PRINCE OF EGYPT-director Simon Wells has signed on to helm live-action flick, THE TIME MACHINE. Brad Silbering (CITY OF ANGELS) was first rumored to direct the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. pic based on H.G. Wells novel. This project will be Wells first foray into live-action. He was in talks to helm CASPER 2, but that film fell through due to budgetary concerns. The picture seems to be going to the right person as Simon Wells is the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE-writer Leslie Dixon has signed a US$1.5 million deal to pen the newest DreamWorks animated feature. The working title is CHAKULAN and is based on the fact that male Bengal tigers have a biological animosity toward female tigers and their cubs. The premise came from DreamWorks execs, whom recommended Dixon because she is well known for her witty banter. No producers have been asigned to the project yet, but Lance Young, DreamWorks animation development head, is overseeing the project currently.
The live-action version of DAREDEVIL has swung from Columbia Pictures to find a new home at New Regency Pictures, however, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is still attached to the project. Marvel Enterprises moved the project due to an Internet rights dispute with Columbia. New Regencys Arnon Milchan and Marvel Studios Avi Arad are producing the flick. 20th Century Fox will distribute the film. DAREDEVIL follows the adventures of attorney Matt Murdock, who was blinded by an accident with a radioactive transport truck.
With GLADIATOR's global box office dominance slowly coming to an end, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 and GONE IN 60 SECONDS have gained top spots around the world. Grossing $804,785 and raising its Swedish cume to $1.16 million, 60 SECONDS finished atop the charts in its second weekend, knocking GLADIATOR down to second where it grossed $255,829. In its second weekend in Australia, 60 SECONDS stayed off newcomer PERFECT STORM to remain at #1. 60 SECONDS grossed $3.21 million and STORM managed $2.23 million in second place.
With only one other major newcomer, the Keenen Ivory Wayans-directed teen horror spoof, SCARY MOVIE, out grossed the competition to finish atop the U.S. box office charts. Even though the weekend after July 4 usually sees low numbers at theatres, SCARY MOVIE, with primary visual effects by Centropolis Effects, managed to scare up US$42.35 million, the second largest three-day opening this year behind MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. The Independence Day champ, PERFECT STORM, slipped to second with a gross of $27.12 million.
SLACKER and DAZED AND CONFUSED director, Richard Linklater, has started the rotoscoped animation for his new feature, WALKING LIFE. The film will digitally shoot live-action actors which will then be "painted" over by artists using filmmaker Bob Sabistons new interpolated rotoscoping software. The program allows animators to stylize live-action footage with simulated brushstrokes. "WALKING LIFE is not animated in the truest sense of the word. It is a composite of wildly different, reimagined video scenes drawn in cartoon style," said Sabiston to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Swamping the July 4th holiday favorite, THE PATRIOT, Warner Bros. THE PERFECT STORM, with primary visual effects by ILM, has docked atop the U.S. box office charts. The seafaring spectacle landed an estimated US$64 million within the five-day holiday run. For the Friday-Sunday time frame, the wet wonder grossed a reported $41.5 million. The George Clooney-vehicle has the second highest debut of the year behind MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2s four-day Memorial Day holiday opening of $70.8 million.
British audience flocked to theatres to catch the first Aardman Animation feature CHICKEN RUN. In its British premiere, the clay character cavalcade racked up an amazing US$5.8 million. The fearless free-rangers knocked seven-week champion GLADITOR into second in the U.K. The Roman romp tallied up an additional $38.8 million in its international showings. The box office blood bath has brought in $165.8 million outside the U.S. Slipping for the U.S. top ten, Disneys DINOSAUR, however, stomped over the competition in Brazil to the tune of $1.6 million.
In the international box office, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 remained #1 in Australia by holding off newcomer DINOSAUR, while GLADIATOR gained the top spot in its debut in Japan. DreamWorks GLADIATOR claimed new territories in Japan, making $982,911 in its Japanese debut. Elsewhere, GLADIATOR remained at the top in Spain, the U.K., Brazil, Italy and Sweden. The Maximus money-maker grossed $1.89 million in Spain, advancing its three-week cume to $10.05 million.
Despite finishing in second place, CHICKEN RUNs U.S. opening gross was the highest animated debut in DreamWorks history. With Jim Carreys ME, MYSELF & IRENE taking the top spot in its premiere, CHICKEN RUNs US$17.51 million gross was more chicken feed than ANTZ $17.2 million debut stock piled. The future box office glory isnt bleak for the British beaks. With next weekends July 4th holiday and wonderful word of mouth, pun-squawking poultry may slip in the ranks behind big holiday new comers, but might out gross its debut with strong family attendance.
In August, Germany-based director Heinrich Sabl will start production of MEMORY HOTEL, which will feature puppets animated against live-action backgrounds. The main difficulty in filming the feature is that the filmmakers only have seven seconds to set up the new frame before it needs to be shot. This short time frame to adjust the puppets into their new position is due to continuity of the live-action environment (ie clouds, grass, trees, etc).
DreamWorks GLADIATOR is still the golden boy in many international box offices. In the most recent reports, the Roman revenge romp finished atop the charts in Brazil with US$1.18 million, Germany with US$1.06 million, Italy with $303,200, Sweden with $336,708 and the U.K. with $926,371. The Russell Crowe-starrer has grossed a total of $4.6 million in Brazil, $14.67 million in Germany, $7.2 million in Italy, $2.78 million in Sweden and $34.36 million in the U.K. Like it did in the U.K., the box office blood bath held off the debut of BATTLEFIELD EARTH.
Threshold Digital Research Labs has announced the commencement of production on their first digitally animated feature film, FOODFIGHT! The branch of Threshold Entertainment received a large portion of the funding for the US$50 million picture from Korean company Natural Image. As part of the promotion for the film, Thresholds Web entertainment site TheThreshold.com will produce a 3D animated prequel series entitled FOODFIGHT!: THE ADVENTURES OF DEX DETECTIVE. The film chronicles the secret lives of product icons once the lights are turned off at the grocery store.
With the remake of the blaxplotation classic SHAFT reigning at the U.S. box office, Foxs new animated feature TITAN A.E. and the wide 35mm release of FANTASIA/2000 felt the weight of Hollywood star power. Paramounts SHAFT, starring Samuel L. Jackson, became the big man at the box office with an opening weekend gross of US$21.71 million. The bad mother moved Buena Vistas GONE IN 60 SECONDS down to second.
Hoping to make big profits like Warner Bros. did on POKEMON: THE MOVIE, Twentieth Century Fox has announce they will release DIGIMON: THE MOVIE on October 6, 2000. Based on the #1-rated show on Fox Kids Network, the new flick centers on eight kids who team up with friendly monsters called Digimon, and together defend a mystical realm called the digital world from a gathering darkness. Fox says DIGIMON: THE MOVIE will contain "more lush and detailed animation than seen in the series." For fans of the series, the film will reveal pivotal continuity points linking DIGIMON seasons one and two.
In July, Warner Bros. will start shooting HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE at Leavesden Studios in the U.K. The deal with Warner is similar to the one Lucasfilms struck for EPISODE 1. The production will occupy the entire 286-acre studio for about 18 months. The movie is based on the young adult book by the same name, which follows a young wizard during his training. Chris Columbus is directing the film. The scheduled release date for the picture is November 2001. No doubt the production will tap into the local talent just like George Lucas did for his 13-month PHANTOM MENACE shoot.
DreamWorks' GLADIATOR continues to plunder the pockets of moviegoers around the globe. Complete box numbers from Germany, France, Australia and a number of other countries were not available due to local holidays, however GLADIATOR looks like it is still slaying the competition. The bloody blockbuster is still topping the charts after five weeks in release in both the U.K. and Australia, regaining the top spot from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 in the later. In its four weeks in release, the Roman revenge tale took the #1 spot in both Italy and Spain.
With the new actioner from Nicolas Cage racing in to the #1 spot at the U.S. box office, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 fell to #2 in its third weekend in theatres. Disneys GONE IN 60 SECONDS grossed US$25.33 million on its way to receiving the checkered flag. MISSION, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, grossed another $17.23 million, raising its exploding cume to $158.1 million and is on a pace to beat the finishing cume of the original MISSION installment. Disneys DINOSAUR has slipped to fourth grossing another $8.82 million.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Cartoon Network are joining forces to bring THE POWERPUFF GIRLS to the big screen. The shows creator Craig McCracken will supervise the feature. This film marks the first-ever feature based on an original Cartoon Network series. This collaboration will be the first production of a full-length animated film at the newly opened Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California. THE POWERPUFF GIRLS is targeted for a summer 2002 release.
Imax Corp. has struck a deal that will bring DreamWorks and PDIs newest 3D animated feature SHREK to the giant screen. Opening December 2001, six months after its initial theatrical release, the ogre odyssey will arrive in Imaxs 150 digital 3D theatres. Imax will foot the US$10 million bill to transfer the two-dimensional cartoon to eye-popping 3D. SHREK follows the misadventures of an annoyed ogre and his new frustratingly friendly fairy-tale neighbors.
Stan Lee Media has announced a teaming with producer Mark Canton (RED PLANET), which will bring a live-action version of the Internet animated series 7TH PORTAL to the big screen. With no studio yet attached, Canton plans to take the project to Warner Bros. where he has a production deal. Currently, Canton is set to produce the feature with Stan Lee Media co-founders Stan Lee and Peter Paul serving as executive producers. Canton told the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "The opportunity to work on the new characters and stories created by Stan Lee is about as exciting as one can imagine.
Opening this past weekend in Australia, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 uncovered US$3.7 million in 3 days on 366 screens. The total is the highest weekend take of all time for foreign distributor UIP, which also released GLADIATOR and PHANTOM MENACE Down Under. The spy sensation also racked up $893,000 on 39 screens in Singapore and $488,000 on 38 screens in Malaysia. GLADIATOR still scored big receipts raising its international cume to $97 million. The period-piece pit-fight landed atop the German, British and Italian box office.
Beating out the only major new release BIG MOMMAS HOUSE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 finished atop the U.S. box office for the second straight weekend. The TV series redux grossed another US$27.02 million. The sensational sequel, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, has now topped the scales by making $130.7 million in only one and a half weeks in theatres. Now proving that Martian Lawrence in a rubber fat ladys suit is more attractive to moviegoers than realistic talking dinosaurs, Disneys DINOSAUR slipped to #3, making $12.04 million.
Making history on June 6, 2000, 20th Century Foxs TITAN A.E. was beamed digitally from a remote location to an Atlanta theater during the Supercomm trade show. The film was sent from Qwest Communications Cyber Center in Burbank, California using a secure Internet transmission protocol developed by Cisco Systems Inc. Up until now, digital projection systems played the movies on the screen from DVD-like disks. Many studios, however, question the security of sending their top-secret premieres over satellite and Internet lines.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has released a study that violence in G-rated films is on the rise. Two researchers from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis looked at all 74 G-rated films released on video prior to September 1999. The report lists at least one act of violence in every film; 46 films contained at least one character injured and over half of the 74 films had a character killed. The movies averaged 9.5 minutes of violence, up from 6 minutes in 1940. "A G-rating does not automatically signify a level of violence acceptable for very young viewers.