At the international box office, DreamWorks GLADIATOR conquered Australia and the U.K. while MISSION TO MARS landed on top in Italy and Germany. For the week ending May 11, 2000, GLADIATOR reigned by grossing US$4.53 million in Australia and $5.37 million in the U.K. in its first week in release in both countries. The global gladiator hit has now grossed nearly $86.56 worldwide. Buena Vistas part APOLLO 13-part 2001 space epic, MISSION TO MARS remained atop the charts in Italy where it grossed another $524,264, raising its Italian cume to $1.92 million.
Author and writer John Ridley (THREE KINGS) has signed a deal with Universal and Imagine to scribe a live-action version of his Web toon UNDERCOVER BROTHER. The blaxploitation-spoof currently airs on Urban Entertainment and is the first Web created project to make the jump to the big screen. Ridley is getting a US$1 million dollar advance on the script and could wind up with $2 million if the script is green-lighted.
Slaying the competition at the U.S. box office, DreamWorks' GLADIATOR easily finished in the top spot. The Roman action epic, with primary special effects by Mill Film Ltd., grossed a Goliath US$34.82 million, which is nearly the combined gross of the rest of the top ten films. GLADIATOR dethroned two-week box office champ U-571, which fell to second. The Universal World War II submarine story grossed another $7.77 million bringing its total theatre receipts to $49.59 million. Despite horrid reviews from about every source, THE FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS managed to finish in third place.
With live-action Julia Roberts-starrer ERIN BROCKOVICH reigning the international box office, POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and STUART LITTLE started their descent down the charts. For the week ending May 4, 2000, STUART LITTLE fell from the #1 spot in Australia to land in 2nd place. The Columbia pic grossed another US$1.53 million Down Under, raising its cume in the country to $10.7 million. The radiant rodent also fell from the top spot in Germany and Hong Kong to land in fourth place in both countries. STUART's gross in Germany was $516,789, raising its German cume to $4.75 million.
POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and STUART LITTLE are struggling over who will nab the top spot at international box offices. For the week ending April 26, 2000, POKEMON took Spain and Italy. Around the globe POKEMON finished in 2nd in the U.K. in its second weekend in theatres; 3rd in Germany in its second weekend in theatres; and 4th in France and Sweden. Already in the U.K., POKEMON has grossed a total of $13.14 million in only one week of release. STUART LITTLE finished at #1 in Germany, Australia and Hong Kong.
Three members of Hollywoods top talent has signed on to voice characters in Warner Bros. live-action-animated flick, LIKE CATS AND DOGS -- Academy award winner Susan Sarandon (DEAD MAN WALKING), Tobey Maguire (CIDER HOUSE RULES) and Academy award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (THE GREEN MILE). Maguire will voice the lead pup who helps protect a dog allergy vaccine from a crew of crafty cats. Bringing life to the pups street-wise mentor mutt will be Sarandon, who recently provided voice work for the upcoming RUGRATS IN PARIS.
Universals submarine sensation, U-571, has left new films in its wake as it sails into the #1 spot at the U.S. box office for the second straight week. The World War II flick finished atop new comers THE FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS and FREQUENCY with a gross of US$12.2 million and floating its total box office take to $38.11 million. Rolling into second place was Universals prequel to their 1994 hit THE FLINTSTONES. With a new cast, the prehistoric pic, with primary visual effects by Metrolight Studios, "rocked" up $10.52 million.
With strictly live-action taking the top U.S. box office gold, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO finished at #5. The DreamWorks' disappointment made another US$6.16 million bringing its total treasure count to $33.04 million. Leveling out its descent, FINAL DESTINATION finished in ninth for the second straight week. The New Line flick grossed another $3.05 million bringing its total cume to $38.21 million. ROMEO MUST DIE, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, plummeted to 12th with a gross of $2.67 and bringing its cume of $49.73 million.
The World War II submarine pic, U-571, easily sailed into the top spot at the U.S. box office on Easter weekend. By grossing US$19.55 million, the Universal actioner more than doubled the second place film LOVE AND BASKETBALL. Slipping two places, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO finished the holiday weekend at #7. The DreamWorks animated buddy flick grossed another $5.22 raising its total take to $41.91 million. Landing in 9th place for the third straight week, FINAL DESTINATION grossed another $2.76 million bringing its total cume to $42.59 million.
The Cannes Film Festival may never be the same. Mellow Manor Productions has announced that it will bring its "Spike and Mike Festival of Animation" to France for this year's event. Recently "Spike and Mike" had successful runs at American festivals Sundance and Austin's South by Southwest, but it is yet to be seen how the European audience will take to the in-your-face humor of the festival of twisted toons.
Currently, the National Film Board of Canada has four animation projects in production. LITTLE ARMADILLOS is based off a song by filmmaker John Forrest. The educational piece creates a world inside the body where the eardrum is a dance hall and the elbow is a playground. Animator Debra Dawson is bringing the story to life with Long John Baldry performing the title song for the film. Jill Haras is creating JOE. The film follows the true-life story of Vancouver personality Seraphim "Joe" Fortes. Born in Barbados, Fortes came to Vancouver in 1885 and taught the children of the city how to swim.
BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD and KING OF THE HILL creator, Mike Judge, is in final negotiations to helm the re-make of THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET. The Warner Bros. flick was previously touted as a vehicle for Jim Carrey. However, once original director and scribe Steve Oedekerk (ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS) left the project over budgetary and creative differences, Carrey left too. The original screenplay was written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick and then re-worked by Oedekerk. If the new deal goes through, Judge will pen a new version with Clay Tarver (SQUELCH).
Riding the hopes that fantasy will be hot after LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER, Disney has reportedly signed a multi-million dollar deal to produce the film versions of horror-film-writer-director Clive Barker's new fantasy series THE ARABAT QUARTET. Britain's EMPIRE magazine quotes a Disney spokeswoman as saying, "The work is a combination of HARRY POTTER and a contemporary WIZARD OF OZ." The first in the series is scheduled to hit bookstores next year. Barker's lawyer said that Disney inked the agreement "without reading any written words of the novels."
The Screen Actors Guild and Saban have been struggling over the issue of dubbing rules for DIGIMON:THE MOVIE. Under SAG's dubbing agreement, Saban's Bugboy Productions hired Guild actors to dub the Japanese animated film into English. The dubbing agreement does not require American actors to be paid residuals for just dubbing foreign language films. However in a letter from SAG attorney Vicki Shapiro to Bugboy Prods., SAG feels that the film was more than just dubbed.
George Lucas has decided to go mostly digital with the live-action segments of STAR WARS EPISODE II. On Sunday, April 9, 2000, Lucas said, after four months of testing high-definition cameras, he will start shooting most of the next STAR WARS installment with Sony digital cameras. Jim Morris, president of Lucas Digital, said the cameras had "exceeded expectations." In June, the film will start shooting in Australia for two months, then move to Italy and Tunisia in August for another month, followed by 18 months of post-production.
DreamWorks has brought on Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman to do voices for TUSKER. The CGI film about a herd of elephants making a trek across Southeast Asia is being directed by Tim Johnson and Brad Lewis. Foster will voice a young female elephant and Freeman will voice one of the herd's elders. The targeted release date is Christmas 2002.
In its second week in theatres, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO has swerved to #3 at the U.S. box office. With new military drama RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and ERIN BROCKOVICH finishing one and two respectively, EL DORADO settled down one spot making US$9.09 million and raising its total pile of gold to $25.1 million. ROMEO MUST DIE dive bombed from fourth to seventh. The Jet Li action flick, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, kicked in another $4.55 million to its cume of $45.8 million. FINAL DESTINATION descended into ninth place.
With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH firmly planted at #1, DreamWorks' THE ROAD TO EL DORADO ended up finishing in second place at the U.S. box office. The newest toon featuring Elton John songs grossed US$12.85 million. The special effects enhanced action flick, ROMEO MUST DIE, slipped to #4. The Jet Li film, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, brought home $9.38 million bringing its cume to $38.8 million. Coming off its best picture win at the Oscars, AMERICAN BEAUTY finished in 6th place grossing another $5.41 million, raising its cume to $116.7 million.
The team behind INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA is back, producing ARACH ATTACK, a special effects-driven comedic thriller about a toxic waste spill that creates giant spiders. The flick is scheduled to start shooting in September in Australia. New Zealander Ellory Elkayem will direct from a script he co-wrote with Jesse Alexander. The pic is being produced by Centropolis Entertainment, the production house of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, which has teamed on the project with Warner Bros. and Australia's Village Roadshow Pictures.
HARRY POTTER has decided to sail with Chris Columbus at the helm. The director of HOME ALONE and MRS. DOUBTFIRE will steer the adaptation of J.K. Rowling's mega-selling book HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Reportedly, the sequel novel, CHAMBER OF SECRETS, is already in development. The film is being produced at Warner Bros. Steven Spielberg was in line to direct the film, however there were reported creative differences with the novel's writer Rowling.
DreamWorks allowed Reel.com to design and host the Web site for its upcoming stop-motion feature CHICKEN RUN. Launched April 3, 2000, www.reel.com/chickenrun contains the movie trailer, screensavers and downloadable "desktop adventures" created by ToggleThis, which created the successful Virgin Atlantic/Austin Powers Web toons of last summer. DreamWorks has recently licensed out its official Web sites for AMERICAN BEAUTY and GALAXY QUEST to Amazon.com. Reel.com is an e-commerce site that sells videos and DVDs.
Indie film queen Parker Posey has joined the cast of the live-action feature rendition of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. Posey (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, SCREAM 3) will play the tyrannical record producer who is bent on controlling the minds of the world's youth. Posey joins Rachael Leigh Cook (SHE'S ALL THAT) who is set to play the title character. Tara Reid (AMERICAN PIE) is in talks to play the absentminded, blonde band member Melodie, while Alan Cumming is in talks to play the agent who discovers the tiger-like trio. Rumors still are floating on who will play the third pussycat Valerie.
Director of MIMIC, Guillermo del Toro is set to helm BLADE 2: BLOOD HUNT, the sequel to the hit 1998 horror film starring Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson. The film will go in front of cameras this fall. Potentially, the film could see a summer 2001 release date. Snipes is back in the title role, and Kristofferson will come back as his mentor -- even though he seemingly died in the first film. Based on the Marvel Comics hero who's part man and part vampire, Blade hunts down the walking dead as they try to liquidate the human race.
With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH staying firm at #1, the new special effects enhanced action flick, ROMEO MUST DIE, finished at #2 in the U.S. box office. In its first week in release, the new Jet Li film brought home US$18.01 million. Opening in theatres Wednesday, March 22, the Warner Bros.' martial arts pic has made a total of $24.6 million. The teen terror pic, FINAL DESTINATION, stayed dead still at third, grossing $7.22 million. The New Line flick has made a total of $20.4 million in two weekends of release.
The executive producer of STUART LITTLE, Stephen Waterman, has signed on to exec produce the new animated feature STARCARS, a co-production between Korean-based entertainment conglomerate Ameko Entertainment Company Ltd. and Hyper Image LLC, an American animation studio specializing in sci-fi CGI. Dong Chung, COO of Ameko will co-executive produce the project. "I am genuinely excited about taking animation beyond the next level and into a new universe," Waterman said.