned to PricewaterhouseCoopers by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 29, 2003. Ballots received after the 5:00 pm deadline are ineligible. All eligible members of the Academy may cast their vote in the Best Picture category, while Academy members in 12 branches will nominate achievements in up to 22 categories. Films submitted in the Animated Feature and Foreign Language Film categories are screened and selected by special voting groups of Academy members.
Despite a lackluster weekend at the box office due to the Super Bowl, new release DARKNESS FALLS managed to debut at number one, while last week's number one KANGAROO JACK hopped down to second and Golden Globe winner CHICAGO shot up to third. The horror flick DARKNESS FALLS, with visual effects by Animal Logic and Sony Pictures Imageworks, debuted with $12M, which was enough to top the comedy KANGAROO JACK, with visual effects by Asylum and The Secret Lab, which collected $11.6M for a two-week total of $35.4M.
Warner Bros. Pictures has announced that FINAL FLIGHT OF THE OSIRIS, directed by Square USA and one of the nine animated episodes that make up THE ANIMATRIX, will have its theatrical premiere with DREAMCATCHER, a new thriller set to debut in theaters March 21, 2003. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, DREAMCATCHER is a supernatural thriller based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. It stars Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane and Jason Lee, and features special effects by ILM.
The Associated Press brings us the news that a Thai newspaper is reporting an animated feature will be made out of a novel written by Thailand's king. According to the NATION newspaper, storyboards for the film, which is based on King Bhumibol Adulyadej's novel MAHACHANOK (THE GREAT FATHER), will be submitted to the king for approval in March 2003. The 90-minute film is being produced by the government's National Youth Bureau, and tells the story of a Buddhist ruler who sacrifices himself for his subjects.