Blur Studio, whose acclaimed AUNT LUISA short will screen at the SIGGRAPH Conference (July 29-31, 2003), is producing a 7-minute sci-fi adventure as a change of pace. The untitled computer-animated project, directed by Blur co-founder/creative director Tim Miller, is about a fisherman in the far future that catches more than he bargained for.
Sydney, Australia-based animation studio Mad Cow Pictures announced it is providing pre-production and production design, effects and support for the upcoming feature version of CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG. The film is being produced by Scholastic Entertainment, Big Red Dog Productions and Starburst Studios. Mad Cows co-owner Steve Trenbirth will serve as the unit director.
In a deal stemming from connections made at the Annecy International Animation Festival, Monster Distributes has acquired the rights to Adam Elliots HARVIE KRUMPET. Monster now holds the international distribution rights for the 23-minute stop-motion film.
R!OT Santa Monica created a massive and richly detailed digital replica of 19th Century London as part of its VFX package for Fox's new THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. The R!OT team also concocted a roomful of missile silos inside a giant submarine, impaled a man on a rhinoceros horn and came up with a unique way of visualizing the voices on an old phonograph recording.
Burt Reynolds is the latest addition to the star-studded cast of DELGO, the independently produced computer-animated feature from Atlanta, Georgia-based Fathom Studios. The Oscar-nominated actor said in a release, "I am very proud to be a part of the first animated film being produced in my home state of Georgia."
Burt Reynolds (BOOGIE NIGHTS, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT) is providing the voice of Delgo's boisterous father. The fantasy adventure is set in a divided land where a troubled youth and some unlikely friends must save the world from itself.
Darkwoods Prod., the production house of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION director Frank Darabont, has signed on with Himani Original Prod. to develop a CG-animated feature film, animated TV series, comic books and video games based on Bernie Wrightson's (SWAMP THING) comic book character Captain Sternn. The character originally appeared in HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE and made an appearance in the 1981 animated cult flick HEAVY METAL. Also attached to the project are writer David J. Schow (THE CROW) and Himani president/founder Kevin Kutchaver (HERCULES, XENA) as director of animation.
With a one-two punch of his own, producer Jerry Bruckheimer ruled the weekend box office like no other producer before him, with BAD BOYS II debuting impressively at an estimated $46.7M and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL hauling in a hefty $33.2M in its sophomore turn. At least for the moment, the curse of the summer sequel has been given a respite.
After the dismal box office performance of SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS ($23.4 M since July 2, 2003), DreamWorks animation head Ann Daly proclaimed in the NEW YORK TIMES that the studio will no longer be making traditionally-drawn features. Co-founder and animation guru Jeffrey Katzenberg added that the 2D art form sadly may be obsolete as a result of changing technology.
With PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK already past $85M after one week of release, Disney has acted quickly in setting course on a sequel with all of the main participants, including Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, and confirmed by a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson. No story has been conjured, but writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio are said to be huddling with the studio.
R!OT Santa Monica produced more than a dozen complex VFX shots for Warner Bros. TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (produced by C2/Intermedia), including several highly detailed 3D digital matte paintings. Specializing in creating realistic virtual environments, artists from the studio's feature film unit created a remote desert military facility, a cavernous elevator shaft, a warehouse filled with robotic weapons, aerial scenes and other hard to replicate locations.
Proxima, an Italian digital effects partner of famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome, has been handed a large portion of the VFX work on EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, the prequel to the legendary horror film that Warner Bros. will release February 6, 2004. The Paul Schrader film was shot at Cinecittà and Proxima is part of Cinecittà Digital Village, which is quickly becoming one of the most important digital arenas in Europe.
As expected, Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL blew away all comers for the weekend of July 11-13, 2003. The estimated weekend gross was a very impressive $46.4M, while the five-day figure came in at $70.4M, exceeding most expectations.
Now that director Kevin Lima (TARZAN and 102 DALMATIANS) has been signed to helm Fox's live-action/animated CAT AND MOUSE next year, the search is on to see who will perform the 2D animation for the opening 10 minutes of the comedy. According to a spokesman, the production team is meeting with animators and studios in L.A., New York and Canada. But it has not been determined whether an animation director and crew or a one-stop shop will be hired.
Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL struck box office gold in its first two days of release, bringing in $13.5M on July 9, 2003 and $10.4M on July 10. That's good news for the summer season, which needed a boost, and especially good for Disney, which now appears to have the one-two punch it desperately needed in FINDING NEMO ($282.6M) and PIRATES.
Vin Diesel will reprise his break-out role as PITCH BLACK's anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, a sci-fi action/adventure that just started shooting for Universal Pictures, in association with Radar Pictures and One Race Prods. Co-starring Colm Feore, Alexa Davalos, Karl Urban, Linus Roache, Thandie Newton and Dame Judi Dench the film is written and directed by David Twohy (BELOW and PITCH BLACK), produced by Scott Kroopf (THE LAST SAMURAI and PITCH BLACK) and Vin Diesel (XXX).
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES may have won the Independence holiday box office race for Warner Bros., taking in $44M for the weekend and $72.3M for the five-day period (bolstered by the combined VFX of Industrial Light + Magic, Anatomorphex, Pacific Data Images, Pacific Titles & Optical and Stan Winston Studio), but the big story was FINDING NEMO.
Despite a recent comment by Sean Connery (while promoting THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN in Las Vegas) that Steven Spielberg might not direct INDY IV, a spokesman for the director told VFXWorld.com that he fully intends to shoot the movie in 2004 for release in the summer of 2005.
"Somebody, somewhere, must have misunderstood something," the spokesman said. "The
STAR WARS EPISODE III, the last of the prequels to the legendary George Lucas franchise, began shooting at Fox Studios Australia, June 30, 2003. According to Starwars.com, the first scenes were shot in a new set environment with returning stars Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). Also on set was R2-D2. The final installment will see Peter Mayhew reprise his role as Chewbacca, a part he has not played since THE RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983.
A free, limited edition read-along CD of SHREK AND FIONA'S HONEYMOON STORYBOOK will be given away to every child attending during the opening weekend of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS. The exclusive giveaway lasts July 2-6, for as long as supplies last.
The read-along storybook, which has an estimated value of $9.95, will be given away, one per child, with each paid admission. Theater managers will also have a limited number of rain checks on hand with instructions on how a child can receive his or her CD if the supply runs out before the end of the weekend.
DreamWorks adventure SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS hits theaters on July 2, 2003, but can it fend off tough competition from live-action films like Warner Bros. and Columbia/TriStars TERMINATOR 3:RISE OF THE MACHINES or MGMs LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE & BLONDE? With the track record of 2D features of late, it looks like an upward battle for the tradigital picture, which was directed by Tom Johnson and Patrick Gilmore, featuring the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones Joseph Fiennes and Michelle Pfeiffer.
HP's Linux-based technology played a critical role in the creation of DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS, which opens theatrically July 2, 2003. The first film ever created entirely on Linux, SINBAD was developed on HP workstations and servers.
Sony's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE (with Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage supplying the bulk of the VFX) may have won the box office derby, but its $37.6M was less than spectacular. So far, the 2003 summer box office is 2% less than last year's. Universal's THE HULK, meanwhile, plunged nearly 70% in its second weekend, adding $18.8M, still good enough for second place. The ILM VFX feast has earned $100.5M thus far.
After THE MATRIX RELOADED: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE climbed to an unprecedented $903, 241 in North America in its third weekend, IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. are continuing to discuss other possibilities for DMR conversion, including a day-and-date release of THE POLAR EXPRESS on Nov. 19, 2004, according to a recent Dow Jones Business News story.