Paramount has named 13 GOING ON 30 helmer Gary Winick as director of a live-action/CG version of E.B. White's classic all-time best selling children's tale, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, reports VARIETY. Jordan Kerner (SNOW DOGS) will produce the film from a screenplay first drafted by Susannah Grant (ERIN BROCKOVICH) then revised by Karey Kirkpatrick (CHICKEN RUN, CURIOUS GEORGE).
Universal Pictures has secured the screen rights for the DC graphic novel THE PSYCHO, reports VARIETY. The studio has hired Jeffrey Nachmanoff (THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW) to pen the script. Based on a three-issue series by James Hudnall and Dan Brereton, the story is an action-thriller about a government agent who reveals a technology used to genetically transforms people into superhumans.
Busy director John Woo has signed on to direct Paramount feature adaptation of Tom Clancy's RAINBOW SIX, reports VARIETY. The long in-development pic was originally brought to Paramount by Artists Management Group's Michael Ovitz in 1999. Michael Shiffer, Bill Wisher, Art Monterastelli, Frank Capello and John Enbom have all taken cracks at the script over the years. The story follows former CIA agent John Clark, who leaves the agency to set up an U.K.-based multinational organization that fights terrorism.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has signed SAMURAI JACK and DEXTER'S LABORATORY creator Genndy Tartakovsky to write and direct a live-action version of the anime classic ASTROBOY, reports VARIETY. The long in-development picture will be produced by Don Murphy of Angryfilms, and Lisa Henson and Kristine Belson of Jim Henson Pictures.
With DreamWorks founder Jeffery Katzenberg previously talking up more SHREK sequels at Cannes, DreamWorks has announced that HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS scribes Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price will write the screenplay for SHREK 3. In addition, Jon Zack (PERFECT SCORE) has been hired as a script consultant.
DreamWorks' SHREK 2 and Fox's THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW made quite a one-two punch over the Memorial Day box office period ended May 31, 2004, propelling the best four-day take in the history of the biz. DreamWorks' SHREK 2 grabbed $95.5M (the best second-week tally ever) and a staggering $260.3M to date.
The full trailer to one of the most debated "animated" (director Robert Zemeckis doesn't like to call it that) films of the year, POLAR EXPRESS will go online June 1, 2004. It will make its theatrical debut in front of Warner Bros.' HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, one June 4. The trailer will be available online as a special feature of The Daily Prophet on the Harry Potter site, www.harrypotter.com.
Dygra Films (THE LIVING FOREST) has announced that it has sold the Italian rights to its 3D animated feature, MIDSUMMER DREAM to Medusa, reports VARIETY. This deal adds to deal with ABC-Cinemien for Benelux, Front Row for the Middle East, Noah for Israel, Media Source for China, Summerstorm for Hong Kong and Taiwan and Box Office for Thailand. Spanish international sales company Lumina Films acquired overseas sales rights outside Spain and Portugal last fall.
Cinesite (Europe) Ltd. has been awarded major visual effects and model contracts for a large slate of high profile films scheduled for release at the end of 2004 and 2005, including CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Warner Bros.), HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (Warner Bros.), HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (Disney) and ALFIE (Paramount Pictures).
Zoic Studios helped create the illusion of cold via 47 shots in which visible breath is seen in the Fox feature THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, which opens May 28. Working in decidedly warmer temperatures then they were replicating, Zoic's team animated for three months perfecting the extensive breath scenes needed in a frozen New York. The shots were created using Maya, combustion and flame.
VFX producer: Raoul Y. BologniniVFX super: Rocco Passionino
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND helmer Michel Gondry has been named as the director of Rudy Rucker's sci-fi thriller MASTER OF SPACE AND TIME, reports VARIETY. As well, Jack Black (SHALLOW HAL) has been tapped to star. French production company Midi Minuit is in negotiations to bring the project to DreamWorks for Walter Parkes and Laurie McDonald (GLADIATOR) to produce. Gondry worked with Midi Minuit on music videos before be crossed over into features. The story follows two mad scientists who discover a way to control reality.
With the next INDIANA JONES flick put on the back burners, Harrison Ford has signed on to star in outer space thriller GODSPEED, which will be produced by James Cameron via his Lightstorm Ent., reports VARIETY. The film is set to use the same 3D technology that Cameron used on his documentary GHOST OF THE ABYSS. Joining Cameron in the producer's chair will be Lightstorm's Rae Sanchini and Jon Landau.
X2 writer Zak Penn is negotiating to script Universal Pictures' SPY-HUNTER feature, reports VARIETY. Recently, the studio announced that action superstar John Woo would direct the film. Set to star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the film is an adaptation of the long-running Midway videogame franchise, which features a spy in a suped sports car set out to defeat a cartel seeking world domination. Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh with Woo and partner Terrence Chang of Lion Rock will produce.
New Line Cinema has hired ABOUT A BOY director Chris Weitz to helm the film version of Philip Pullman's award-winning fantasy book series, HIS DARK MATERIALS, reports VARIETY. Tom Stoppard (BRAZIL) wrote the adaptation of the first novel THE GOLDEN COMPASS. The series chronicles two kids in parallel universes who battle shape-shifting creatures, witches and armored polar bears. New Line production president Toby Emmerich will oversee the film.
Even though the next SUPERMAN feature still lacks a headliner, Warner Bros. has assigned the picture's f/x work to ESC Ent, with Stan Winston consulting on the design of a prototype Superman's suit. Kim Libreri will serve as visual effects supervisor on the film, which hopes to go before cameras early next year. The film is being scheduled for a summer 2006 release. CHARLIE'S ANGELS helmer McG will direct the flick from a script by ALIAS creator J.J. Abrams.
DreamWorks' SHREK 2 exceeded all expectations by collecting $108M over the weekend ended May 23, 2004, and $128.9M for its first five days. That's the best opening ever for an animated feature (besting FINDING NEMO) and the second biggest opening ever (behind only SPIDER-MAN). SHREK 2 also posted the best single day gross (Saturday's $44.8M), the third best five-day opening and the widest opening ever (on 4,163 screens).
If seeing the next HARRY POTTER adventure on the big screen isn't big enough for you, Warner Bros. Pictures is releasing HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in select IMAX theatres day-and-date June 4, 2004 with the regular theatrical release. The film has been digitally re-mastered with IMAX DMR technology. The film is scheduled to expand into additional IMAX theatres over the summer.
Due to his leaving the Director's Guild to co-direct SIN CITY with the comic creator Frank Miller, helmer Robert Rodriguez has stepped down as director of the Paramount adaptation of the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-book JOHN CARTER OF MARS series, A PRINCESS OF MARS, reports IGN FilmForce. Rodriguez couldn't stay on MARS because Paramount under DGA guidelines can't employ directors who are not members of the guild. Despite not having a director, Paramount still plans to go into production on the film next year.
DreamWorks Pictures' SHREK 2 breathed a little life into the box office on Wednesday, posting $11.8M - tops for an animated feature's mid-week bow, according to distribution head Jim Tharp.
The box office figures are especially impressive coming on a non-holiday week with schools still in session across the country. The movie could reach $80M through the weekend.
Wild Brain has teamed up with Casey Silver Prods., to develop its feature version of the LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD take titled BIG, BAD WOLF, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The film is being financed through Casey Silver's discretionary fund with Universal. Mike Glock has been hired to pen the script, which will come from the wolf's point of view that he was framed. As part of the deal, Wild Brain may co-finance the film with Universal.