Warner Bros. Ent. Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort are partnering to create the world's first fully immersive HARRY POTTER themed environment based on the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and feature films from Warner Bros. Envisioned as a "theme park within a theme park" and titled "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," the new environment will become part of the experience within Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort.
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Universal Pictures has confirmed that, beginning in October 2007, Christian Grass will become president of the studio's new international production arm at Universal Pictures International (UPI).
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson -- stars of TV's longest running series, THE SIMPSONS, will ride along with guests in a new mega-attraction opening at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in spring 2008.
Guests will experience a side of Springfield previously unexplored as they enjoy the new ride's interpretation of the thrill rides, dark rides and "live" shows that make up a new fantasy amusement park dreamed up by the show's cantankerous Krusty the Clown.
Coming to DVD uncut and digitally remastered is a Walter Lantz treasure trove: THE WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS CLASSIC CARTOON COLLECTION lands on store shelves July 24, 2007, from Universal Studios Home Ent. The three-disc collection priced at $39.98 features 75 zany adventures, including eight Academy Award-nominated shorts, and offers more than an one hour of vintage bonus materials, such as the doc "Walter, Woody and the World of Animation," behind-the-scenes footage and a full episode of THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW.
One of last year's gems, CHILDREN OF MEN, the riveting futuristic thriller from director Alfonso Cuarón, comes to DVD and HD-DVD on March 27, 2007 (Universal Studios Home Ent., $29.98). No stranger to vfx after HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, Cuarón elicits superb seamless work from London's Double Negative and Framestore CFC in crafting a bleak, naturalistic vision of London in 2027.
Universal Pictures Int'l Ent. has just bought the international DVD rights to the first 52-episode season of BERNARD. This deal for producer BRB Internacional represents the first time that the Spanish company has entered into such a wide-ranging alliance covering so many countries. Universal has also acquired mobile rights to BERNARD in the U.K.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA exec producer David Eick has resigned his first-look agreement with NBC Universal, reports VARIETY. Despite the deal with NBC Universal, he has set up a host of projects in various stages at various studios, including Fox thriller THEM, two projects with FX, projects with SCI FI Channel and a miniseries with Lifetime. With NBC, he is overseeing the re-imagining of THE BIONIC WOMAN.
With it in U.S. theaters for less than a week, THE HOST is already being circled as a remake possibility at Universal, reports SCI FI Wire. In an interview, the original's director Bong Joon-ho stated that Universal had bought the rights to his film, which follows a dysfunctional family as they try to rescue their youngest member from the clutches of a genetically altered amphibian, which has run amok in Seoul.
THE LAND BEFORE TIME: THE GREAT DAY OF THE FLYERS (Universal Studios Home Ent., $19.98), the 12th entry in the number one bestselling animated for DVD franchise, hits shelves Feb. 27, 2007. Produced by Universal Animation Studios, the franchise additionally expands with an all-new Cartoon Network LAND BEFORE TIME series, beginning March 5 at 9:30 am.
Jeff Zucker has been officially announced as president and ceo of NBC Universal, succeeding Bob Wright, who will continue to serve as a General Electric vice chairman.
In order to enhance financing and marketing of animated feature films on a long-term- basis, the Animation Production Day (APD) will, for the first time, bring producers of feature film projects into contact with world distribution companies, marketing experts, banks and equity investors, focusing on gap financing and the potential for international distribution.
By shelling out seven figures, Universal Pictures has won the bidding war for the rights to children's fantasy manuscript SIMON BLOOM, THE GRAVITY KEEPER, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The soon-to-be published book from first-time novelist Michael Reisman, who is a script reader for Nickelodeon TV and Cartoon Network.
Gary Ross is eyeing the project as director and his Larger Than Life partner Allison Thomas would produce the live-action adaptation with Gotham Group's Ellen Goldsmith-Vein.
NBC Universal Cable Ent. announced the launch of Chiller, a 24-hour entertainment cable channel dedicated to the horror genre. DIRECTV will be the first affiliate to carry the new network, which starts March 1, 2007.
"We continually look at our options for launching new networks," said Jeff Gaspin, president, NBC Universal Cable Ent., digital content and cross network strategy.. "Horror is one of the most reliably successful genres in entertainment today and Chiller seems like a well-timed addition to our portfolio."
NBC Universal today (Dec. 4, 2006) announced expanded responsibilities for several senior executives, and appointed Michael Pilot as new head of Ad Sales.
As with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Peter Jackson has double-dipped with KING KONG, providing 13 additional minutes of new footage, including 230 new VFX shots from the Oscar-winning Weta Digital, and nearly 40 minutes of deleted scenes. The KING KONG DELUXE EXTENDED EDITION three-disc set (Universal Home Ent., $34.98) was produced by the award-winning Michael Pellerin and was released Nov. 14, 2006.
NBC Universal Cable brings the beloved family classic tale CURIOUS GEORGE to on demand (VOD) and pay-per-view (PPV) on Nov. 9, 2006. Consumers who order the film on demand or on pay-per-view and watch until the end of the credits will get instructions on how to receive a CURIOUS GEORGE beanie toy for free while supplies last.
Kristin Lowe has been promoted to vp, production, Universal Pictures, overseeing the day-to-day production activities for many of the studio's most anticipated films, including CHILDREN OF MEN, THE KINGDOM and BREACH.
Lowe joined Universal Pictures in 2004 as director of development, following a stint as director of development at Warner Bros. Pictures, She joined WB in 2002 as a creative exec after posts both at MGM and Michael Bay Films.
NBC Universal announced NBCU 2.0, a wide-ranging strategic initiative to assure future growth, streamline and strengthen operations and exploit opportunities created by the rapidly evolving digital and global marketplace.
SCI FI Channels highest rated tale of intergalactic survival continues when BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON 2.5 debuts on DVD on Sept. 19, 2006 (Universal Studios Home Ent., $49.98).
The voice cast has been set for THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, the 3D- animated feature from Universal Pictures, directed by stop-motion vet Mike Johnson (the Oscar-nominated CORPSE BRIDE), which marks the first production made by London-based Framestore Feature Animation, the new division of the Framestore CFC vfx studio.
Adapted from Kate DiCamillos award-winning childrens bestseller about one small mouses quest to change a kingdom, DESPEREAUX will offer the voice talents of:
Production will soon begin on DAMBUSTERS, the World War II adventure based on one of the most daring missions in aeronautic military history, for Universal Pictures in association with StudioCanal. Peter Jackson will produce and vfx vet Christian Rivers will make his directorial debut.
Universal Pictures has purchased Scott Nimerfros horror pitch AGONY, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Studio has tapped Scott Stuber and Mary Parent to produce the project via their Stuber/Parent company.
Nimerfro (DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST) is now penning the screenplay, which will center on an urban legend on a college campus that turns out to be true.
The deal was in the low- to mid-six figures.
Universal Pictures is set to fully finance and distribute HELLBOY 2, Guillermo del Toros sequel to his 2004 film, which was produced by Revolution Studios and distributed through its deal at Columbia Pictures, reports VARIETY. Universal plans to release the film based on the Dark Horse comic in summer 2008.
Del Toro has penned the script and Ron Perlman and Selma Blair will return as Hellboy and his pyrokinetic love interest, Liz Sherman, respectively.
Vivendi Games' Sierra Ent. has released MIAMI VICE THE GAME to U.S. retail stores. Set in present-day Miami, the third-person action shooter is inspired by the Universal Pictures crime drama, MIAMI VICE, in theaters July 28, 2006. Players will go deep undercover as narcotic officers Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs in the notorious world of MIAMI VICE.
Developed by U.K.-based Rebellion, MIAMI VICE THE GAME is available exclusively for PSP. The development of the game comes through an agreement with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE BEST OF SATURDAY TV FUNHOUSE is coming to DVD on Oct. 24, 2006, from Universal Studios Home Ent. Produced by Broadway Video, the DVD features highlights from a series of irreverent adult cartoons that skewer everything from politics and current events to superheroes. The brainchild of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's Emmy Award winning writer Robert Smigel, these animated segments introduced some of the show's most memorable sketches and characters.