THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.
Category: Visual Effects
Producer Donald De Line has been appointed vice chairman, Motion Picture Group and president, Paramount Pictures, effective Jan. 5, 2004. De Line replaces John Goldwyn, who is stepping down to become a producer at the studio in the wake of criticism that the feature slate has not only performed below expectation at the box office (including the disappointing LARA CROFT sequel), but also lacks Oscar prestige. Reporting to Sherry Lansing, chairman, Paramount Pictures, De Line is expected to pump up and diversify the studio's feature production slate during this three-year stint.
It's fitting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has named its newest theater, a 286-seat state-of-the-art screening room at the Pickford Center in Hollywood, in honor of optical, vfx pioneer Linwood Dunn.
"Linwood Dunn was a giant in the motion picture field, a gifted artist and scientist who made enormous contributions to our art form throughout most of the 20th century," said Academy president Frank Pierson. "Naming the theater in Lin's honor made eminent sense to the board of governors."
Veteran animator Becky Bristow has been named chair of the Digital Arts and Design program in the Software School of Beijing University, China. Bristow reports she is busy creating the curriculum and building the new graduate digital arts program
3D Festival 2004, Europe's largest convention and exhibition for the creative 3D industry (May 3-6 at Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark), has announced its executive committee and preliminary speakers. Synergy, meanwhile, will be the theme, encompassing storytelling, modeling, animating, rendering, programming and business strategies.
Turbo Squid, the world's largest collection of royalty-free 3D assets for sale, has formed a custom 3D modeling service, allowing clients to draw from a global pool of more than 6,300 digital artists when a job is needed. The service is designed to give Turbo Squid clients another avenue for content if they cannot fulfill their needs through the Turbo Squid library of more than 80,000 3D models, meshes, textures, audio files and mo-cap data available for download.
Artwork to be considered for EXPOSÉ 2 needs to be submitted before Jan. 29, 2004, four weeks prior to the previous deadline, in order for the book to be shipped in time for SIGGRAPH 2004. EXPOSÉ 2 will go into full production in March 2004, with a release date of July 2004. EXPOSÉ 2 Pre-orders for EXPOSÉ 2 will start in June 2004.
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on the popular book of the same name by C.S. Lewis, will begin production in New Zealand in early 2004, industry development minister Jim Anderton said in a statement. New Zealand-native Andrew Adamson, co-director of the Oscar-winning SHREK, will be directing the live-action film. The production will use stage space and personnel in Auckland.
After successfully IMAXing THE MATRIX trilogy, IMAX and Warner Bros. Pictures will release the third installment of the HARRY POTTER film series, THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in IMAX theaters in June 2004. The highly anticipated Alfonso Cuaron-directed feature is scheduled to open June 4 in conventional theaters. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN will be digitally re-mastered through proprietary IMAX DMR technology.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING came out swinging like Gollum for that box office brass ring on Wednesday, Dec. 17, taking in a glorious $57.6M in theaters around the globe, according to New Line, including a record-breaking domestic gross of $34.1M and $23.5M in 19 territories overseas.
SEABISCUIT, writer/director Gary Ross' acclaimed screen adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's revered bestseller about the legendary race horse and his place in American lore, comes to DVD Dec. 16, 2003 (Universal Home Entertainment, $26.98) with several noteworthy extras: commentary from Ross and director Steven Soderbergh, production notes, three featurettes ("Racing Through History," "Bringing the Legend to Life" and "Anatomy of a Movie Moment: From Script to Screen") and co-star Jeff Bridge's on-set photographs.
VFX industry veteran Jeff Ross has joined Hollywood-based visual effects shop Eden FX, in the newly created position of evp.
Ross has built an extensive career guiding, managing and overseeing the growth of numerous successful, high-end post-production companies. For the past two years, he served as evp/coo of Sunset Digital, a high definition facility specializing in feature film mastering, digital restoration, linear and non-linear editing and DVD compression and authoring.
The Independent Games Festival has announced the finalists in the sixth annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Competition, which will exhibit their games the Game Developers Conference March 24-26, 2004 in San Jose, California. Selected by a panel of game industry professionals, game development teams will compete for more than $40,000 in cash prizes, double the payout from previous years.
The 10 games selected for the "Open" category are (in alphabetical order):ACMI by Selectparks (Richmond, Victoria, Australia)
Kevin Mullican has been named cto for iO Film, a technologically advanced, full-service digital film finishing facility specializing in film and video projects from every sector of the entertainment industry.
Softimage has launched SOFTIMAGE|BEHAVIORv.1.5 - the latest version of its cutting edge crowd effects software. This third release includes an array of customer-driven improvements as well as new and innovative features that enable users to build sophisticated behavioral simulations quickly and creatively.
Discreet announced it has significantly increased its share in the 3D animation tools market this year with expansion in core and emerging markets. Having exceeded 200,000 license sales of its 3ds max software, Discreet has forged ahead with 3ds max 6, the most recent release of its acclaimed 3D modeling, animation and rendering software.
When the Visual Information Technology laboratory at the Canadian National Research Council started developing its high resolution 3D scanners in the early 1980s, it probably had no idea that 20 years later one of its spin-offs, XYZ RGB Inc., would be contracted to help bring the characters of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to life on the big screen.
HBO has greenlit a second season of the cult TV series, CARNIVALE, reported HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The David Lynch/Stephen King-like series will get another 13 episodes, debuting at the end of 2004. Production should start in the spring with the original cast members all returning. The series didnt pull in audiences like THE SOPRANOS or SEX IN THE CITY, but it averaged a solid 3.5 million viewers each week.
Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. announced Dec. 10, 2003 that it is essentially stopping TV and movie production with the departure of entertainment group ceo Peter Sussman and Seaton McLean, the group's president, production. The company will hone its activities down to primarily specialty channel broadcasting and TV/film distribution.
Jim Henson Co. will begin production Dec. 15 in Australia on a four-hour miniseries based on the cult favorite TV series FARSCAPE, reported SCI FI WIRE. Citing sources close to the production, the story will pick up and resolve issues left open at the end of the cancelled series. Stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black among others will be reprising their roles. The miniseries has no television distribution deal to date. Both Jim Henson Co. and the Sci Fi Channel had no comment on the rumor.