Giant Studios, the motion-capture technology and R&D provider for the LORD OF THE RINGS (LOTR) Trilogy has posted a behind-the-scenes movie produced by Weta (the primary visual effects company for LOTR) on the Giant Studios Website. The short film showcases some of the innovative motion-capture production techniques and technology developed for LOTR. In the clip, director Peter Jackson blocks scenes and places actors using Giants proprietary technology allowing Jackson to see the digital characters move through virtual sets and pre-visualize the shots.
For the second week in a row, the fantasy film HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, took the top spot at the box office. The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend helped boost the films three-day total to $57.5M for a ten-day take of $187M. Setting more records this week, HARRY POTTER has surpassed 1999's TOY STORY 2 to become the largest-grossing movie ever over the Thanksgiving holiday. The film also matched the record set by STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE by reaching the $100M mark in just 5 days.
Universal Studios is using the 20th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielbergs classic film E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL to launch a 13-month long branding initiative that includes a new Universal logo featuring E.T. According to the studio, the image of E.T. will be an integral part of Universal's identity and business activities, and will be featured in all film, television, home entertainment, theme parks, music, consumer products, publishing and online products. This corporate identity program will complement the March 2002 worldwide release of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.
New Line Cinema has acquired Cartoon Network's animated series SAMURAI JACK, to be adapted into a live-action feature film directed by Brett Ratner, director of the RUSH HOUR films. SAMURAI JACK tells the story of a great warrior displaced to the distant future by the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku. The world has become a bleak place under Aku's rule, segregated into fantastic tribes and policed by Aku's evil robot warlords. Samurai Jack travels this foreign landscape searching for the time portal that can return him to his home.
Korea-based Shincine Films plans to have Bruce Lee star in a new martial arts film years after his death. The film, tentatively titled DRAGON WARRIOR, will incorporate Bruce Lee into a $50 million production using state-of-the-art CGI technology. Shincine recently acquired the rights to Lees image from Concord Moon, the company that controls the rights and is administered by Lees widow Linda Lee Cadwell and his daughter Shannon Lee. This venture will be privately financed by Shincine Films and will be the companys first film for the U.S. market.
Breaking all previous box office records, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Rhythm & Hues, commanded the box office this weekend with an astonishing $90.3M three-day total for its first place debut. The previous three-day record holder was JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD with $72.1M. In addition, HARRY POTTER put STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE to shame, besting that films one-day total record by $5M ($28.5M for STAR WARS vs. $33.5M for HARRY).
Los Angeles-based film production and management company Catch 23 Entertainment has acquired the worldwide film rights to JUST A PILGRIM, the comic book created by Garth Ennis, creator of PREACHER and writer of PUNISHER. Marc Danon, Catch 23 vice president of production and acquisitions, brought JUST A PILGRIM to Catch 23. Danon, who previously handled the development of the Marvel comic book franchise at Artisan Entertainment, will oversee the project. Catch 23 will immediately begin to package and develop the property.
Once again, those CG beasties dominated the box office. MONSTERS, INC. collected a whopping $46.2M in its second weekend bring its cume to $122.8M after 10 days. But expect Sulley and Mike to feel the effects of a young wizard named Harry when HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE bows on Friday. The Farelly Brothers latest comedy SHALLOW HAL, with visual effects by Alterian Studios & Artist's Asylum Inc. had a big weekend, collecting $23.3M in its debut.
Disney/Pixars MONSTERS, INC. dominated the box office this weekend, taking in an astounding $63.5M, the biggest opening ever for an animated film and for a Disney film. The family-friendly features opening take was no doubt helped by Star Wars fans who wanted a first glimpse of STAR WARS: EPISODE II. A teaser trailer for the highly anticipated sequel was attached to MONSTERS, INC. A full 2-minute preview will screen with HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, which is scheduled to be another big opening when it hits theaters on November 16th.
Thirteen is the lucky number for Oscar hopefuls in the Animated Feature category. The November 1, 2001 deadline has come and gone, and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokesperson John Pavlik told AWN thirteen applications for the Animated Feature Film Award were received. While Pavlik admitted that a couple of the films might have some eligibility problems, the Academy has enough applications to begin the screening process for qualification.
The newly released feature film 13 GHOSTS is a state-of-the-art remake of the classic William Castle horror film about a family that inherits a spectacular old house from an eccentric uncle, only to find the house is inhabited by a presence that has the new occupants trapped in their dream home. They eventually realize the house is a riddle, which may contain the key to their salvation. 175 special effects shots were created by visual effects lab Cinesite for the film. "The house is a very contemporary space," says Mike Fink, Cinesite's senior visual effects supervisor on the film.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences final deadline for entry forms looms large for the Animated Feature and Animated Short categories. This is the first year for the highly anticipated Animated Feature film category and as of Tuesday, October 30, 2001 the Academy had received five applications. It requires eight eligible films to activate a category, so if you have an animated feature film that is eligible, get in those applications! The deadline for completed applications for both animated feature and animated short films is November 1, 2001.
Sci-fi drama K-PAX, with primary visual effects by Centropolis Effects, LLC, landed in the number one spot this weekend, earning $17.5M in its debut. The film, which stars Kevin Spacey as a man who claims to be an alien from the planet K-Pax, was Universal Pictures sixth film this year to open at number one. Last weeks number one film FROM HELL, with primary visual effects by Digiscope and Illusion Arts, fell to third, bringing in $6.1M, a 45% drop from its debut. The Jack the Ripper saga ended its second week with $20.8M gross.
Japanese animated series and cult classic SPEED RACER may finally make its way to the big screen, reported VARIETY. The concept has been in development at Warner Bros for over ten years, with the likes of Julien Temple and Alphonso Cuaron mentioned to direct a script by J.J. Abrams. The studio has finally given EL DIABLO writers Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring the job of working on a new script for the feature film. Hype Williams is set to direct. No word on who will step into Speeds shoes, but Johnny Depp had once been mentioned to star.
The Hughes brothers Jack the Ripper flick, FROM HELL, based on the graphic novel of the same name, took the number one spot this weekend. The thriller, with primary visual effects by Digiscope and Illusion Arts, earned $11.3M in its debut. Last weeks number one film, TRAINING DAY, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, fell to third, still managing a weekend take of $9.5M, raising its cume to $57.5M after three weeks. The Hong Kong action film IRON MONKEY, with primary visual effects by MetroLight, dropped to tenth bringing in $3.2M for a $10.8M gross.
The Hong Kong action flick IRON MONKEY, with primary visual effects by MetroLight, debuted in sixth place this weekend bringing in just over $6 million. Made in 1993 but picked up for distribution by Miramax in 2001, the film did well, topping teen thriller JOY RIDE, with primary visual effects by Spectrum Effects Inc., which finished its second week in eighth place with $4.9M and $14.7M total. Still in front is TRAINING DAY, with primary visual effects by Cinesite.
Visual effects company Cinesite photographed and composited specially bred and trained roller pigeons for the Warner Bros. Pictures feature film TRAINING DAY, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. In one scene, Hawke is driving down a street and sees pigeons out the window. The two birds separate and come tumbling down directly toward the camera and then catch themselves. In another scene, the camera angle is above, looking down at a street as the birds tumble down.
Once again, box office totals on are the rise buoyed by three new releases this weekend. Leading the pack is the crime-drama TRAINING DAY, with performing pigeons and other visual effects by Cinesite, which opened with $22.6M. The modeling mayhem of ZOOLANDER kept it high on the charts, dropping just two places to finish fourth with $9.5M and $28.3M total. RUSH HOUR 2, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, is in the top ten for its 10th week pulled in $1.7M, raising its cume to $221.5M total.
Hayao Miyazaki's film PRINCESS MONONOKE was the top grossing film in Japan until TITANIC was released in 1998 and broke box office records, becoming the highest grossing film in that country. This week VARIETY reported that Hayao Miyazaki's latest feature SPIRITED AWAY has set a new audience record in Japan, surpassing the mark held by TITANIC. Since its July 20, 2001 debut, SPIRITED AWAY has been seen by 16.9 million viewers, while TITANIC saw 16.8 million admissions total after its release.
Three new releases helped the weekend box office rebound from the poor performance of the past few weeks. Box office receipts were up 52% this weekend with the three debut films taking the top three spots on the chart. The fashion-world parody ZOOLANDER took second place with $15.7M in its debut weekend. ZOOLANDER is the first film to be released that has digitally removed the World Trade Center from the skyline of downtown New York.
Computercafe has produced more than 30 visual effects shots for the feature film MEGIDDO: OMEGA CODE 2. The visual effects and animation studio provided 3D animation, visual effects production and compositing services, including modeling and animating precise computer graphic models of a variety of modern warplanes and helicopters. The studio created the opening shot of the film's climactic battle sequence, in which a squadron of F-15 fighter jets swoop out of the sky on a bombing run. Many of the shots that Computercafe created involved air combat.
Stanley Kubrick's award-winning classic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, will be shown in limited exclusive engagements beginning October 5, 2001, and continuing through the end of the year. Audiences will be able to see the acclaimed science fiction epic in a pristine 70mm print, with a digitally restored and fully remastered soundtrack. The new print premieres October 5 at the Cinerama Theater in Seattle. Subsequent engagements will follow at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and The Uptown in Washington, D.C.
With only one new film in wide release, it was another slow weekend at U.S. movie theaters. Box office totals slumped even lower than last week, making this weekend a 52-week low. However, two limited release films made a good showing at the box office this weekend. Anime thriller VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST, debuting in just six theaters, managed to bring in a healthy $4,255 per screen. The Armegeddon-themed MEGIDDO: OMEGA CODE 2, with visual effects by Computercafe and Cinesite, did well in limited release as well, debuting in thirteenth place with $1.6M from 314 theaters.
With only two new films in wide release this weekend and in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, North American box office totals fell to their lowest level this year. Last week's number one film THE MUSKETEER, with primary visual effects by Das Werk, slipped two places to land at number three, adding $5.3M for $17.6M total to date. JEEPERS CREEPERS, with primary visual effects by E=MC2 and Max Ink Cafe LLC, continued its downward slide coming in seventh with $3.9M and $29.7M total.
Manga Entertainment Ltd. will release IG Studios BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE on DVD and VHS on September 17, 2001. The story revolves around Saya, a teenaged assassin sent to vanquish the blood-sucking fiends that have concealed themselves among humans at an air force base in Japan. This highly touted film was the best feature winner at the 2001 World Animation Celebration and is Japans first fully digitally-animated feature. The DVD will feature "The Making of BLOOD" documentary, image gallery, original Japanese theatrical trailers and Web links.