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.
He wears a hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and talks, thanks to special effects by Asylum and The Secret Lab! He's KANGAROO JACK, the down under comedy that hopped to the top of the box office heap this weekend, earning $17.6M in its debut. In second place was another new release, NATIONAL SECURITY, starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn, which debuted with $15.7M. Last week's number one film JUST MARRIED fell to third with $12.4M for a total $34M.
Finally a film has come along that was able to topple the box office power of LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, but strangely enough it was the low budget romantic comedy JUST MARRIED. Standing out as the lone new release this weekend, JUST MARRIED managed to debut in first place with $18M. This knocked THE TWO TOWERS, featuring primary visual effects by Weta Digital, down to second place, with $14.9M and a four-week cume of $283.6M.
Sony Pictures Animation has purchased a treatment from cartoonist Steve Moore and producer John Carls, tentatively titled OPEN SEASON. It tells the story of what happens in the wild when the tables are turned and the hunters become the hunted. Moore and Carls will work closely with Sony Animation executive vice presidents Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins and creative VP Nate Hopper in developing the project. "I love imagining life from the animals point of view especially animals who are hunted.
For the third weekend in a row, LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, with visual effects by Weta Digital, ruled the box office, earning a lordly $25M for a three week cume of $261M. So far, the second installment in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy has earned 26% more over a comparable period of time than its 2001 predecessor, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. This bodes well for the final act, THE RETURN OF THE KING, which will bow in theaters December 2004. Holding on to second place was CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, with visual effects by Asylum and a stunning animated opening sequence by Nexus Prods.
Although Disney chose to give Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY a modest release in the U.S., the film has managed to catch the eye of critics. Already winning Best Animated Feature from the New York Critics Circle, The Los Angeles Critics Association and the National Board of Review, SPIRITED AWAY is now finding its way on to critics' "Best of 2002" lists.
LILO & STITCH was named best animated feature by both The Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, bucking the SPIRITED AWAY trend that has so far prevailed amongst critics. In the inaugural awards from WAFCA, announced on December 30, the critics' group also chose ICE AGE as a runner up in the animated category, and UNDERCOVER BROTHER, Universal Pictures live-action adaptation of Urban Entertainment's animated Web series, as "Best Guilty Pleasure."
Following in the footsteps of video games turned feature films such as RESIDENT EVIL and TOMB RAIDER, interactive game developer Infogrames, Inc. and Dritte/Vierte Boll Kino Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co KG (Boll Kino) are taking the horror game ALONE IN THE DARK from the computer screen to the big screen. Infogrames has sold Boll Kino the theatrical feature film rights to the classic game. Under the agreement, Boll Kino will control exclusive worldwide theatrical film rights to ALONE IN THE DARK, as well as video, DVD, television, cable and pay-per-view rights for the film.
LORD OF THE RINGS ruled the last box office weekend of 2002 with THE TWO TOWERS topping $200M after 12 days in release. The second film in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, with visual effects by Weta Digital, earned $48.9M over the weekend for a total of $200.1M. In second place was CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, with visual effects by Asylum, which debuted on Christmas Day with $10M. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, earned $30M this weekend for a five-day cume of $48.6M.
Heading into the last box office weekend of 2002, it looks like a match up between Frodo and a felonious forger. LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, with visual effects by Weta Digital, topped the Christmas day box office, adding $12.4M for a total of $135.7M, just beating the debut of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the Steven Spielberg-directed tale of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a teenaged check forger who was the youngest man ever on the FBI's ten most wanted list.
After a stunning $26M Wednesday debut THE LORD OF THE RINGS sequel, THE TWO TOWERS, topped the box office this weekend, earning $62M for a five-day total of $102M. This puts the second film of the trilogy, once again featuring a slew of visual effects by New Zealand's Weta Digital, well in line to gross more than its predecessor 2001's THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, which earned $75.1M in its first five days, on its way to $890M worldwide. Martin Scorcese's long-delayed epic GANGS OF NEW YORK, with visual effects by ILM, had a so-so fourth place debut, earning $9.1M in just over 1,500 theaters.
With Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY emerging as a front runner for Oscar nomination, Japanese distributor Toho Films has announced the director's next project. According to ANIME NEWS NETWORK, Miyazaki will begin production on HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE in February 2003, a film based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones. HOWL is a love story between a male witch and an 18-year-old girl who has been transformed into an old woman. The Ghibli Studios production will be written by Reiko Yoshida, with Katsuya Kondou (KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE) acting as supervising animator.
After announcing that it is claiming a $74 million loss on its latest animated feature TREASURE PLANET, Disney is now refocusing its overseas marketing of the film, in the hopes that this will allow the company to recoup some of its domestic losses. According to VARIETY, Buena Vista International (BVI), Disney's international distribution arm, is positioning the film as more of a fun family film, playing up the humor by centering the campaign on the secondary characters.