Stan Lee Media (SLM) has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Pictures to develop a new feature film based on the Conan character. Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of THE MATRIX, have signed on to produce with CONAN THE BARBARIAN director John Milius set to write and direct. The deal allows SLM to exploit the brand across several media outlets with an animated series in the works for television and Internet distribution. SLM only bought the rights to Conan from Conan Properties, Inc. in September.
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USA Network announced that it would air SINBAD: BEYOND THE VEIL OF MISTS, the first-ever 3D motion-capture animated feature. The movie will premiere on Thursday, November 30, 2000 at 8 pm ET/PT. SINBAD is the tale of the legendary Sinbad and his crew, who are recruited by a beautiful princess to travel beyond the forbidden Veil of Mists in a quest for the cure to an evil spell placed on the King.
Nickelodeon has ordered 26 additional episodes of LITTLE BILL, their daily preschool series created by Bill Cosby. BILL has scored strong rating for the network since its debut in November 1999, averaging a 7.9 rating/36 share among kids 2-5. Since airing on CBS' Saturday morning block in September, the series has averaged a 4.1 rating/16 share for Viacom-owned CBS. BILL chronicles the daily discoveries of an inquisitive 5-year-old, voiced by Xavier Prichett. The voice cast also includes Gregory Hines, Phylicia Rashad and Ruby Dee.
On October 31, 2000, Missouri Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Dierker threw out the US$24.5 million judgment against Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, originally awarded to former hockey player Tony Twist in July. Twist had sued McFarlane for unauthorized use of his name in the comic book series SPAWN.
The London Effects and Animation Festival handed out its awards at a ceremony on November 14, 2000. DreamWork's GLADIATOR, with visual effects by Mill Film, took home the prize for best effects feature, beating out DINOSAUR and the TV miniseries ARABIAN NIGHTS. The works were judged by a panel of industry experts, media buyers and trade media. The awards kicked off the three day event, which will include screenings, panel discussions, presentations and a sneak peek at PDI and DreamWork's new 3D animated feature SHREK. Below is a complete list of this year's winners.
Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) (WDIG) has promoted Erik Flannigan to senior VP of non-Disney-branded entertainment Websites. Previously, Flannigan served as VP of MrShowbiz.com, Movies.com and Wall of Sound. In his new position, Flannigan will continue to be responsible for those three sites as well as ABC.com and Oscar.com. He will relocate to Los Angeles from Seattle. Flannigan joined MrShowbiz in 1995 as an associate editor. Before joining Mr.Showbiz, Flannigan was managing editor of the music publication ICE and senior editor at the Rocket, an independent music newspaper in Seattle.
Montreal television producer TVA International has decided to decrease its production of primetime TV content and focus on animation and international distribution. As part of the move, the company cut 20 jobs and its head of longform production, Jacques Methe, resigned. The company said it would continue to distribute primetime productions worldwide, but would stop producing them. In addition, TVA Intl. announced its has signed a three-year pact with Studio Canal + to distribute the French production house's films in Canada. The deal is said to be worth several million dollars. TVA Intl.
Cinesite the visual effects arm of Kodak, has named Michael Fink as their senior visual effects supervisor. Fink's visual effects supervisor credits include WAR GAMES, THE SEVENTH SIGN, BRAVEHEART, LETHAL WEAPON 4 and X-MEN. He earned an Oscar nomination for BATMAN RETURNS in 1993. Fink led a start-up venture, Warner Digital Studios, for Warner Bros., in 1995. The full service visual effects shop had a 150 staff at its peak. They created visual effects for BATMAN AND ROBIN, ERASER, MARS ATTACKS, CONSPIRACY THEORY and CONTACT.
R!OT, a creative digital studio, has produced a new, CGI commercial for Suissa Miller Advertising and its client SkyTel Communications. "Colorful Conversation" introduces the Talkabout, a wireless communications device made by Motorola that can be used on the SkyTel system to send and receive e-mail messages and pages. In the spot, several of the devices appear like small UFOs in the sky above a large city. While flying around, they send messages to one another about a party in the city below. "The Talkabout is made of a unique plastic," said spot director Carl Seibert.
Santa Monica, California-based COMPUTERCAFE recently created a pair of 3D animated characters for two new spots for Nerf. In "BallZooka," a boy is pitted against a towering wrestler who looks like he could tear him limb from limb, but he uses his BallZooka, a motorized toy capable of rapidly firing Nerf balls, to pin his opponent to the canvas. In "Power Clip/Wildfire," another boy, armed with a Nerf Power Clip DX 100 Blaster, unleashes a barrage of foam darts that helps him defeat his silver super-speedy foe.
Anime 18 is set to unveil MASQUERADE "Darkness of Love" on video November 14, 2000. From Masaki Kajishima, the creator of PHOTON, MASQUERADE is an erotic thriller that delves into the desires and devastation of discovering eternal life. The video will sell for US$29.99.
VIRGIN FLEET is sailing onto video November 14, 2000. From Ohji Hiroi, creator of SAKURA WARS, VIRGIN FLEET follows the wartime adventures of a Navy girls' school. The video is being released by U.S. Manga Corps and will sell for US$19.99 for an English dubbed version.
ADV Video is about to release the ninth installment in the BUBBLEGUM CRISIS: TOKYO 2040 series. Hitting stores November 14, 2000, "Kill Zone" will continue the adventure of the Knight Sabers in their mission to save Tokyo from the evil Genom. The new installment will include episodes 19 and 20. Volume 10-12 will be released on December 5, 2000, January 23 and February 13, 2001 respectively. The tapes sell for US$19.98 for English dubbed and $29.95 for English subtitled.
ADV Films is proud to present the sequel to the popular SAMURAI X anime feature entitled SAMURAI X: BETRAYAL. After the Great Fire in Edo, Kenshin and Tomoe find peace on a small farm, however the rebellion is slowly rebuilding and the duo's peaceful existence is disrupted when dire news arrives from the city. ADV will release SAMURAI X: BETRAYAL in an English dubbed version on VHS. The DVD release of the film will contain both the English dubbed and subtitled versions. An English subtitled VHS version will be released under the original Japanese title, RUROUNI KENSHIN: BETRAYAL.
Over the past week at the international box office, DreamWorks' WHAT LIES BENEATH and Miramax's SCARY MOVIE have fought it out for global wealth. In the U.K., WHAT LIES over took the top spot by grossing US$2.98 million, thus pushing its 3-week U.K. cume to $12.28 million. Dropping 64% in its fourth full week, DINOSAUR fell to fourth in the U.K., with a gross of $1.44 million, escalating its cume to $17.44 million. In seventh, THE LITTLE VAMPIRE grabbed $670,689, growing its U.K. cume to $4.52 million. In Australia, WHAT LIES BENEATH's debut claimed first place with a gross of $1.72 million.
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X-MEN director Bryan Singer is in early talks with Fox to take the helm of the X-MEN sequel. When signing onto the first film, the original cast, which included Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, agreed to return for up to two sequels. The talks may be just a matter of ironing out financial terms, for Singer said going into the first picture he was interested in developing the film into a franchise. A start date and how Singer will work around his prior directorial commitments are yet to be announced. X-MEN has grossed US$157.2 million in the States alone.
Sony Corp. has announced that it's cutting its initial U.K. shipment of PlayStation 2 gaming consoles from 200,000 to 165,000 units. The cut-back is due to a computer chip shortage, which also led to Sony halving its originally projected 1 million unit shipment to the U.S. Arriving in the U.S. on October 26, the next generation console made an estimated $165 million in its first 72 hours of release. In addition, PlayStation 2 has sold approximately 3.5 million units in Japan since its release there in March.
AtomFilms has signed a deal with Century Theatres to screen six short films before each feature showing at the newly opened CineArts 6 in Evanston, Illinois. This move is part of Atom's plan to spur other theater chains to start screening shorts. The screenings also provide eligibility for the short subjects to be nominated for the Oscar, which could gain even more exposure for Atom and its film library. Harry Warren, AtomFilms' VP of broadcast and theatrical distribution, said, "AtomFilms strives to provide the best exposure for its talented filmmakers.
Imax has canceled plans to release DreamWorks' 3D feature SHREK on 150 giant screens. Apparently, increased costs associated with creative changes at DreamWorks have led to Imax abandoning the project. Last month, Imax's stock dropped 70% after the company reported an earnings loss warning for the quarter. This project originally looked like a promising financial boost for Imax (and the distribution of animation) after their big success with the release of FANTASIA/2000. SHREK is scheduled to arrive in regular theaters on May 18, 2001.
Walt Disney has added a new series, featuring Mickey Mouse and Disneys full roster of characters, entitled DISNEY'S HOUSE OF MOUSE to its 2001 ABC "Disneys One Saturday Morning" lineup. Roberts Gannaway and Tony Craig will executive produce DISNEY'S HOUSE OF MOUSE. The writer-animator team was responsible for returning Mickey Mouse to cartoon shorts with the 1999 premiere of DISNEYS MICKEY MOUSEWORKS, whose crew will mostly make up the talent on the new series.
On Saturday, November 11, 2000, ASIFA-Hollywood held their 28th annual Annie Award ceremony. This year's big winner was TOY STORY 2 with five awards, including the nod for outstanding theatrical feature. Emmy Award winners Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, the voices of the now infamous Warner Bros. duo Pinky and the Brain, hosted the ceremony. For television, MICKEY MOUSEWORKS and the special OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER both tied with two prizes each. In addition, last year's winner for outstanding primetime show, THE SIMPSONS, took home the award once again.
At this weekend's U.S. box office, CHARLIE'S ANGELS held back the debut of Adam Sandler's LITTLE NICKY, which has the comedian playing the Devil's son. ANGELS kicked in another US$24.61 million. The sexy super-agent flick, with primary visual effects by Flash Film Works, has seduced $75.01 million in just 10 days. LITTLE NICKY, with primary visual effects by VisionArt, Pixel Magic and Rhythm & Hues, had to settle for second with a gross of $16.06 million. Having its release date pushed from the heavy effects laden summer, Warner Bros.' RED PLANET still had a disappointing debut in fifth.
Cinanima 2000 finished its week of screenings with the presentation of its awards on Sunday, November 12, 2000. This year's grand prizewinner was Michel Dudok Wit's FATHER AND DAUGHTER, which also won the Alves Costa Award given by journalists at the festival. In two categories the international juries awarded ties. Paul Driessen's THE BOY WHO SAW THE ICEBERG and Florence Miailhe's AU PREMIERE DIMANCHE DAOUT both took the Class B Prize for best film between 7 and 21 minutes and Mark Van Der Maarel's THE PINBOARD and Vários' DADDY AND I took home the best first film award.
Pixar Animation Studios has started production on FINDING NEMO, its fifth CGI collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. The studio described the film as an underwater adventure about a father who must find his kidnapped son. Andrew Stanton (co-director of "A Bug's Life") had been tapped to write and direct the project. The film is scheduled for a summer 2003 release, which would be the first for a Pixar 3D-animated picture. However, Disney's traditionally animated feature LILO & STICH is scheduled for release around the same time.