A British spec script about two rival gangs of gnome neighbours has been put on the fast track in Hollywood. The trade paper SCREEN INTERNATIONAL reports A GNOME'S STORY, written by Rob Sprackling and John Smith, has been acquired by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Rocket Pictures, the production outfit owned by pop star Elton John and David Furnish. The big-budget project "may use TOY STORY-esque digital effects." Disney has a first-look pact with Rocket, and is funding development on GNOME'S STORY.
PI director Darren Aronofsky is set to helm the newest in Warner Bros. BATMAN franchise, BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Aronofsky will write and develop the screenplay with Frank Miller, writer of the graphic novel BATMAN: YO from which the film will be based. The noir-styled graphic novel was originally published by DC Comics in 1987 and chronicles the trials and tribulations of Bruce Waynes first year as Batman. Aronofsky as director is an interesting direction for Warner to take with the BATMAN movie franchise.
With newcomers like thriller THE WATCHER and black comedy NURSE BETTY finishing #1 and #2 respectively, THE CELL slipped to fourth at the U.S. box office. Finishing right after the former two-week champion BRING IT ON, THE CELL, with primary visual effects by Toybox, grossed another US$3.65 million, raising the films cume to $51.34 million. Finally fading at #5, SPACE COWBOYS made 51% less than last weekend with a gross of $3.34 million. The senior citizen space saga, with primary visual effects by ILM, has floated $78.83 million thus far.
This past weekend the international box office saw the Miramax record breaker, SCARY MOVIE, hold strong in the U.K. and Australia, while HOLLOW MAN and GONE IN 60 SECONDS premieres topped charts around the globe. In the U.K., SCARY scored another US$2.04 million, lifting its British cume to $7.6 million. Holding on in second, SNATCH by Guy Ritchie summoned $1.54 million, raising its homeland cume to $11.96 million. Another shoot 'em up flick took third - SHAFT's debut drew $1.22 million in the U.K. THE CELL made a less than flashy premiere in fifth, with a gross of $776,039.
With early reports having WHAT LIES BENEATH in fifth, once the dust cleared, SPACE COWBOYS showed its legs with a top F/X flick finish at the U.S. box office. With live-action films ruling the top four, COWBOYS, with primary visual effects by ILM, held its ground at #5 with a gross of US$2.52 million, lifting its cume to $82.2 million. The space spaghetti western has remained in the top ten while the #1 film HOLLOW MAN -- of COWBOYS debut weekend has disappeared quickly. THE CELL finished in sixth despite earlier reports placing it a slot lower.
Los Angeles-based Look! Effects recently finished 30 visual effects shots for the upcoming Universal Pictures release THE PAVILION OF WOMEN. Based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck, the movie is about a frustrated woman in a traditional Chinese marriage and the American missionary who tries to help her achieve personal liberation. The drama stars Willem Dafoe and Chinese actress Luo Yan, who is also the writer, producer and director of the picture. Look! Effects had to create a sequence depicting Japan's invasion of China in the early days of World War II.
The international box office this past weekend saw a strong debut by SCARY MOVIE in the U.K. and THE TIGGER MOVIE bounced high in its Swedish nod. Disneys orange idol landed in #2, with a gross of US$280,418. Slipping to fourth, CHICKEN RUN laid another $184,548, bringing its total take in Sweden to $589,026. THE PERFECT STORM sank from #2 to sixth with a gross of $146,588, raising its Swedish cume to $834,053. X-MEN fell from fifth to eighth, with a gross of $78,087, lifting its Swedish cume to $1.43 million.
Columbia Pictures has optioned the feature film rights to Image Comics POWERS, created by writer-artist Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Financial terms of the deal were listed as the duo receiving low six figures up front leading to high-six figures following the films release. The comic follows the cases of two homicide detectives -- who live in a world full of superheroes and villains assigned to the "powers" division to investigate superpower-related murders. Bendis will either receive a co-producing or an associate producing credit on the film.
Mexico-based Ollin Studio, an animation and visual effects, post-production, Internet and multimedia house, has finished production on their first in-house project an all-CGI animated short entitled, CAKE, which looks like it is animated using clay. Carlos Iturriaga, director of the 3D-animation division at Ollin, directed the film. CAKE is the story of a little girl whose hunger brings her to act upon her primitive impulses without considering the consequences. Power Modeler was used for modeling, Maya for animation and Renderman for rendering and partial illumination.
Award winning filmmakers, Derek Lamb & Jeffrey Hale are teaming up with Toonz Animation India to produce THE LAST BRITISH COLONEL IN INDIA, a short animated comedy film. The flick is based on an original song by Derek Lamb and satirizes the British Empire days in India, bringing to light for the first time the real reason why the British quit India in 1947. "This entire project began to percolate at last years Week with the Masters hosted by Toonz Animation in India. Both Derek and Jeffrey thought it was time to tell this previously unknown story.
Digital Film @ The Moving Picture Company has completed the opening title sequence for LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS-director Guy Ritchie's new gangster film, SNATCH. The titles, created by Digital Film and designed by So, a division of Picasso Pictures, depict the main characters in the movie. Spinning and strobing images, glimpses, flashes, quick cuts, flipped images, jump frames and freeze frames were added to create a hard-edged look for the opening.
With the special effects-light fall schedule starting, the top two spots were claimed by newcomers BRING IT ON and THE ART OF WAR, leaving THE CELL holding on to third. The stylized shocker, with primary visual effects by Toybox, grossed US$9.68 million, bringing its cume to $33.75 million. Meanwhile, SPACE COWBOYS continues to orbit around the top with a stop in fourth this weekend. After four weeks in theatres, the wrinkled space wranglers, with primary visual effects by ILM, lassoed another $6.51 million, raising its cume to $63.71 million.
With the live-action comedy, BRING IT ON still claiming the #1 spot, New Lines THE CELL jumped up a spot to second in the U.S. box office charts over the Labor Day holiday. The serial killer mind trek, with primary visual effects by Toybox, grossed another US$9.1 million, raising its cume to $46.4 million. Also moving up a slot to third, SPACE COWBOYS showed that old guys have box office pull with a gross of $8.3 million. The aged astronauts, with primary visual effects by ILM, have wrangled up a total of $74.2 million thus far.
Famed graphic artist and novelist Jean "Moebius" Giraud, the man behind the dark designs in the ALIEN series, will be hatching his own 3D animated feature entitled, THRU THE MOEBIUS STRIP. "Its been a life-long dream of mine to create a feature film of my own," said Giraud. "Although its an unknown adventure in some ways, this film presents an opportunity for me to express my many different signature attitudes." The main backer of the film is Global Digital Creation Group.
The X-MEN are gaining more ground in international theatres with top seat debuts in France, U.K. and Brazil. In France, the superhero saga racked up an impressive US$5.83 million in its opening weekend. Holding steady at #2, Americas summer smash, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, amassed another $2.65 million, bringing its French cume to $23.18 million. THE PERFECT STORM sank from first to fourth, with a gross of $2.33 million, raising its French cume to $6.77 million. Falling a spot to land in sixth, GLADIATOR garnered $861,846, advancing its French cume to $29.59 million.
Quincy Jones Media Group and Gerber Pictures have teamed with Warner Bros. to bring the Looney Tunes characters back to the big screen in a feature film currently known as "untitled Looney Tunes car project." According to the DAILY VARIETY, the pic will use classic characters, like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, in live-action sequences much like the 1996 film, SPACE JAM. Ken Kaufman, co-writer of Warners SPACE COWBOYS, has been brought on to write the script. Quincy Jones president Joel Simon and Gerber head Billy Gerber are set to produce the film. Overseeing the project for Warner Bros.
Aspiring actors can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The news item, originally reported in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and then trickled down through many media sources, that director Andrew Niccol had chosen to create a CGI lead for his next dramatic film, SIMONE, is incorrect. Apparently, the REPORTER confused production information with the plot, which tells the story of a producer (Al Pacino) whose lead actress walks off the set. He then replaces her with a life-like CGI actress which he tries to pass off as real.
This weeks international box office saw big premieres for X-MEN and GONE IN 60 SECONDS and the quick disappearance of THE PATRIOT. In the U.K., X-MEN hit it big with a stellar US$7.08 million three-day take. The mighty mutants had the second highest opening of the year behind TOY STORY 2 and the eighth highest in the countrys history. Holding on at #2, STUART LITTLE landed another $1.11 million, lifting its British cume to $20.24 million. GONE IN 60 SECONDS slipped from first to third, with a gross of $952,847, raising its British cume to $7.95 million.
David Hayter, the only writer credited on screen for the blockbuster hit X-MEN, has been brought in to scribe the sequel to PITCH BLACK and rewrite THE HULK. PITCH BLACK 2 continues where the first film left off and will be produced by Interscope, producers of the original. PITCH star Vin Diesel has been signed to return. Currently, THE HULK project has scripts from Michael Tolkin (THE PLAYER, DEEP IMPACT) and Mike France (CLIFFHANGER). Hayter will morph the two HULK versions into one script like he did for X-MEN.
Warner Bros. has set into motion pre-production on a live-action rendition of BATMAN BEYOND. Tapped to direct the picture is Boaz Yakin, director of PRICE ABOVE RUBIES and the upcoming REMEMBER THE TITANS. The most exciting news is that long time BATMAN/SUPERMAN and BATMAN BEYOND writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett have been asked to scribe the feature. No budget has been set, but AINT IT COOL NEWS has rumored that funds will be determined based on the script Dini and Burnett write.
With the summer money flow slowing down, THE CELL captured the top spot in another fairly low ticket sale weekend in the U.S. The ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets SILENCE OF THE LAMBS thriller, with primary visual effects by Toybox, grossed US$17.52 million. Showing that old guys have legs, SPACE COWBOYS settled in third with a gross of $9.48 million. Falling a spot behind the debut of the stage comedy film THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY, COWBOYS, with primary visual effects by ILM, has rounded up $53.78 million thus far. Rising a slot to finish fifth, WHAT LIES BENEATH floated another $6.76 million.
Roy Disney has agreed to help director Richard Williams restore his masterpiece, THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER, to the version he had originally intended to make. The heart-wrenching saga of the THIEF began after Williams success on WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? With the backing of Warner Bros., the filmmaker set out to finish his then 20 years in the making feature about a mute cobbler and an unsuccessful thief. The stipulation attached to the project was that Williams must finish the film for a 1992 release. The production fell behind schedule and Warner Bros.
Harvey Entertainment has announced their acquisition of the U.S. rights from Pearson Television International for the feature-length film A MONKEYS TALE. The film follows the story of two tribes of monkeys one tree dwelling and one ground dwelling and what happens when one curious ape falls into the other tribes world. The film recently won best animated feature at the Hollywood Film Festival and the Toronto Sun Animation Award at the Sprockets International Film Festival for Children.
In London for the sold out SIMPSONS live script reading stage show, SIMPSONS creator Matt Groening confirmed that a SIMPSONS feature is in the planning stage. Groening said, "Its a little daunting coming up with a half-hour TV episode, let alone a full-length feature. No deals have been struck, but we will do one." The television classic is now in its tenth season and is the longest running sitcom on U.S. television
After its first full week in theatres, THE PATRIOT finished at the top in Germany, Spain and Brazil. In Germany, THE PATRIOT fought out the debut of CHICKEN RUN with a gross of US$1.62 million, bringing its cume to $6.05 million. CHICKEN came in with a gross of $1.35 million. Dropping two slots to fourth, THE PERFECT STORM washed up $569,269, advancing its cume to $9.63 million. TITAN A.E. premiered in fifth with a gross of $491,902. Slipping to sixth, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 added $463,141 to its German cume of $23.08 million.