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.
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.
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.
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.
Australian visual effects company Photon VFX, best known for its work on SCOOBY DOO and FINAL FANTASY, was the effects company behind the main character in the Warner Bros. horror flick GHOST SHIP -- the ship itself. The effects laden film is the largest feature film project to be shot and had all visual effects produced entirely in Australia.
Critics have begun to single out one of Disney's four short-listed animated features as a possible front runner for Oscar nomination. Hayao Miyazaki's lyrical film SPIRITED AWAY was named Best Animated Feature this week by both The New York Film Critics Circle and The Los Angeles Film Critics after receiving the same honor from the National Board of Review on December 4, 2002.
Jennifer Lopez kicked James Bond right off the top spot this weekend, as the J-Lo starrer MAID IN MANHATTAN debuted at number one with $19M. The romantic comedy barely topped STAR TREK: NEMESIS, which earned $18.8M its first weekend out. The latest installation in the Star Trek series features visual effects by Digital Domain and Eden FX. After fluctuating in and out of the number one spot, DIE ANOTHER DAY, with visual effects by Cinesite, dropped all the way to fifth, earning $7.5M for a four week total of $131.5M.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) has announced that seventeen films will compete for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar in the 2002 Academy Awards competition. Because of the large number of eligible features, under the rules for the category, a maximum of five films could be nominated.The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted on December 10, 2002 to activate the category for the 75th Academy Award Presentations.
The Sundance Film Festival, which honors American and international independent film, has announced its 2003 short film line-up. 90 short films were chosen from 3,345 entries. Notable entries include live-action shorts from SHREK helmer Vicky Jenson and Richard Linklater (director of 2001's animated feature WAKING LIFE), as well as Student Academy Award animation honoree THE VELVET TIGRESS, directed by Jen Sachs.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS' hold on the top spot was again short lived, as the sequel dropped to third and Bond was back on top in this weekend's box office. Despite losing over 50% of its audience since last weekend, DIE ANOTHER DAY, with visual effects by Cinesite, regained its number one place, earning $12.8M for a three week total of $120.2M. In second place was the lackluster comedy ANALYZE THAT, with an $11M debut. Third place honors went to last week's number one film HARRY POTTER, with primary visual effects by ILM, which took in $10M this weekend.
THE SAVE-UMS, DECODE's new preschool series is one of a trio of pick-ups by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for its ABC Kids block. Created by Dan Clark of the Dan Clark Company, THE SAVE-UMS (52 x 11-minutes) lets preschoolers learn the principles of cause and effect and the impact of cooperative play. In addition to THE SAVE-UMS, the broadcaster has acquired the new adventure series KING for 8-12 year-olds and GIRLSTUFF BOYSTUFF, described as an animated FRIENDS for tweens.
The success of SPIDER-MAN, among other blockbuster hits, has propelled Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) to an all-time industry box office record, announced SPE chairman John Calley. With $2.75 billion in worldwide box office receipts for 2002, Sony has surpassed the existing record of $2.68 billion in worldwide ticket sales set by 20th Century Fox in 1998, the year that studio distributed TITANIC internationally. "This is truly a memorable moment in Sony Pictures Entertainment's history," said Calley.
Big Idea Productions has announced it is currently in pre-production on THE BOB AND LARRY MOVIE, slated for release in 2005. Following the success of the VeggieTales debut animated feature film, JONAH - A VEGGIETALES MOVIE, Artisan's FHE Pictures and Big Idea Productions have continued their relationship for this next feature film. As with JONAH, Artisan will retain all North American rights to the film. JONAH - A VEGGIETALES MOVIE has earned a domestic gross to date of over $24 million and the film will be released into the home entertainment market in March 2003.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend worked some magic for HARRY POTTER, but didn't add up to treasure for Disney's latest animated effort. Debuting on Wednesday, November 27, Disney's animated adventure TREASURE PLANET opened in fourth place with $16.5M, barely edging out the holiday's other animated debut, Adam Sandler's EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS, which earned $15.1M over the four-day weekend for fifth place.
A CGI/live-action adaptation of GARFIELD is in the works at Fox, with Peter Hewitt (THUNDERPANTS, THE BORROWERS) attached to direct, according to DAILY VARIETY. Contingent on the negotiation of certain rights issues, the production will move forward with TOY STORY writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow on board to pen the script. The property is licensed by Paws, Inc., the creative and marketing company founded in 1981 by GARFIELD cartoonist Jim Davis.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS' hold on the number one slot was short lived, as DIE ANOTHER DAY debuted in first place with $47M. The 20th film in the Bond franchise, with visual effects by Cinesite, had the largest opening weekend for any Bond film to date. HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, with primary visual effects by ILM, crossed the $100M mark in its second weekend, bringing in $42.3M for a two-week total of $148.5M.
Working its magic on the box office this weekend, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS claimed the third highest grossing opening weekend ever, after its predecessor HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE ($90.3M) and this summer's super SPIDER-MAN ($114.8M). Not surprisingly, CHAMBER, with primary visual effects by ILM, was the number one film this weekend, earning $87.6M. The wizards of Hogwart's knocked the rappers of Detroit down to second, as last week's number one film 8 MILE took in $21.7M for a two-week total of $54.4M.
First Universal teamed with Marvel to bring THE HULK to life for moviegoers in summer 2003. Now Marvel Studios has entered into an agreement with Universal Pictures to bring two more super heroes to the big screen: Sub-Mariner and Prime. First up is SUB-MARINER, currently in development. The film will follow the adventures of the troubled Prince Namor, a half-man/half-amphibian creature from Atlantis. David Self, best known for his adaptation of the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION for DreamWorks, will write the screenplay.
Framestore CFC will be supervising the visual effects for THUNDERBIRDS, the forthcoming live-action movie based on Gerry Anderson's 1960s puppet-animated TV series. The series has enjoyed a huge resurgence of popularity recently, following its re-screenings on BBC2 in the UK and on TechTV in the U.S. The live-action version of THUNDERBIRDS will feature the Tracy brothers memorable spacecraft as well as Tracy Island, the elaborately mechanized tropical base of the International Rescue team.
The urban drama 8 MILE, starring rap artist Eminem, took in a surprising $54.4M in its debut weekend, bumping last week's number one THE SANTA CLAUSE 2 down a notch. The family-friendly CLAUSE 2, with visual effects by Tippett Studios and GVFX, earned $28.4M for a two-week total of $60.1M. Psychological thriller THE RING, with visual effects by Method Studios, Rhythm & Hues, Asylum and Tippett Studios, moved to third, with $16M for a cume of $86.1M. Action-comedy I SPY, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, added another $9M for a two-week take of $24.7M and fourth place.
Blur Studio has been contracted by Paramount Parks to produce a stereoscopic, computer-animated ride film based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. The attraction is slated to debut at Paramounts North American theme parks in the first quarter of 2003. Park patrons will don 3D glasses to experience the film in three dimensions. Blur Studios animation team will work directly with Nickelodeon in adapting the SpongeBob characters to the ride format.
THE SANTA CLAUSE 2, with visual effects by Tippet Studios and GVFX, got a jump on its holiday predecessors and wrapped up the top spot this weekend, earning $29.8M in its debut. Psychological thriller THE RING, with visual effects by Method Studios, Rhythm & Hues, Asylum and Tippet Studios, came in second for the second weekend in a row, with $18.5M for a three-week take of $64.9M. Debuting in third with $14.5M was the action-comedy I SPY, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks.