AWN Animated Box Office Report.
April 2-4:
The Matrix, a new futuristic, action movie that stars Keanu Reeves and features state of the art visual effects, took first place at the weekend box office, grossing $27.6 million for the biggest opening weekend this year, industry estimates showed Sunday. Doug's 1st Movie, the Disney released animated feature based on the hit TV show, finished eighth, grossing $3.1 million during its first week in release. The movie was based on a TV show, formerly of Nickelodeon, now Disney, that was originally intended to be a direct-to-video release, but after the success of The Rugrats Movie, Disney decided in favor of a theatrical release. Forces Of Nature, a live action film starring Ben Afflick and Sandra Bullock that includes visual effects created by Pacific Data Images (PDI), finished fourth, grossing $6.3 million. . . . April 9-11: The Matrix, the special effects driven science-fiction adventure, remained No. 1 at the US box office for the week ending April 11, with a weekend gross of $22.2 million, adding to a cumulative gross of $50 million. The film slipped only 20% from last week. Forces Of Nature, with CGI effects by PDI, finished seventh, and grossed $3.7 million for a cum of $42.3 million; Doug's 1st Movie finished ninth, with $2.4 million, down 22% for a cum of $5.5 million; The King And I finished 19th, with $571,625, down 44%, for a cum of $10.2 million; A Bug's Life finished 22nd with a $400,809 gross, and a $161,946,399 cum; and Prince Of Egypt finished 23rd, with $389,370 gross, and a cum of $100,240,570. . . . April 16-18: For the week ending April 18th, The Matrix, a special effects heavy action film, finished second in the US box office race and grossed an estimated $18.1 million to bring its cumulative gross to $99.1 million. Doug's 1st Movie finished 13th and grossed $1,359,867 for a total of $15,735,750; A Bug's Life finished 23rd and grossed $315,084 for a total of $162,343,733; The King And I finished 24th and grossed $280,242 for a total of $10,700,462; and The Prince Of Egypt finished 26th and grossed $256,411 for a total of $100,595,017.

Spider-Man. © 1999 Universal Studios Escape; image courtesy of Kleiser-Walczac Construction Company.

Spider-Man To Swing Without Cameron. Whatever expectations were created in 1990 when Stan Lee (Spider-Man's co-creator with Steve Ditko and possibly Jack Kirby) announced that James Cameron would be directing a Spider-Man film, ended for the director of Titanic and The Terminator on Monday when The Hollywood Reporter reported that Cameron will not be directing this long dreamed of project. This announcement comes soon after the resolution of legal disputes between most of the involved companies over rights to the Spider-Man character and related properties. Only the resolution of Viacom's claim to television rights, which may happen this week, stands in the way of Columbia Pictures going forward with the production of what fans hope is the big budget, special effects heavy Spider-Man film about which they have long dreamed. Although another director has yet to be announced, screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible) is writing a script based on a treatment by James Cameron.

Marvel/Sony Win Spider-Man Suit. On Monday, April 19, a judge ruled that Viacom's claim to the rights to TV distribution of a film based on Marvel's comic book character Spider-man is without contractual basis. This ruling, unless it is appealed, should finally clear the way for a major Spider-Man film. The Spider-man property had been tangled in court for many years because several companies claimed to possess various controlling rights. Sources close to the law suit say that the six companies involved in the five year dispute - Sony, Marvel, Viacom, MGM, 21st Century, and Carolco - have racked up legal fees in excess of $15 million.

Rocky & Bullwinkle Starts Production. Universal Pictures has begun production in Los Angeles on Tribeca Productions' live-action/animated comedy adventure The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle, starring two time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, The Godfather Part II), Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Rene Russo (Get Shorty). Des McAnuff (Cousin Bette, Broadway's The Who's Tommy) is directing from a screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan, with De Niro and Jane Rosenthal producing. David Nicksay (The Negotiator) and Tiffany Ward, daughter of Rocky and Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward, are the film's executive producers. Based on Ward's classic cartoon characters first introduced to television audiences in 1959, The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle will break new ground in integrating dimensional computer-generated characters with live-action sequences. The title characters will be realized by the Oscar-winning visual effects artists of Industrial Light & Magic under the supervision of Dave Andrews (Small Soldiers) and Roger Guyett (Saving Private Ryan), augmented by the vocal talents of June Foray (the voice of Rocky in all 326 episodes of the original series) as Rocky, and Keith Scott as Bullwinkle. In the film, the animated characters Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his erudite friend Bullwinkle J. Moose are living in a now desolate Frostbite Falls, barely surviving on diminishing residual checks from re-runs of their old television series. Meanwhile, back in Pottsylvania, Fearless Leader (De Niro) and his notorious spies Boris Badenov (Alexander) and Natasha Fatale (Russo) have escaped their cartoon existence and are reborn as characters of flesh and blood, and are headed for Hollywood. There the evil trio hatch a ruthless plan to take over the world, leaving Rocky and Bullwinkle to go head-to-head with their long-time nemeses Boris and Natasha, and stop them once and for all. The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle is scheduled to be released by Universal Pictures in the summer of 2000. In 1992, Boris And Natasha, a live-action film that featured some of the characters from The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show, but did not include the Rocky & Bullwinkle characters, was directed for television by Charles Martin Smith for Management Company Entertainment Group.

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