ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.9 - DECEMBER 1999

Films

Japan's biggest blockbuster, Princess Mononoke, visited U.S. screens this fall. © Miramax Films.

AWN Animated Box Office Report. October 22-October 24: Destination Films' newly released horror film, Bats, with visual effects by North Hollywood, California-based Netter Digital Entertainment, Inc., finished seventh at the US weekend boxoffice, grossing an estimated $4.7 million. Buena Vista's supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, with visual effects by DreamQuest, finished ninth, grossing $4.3 million for a total of $255.7 million. . . October 29-October 31: Newly released Warner Bros.' The House On Haunted Hill, with visual effects by Hollywood, California-based K.N.B. EFX Group, Inc., topped the US weekend boxoffice with $15,946,032. The film is a remake of the 1958 William Castle horror film that starred Vincent Price. Buena Vista's The Sixth Sense, with visual effects by DreamQuest, finished eighth, grossing $3,200,961 for a total of $259,835,832; and the American version of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, which is the top grossing movie of all time in Japan, was given a limited, eight theater release for its first week by Miramax Films and finished 33rd while grossing $144,446. It averaged a very good $18,056 per screen, which compares favorably to The House On Haunted Hill's average of $5884 per screen. More screens will be added next week when Princess Mononoke is released in 15 additional cities. . . November 5-November 7: Warner Bros.' The House On Haunted Hill, with visual effects by Hollywood, California-based K.N.B. EFX Group, Inc., finished third at the US weekend boxoffice with an estimated $7.8 million, for a total of $28.1 million. The film is a remake of the 1958 William Castle horror film that starred Vincent Price. Buena Vista's The Sixth Sense, with visual effects by DreamQuest, finished eighth, grossing $3.2 million for a total of $264.1 million. The American version of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, which is the top grossing movie of all time in Japan, took in $385,000 on 38 screens, including 13 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area which Miramax used as a test market to help determine whether to give the film a wider release. The film averaged $10,100 per screen, compared to last week's $18,000 per screen. It is not yet known whether Miramax considers this promising enough to give the film a wider release. . .

Pokemon rose to the top of the U.S. box office in its first week of release, but has since lagged. © Warner Bros. No other uses are permitted without the prior written consent of owner. Use of the material in violation of the foregoing may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.

November 12-November 14: Will the power of Pokemon ever stop? U.S. fans of the animated series proved thi ss weekend that they had to catch all of Pokemon: The First Movie. After setting the record for the biggest Wednesday opening of all time for an animated film, the Pikachu vehicle grossed an estimated $52.1 million over a 5-day period, squishing the non-summer record of $45.7 million set by A Bug's Life. The much anticipated new film from Kevin Smith, Dogma, with visual effects by Station X Studios, bucked controversy and finished 3rd. With a gross of $8.8 million, it seems God does have a sense of humor (and I'm not talking about singer Alanis Morrisette, who plays the heavenly mother in the film). The House On Haunted Hill, with visual effects by Hollywood, California-based K.N.B. EFX Group, Inc., slips from 3rd to finish in 8th with a weekend gross of $4.4 million and a cume of $34.8 million. The second largest grossing flick of the year behind Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the Sixth Sense, with visual effects by DreamQuest, holds on to the final spot of the top ten with a weekend gross of $2.7 million and a cume of $267.8 million. All box office figures quoted from the November 15, 1999 issue of Daily Variety.

Phantom Menace Overseas Boxoffice Surpasses Domestic Boxoffice. [AF 10/26/99] Lucasfilm's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace took in US$16.5 million last weekend (October 15 - 17), bringing its overseas gross to $428 million, surpassing its domestic gross of $426.8 million. The film opened in France with $11.02 million, the best ever opening in France for a U.S. film.

Disney Plans To Finish Salvador Dali Film. Work, in the form of original concept drawings, as well as 18 seconds of animation, done by Salvador Dali in 1946 at the Disney studio for a never-completed film called Destino, is being dusted off by Disney vice chairman Roy Disney (Junior) and will be completed as an art house cartoon by the Disney studio, according to The London Sunday Times. "I am going to finish the work of Salvador Dali," Disney told the newspaper. "At Disney, we need to recover our history." The production will be supervised by Disney, who is a son of Roy Disney (Walt Disney's brother), and 91 year-old John Hench, now a senior vice-president at Disney, who worked with Dali as his assistant in 1946. According to the Times, Dali blamed the failure to finish the film on labor strikes that hit the movie industry at the time. However John Canemaker, in Before The Animation Begins: The Art And Lives Of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists, quotes Walt Disney as saying, "Jesus Christ! $70,000 down the drain," in response to Dali's very un-Disneyesque work. Canemaker's new book, Paper Dreams, includes a photo showing Dali at work on the project.

Read more about Paper Dreams including an interview with John Canemaker in Michael Lyons' article, "John Canemaker's Sweet `Dreams'" in this issue.

Canuck Creations Nears Completion On The Prodigal Son. Toronto-based Canuck Creations Inc. is in the final stages of production on The Prodigal Son, a futuristic look at an ancient Bible story. Canuck produced the short from conceptual design to final color, combining 2D and 3D elements. The 24-minute film will be the main attraction for the youth pavilion at World Expo 2000, which will take place in Germany. Other features Canuck has worked on include The Story Of Joseph, the DreamWorks direct-to-video sequel to the animated feature, The Prince Of Egypt, Achtgrbahn's Werner III, Rankin/Bass' The King & I and Fox's Anastasia..

How good is the first half-hour of Chicken Run? Good enough to garner a four picture deal for Aardman! © Dreamworks LLC.

Aardman Signs Four Picture Deal With DreamWorks. DreamWorks SKG, the company behind The Prince Of Egypt, and distributor of PDI's Antz, expressed their pleasure with Bristol, England-based Aardman Animations' forthcoming Chicken Run by signing the Peter Lord/David Sproxton/Nick Park company to a four feature deal. DreamWorks will distribute the clay animated Chicken Run, set to be released June 23, 2000, in the U.S. Chicken Run, which is described as The Great Escape with chickens, is being co-directed by Peter Lord (Adam, Wat's Pig) and Nick Park (Creature Comforts, The Wrong Trousers) and features Mel Gibson as Rocky the rooster. As for the forthcoming projects, Aardman is said to be close to developing a project based on The Tortoise And The Hare. This Aesop's fable has already provided the basis for several significant films in the history of animation, including Disney's 1935 Silly Symphony, The Tortoise And The Hare, which is said to have introduced speed to cartoons, and Tex Avery's spoof of the Disney film, Tortoise Beats Hare with Bugs Bunny.

Jerry Beck reviewed Creating 3-D Animation: The Aardman Book Of Filmmaking in the February 1999 issue of Animation World Magazine.

Luxo Jr.
Joins Toy Story 2 . The Academy Award-nominated, animated short film, Luxo Jr., is accompaning Toy Story 2 for its entire run. Directed by John Lasseter (Toy Story, A Bug's Life), Luxo Jr. debuted at SIGGRAPH in 1986 to wide praise of its integration of classic character design with a new level of visual realism. "Luxo Jr. was the first computer animated film where the story and characters were more important to audiences than the fact that it was made with a computer," said Lasseter, Pixar's Executive Vice President, Creative.

Toy Story 2 runs to theatres with Luxo Jr. along for the adventure. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios.

Something Strange Comes To Columbia. On November 11, 1999, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Columbia pictures has garnered the rights to Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange: Master Of The Mystic Arts. Don Murphy of Columbia-based Angry Films will produce the potentially live-action feature. The Strange flick joins Spider-Man as the second Marvel property in development at Columbia. Other comic-book inspired project currently coming to life at Angry Films include Astroboy and Parasyte.

Universal And Imagine Get Nutty Too. Production started up on Nutty II: The Klumps, the sequel to the $270 million hit The Nutty Professor. Eddie Murphy will return to the role of Professor Sherman Klump in the Universal Pictures' and Imagine Entertainment flick. Singer and actress Janet Jackson co-stars in the film, which is produced by Brian Grazer (Liar Liar, Bowfinger) and directed by Peter Segal (Tommy Boy). Tom Shadyac, Murphy, Karen Kehela and James D. Brubaker are the executive producers, and the screenplay is scribed by Barry Blaustein, David Sheffield and Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz (American Pie). Murphy once again is slated to play the various members of the Klump family, who this time around will be fighting over a secret DNA formula. The script is full of opportunities for many crazy visual effects. The film is scheduled for release on August 4, 2000.


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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