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.
Category: Visual Effects
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.
Andrew Maltz, former president/ceo of Avica Technology Corp., has been named director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' new Science and Technology Council.
Michael Lynton was named chairman/ceo of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), filling the coveted position vacated by the retiring John Calley. In addition, vice chairman Amy Pascal was promoted to chairman of the Motion Picture Group at SPE in a further integration of global businesses and digital media, according to Howard Stringer, chairman/ceo of Sony Corp. of America and vice chairman of Sony Corp. Lynton, who had been president, Time Warner International; president, AOL International, and ceo, AOL Europe, since 2000, will be headquartered in Culver City, California.
Metal rocker-turned-film director Rob Zombie and author-cartoonist Steve Niles have formed a new production company, Creep Entertainment Intl, reported VARIETY. The firm already has lined-up three comicbook inspired projects -- THE NAIL with Dark Horse Comics, BIGFOOT with IDW Comics and LORDS OF SALEM. Zombie and Niles have co-written the scripts for all three films.
Sci Fi Channel has scored another win with the premiere of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The two-night, four-hour original event delivered a 3.5/2,897,000 HHs/4,177,000 P2+ average for its primetime premieres (Dec. 8-9, 2003, 9:00-11:00 pm ET/PT) - marking Sci Fi's best ratings performance in 2003 and the highest audience delivery for any original miniseries production on cable for the year.
Now on DVD, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, THE CRADLE OF LIFE (Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.99) continues the video game-inspired exploits of the alluring archeological adventuress (Angelina Jolie) in this sequel involving Pandora's Box.
BAD BOYS II, which reunites director Michael Bay with stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence for more stylized action and violence, hits DVD Dec. 9, 2003 (Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, $28.96). Bolstered by vfx supplied by Sony Pictures Imageworks, the two-disc set contains lots of extras, including seven deleted scenes, featurettes devoted to vfx and stunts, six sequence breakdowns (with on-set footage, storyboards and scripts), 19 production diary featurettes and Jay-Z "La-La-La" music video.
GenArts Inc., a leading provider of digital visual effects plug-ins for the film, broadcast and video industry, will be showcasing its upcoming release of Sapphire Plug-ins in the plug-in pavilion, booth # 617, at DV Expo West 2003, Los Angeles Convention Center, Dec. 10-12, 2003.
Visitors to the GenArts booth will be able to experience hands-on demos of the widely anticipated Sapphire Plug-ins for After Effects and compatible products, including Apple's Final Cut Pro, Discreet's combustion, and Eyeon Software's Digital Fusion, among others.
Alias Systems announced the release of another learning tool in its popular education series. StudioTools Techniques| Exploring StudioTools examines the integrated 2D/3D sketching and modeling features and many other design workflow enhancements found in the latest release of its computer-aided industrial design (CAD) software, Alias StudioTools 11.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, the year's top live actioner, has sold 11 million DVD and VHS units (a reported 90% on DVD) in its first week of sales, becoming the largest opening live-action home entertainment title in history. According to VIDEO BUSINESS, that translates to about $187 million in revenue.
Buena Vista International Inc. upped four of its key marketing and publicity exec directors to vp: Maggie Todd (international publicity), Donald Evans (marketing and promotions), Mari Gastineau (marketing/creative print services) and Ticole Richards (marketing/creative film services).
LORD OF THE RINGS helmer Peter Jackson has been quoted in various trade publications saying that he would love to make J.R.R. Tolkens prequel to the RINGS series, THE HOBBIT into a feature. Jackson said if he were presented the chance, he would work with some of the same actors he worked with on the RINGS trilogy. If Jackson gets his wish, it would come after his remake of KING KONG, which is next on the directors plate as well as his visual effects house, Weta in New Zealand.
Vfx studio Moneyshots recently completed work on SHORTY (Put it on the Floor), the new music video from director Gregory Dark. One of several songs created specially for the feature film LOVE DON'T COST A THING (opening Dec. 12, 2003), the video features the film's star, Nick Cannon, and hip hop stars Busta Rhymes, Chingy and Fat Joe.
USA Networks has order a pilot and five episodes of a new sci-fi series entitled THE 4,400, reported VARIETY. The new program will follow the events that occur when 4,400 people abducted by aliens are returned to Earth. The project will be exec produced by Francis Ford Coppola, Rene Echevarria (DARK ANGEL) and Maira Suro (PLATINUM). Scott Peters (THE OUTER LIMITS) will be writing and producing the hour-long series with Viacom Prods. and Renegade 83 as the production firms.
AJA Video Systems will introduce Io LD and Io LA to the U.S. at GV Expo in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 3, 2003 The two newest members of AJA's Io family, Io LD and Io LA support the highest quality 10-bit uncompressed video available - on both the digital and analog inputs and outputs. These smaller and lower cost relatives of Io are application specific: Io LD is designed to work with SDI digital systems, and Io LA is for analog component or composite systems. AJA will be located in Apple's booth # 412 at GV Expo. Io LD and Io LA will begin shipping in January 2004.
SCI FI Channel has signed Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham (AMADEUS) and Sean Patrick Flanery (YOUNG INDIANA JONES) to star in the hour-long pilot for the drama series DEAD LAWYERS. A Zanuck Co. production in association with Sony Pictures Television, LAWYERS begins filming in Toronto in early December. Paris Barclay (THE SHIELD, NYPD BLUE) directs.
On the heels of Ridley Scott's recent director's cut of ALIEN comes ALIEN QUADRILOGY, the ultimate box set of the sci-fi franchise and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's (TCFHE) most ambitious DVD project yet. Streeting Dec. 2, 2003 and priced at $99.98, QUADRILOGY contains four films, nine discs and 45 hours of bonus materials. Plus new vfx in ALIEN and ALIEN3 supplied by TCFHE and five houses (Svengali, R!OT, Encore, Frantic and Modern Video). There are 15 new CG shots in ALIEN, including CG blood, CG fire, wire removal and star fields.
The Pipeline 2003, held by Techimage at the ICA in London on Nov. 20, attracted more than 700 digital artists and animators.
Katy Edwards, human resources, Framestore CFC commented: "The Pipeline event was well organized and attended, and Framestore CFC were very glad to be involved. It was particularly exciting to see so many motivated and enthusiastic students at the event, who will no doubt be adding to the existing talent within the U.K. in the next few years."
Spike TV (a division of MTV Networks) will be airing animation created using ILL Clan Inc.s proprietary 3D animation technique called machinima. By modifying off-the-shelf computer game technology, the New York animation studio produces machinima in a fraction of the time it would take using typical computer animation techniques.
Encore Hollywood provided animation and visual effects services for Fox Home Entertainment on ALIEN 3 for the Alien Quadrilogy, the nine disc boxed set, which arrives on December 2. Computer animator Greg Tsadilas created a 3D version of a baby alien for the birth sequence, which is part of 30 minutes of added material. The birth sequence shows the newborn alien creature emerging from the carcass of an ox then fleeing down a corridor. The new creature is in a form not seen in any of the ALIEN films.
Nevercenter Ltd. Co. has released its new modeler Silo, version 1.16, which now includes support for linking to RenderMan-compliant renderers and POV-ray for direct rendering from Silo. Options include the ability to add header and footer files to the render file, and the ability to optionally include or exclude light, camera and material information. In addition, version 1.16s improvements include a more advanced universal manipulator and manipulator options, as well as some tool enhancements and workflow improvements.
Additional 1.16 updates include:
Various Internet sources have claimed that Fox Home Entertainment and LucasFilms have released information to retailers that the original STAR WARS trilogy will be released on DVD November 2, 2004. These rumors first started when LucasFilms held a hush hush invitation only marketing preview in San Francisco on Nov. 5, 2003. Force.net is stating that the films with be packaged individually and not as a box set. Fox Home Entertainment has told VFXWorld it is too early to confirm any of the details until LucasFilms informs them.
Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, which has amassed more than $304M to date, arrives Dec. 2, 2003 on DVD (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99). The two-disc set includes a bounty of supplemental riches, including audio commentaries by director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, deleted scenes, a "making-of" featurette, "Moonlight" scene progression, blooper reel and an interactive history of pirates.