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.
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.
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.
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.
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.