With the future of the DAREDEVIL franchise in the dark, Fox and Regency Enterprises are moving ahead with the production of ELEKTRA with negotiations beginning with director Rob Bowman, reported VARIETY. Jennifer Garner has already signed on to reprise her role as the Greek assassin. DAREDEVIL helmer Mark Steven Johnson along with his Horseshoe Bay partner Gary Foster will be producing the film. Marvel's patron saint of production Avi Arad will also be producing. Bowman previously directed the feature X-FILES film and REIGN OF FIRE.
Amid speculation that Sony was interested in purchasing Pixar Animation Studios, causing Pixar stock to surge, Sony Pictures Animation announced on Thursday that its first CG feature would be OPEN SEASON, inspired by the humor of syndicated cartoonist Steve Moore (IN THE BLEACHERS). Production has already begun in this comedy about a 900 pound domesticated Grizzly bear named Boog (voiced by Martin Lawrence) and a scrawny, one-horned mule deer named Elliot (voiced by Ashton Kutcher), stranded together in the woods during hunting season.
Miramax has signed indie king Kevin Smith (CLERKS) to write and direct a feature film version of THE GREEN HORNET, reported VARIETY. The script should be finished by late summer and the studio hopes to have the film ready as a summer tentpole in 2005. Universal had long been developing the film until it sold the rights to Miramax in 2002 for $3 million.
The on-again, off-again CURIOUS GEORGE feature is currently in production for Universal Pictures and Imagine Ent., having settled on a 2D look after abandoning CG plans with Industrial Light & Magic because of the great expense and "creepy" look, VARIETY reports.
50 FIRST DATES, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore romantic comedy from Sony, collected $45.1M worth of hugs and kisses at the box office over Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend. Good enough, in fact, to break the record for romantic comedy and President's Day bows. Disney's MIRACLE was a distant second with $17M and a two-week cume of $40M. MGM's BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS, last week's champ, had to settle for third place, ringing up $16.5M for a two-week total of $44.9M. Screen Gems' YOU GOT SERVED came in fourth with $6M and a total of $33M.
Twentieth Century Fox and Los Angeles-based MGA Ent. (www.mgae.com) have made a deal for the studio to produce a live-action/animated feature film based on MGA's phenomenally successful Bratz fashion dolls. In addition, Twentieth Century Fox Home Ent. will distribute an original Bratz movie currently in production by MGA on DVD later this year.
Cinesite (Europe) Ltd. has been awarded the digital effects contract for THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (Hammer and Tongs, Walt Disney), which begins shooting at Elstree Studios in April 2004. The f/x house plans to start work on the 300-plus effects shots by the end of summer 2004. Cinesite's Sue Rowe will be providing on-set visual effects supervision for the production.
H2V Entertainments Manga Latina Productions, along with Britain-based UKFS as a financing co-producer, are teaming with the U.K.s Treehouse Productions to turn AP Comics first full-color comic book, MONSTER CLUB, into an animated feature film. Manga Latina is also turning its property ALIEN AND AJAX into a full-length animated feature. H2Vs Louie Porco and Henrique Vera-Villanueva will exec produce both films.
Recently formed Legacy Animation Studios has begun pre-production on an animated short film entitled LUCKY, and, a la Bill Plympton and his HAIR HIGH or Fathom Studios DELGO, Web surfers can watch the production in progress with an online production journal (www.legacyanimation.net/lucky/). The film will be animated with traditional hand-drawn animation, and is the first project for this group of animators and artists formerly employed by Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida.
Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (THE RETURN OF THE KING), who was in Los Angeles over the weekend competing at the 18th annual ASC Awards (John Schwartzman won for SEABISCUIT), told VFXWORLD that he will be reuniting with director Peter Jackson to lense the upcoming KING KONG remake -- and that he's very open to shooting in black and white.
MGM's strategy in making a lower-cost BARBERSHOP sequel paid off, as BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS debuted on top with $24.2M. Disney's MIRACLE, about the 1980 Olympic miracle on ice in which the U.S. beat the Soviet Union, debuted in second place with $19.3M. Last week's champ, Screen Gems' YOU GOT SERVED, dipped to third in its second outing, collecting $7.5M and $25.8M to date. Universal's ALONG CAME POLLY came in fourth with $6.8M and a cume of $75M.
Reports state the long-in-the-works fourth installment in the INDIANA JONES series is again on hold. VARIETY reports that creator George Lucas was unhappy with SHAWKSHANK REDEMPTION director Frank Darabont's script. The film was scheduled to hit theaters in the summer of 2005, but 2006 looks like the soonest it could arrive on the big screen. Lucas, director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford have wanted to do another film in the series chronicling an aging adventurer, however, the trio has said they wouldn't do it if they all were not thrilled with the same script.
Universal Pictures is in final negotiations with AMERICAN SPLENDOR creative duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini to write and direct a re-envisioning of the horror classic, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Set to produce the project are Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer and Alphaville's Sean Daniel and James Jacks with Universal's Ally Brecker-Shearmur and Imagine's David Bernardi serving as exec producers. The story would be set in modern New York and center around a college student who over time begins to suspect that she died and was resurrected.
DreamWorks has signed a seven-figure deal with writer John Ridley to pen the animated feature, THE UNPROFESSIONALS, reported VARIETY. The film will chronicle the misadventures of a trio of unlucky monkeys. Ridley previously worked in toon town on the Web animation series UNDERCOVER BROTHER, which was made into a live-action theatrical feature, and THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS, which was released as an animated feature compilation on DVD. Mike LaChance, Chris Cuzer and Jeffrey Katzenberg will serve as producers on the new project.
New Line Cinema have tapped writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN) to pen the screen adaptation of DC Comics' SHAZAM!. William Goldman (PRINCESS BRIDE) had been working on the script previously. The film would chronicle the easygoing Billy Batson and his superhero alter ego Captain Marvel. Batson changed by saying the word "shazam," giving the attributes to six Greek gods. The character appeared in DC Comics in the 1970s and originally appeared in the 1940s as a Fawcett Comics title.
New 3D CG feature animation studio, CritterPix Studios, located in San Rafael, California, has secured representation of Hollywood heavyweight attorneys, Jake Bloom, of Bloom, Hergott and Diemer, and also that of Fred Bernstein of Manatt, Philips and Phelps, to land a distribution deal with a studio for CritterPixs first feature project.
Despite a recent online account that Disney quietly pulled the plug in November on GNOMEO AND JULIET, the studio maintains that any rumors of its demise are premature. Indeed, producer Don Hahn told SCIFIWIRE that the computer-animated riff on Shakespeare's classic tale about two star-crossed ceramic gnomes set in England is still in development. Elton John (a co-producer through his Rocket Pictures) and Tim Rice have written songs, and Ewan McGregor is still on track to voice Gnomeo, though no mention was made about Kate Winslet still voicing Juliet.
Bill Plympton's new independent feature HAIR HIGH will have its West Coast premiere at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival on Feb. 14, 2004.
Screen Gems' street dancing movie, YOU GOT SERVED, topped the box office chart for the weekend ended Feb. 1, 2004, scoring $16.1M, despite being slowed by the exciting Super Bowl game and Janet Jackson's breast-baring half-time controversy. New Line's sci-fi thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (with VFX by Schminken Studio and Toybox), came in a distant second in its sophomore outing with $9.5M and a cume of $31.7M. Universal's ALONG CAME POLLY settled for third place with $9.3M and a total of $66M.
Cannes Film Festival has selected SHREK 2 for the main competition in the 2004 event, which runs from May 12-23. The premiere will be on May 15, at 7:30 pm and voice cast including Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas and Rupert Everett are scheduled to be attending.
Les Armateurs has announced that it will go into production on a prequel to its Annecy grand prize-winning feature KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS, titled THE CHILD KIRIKOU, reported VARIETY. Michel Ocelot, director and writer of the original, will write the new tale and direct it along with Benedicte Galup. Ocelot will split the directing duties because he is working on another project. The film has a budget set at $6 million and should reach theaters by the end of 2005.
Movie and race car legend Paul Newman will lend his voice to a car character in Pixar Animation Studios seventh animated feature, CARS, written and directed by John Lasseter, set for a holiday release in 2005 through Walt Disney Pictures.
Southpaw Entertainment has announced that it has hired SHREK 2 and SPIRIT director Kelly Asbury to write and direct a live-action/CGI fantasy adventure, titled IMAGINARY CHILDREN, reported VARIETY. Southpaw's Richard Lewis and Scott Peters came up with the concept, which follows a cartoonist whose characters consume his life's so much that he is estranged from his real child. Lewis will finance the project on his own with investments from his Southpaw partner eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll.
New Lines sci-fi thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (with vfx by Schminken Studio and Toybox), overtook Universals ALONG CAME POLLY at the box office with $17M for the weekend ended Jan. 25, 2004. POLLY came in second in its second outing with $16.3M and $53.2M to date. DreamWorks WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!
Producers have revealed that STUART LITTLE 3 will be an all-CG direct-to-video feature, reports Zap2it.com.
"There's a gigantic audience out there for this, but it would not pay to make it a full-out feature," said Douglas Wick, producer of the first two movies and co-writer of STUART LITTLE 2. "We just got the script and we like it, but this time there will be no live characters, it will all be CGI."