Sony Pictures Imageworks' Rob Legato has been named the CGI supervisor for Warner Bros.' HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Legatos credits include TITANIC for Digital Domain and the upcoming WHAT LIES BENEATH for SPI. The flick, set to bow in November 2001, is being produced by David Heyman and directed by Chris Columbus. The cast includes Maggie Smith, Tim Roth and Robbie Coltrane. Based on the best-selling book by J.K. Rowling, the film version will be an effects extravaganza with flying broomsticks and an all-CGI villain Voldemort.
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HEAVY METAL 2000 co-creator and illustrator Kevin Eastman has inked a content deal with TheThreshold.com. No monetary details were released. Threshold Entertainments CEO and chairman, Larry Kasanoff told the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "Kevin is an incredible creator and entrepreneur. Wed want to be involved with him even if he didnt have HEAVY METAL but HEAVY METAL is ripe with opportunity, talent and ideas. Its extraordinary what its already accomplished, and we think its just the beginning." Eastman and Threshold are planning several sci-fi oriented projects.
On Thursday, July 13, 2000, Imax Corporation announced that the company has brought in financial advisors Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Wasserstein, Perella & Co. to help maximize revenues for the company, which could include the sale or merger of the company. Imax co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler said, "Imax has made tremendous strides in the last few years on several strategic initiatives including establishing the IMAX theatre network as a release window for Hollywood films and securing a role in the digital future of entertainment.
Currently the #1 recording artist in America, rapper Eminem has signed a deal to create a new animated Web series. Hookt.com, a New York-based hip-hop entertainment site, will host the rappers site www.slimshadyworld.com. The toon will be based on the rappers alter ego Slim Shady and other characters created by the rapper. Eminem will provide the voice for the main character. The first of the scheduled 26 Webisodes will premiere in mid-July. Gene Jimenez is producing the site, which will also feature games, news, charts, trivia and interviews.
Walt Disney-owned DIC Entertainment and Korea-based animation firm Ameko Entertainment Co. have signed a multiyear deal to produce half-hour animated series. DIC will hold the worldwide distribution rights except in Korea. The first project, SUPER DUPER SUMOS, has already begun production. Executive producing the series will be DIC execs Andy Heyward, Robby London and Like Maliani along with Amekos Dong Chung and Robert Scharf. "The relationship between the company and Ameko has been very productive," DIC CEO and president Heyward said.
PRINCE OF EGYPT-director Simon Wells has signed on to helm live-action flick, THE TIME MACHINE. Brad Silbering (CITY OF ANGELS) was first rumored to direct the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. pic based on H.G. Wells novel. This project will be Wells first foray into live-action. He was in talks to helm CASPER 2, but that film fell through due to budgetary concerns. The picture seems to be going to the right person as Simon Wells is the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER-producer/writer Brannon Braga has signed a new three-year TV deal with Paramount, which will see the creation of a new TREK series. The seven-digit plus deal will have Braga teaming with Rick Berman to develop and create the next TREK-based series. Braga started at Paramount as the writer and producer of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. As part of the deal, Braga will produce other series for Paramount as well.
UrbanEntertainment.com has signed HOUSE PARTY director Reginald Hudlin and WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE-writer Tina Andrews to produce two new Net series. Hudlin, who just finished directing the live-action flick LADIES MAN, will write and executive produce the Webtoon MACKIN, which allows Net surfers to control a young man as he tries to seduce women. Andrews will write and executive produce SISTAS N THE CITY, which follows the lives of three black women living in Chicago. Andrews just finished penning the CBS miniseries JACUELINE BOUVIER KENNEDY ONASSIS.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. (SLM) has signed a deal with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige to create a new series portraying the multi-platinum singer as an original Stan Lee Hip-Hop Super Heroine. The Web series will be based off an animated short, featuring the Blige super persona, which shows before each of Blige's concerts. The short, created by Blige and SLM, has garnered a tremendous fan response. The agreement is modeled after Stan Lee Media's partnership with the Backstreet Boys (www.backstreetproject.com) with joint ownership of the superhero franchise.
Curious Pictures has signed a deal with Cartoon Network On-line for nine original Web toons. The nine shows are being created and directed by Curious directors and artists Denis Morella, Nick Hewitt, Mike Bade, Damon Ciarelli, Molly Schwartz, Sam Crees and Patricia Ross. Four of the Web Premiere Toons are being created in Curious' New York City flagship studio, while five others are being developed out of the company's San Francisco SoMa office. UNCLE SQUIRLY will follow the crazy antics of a wacky children's television show.
THE RUTH TRUTH, Oxygen Media's award-winning animated on-line series, makes its TV debut in Oxygen's X-CHROMOSOME series on Saturday, July 15, 2000 at 10:30 pm. X-CHROMOSOME is the first half-hour animated television series created primarily for a female audience by the developers of LIQUID TELEVISION. THE RUTH TRUTH chronicles the adventures of Ruth Decker, an actress/comedian who lands a job working undercover for a detective agency that specializes in busting vendors who traffic in counterfeit designer goods, and is based on the life of the writer and lead actress Sheila Head.
San Francisco-based DotComix has announced that DOONESBURY creator Garry Trudeau has joined the companys advisory board. In addition the company has added key executives and finalized a new US$8.5 million round of financing. Besides joining the advisory board, Trudeau will be the exclusive on-line animator of the DotComix series DUKE 2000. DotComix has since begun a campaign to elect the DOONESBURY cartoon character, Duke, for U.S. President, a campaign that has resulted in numerous television and media appearances, including a live one-hour special on the LARRY KING SHOW.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE-writer Leslie Dixon has signed a US$1.5 million deal to pen the newest DreamWorks animated feature. The working title is CHAKULAN and is based on the fact that male Bengal tigers have a biological animosity toward female tigers and their cubs. The premise came from DreamWorks execs, whom recommended Dixon because she is well known for her witty banter. No producers have been asigned to the project yet, but Lance Young, DreamWorks animation development head, is overseeing the project currently.
The live-action version of DAREDEVIL has swung from Columbia Pictures to find a new home at New Regency Pictures, however, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is still attached to the project. Marvel Enterprises moved the project due to an Internet rights dispute with Columbia. New Regencys Arnon Milchan and Marvel Studios Avi Arad are producing the flick. 20th Century Fox will distribute the film. DAREDEVIL follows the adventures of attorney Matt Murdock, who was blinded by an accident with a radioactive transport truck.
Blue Sky Studios, a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, has signed an agreement with Compaq Computer Corporation that will make the 3D animation studio into one of the top 50 super computing facilities worldwide, according to the Linpack-based "Top 500 list." Planning to use the new computer equipment on the upcoming ICE AGE, the Oscar-award winning company will now have more than 50 times its previous computing power, and double the power of any industry competitor to date.
* Saturday, September 23, 2000. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Entry Deadline: August 31, 2000
TOKYOPOP.com has extended their first AnimeOnline Festival until September. Animation artists working in the anime style are invited to submit their original anime Internet works in Flash, Shockwave or Quicktime formats. There are five categories in which participants may enter: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Fighting (Battle), Love/Comedy, Shoujo (Girl's Anime) and Asia Pop Focus (Open Category). Participants may enter into more than one category and may
Following up on the hugely successful WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, Discovery and the BBC have set into production on WALKING WITH PREHISTOIC BEASTS. The 3-hour miniseries will start where DINOSAURS left off. The budget is set at US$10 million, which was the price tag for the original miniseries. In addition, the two channels will create a "science behind the series" special to air after BEASTS sometime in 2001. After its successful run on the BBC in England, DINOSAURS premiered on April 16, 2000 in the U.S.
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With GLADIATOR's global box office dominance slowly coming to an end, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 and GONE IN 60 SECONDS have gained top spots around the world. Grossing $804,785 and raising its Swedish cume to $1.16 million, 60 SECONDS finished atop the charts in its second weekend, knocking GLADIATOR down to second where it grossed $255,829. In its second weekend in Australia, 60 SECONDS stayed off newcomer PERFECT STORM to remain at #1. 60 SECONDS grossed $3.21 million and STORM managed $2.23 million in second place.
With only one other major newcomer, the Keenen Ivory Wayans-directed teen horror spoof, SCARY MOVIE, out grossed the competition to finish atop the U.S. box office charts. Even though the weekend after July 4 usually sees low numbers at theatres, SCARY MOVIE, with primary visual effects by Centropolis Effects, managed to scare up US$42.35 million, the second largest three-day opening this year behind MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. The Independence Day champ, PERFECT STORM, slipped to second with a gross of $27.12 million.
The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE, has rolled out a special agreement for dotcom studios producing animation for the Net. The Union has drafted a newer, simpler contract without the traditional animation classifications and rates. The Web contract is designed to offer Internet start-ups maximum flexibility while still providing animation employees with their regular pension and health coverage. The new contract will provide health and pension benefits under the same multi-employer plan as that of other union shops.