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May 30, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 30, 2006

Halo Movie in Limbo

( According to TeamXbox, the Halo movie has been changed to a 2008 release:

The directorless film adaptation of Microsoft's popular video game will be executive produced by triple-Academy Award winners Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh via their WingNut Films banner. The Halo script was penned by Alex Garland (28 Days Later), who was paid $1 million by Microsoft to write a script that met Bungie's approval.

With the third installment in the game series rumored to be connected with the silver screen adaptation, could the delay of the movie affect the release of Halo 3 or are they both planned to arrive in winter 2007/2008? According to Bungie, Halo 3 and the Halo movie will not affect each other in terms of release dates.

Spiderwick & 3D Journey Set Up In Montreal

( The success of Montreal-based CG houses working on Frank Miller's Spartan war epic 300, has prompted Paramount to land Roger Corman-alumnus, writer/producer John Sayles to set up shop for the Spiderwick Chronicles at Mel's Cite du Cinema studio, in Montreal.

Spiderwick will begin shooting in August for 16 weeks, budgeted at $110-million, based on the bestselling books by Tony DiTerlizzi/Holly Black and adapted for the big screen by Sayles.

The film is to be directed by Mark Waters, whose previous films include Mean Girls and Freaky Friday.

The books tell the story of three young siblings who enter a magical world.

The studio will also be hosting another US film, a new 3-D film version of sci-fi classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth starring Brendan Fraser and produced by Walden Media of Chronicles of Narnia fame.

Journey, budgeted at $40 million, will be distributed by New Line, with a June 30 start date.

Peter Jackson Post Facility Honored

( It's not quite an Oscar, but winning a Wellington Region Gold Award is still an outstanding achievement for Park Road Post. The Peter Jackson-owned post-production facility for the film industry won the award for Creative Gold at the awards two weeks ago. Marketing and brand director Gareth Ruck said: "To be seen to be within the top (of Wellington business) is very important to us".

"To be recognised at the top in a city that is recognised at the top creatively: it's a big buzz. We are proud Wellingtonians and we support Wellington film-makers."

Post-production means taking the film that has been shot, and adding the finishing touches such as a soundtrack. The process also applies to television and advertising content. At Park Road Post, a lot of work has gone into designing a facility that makes it easy for film-makers to go through the stressful phase of putting the final touches to their work.

Just don't ask what the hot films being worked on at the moment are \u2013 secrecy is paramount in the film industry. Park Road Post is unique in the world of post-production for films because it houses a variety of facilities under one roof: laboratory, digital and sound studios in the same place can save time for film-makers.

"This is a boutique facility," Mr Ruck says. "We tailor our service to our clients' needs." And they are coming from all over the world to get their films finished in Wellington. "You could throw a pile of pins at a map of the world, and that's where people are coming from."

In one of his busiest weeks, Mr Ruck said someone from every continent passed through. The completed facility is still only a couple of years old, and he says in some ways they are still finding their feet.

"The industry is establishing how they want to use us, so we spend a lot of time just listening to people, figuring out what they want."

Obviously two academy awards this year for sound in King Kong helped that, but "we can't rest on our laurels," Mr Ruck says. Park Road Post pipped The Beat Girls and Sticky Pictures to win the Creative Gold award, which recognised excellence across a range of local creative industries.

Mr Ruck said more than 60 staff work at Park Road Post fulltime, though that number can swell considerably if work is being done on a major picture. The 10,000 square metre complex in Miramar, Wellington, was developed along with state-of-the-art production equipment by Jackson using the proceeds from the Lord of the Rings series.

Michael Keaton, Bladerunner?

( Michael Keaton seems content on swimming in the serious sea for a while though it would be good to see him do an out and out comedy again soon, wouldn't it? - with his latest film, another heavy going piece called Reape, announced today over at Production Weekly.

Described as being in the same vein as Bladerunner (pretty big shoes to fill though, the sci-fi actioner, directed by Scott Kalvert (The Basketball Diaries), tells of a private investigator named Virgil, who finds himself recruited by the darkly beautiful and mysterious Delia. As he begins to work for Delia, Virgil is suddenly immersed in a surreal underworld. The journey also reveals the harrowing answers to the fate of Virgil's own daughter.

Keaton's most recent film is the sports drama "Game 6", opposite Robert Downey Jr, about a playwright who skips opening night to watch the World Series.

Hulk 2 Moves Forward

(cinmatical) The Big Green's sequel will apparently feel like The Fugitive, according to Arad. It figures to be less of a study in anger (although that'll still be a big part of the story, naturally) and more of love story/action flick combo. Ergo, the major cast members in this one (aside from Bruce) will be Betty Ross and Abomination. Every time I hear about a silver screen fight between the Hulk and The Abomination I get all giddy.

Transformers Gets Heat Stroke

( Michael Bay has updated his official News Blog with some tidbits on the filming of TRANSFORMERS.

We finished our first week. One of the best first weeks on a movie I've ever experienced. We shot over 250 set ups.

I'm working on the military aspects of the film right now in New Mexico at Hollaman Air Force base and the Army's White Sands missile base. The military has been stellar with us. This is the largest military cooperation since Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down.

Friday we shot two CV-22's (Ospreys). They fly like aliens dropping out of the sky. We also shot stealth fighters and low attack missile runs (50 feet off the deck) A10 Warthogs. They look so deadly and mean.

We also shot in an army tank grave yard, that has more tanks in it then all of Iraq. The military cast Josh and Tyrese are surrounded with top notch Seal Team members.

I almost dropped from heat stroke on Wednesday in the 118 degree heat. Several crew went down in the heat on these dunes. It is amazing how quickly it can come on - I now see how some of those football players drop dead from heat stroke.

The official blog:

Star Wars, Kong, Stan Winston Big Winners For Spacey Awards

( Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong and the final episode in the Star Wars series were the big film winners at the 2006 Spacey Awards, while the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1 were tops in television categories.

In an acceptance speech recorded in New Zealand, Jackson spoke of how he felt unworthy of the award and owes a debt to King Kong, in particular the original 1933 classic that inspired him to become a filmmaker.

"I make films for people exactly like you," he said to the audience through the camera. "That's who I am. I'm a fan, I'm a sci-fi, action, fantasy, adventure, horror fan. I'm a genre fan and I really appreciate the fact that other fans respond to our work."

Sin City was deemed the best movie adapted from a comic.

Best movie hero was Batman from Batman Begins and best villain Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

The Star Wars finale also won favourite action sequence (the Darth Vader/Obi Wan light sabre duel) and favourite special effects.

There were also two honourary awards. Hollywood's B-movie king Roger Corman was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for five decades of low-budget filmmaking that nevertheless launched the careers of, among others, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro. He produced some 350 titles and personally directed a series of horror movies based on Edgar Allan Poe tales.

Makeup effects master Stan Winston was given a Special Achievement Award for 30 years of creating screen monsters and aliens.

X Men 3 Passes $100M - No Sequel Planned

( Some estimates of this weekend's box office have trickled in. It looks like despite the HUGE opening day (over $44 million) for X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND, it won't be able to beat SPIDER-MAN for the highest opening weekend of all time.

Not to worry, the film took in an estimated $102 million this weekend, a gross that is stunningly huge.

It should be noted that the $102 million estimate for X-MEN is from Box Office Mojo. The studio is estimating a $107 million weekend, still below SPIDER-MAN. Studios tend to over-estimate box office numbers to make it seem like a bigger event.

With "X-Men: The Last Stand" opening big at the box-office, speculation quickly arose that a fourth "X-Men" film may be rushed into development. The talk came despite the studios insistence that 'The Last Stand' would be the final film in the trilogy.

Well Fox are sticking to their guns, but Marvel head Avi Arad confirmed that there are no plans for an "X-Men 4" in the works, but their two proposed spin-off films are still very much on the cards.

In many ways it now seems that "Wolverine" will serve as the unofficial fourth film sometime either in 2008 or 2009.

X-Men: The Last Stand - $102,000,000

The Da Vinci Code - $33,500,000

Over the Hedge - $27,273,000

Mission: Impossible III - $6,584,000

VES Announces Schedule for Visual Effects Festival

(visualeffectssociety) The Visual Effects Society (VES) announced its lineup of presenters and projects for the 8th annual Visual Effects Festival, now scheduled July 6-8 at the famed Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California.

For the first time, the VES Festival of Visual Effects will include an all-access and ongoing showcase of international, experimental, animated and student film works during the Festival's three-day schedule. This will be presented in the Egyptian's smaller screening room, the Steven Spielberg Theatre. The entry area of the Egyptian will be transformed into the Festival Courtyard and will feature vfx and entertainment industry vendors, special displays, and a Hospitality Tent.

Presentatinons include:

The Challenges of Creating X-MEN THE LAST STAND
John Bruno, vfx supervisor; John “DJ” Des Jardin, vfx supervisor; Ian Hunter, vfx supervisor, New Deal Studios; and Kurt William, vfx producer.

A Look Back at ALIENS – 20 Years Later
Alec Gillis, creature fabricator, Stan Winston Studio; Shane Mahan, shop foreman, Stan Winston Studio; Pat McClung, vfx miniature supervisor; Dennis Skotak, vfx co-supervisor and dp; and Robert Skotak, vfx supervisor.

Creating Life One Frame at a Time: The Art of VFX Animation
Panelists: Steve Chiodo, Randy Cook and Dennis Muren, senior visual effects supervisor, ILM.

Bringing a Super Hero Back to Life: SUPERMAN RETURNS
Panelist: Stetson, vfx supervisor.

The 2006 VES Festival of Visual Effects will be open to the public. For more info, go to the official website for the 2006 VES Festival of Visual Effects,, or contact the VES office at (310) 822-9181 or

CARS Run Even in Rain

( Even mass amounts of rain couldn't stop the premiere of the Disney/Pixar movie CARS. Over 30,000 people showed up on Friday night at the event staged at the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The event had just about everything: A 12 lap auto race, giant screening of the movie on four giant screens outdoors, and a peformance by country star Brad Paisley.

Some celebrity arrivals were delayed by the rain, but the event went off almost with out a hitch despite the large amounts of rain.

CARS races into theaters the second weekend of June.

Fantastic Four 2 at Vancouver Film Studios

( According to reports, Fantastic Four 2 based on the Marvel comic book series, is now booked at Vancouver Film Studios for a late August start.

The first Fantastic Four feature, also shot in Vancouver, earned an estimated $150 million at the domestic box office.

Other tenants at the Vancouver studio facility include Battlestar Galactica and Eureka.


Posted by dschnee at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 26, 2006

DRAGONRIDERS Heads To The Big Screen

(Copperheart Entertainment) The best-selling and long-running sci-fi/fantasy series by Anne McCaffrey, THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, is heading to the silver screen.

Copperheart Entertainment has optioned the 19-book series which began with Dragonflight in 1968. In the books, humans ride dragons by telepathically bonding with them.

"I decided that 'Pern' had to be done right, and I wouldn't let it go to someone unless I was certain that they were committed to excellence," McCaffrey said.

Spider-Man 3 Starts Filming in New York

(Superhero Hype!) Spider-Man 3 will start filming in New York City today and the shooting will continue for five weeks. While shooting took place in Cleveland, Ohio recently, for a while it was believed that the production wouldn't be visiting New York at all.

IMAX Acts as a Lifeboat for Sinking Poseidon

( There was very little to celebrate for Poseidon over the weekend. Sure, the Sunday numbers turned out to be much stronger than estimated, but the real good news was the film's performance at IMAX theatres nationwide. Playing on just 62 screens, the film was able to bring in an estimated $1.4 million. Its per theatre average on IMAX was $22,700 compared to an average of $5940 in conventional theatres.

Animation Complete on "Tales from Earthsea"

( Animation is complete on Studio Ghibli's Tales from Earthsea. Based on the fantasy novels by Ursula K. LeGuin, the movie is directed by Goro Miyazaki. It is expected to be released in July 2006 in Japan.

Microsoft To Kill The JPEG

(CNET If it is up to Microsoft, the omnipresent JPEG image format will be replaced by Windows Media Photo.

The software maker detailed the new image format Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here. Windows Media Photo will be supported in Windows Vista and also be made available for Windows XP, Bill Crow, program manager for Windows Media Photo, said in a presentation.

"One of the biggest reasons people upgrade their PCs is digital photos," Crow said, noting that Microsoft has been in contact with printer makers, digital camera companies and other unnamed industry partners while working on Windows Media Photo. Microsoft touts managing "digital memories" as one of the key attributes of XP successor Vista.

In his presentation, Crow showed an image with 24:1 compression that visibly contained more detail in the Windows Media Photo format than the JPEG and JPEG 2000 formats compressed at the same level.

Still, the image in the Microsoft format was somewhat distorted because of the high compression level. Typically digital cameras today use 6:1 compression, Crow said. Windows Media Photo should offer better pictures at double that level, he said. "We can do it in half the size of a JPEG file."

Harry Potter Gets New Death Eater

(CBBC Newsround) Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, who was to be played by Helen McCrory in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will now be played Helena Bonham Carter. McCrory is expecting a baby and would be heavily pregnant when her scenes in the Ministry of Magic were filmed.

Meanwhile, the role of replacement Care of Magical Creatures teacher Professor Grubbly-Plank has gone to Apple Brook.

The casting of the young Marauders has also been completed. Young Sirius will be played by James Walters, Young Lupin by James Utechin and Young Snape will be played by Alec Hopkins.

Actor Jason Piper has also been cast in the part of the Bane the Centaur.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, directed by David Yates, is scheduled for a July 13, 2007 release.

DreamWorks Animation Expect Profits in 2007

(Reuters) - Shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. on Wednesday rose 5 percent after an analyst upgraded it, advising clients to buy at what she sees as a low price based on the studio's forecast 2007 earnings.

Analyst Marla Backer of Soleil Research Associates upgraded her rating on DreamWorks to "buy" from "hold" primarily due to a recent drop in the shares, but also because she expects its 2007 films -- "Shrek 3" and "Bee Movie" -- to perform well.

DreamWorks shares are down 8 percent so far in May, partly due to downgrading by two analysts who trimmed their earnings estimates for the year.

Spielberg Doing Da Vinci 2 ?

( Steven Spielberg is apparently being coaxed into directing the next instalment in the Da Vinci Code film series likely to culminate with the tenth instalment, in which Langdon teams with Lara Croft to unravel the age-old mystery Why the heck do people watch Desperate Housewives? says Sky News.

Now, why the heck would sir Spielrock wanna go and do something like that? If the film is as bad as the book, ]Angels & Demons], he could find himself back in Hook territory an expensive, over-bloated, boring mess.

Mainframe to Animate 2006 MTV Movie Awards

( Mainframe Entertainment will create the logo, branding, and original animation segments for this year's MTV Movie Awards, the company announced today. Elements of 2D and 3D animation will be blended to make category introductions and opening and closing segments for the awards.

MTV will broadcast the award show in June 8.

Fans Protest Release Of Laserdisc Original Star Wars

( In the wake of extreme fan protests, Lucasfilm is positioning its release of the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars movies as bonus features.

As groused about on various DVD enthusiast Web sites, including and, Lucasfilm confirmed the studio is not remastering these early films. The prints for the Sept. 12 DVDs of Star Wars: Episode IV New Hope, Star Wars: Episode The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi come from laserdiscs of the films released in the mid. This means that Episodes IV-V1 will be presented in widescreen but not anamorphic, thereby not making full use of modern TV screens.

Lucasfilm acknowledges that some imperfections are embedded in the prints, but director of publicity John Singh said the company felt there was little need to invest resources into sprucing up films that have already been restored to pristine form.

Special edition versions of the films with additions made by George Lucas were released in theaters in the and on DVD in 2004.

We put a lot of time and effort into digitally restoring the negatives for the 2004 DVD releases, Singh said. The late theatrical versions represent George's vision for Star Wars. We hoped that by releasing the original movies as a bonus disc, it would be a way to give the fans something that is fun. We certainly didn't want to be become a source of frustration for fans.

Although the prints aren't in the best of shape, the masters used for the laserdiscs look good, Singh assured.

Both old and new versions of Episodes IV-VI will be included in the Sept. 14 Star Wars sets, to be distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The revamped theatrical versions will be offered in anamorphic widescreen.


Blade Runner Ubber Final Cut is Coming

(Variety) Warner Home Video has disentangled the rights issues for Blade Runner to pave the way for a September reissue of the remastered "Director's Cut" version, followed by a theatrical release of a version promised to be truly Ridley Scott's final cut.

Variety says that Warner's rights to Blade Runner lapsed a year ago, but the studio has since negotiated a long-term license. The film, now considered a sci-fi classic, has had a troubled history from the start: When Scott ran overbudget, completion bond guarantors took control of it and made substantial changes before its 1982 theatrical release, adding a voiceover and happy ending. That version was replaced by the much better-received director's cut in 1992, but Scott has long been unhappy with it, complaining that he was rushed and unable to give it proper attention.

The helmer started working on the final cut version in 2000, but that project was shelved by Warner soon after, apparently because the studio couldn't come to terms with Jerry Perenchio over rights issues.

The trade adds that the restored "Director's Cut" will debut on home video in September, and remain on sale for four months only, after which time it will be placed on moratorium.

"Blade Runner: Final Cut" will arrive in 2007 for a limited 25th anniversary theatrical run, followed by a special edition DVD with the three previous versions offered as alternate viewing: Besides the original theatrical version and director's cut, the expanded international theatrical cut will be included. The set will also contain additional bonus materials.

Digital Domain Gets A New Lawyer

(PRNewswire) Molly Hansen has added the title of vice president to her existing portfolio as the general counsel and head
of business affairs of Digital Domain, the Academy Award(R)-winning full-service digital studio and production company responsible for
jaw-dropping visual sequences in such films as "Titanic," "The Day After Tomorrow," and "I, Robot."
Hansen, who has handled a number of key production, development, financing, licensing and litigation matters during her eight year tenure
with the company, has headed up the business and legal affairs units for Digital Domain and its subsidiaries for the past three years. In her new role as vice president, she will also oversee the company's human resources and recruiting group. Hansen will continue to report to C. Bradley Call, Digital Domain's president and chief operating officer.

"The strong surge in the popularity of digital special visual effects for television and feature films has created additional complexity for
companies like ours, and we're fortunate to have someone with Molly's stature and wide- ranging expertise to help us continue to grow our
business," Call said.


( Grasshorse Animation Studio announces the launch of a revolutionary web-based production method designed to unite emerging artists from around the world to work on a common goal: telling compelling stories through digital animation. "The Grasshorse mission is to offer opportunity, experience, exposure and profit sharing to artists of all levels in a virtual workshop setting," says Grasshorse founder Stephen Jennings, a digital artist with over 10 years experience in feature film visual effects. "The online response has been incredible and far beyond our expectations!"

The Grasshorse method involves using the concept of big-studio production pipeline techniques, with delivery of assignments and finished artist work all through the Grasshorse web interface. The studio is especially keen on discovering new talent outside of the standard centers of production. "We're looking to recruit artists from around the world who are new to the film and TV industry, and we've created a system which allows relatively inexperienced artists to learn and grow while making contributions to a project that they can be proud of," says Jennings.


Canon Considers Halt To Film Camera Development

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Canon Inc. said on Thursday that it would consider halting development of new film cameras as it focuses resources on digital models, the latest sign of the rapidly fading role of film in photography.

A spokesman at Canon, the world's largest digital camera maker, said it would consider whether it needs to continue developing both compact and single lens reflex (SLR) film models because the markets for both are shrinking.

Canon said it would continue to produce and sell existing models and make a final judgment on the business in the future while monitoring market demand.

Canon's statement follows an announcement earlier this year by rival Nikon Corp. that it would stop producing most of its film cameras, expect for a few professional products.

Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. , meanwhile, has said it would exit the camera and photo film markets, where it has been losing money amid stiff competition and weak demand.

The photographic film and film camera markets have been shrinking rapidly in the past few years due to the rising popularity of digital cameras, which can take and store photos without the need for film.

Indiana Jones 4 Thinking Queensland?

(News.Com.Au) The Indy Experience report that Spielberg is in Queensland working on a top-secret film project, filming nights.

The shoot is at an island location, with the director believed to be staying at the Palazzo Versace hotel.While there rumours that Queensland was being considered as a possible location for the new “Indiana Jones” movie, would Spielberg really have been able to sneak in (and with Harrison Ford, assumingly) and start the film up, without anyone being none the wiser?

Stranger things have happened (for one, he lent his name to “The Flintstones”) but if Spielberg is indeed in the country, I’d say it’s for something totally different. He’s possibly shooting a commercial for the ‘save the koala’ foundation, or something. I dunno.

Weta - The Orphanage - Framestore CFX Talk X3 In MELBOURNE

( In a film series noted for its huge set pieces and explosive fighting sequences, X-MEN: The Last Stand takes the action to a new level. At the Digital Media Festival in Melbourne on June 7, Academy Award- winning visual effects supervisor John Bruno will outline how stunts, special effects and CG have been judiciously blended to make the action sequences both massive and believable. X-MEN: The Last Stand includes a recreation of Wolverine’s "berserker rage" fighting style – a mad, white rage that makes him virtually unstoppable as well as dizzying wirework that had had Halle Berry taking Dramamine to combat motion sickness. The Golden Gate Bridge figures in the film’s biggest event, as Magneto takes control of the San Francisco landmark, ripping it off its foundations and using it, literally, as a gateway to Alcatraz: ground zero for the cure’s development and distribution. This scene is the biggest in any "X-Men" film. "The Golden Gate Bridge sequence is Magneto at his most intense," says John Bruno, an Oscar-winner and frequent James Cameron collaborator ("Titanic," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"). "It’s the biggest visual effects scene in the series." The visual effects and art direction groups built a full-size section of the bridge and a section of Alcatraz. Bruno and his team digitally extended the latter, blending the practical sets with the computerized images. In addition, they built detailed miniatures that were used for reference.

To help realize the film’s massive scale and requirements for hundreds of state-of-the-art visual effects, the production brought aboard several top visual effects companies, including WETA Digital, which worked on creating key elements for the Alcatraz compound and on Dark Phoenix’s powers. Framestore CSC, a London-based house worked on the Golden Gate Bridge scenes. Other visual effects houses working on the picture were Moving Picture Company; Hydraulics; and Klesier-Walczak, which helped bring Mystique to life.

For a flashback scene that opens the film, John Bruno utilized proprietary "rejuvenation" software called LOLA. "It’s been attempted before in short doses on other films, but we used it for the first four minutes of the movie. What we’ve done is take Professor X and Magneto back 20 years in time and make them younger." The software uses 3-D patches which are put over the actors’ existing facial features. Visual effects heightened the enormity of the practical sets. On a ten-acre tract of land that previously housed a Vancouver woodworking factory, the production created enormous outdoor sets, covering a total of 270,000 square feet. At one end of the site, the 250 ft. long Golden Gate Bridge set was flanked by a 50 ft. high green screen at each end and spanned by a 250 ft. green screen 40 ft. high. Another mega-set on that site: Alcatraz Island.
John Bruno will appear at the Digital Media Festival in Melbourne on June 7.


Lucasfilm Ltd. Throws Largest Party Ever

( To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of "Star Wars," Lucasfilm Ltd. and Gen Con LLC will throw the largest party ever for fans of the saga, taking over the entire Los Angeles Convention Center in May 2007 for five days filled with live entertainment, celebrities from all six movies, special film and video presentations, an exhibit of movie props and costumes, exclusive merchandise sold at a 24-hour-a-day store, pop culture tributes, immersive events, costume contests, and scores of additional activities.

"Star Wars" Celebration IV will fill the L.A. Convention Center from Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28, 2007. Admission to the first day of the event will be for worldwide members of the Official "Star Wars" Fan Club, many of whom will help plan and run special programming themselves. The convention will be open to the general public from Friday through Monday, Memorial Day.

"Generations of fans have loved 'Star Wars,' many passing along the 'Star Wars gene' to their children," said Steve Sansweet, Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm. "This is the first chance to celebrate all six movies in the saga-George Lucas' complete story-as well as the vibrant future of 'Star Wars.' If you've ever been to one of our Celebrations-or if you haven't been before-this is the one not to miss."


Posted by dschnee at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 24, 2006

Transformers Movie Name & Location Revealed

( Yesterday, at an American Idol press day, we had the opportunity to chat with Glenn Morshower, who plays Agent Aaron Pierce on TV's 24. The actor hinted that he is off to New Mexico to shoot a movie with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. Transformers, anyone? Add Morshower to a growing cast that includes John Voight, Shia LeBouf, Michael Clarke Duncan, Bernie Mac, John Turturro and Tyrese.

The actor stated that the name of the film will in fact be Prime Directive, which makes sense since Optimus Prime is the main Autobot. There is no word whether this is merely a shooting title, a subtitle (as in The Transformers: Prime Directive), or will stand alone (although that seems unlikely).

Will the name survive until theatrical release? One thing to consider is that "Prime Directive" features heavily in the Star Trek mythos as well, as the abiding rule that all Starfleet officers must follow (ie: "At first, do no harm").

Newman's Cars Salary Donated

(USA TODAY) Disney/Pixar's latest animated feature Cars is set for national release June 9, but it will get a unique unveiling Friday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte. Four huge screens are being erected at one of the track's turns, and a special sound system is being set up for a crowd of 30,000.

"We are going to be looking back 25 years from now and see this as a milestone moment not only for the speedway but for NASCAR," track President Humpy Wheeler says.

Wheeler is one of several motor sports personalities with voice roles in the film. Drivers Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the NASCAR representatives. Mario Andretti and Formula One champion Michael Schumacher also have small roles.

Paul Newman says there are advantages to doing animated features over regular motion picture roles. There's no location shooting. All it took was a ride to a New York sound studio from his home in Westport, Conn., to lay down the voice for his first Pixar film.

Instead of paying him a large salary, Disney/Pixar is making a sizable donation to Newman's Hole in the Wall Camps for kids.

Iron Man To Shoot In January

(comingsoon) MTV talked to Iron Man director Jon Favreau, who gave some interesting quotes. Here are a few of them about the movie:

"It's the first movie Marvel is self-financing," he said of a new deal that frees the makers of the "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies from studio control. "We're set to come out in the summer of '08, and we'll start shooting in January."

"We're gonna have it take place in the present day, but there will be an origin story that has the old, gray Iron Man suit; eventually it will progress into more of the modern look," Favreau said. "That's the fun of doing the first one."

"The alcoholism doesn't come into play until later on in the story of Iron Man," he said. "[The comic] started off in the '60s, where it was about him as a successful manufacturer who developed this suit. Then, later, it spins off into that story about him fighting against himself. I think we're going to lay the groundwork for it, but the first one's going to explore him taking on this alter ego of Iron Man, and developing the suit, and what happens politically within the Stark Corporation."

Mentioning an eventual "Iron Man 2," Favreau said that actor playing Tony Stark for his franchise is unlikely to be a major star (Tom Cruise was briefly attached to the role years ago). Instead, the director hopes to announce his discovery of a relative unknown from the Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns") mold later this year.

Spike Lee Selling Time

( Spike Lee has made a deal to rewrite Selling Time, a supernatural thriller for 20th Century Fox, Variety reported. John Davis and Jennifer Klein will produce.

Lee, who most recently directed the hit Inside Man, hasn't yet chosen his next film. He'll write Selling Time with an eye toward directing it.

The movie concerns a man who sells chunks of his life in an attempt to relive and change the worst day of his life.

Hidden Message For X3 Moviegoers

( You're planning to see X-Men: The Last Stand this weekend, right? We expect most of you are. That being the case, apart from our regular reporting on the movie, IGN FilmForce now asks you to do one important thing. If you're an X-Men fan, you'll regret it if you don't! At the theater this weekend, when the credits roll, when the audiences begins to filter out of the exits... keep your seat. And then, perhaps, share this little secret with a few of your friends: the movie isn't over.

We don't want to spoil anything for you, but we want you to know that the scene that follows isn't your typical post-credits tack-on. It's a coda for one of the main characters. The scene is maybe 30 seconds in length, but it's enough. And it will surely be one of the more talked moments in the fan community.

Disney Share Repurchase Could Balance Pixar Buy

( Morgan Stanley raised its price target on shares of the Walt Disney Co. to $31 from $28, saying the cost of the Pixar acquisition will likely be offset by management's accelerated share repurchase program.

Analyst Richard A. Bilotti said the dilution of roughly 10 cents per share from Disney's acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios should be offset by the repurchase of $500 million-worth of Disney shares in the second quarter and the planned repurchase of even more shares in the second half of the year.

Stockwell Helming Toy Rabbit Movie

( “Blue Crush” director (and one time 80’s actor) John Stockwell has signed on to helm the film version of the kiddies’ book "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" for New Line Cinema.

The children's book, written by Kate DiCamillo and published by Candlewick, received a rave review from the New York Times last week.

The book is a fable about a girl whose narcissistic porcelain toy rabbit, named Edward Tulane, is swept overboard on a family trip and begins a journey to discover the true meaning of love, says The Hollywood Reporter.

McG Swears Off "Bombastic Action Flicks"

( Director McG has had a rough time getting new film projects off the ground since directing Charlie's Angels in 2000 and the sequel, Full Throttle, in 2003. The director was at one point pegged to helm Superman, but that film fell through the hands of a host of directors before Bryan Singer took it on.

McG is currently hard at work on his most serious project to date, entitled We Are Marshall, which is currently filming in Atlanta. The film tells the tale of Marshall University's football program in the aftermath of a devastating plane crash that killed 75 in 1970.

Now that McG has had a taste of dramatic filmmaking, he says that his days of directing bombastic action flicks are over. At least for now.

"There's no more sequels in my future," says McG.

CalArts: The School With Antz in Its SquarePants

( THERE is no exact moment when the cultural epicenter of the country shifted from New York to Los Angeles, just a series of progressive baby steps to the left. You could start with the movie men who fled the East's gray skies and tax collectors for the world's greatest outdoor set, or the kids who screwed the wheels from their roller skates to bits of wood and began slaloming in empty Los Angeles swimming pools. Or you could start in 1961, when Walt Disney cemented his plans for, arguably, the most interesting and salutary piece of his legacy, the California Institute of the Arts (commonly called CalArts), perhaps not the happiest place on earth, but certainly among the grooviest.

You can get a sense of just how groovy with Tomorrowland: CalArts in Moving Pictures, a hugely ambitious program that opens Thursday at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and runs to Aug. 13. Organized by Joshua Siegel, an assistant curator in the museum's film and media department, the series showcases some of the knockout film and video work to emerge over the last 30 years from a school generally better known for nurturing artists like David Salle and Mike Kelley than filmmakers. More than 200 current and former students, including Mr. Salle, are represented in 37 programs for an eye-straining, brain-tickling 52-plus hours of animated punks and trembling squiggles, live-action feminist high jinks and political outrage, along with an early on-camera appearance by Paul Rubenfeld, better known as Pee-wee Herman.

Unlike the film programs at both the University of Southern California, which boasts George Lucas as one of its most famous graduates, and the University of California, Los Angeles, which flaunts Francis Ford Coppola, CalArts is not known for cranking out Hollywood types. About the straightest name on its alum roster is James Mangold, who directed "Walk the Line."

CalArts can more proudly lay claim to graduates like Tim Burton (who studied character animation) and Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Sofia Coppola whose film "Marie Antoinette" will have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, studied painting and photography at the school before dropping out. Mr. Burton is a no-show in the retrospective, but Mr. Hillenburg's school days are represented by a seven-minute marvel, "Wormholes," which presents a rotating Saul Steinberg-like landscape from the point of view of a fly. Similarly inventive are two shape-shifting shorts from Henry Selick, the director of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," that show the influence of the animator Jules Engel, one of the school's guiding lights.



( I am not very happy with the way things are going this summer and the disappointment that is at the theaters is really a small part of it. There are bad movies all the time. And then better movies. It happens. But I think we are in a cycle of media vs. the studios that is likely to effect the way we all work together for a long time to come. There are small shifts all the time, but it seems like this is a paradigm shift.

Neither side is all to blame. It seems that we are in the presence of a perfect storm and the damage could be permanent.

On the media side, you have the combination of a threatened traditional media, online media in its precocious childhood, and paid media scrambling to secure both a spreading audience and high advertising rates.

On the studio side, you have insanely outbalanced advertising costs, production budgets that are stinking of desperation instead of much needed moderation, a focus on opening weekend that is getting worse even as people are theorizing about day-n-date releasing that would increase the intensity on opening even more, and an annual ratcheting up in the anxiety about controlling a media that is meant to be free.

The last few weeks have been a remarkable frenzy of fear, rage, self-righteous retribution, and self-righteous control that has made for an ugly, ugly time for the entire industry. In this fight, there are no winners on the media side.

Interestingly, while Mission:Impossible III got a pass by over 70% of critics according to simple rating of Rotten Tomatoes, Poseidon was under 30%. Do critics matter? Apparently, not to the newspapers that run their criticism… unless, this summer, the reviews can be used to attack this week's target of ire.

In the middle was Poseidon, a movie that Warner Bros got a late start on selling and which was pretty universally panned once critics started seeing it. There wasn't as much hysteria, but the film, which became a daily treatise on its budget versus its soft domestic opening, was a log on the fire of the rage. Attacking it became like the light work out between heavy days at the gym.

The battle right now is over the cost of Superman Returns. And there is reason for some of us to have an interest and to write about it. But as a consumer press story, it sucks. I mean, I understand the excitement. But for the movie to be positioned as a potential disaster this early, before its been seen by more than a handful of people, is a shame. And I have to take some responsibility for that, because I have spoken to other media about it and have been quoted, even as the studio tries to get control of the story.

And that is where it gets really scary, because I don't know if there is a real answer. Studios are not going to start honestly disclosing costs, any more than they are going to give the media weekly Home Entertainment sales information that is quantifiable. This is a smoke and mirrors business and even though there is a fiduciary responsibility to stock holders not to lie to the press about numbers, the fudge factor is high.

The answers are not easy and not clear. But as long as we all keep reacting on the fly, in the heat of battle, the cycle will continue and forces that are greater than us will prevail upon us. No one is more of a hard ass than I when it comes to ripping into what I believe to be a true injustice or even just a bad movie. But sometimes, it is all too much.


Posted by dschnee at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 23, 2006

Effects Pioneer Harryhausen Busy On New Projects

(Hollywood Reporter) - Filmmaker Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered the use of stop-motion special effects in such fantasy classics as "Clash of the Titans" and "Jason and the Argonauts," is helping to develop a series of new features, TV movies, video games and merchandising under the "Ray Harryhausen Presents" banner.

Producer Mindfire Entertainment, which joined forces on the projects with the 85-year-old director, said several scripts are in development -- one set in Greek mythology and another with an alien invasion theme. Production on the first film is set to begin in the fall.

The plan is to release one movie in the $15 million range and three TV projects in the $4 million range every year, Mindfire CEO Mark Altman said. Harryhausen will oversee all visual effects, which will be done in CGI (computer-generated imagery) but will be in the spirit of his stop-motion effects, Altman said.

Harryhausen said "utilizing the incredible advances in visual effects technology" would enable him to reach an entire new generation of audiences. "These stories are universal, and I could not be more thrilled than to revisit some of my favorite worlds -- past, present and future -- in these new films," he said.

Schwarzenegger Producing I Am Legend?

( Seems Arnold Schwarzenegger is back on I am Legend, a film he was circling long before he was eyeing off the Governor's throne.

He won't be starring though, but merely producing, says Entertainment Weekly via The Arnold Fans. The latest incarnation of the film will be helmed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) and star Will Smith.

Entertainment Weekly claims that Arnold and Ridley Scott [originally] left the production because of a sky-rocketing budget said to be north of 108 million, but Arnold kept the producer title, says the site.

The film is based on the 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson, about the last man alive in Los Angeles. He actually lives in a suburb of what was then a not-so-built-up metropolis.

The site reports that it's likely you see Schwarzenegger's name before the credits, after all, because he's still considered one of it's producers.

DreamWorks Animation Feels Creature Discomforts

( A lot was riding on this weekend's opening of Over The Hedge for DreamWorks Animation. The computer-animated film generated an estimated $37.2 million during its first three days on the multiplex circuit, which has to be disappointing for the studio. To put this in proper perspective, Fox's Ice Age: The Meldown sold $68 million worth of tickets domestically when it debuted earlier this year.

Nobody was expecting the flick to topple Sony's The Da Vinci Code. Unfortunately, the generally favorably reviewed Hedge now sports the studio's weakest opening for a computer-rendered feature since its freshman try, Antz, in 1998.

There is a bit of urgency here. Disney's Cars opens two weeks from Friday. At that point, Over The Hedge is unlikely to rake in a whole lot of coin, given Pixar's immaculate pedigree as the pioneer in full-length computer animation. (And those Cars trailers look awfully sweet to boot.)

The difference between a hit and a miss can be substantial. This past quarter, DreamWorks Animation moved just 3.3 million copies of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on the retail market but cleared 17.5 million net units of Madagascar

In Over The Hedge's defense, the stop-motion Wallace & Gromit film generated just $16 million over the course of its opening weekend. With the seasonally potent Memorial Day weekend coming up, Over The Hedge should still easily top the $100 million mark before it ends its theatrical run. No one will label the film a dud, but that doesn't make it less of a disappointment for the studio. The film opened on more than 4,000 screens, and its tally relative to previous DreamWorks films doesn't account for inflation; as ticket prices inch higher, the numbers increasingly appear to favor the more recent releases. This could have been an exclamation point after a questionable quarter, but it's looking more like either a question mark or a semicolon.

Unfortunately, moviegoers are facing a glut of computer-generated releases. That hasn't stopped Ice Age, Toy Story, and Shrek sequels from topping the originals, but it make me wonder whether a recognized property is now the only way to stand out in the digital crowd.

DreamWorks Animation isn't formally on the block. That doesn't mean that it's not available at a fair price. In terms of bargaining chips, this may be the ideal time for the company to line up prospective suitors. Its next release -- Flushed Away -- has plenty of potential. The November film's trailer is the best I've seen this year, save for Cars. The unconventional premise of a society mouse being flushed into the seedy sewer underworld is risky, though. If Flushed Away alienates more viewers than it takes in, the company would only have its Shrek the Third release in 2007 to separate it from a serious freefall.

Race Hopes To Be A CG Hit

( Hyper Image, Inc. is proud to present the official website for the new feature film “race.”
Currently in post production, the new sci-fi adventure feature will have its debut in 2006.

“race” is a truly independent CGI feature that will appeal to action fans, Sci-Fi fans, and of course video game enthusiasts who like their movies fast, furious and in glorious CGI.

The entire production was done at the Los Angeles studios of Hyper Image, as a showcase for its talented animators and staff. We tested the limits of the production pipeline that we created for the Emmy nominated series “Starship Troopers Roughneck Chronicles” and “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.” It’s a production process we’ve been refining ever since, bringing the monetary and personnel costs to an affordable level without sacrificing the integrity and artistic vision for the project.

Take a look:

Team Abrams On Trek XI

( Lost executive producer Bryan Burk told SCI FI Wire that he will be part of the team developing a proposed 11th Star TrekLostMission: Impossible III, will also be involved. co-creators Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams, who will direct. Abrams' longtime writing colleagues Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who co-wrote Abrams'
movie, along with

Burk said that he will be an executive producer of Trek XI. "We're all very excited," Burk said in an interview at "Destination: L.A. 2," a fan charity event in Glendale, Calif., over the weekend. But Burk declined to discuss details of the movie: "We actually have this thing where we're just not talking about it outside of ... us right now. And to say I'm excited is the understatement of the [year]. ... It's going to be pretty great."

Burk also dismissed earlier rumors that the movie would center on Spock and Kirk's first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their subsequent early adventures. "I can tell you that that article leaked out prematurely, so there's no formal statement made from any of us, other than we all couldn't be more excited about it," he said.

Burk also smiled when asked if Abrams' longtime friend and frequent star Greg Grunberg would appear in the Trek movie, as either a Klingon or a member of the Federation. "First of all, there's no way Greg Grunberg knows what the Federation is," Burk said with a laugh. But, he added: "When is Greg Grunberg not in a project that we [do]?"

Teri Hatcher Goes CG

( Desperate Housewife, Teri Hatcher, will voice two characters in “Coraline”, director Henry Selick's animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman's 2002 international best-seller, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The one-time Lois Lane will lend her lungs to both the mother of the title character (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her other mother in a parallel universe.

The young Coraline steps into a world that appears to be a much better version of her own reality, but when her artificial parents attempt to keep her there forever, she must escape the dangerous situation and take a brave journey to get back home.

Plane to be Filmed for Transformers?

( With the cast in place for Michael Bay's Transformers (see full details here), scooper 'bittercold' alerts us to a location where the production is likely to film next week:

I am not going to tell you how I know this information because it is hush hush... but lets just say I am affiliated with the air force... here is what I know.

Next week on Wednesday and Thursday a C-130J model from Little Rock AFB Arkansas is heading for Holloman AFB New Mexico for shooting on Transformers the movie. They might be taking on the roll of a MC-130. I know they are going to do attack rolls and manuevers. I also know that after Holloman they are heading on to San Diego... so there may be more filming there.

The point of this... the film is geting USAF support and there will be C-130s in the movie.

Believe it or not... but filming is starting next week.

Dragons In London

( We've received word that 20th Century Fox as well as Vivendi Universal Games will be attending this year's London Expo, a movie/game/media expo in London, from May 27th to May 28th to promote the Eragon movie and video game. Ed Speleers will also be attending the event from 2 PM to 3 PM on May 27th to talk about and premiere some video footage from the movie. Also being shown is footage from the video game.

Tickets to the show are still on sale and cost £7 for an adult ticket (15 years old and above). If you live in the London area and plan on attending the convention, please let us know by emailing us at feedback at shurtugal dot com!

ILM Looks to Mental Ray For "Poseidon"

( Industrial, Light & Magic (ILM), a Lucasfilm Ltd. company, credits mental ray®, the Academy Award® winning high-end rendering software from mental images®, for significant advances in virtual cinematography that ILM achieved in creating the visual effects for Poseidon, the blockbuster film released last week.

Known for its leading edge programmability and artistic control, mental ray was used to create the Poseidon, a vessel that would be 300 meters long and 70 meters wide in real life. Although no actor ever stepped foot on a physical ship, the advanced rendering capabilities of mental ray allowed ILM's visual effects artists and engineers to generate the needed details and sophisticated lighting for the ship to fit seamlessly into the scenes.

"The only way to achieve the level of photorealism that we needed to create Poseidon was through ray traced global illumination. We have ray traced using mental ray at ILM for many years and the level of complexity on Poseidon made it the obvious choice," said Kim Libreri, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor on Poseidon. "We knew from day one that this would be the most difficult project to render and that mental ray was the best solution. Not only does the software create fantastic images but the level of support that we got from the mental images staff in Berlin and Los Angeles was amazing. Whenever we needed something they were there to deliver."

mental images's California based support team worked closely with ILM artists and engineers on-site for weeks at a time to create new rendering techniques never before done. The core obstacle of the project was the enormous complexity. In order to create the realism, a modular system was built with mental ray that enabled the artists to repeatedly use virtual props. This allowed the artists to keep the scenes manageable while focusing on the various elements that came with the 6,500 virtual set pieces made up of over 180,000 individual pieces of geometry - from wine glasses, to clocks and newspapers and even the life preservers.


Posted by dschnee at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 22, 2006

Variety Contradicts 'Indy 4' Script Approval

( Coming just days after MTV Movies published a direct quote from "Indiana Jones 4" creator/producer George Lucas, in which Lucas specifically said the latest draft of the fourth Indy script, "works like crazy," industry trade bible Variety published an astonishingly contradictory second-hand quote that they attribute to Steven Spielberg.

In a brand-new article on Lucas' continuing work on the "Star Wars" saga, mention of his other long-running series wraps up the write-up, in which Variety drops the following bombshell:

"A long-gestating fourth installment [of 'Indiana Jones'] is still on the radar. But even Steven Spielberg, Lucas' partner on the action series, is taking a wait-and-see view. The helmer says the notoriously picky Lucas continues to nix drafts of the fourth Indy script."

For its part, I hope Variety is on the money with this info and not misstating Spielberg's sentiments, because they may have just started a geek war here online. Duck and cover, boys. Duck and cover.

Dark Crystal 2 Production Gets Closer

( Henson Company co-CEO Brian Henson got on the phone with Now Playing recently to promote the DVD release of the first two seasons of the animatronic sitcom Dinosaurs. And it didn’t take long for him to begin spilling secrets about his upcoming projects.

On the front burner for Henson is a sequel to the cult classic The Dark Crystal. “We are trying to pull the business pieces together on a Dark Crystal sequel. That one’s pretty far along. It’s got a good, strong script, a great vision for how to do it and we’re just trying to [put it together].”

Much of the talent involved with the original Dark Crystal has left the Henson Company, so recreating that world will take more than just rebuilding the puppets. “For Dark Crystal, almost none of the voices were actually the puppeteers, so they were mostly voice artists. Where characters need to have the same voice we would likely try to find those voice artists or look for other voice artists.”

If Dark Crystal 2 happens, the obvious follow-up to Labyrinth would not be far behind. But Henson’s not thinking of an outright sequel for that world. “Actually, we’re talking about doing something different with Labyrinth but I can’t really talk about it. So we’re not really working on a sequel for Labyrinth right now, but Dark Crystal we are.”

Bay Area VES Branch Kick-off Meeting - April 19th

( We are pleased to announce the kick-off of the first VES Section for our Bay Area members. As you know, last summer the Board of Directors approved the creation of Sections to allow VES members to organize local events and initiatives. To start a Section, a minimum of 50 VES members signatures must be obtained.

On Wednesday, April 19th, at Industrial Light & Magic, VES Executive Director Eric Roth will kick-off the Bay Area Section with the election of Section Officers and to commence the planning of future events. There will also be a tour of ILM following the meeting. The event is open to all VES members so please RSVP to Marjolaine Tremblay-Silva at or (415) 455-9990 if you can make it. Also, please contact Marjo if you would like to volunteer and/or have event ideas. Special thanks to Marjo for organizing the Section and to ILM's Chrissie England and Jennifer Coronado for hosting this event.

Narnia and King Kong Top Draws For 2005

( Two New Zealand films have been ranked among the top 10 wordwide in terms of 2005 box office revenue.

In its annual report on world film market trends released this week Cannes European Cinema ranked The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe seventh and King Kong eighth.

Narnia made US$428 ($695) million and King Kong US$388 ($630) million, despite being released only in December.

The two movies were filmed on location and in studios in New Zealand by directors, Andrew Adamson for Narnia and Peter Jackson for King Kong.

The top-ranked film, Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith made US$848 million.

Film New Zealand hailed the rankings as an achievement for the local industry.

"This achievement for New Zealand's screen production industry illustrates the range of advantages New Zealand offers as a film-making centre -- from diverse locations, highly skilled crews and effects capability and the Large Budget Screen Production grant as an additional critical incentive," Film New Zealand chief executive Judith McCann said.

* Top 10 films with revenues:

1. Star Wars III: the Revenge of the Sith US$848 million

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire US$808 million

3. War of the Worlds US$591 million

4. Madagascar US$533 million

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory US$472 million

6. Mr and Mrs Smith US$468 million

7. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe US$428

8. King Kong US$388

9. Batman Begins US$371 million

10.Hitch US$367 million

$40 Million CG Sheepish Feature Revealed

( After John Malone's Liberty Media said it would acquire IDT Entertainment in a deal worth more than $200 million this week, IDT unveiled in Cannes plans for a $40 million budgeted toon tale Sheepish. Picture follows a wolf who violates the code of his species and is cursed to become a sheep. Saul Blinkoff and Elliott Bour have been tapped to helm the pic. Blinkoff was an animator on "Tarzan" and "Mulan," and Bour was an animator on "Mulan," "The Lion King" and "Aladdin." The duo co-helmed "Kronk's New Groove" for Buena Vista Home Video.

Skedded to head into production next year, "Sheepish" is based on an original script by Bart Coughlin, a character technical director on "Shrek."

IDT prexy of feature films and TV Neil Braun said that the project will have the sensibility of "Tootsie," and that the lead lupine character "learns to be a better wolf when he sees what it's like from the other side."

He added that IDT has taken foreign tastes into account in creating the project.

"Economically, it works best when you anticipate the value of what you are doing in different cultures," said Braun, also prexy and COO of Vanguard Animation. "We'd prefer to have key working relationships in foreign territories, and to have an ongoing dialogue to keep our production team informed."

Unit -- which has animation facilities in Burbank, Toronto, Vancouver and Israel, and reps rights via IDT Entertainment Sales -- hit Cannes in the middle of building live-action production and theatrical distrib operations under former MGM No. 2 Chris McGurk.

McGurk said that he's been cautious about choosing the right product and partners to kick-start the indie studio.

"We are not aiming to chase bigger-budget and general audience films," said the exec. "We want to be in the targeted-audience business, and we're being very selective in aligning the right product and the right filmmakers."

IDT has a domestic distrib pact with Twentieth Century Fox through 2008, and owns DVD imprint Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Moving to Liberty, IDT will effectively turn its new parent's Starz paybox banner into a small-scale media conglom.

Upcoming IDT credits include Christopher Reeve's "Everyone's Hero" and the comedy "Space Chimps."

National Museum of Photo, Film & TV Pay Tribute to Harryhausen

(PRnewswire) The National Museum of Photography Film & Television presents the most comprehensive exhibition for almost 20 years of the work - and the inspiration behind it - of the acknowledged godfather of movie creature effects, Ray Harryhausen. The renowned creator of special effects for films such as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Jason and the Argonauts, Ray is widely admired by filmmakers and audiences alike for his imaginative, groundbreaking animation work.

This new exhibition from the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford looks at the imagination and research that went into conceiving the fantastic creatures which populate Harryhausen's films, and the sources of his inspiration, ranging from Willis O'Brien - the creator of King Kong - to the prehistoric animal paintings of Charles R. Knight and the work of 18th and 19th century artists such as Gandy and Doré, whose subjects were drawn from the Bible and the Classical world.

Myths and Visions - The Art of Ray Harryhausen
National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford
19 May to 24 September 2006
Admission free. Box Office 0870 70 10 200.

Murphy and Press Have Telepathy

(production weekly) Cillian Murphy (Red Eye, Batman Begins) and Natalie Press will star in the sci-fi feature Telepathy, to be directed by Lesley Manning from a script by Stephen Volk.

According to Production Weekly, the film tells the story of Josef and Viktor Zalenski, estranged identical twin brothers who are chosen by the Russian government as the subjects of a top-secret experiment to test the powers of telepathy as a viable form of communication between earth and outer spcae.

Miranda Richardson and Sam Neill are also starring in the film, which begins shooting in October.

New Animation and VFX Facility in London

( Rainmaker has established a new facility in the Soho district of London: Rainmaker Animation and Visual Effects UK Ltd. In fact, all the visual effects in the St. Sulpice sequence of THE DA VINCI CODE were completed there. Led by Rainmaker visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear and visual effects producer Nick Drew, the crew produced the longest visual effects sequence in the film.

Rainmaker Animation & Effects president Warren Franklin stated, "The visual effects industry is a growing, dynamic global business and the U.K. is a very important market. Establishing a facility in London was a natural extension for us as it enables us to offer our clients the high quality, creative service they have come to know from Rainmaker, when and if they are producing films in that market.

"Our exec producer in London, Roma O'Connor, is a highly experienced visual effects executive, who was also a senior producer at Jim Henson's Creature Shop. She and her team will concentrate on feature and television films and offer cutting edge visual effects combined with 'user-friendly\u2019 client service. We are also pleased to announce that we have been awarded our second film, BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL, and visual effects supervisor Adam Gascoyne has been brought on board to supervise."

The crew's investigative ability to capture the essence of the St. Sulpice Chapel in Paris, and to translate that effectively to CG, was a key reason Rainmaker UK was awarded THE DA VINCI CODE.

In the Vancouver facility, Rainmaker is currently working on NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, BLADES OF GLORY and GARFIELD'S A TALE OF TWO KITTIES.

Paul Giamatti is Dr. Satan

( Paul Giamatti will lend his voice to the cast of Rob Zombie Presents the Haunted World of El Superbeasto (Superbeasto). Giamatti will voice Dr. Satan, the film's main villain.

Superbeasto will be a 2-D animated comedy based on the Spookshow International comic book The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. It follows the exploits of a washed-up Mexican wrestler, El Superbeasto, in the mythic world of Monsterland.

Tom Papa will voice El Superbeasto. Sheri Moon Zombi and Brian Posehn will also voice characters.

George's Clone Wars

( One year after the final "Star Wars" installment hit the bigscreen, George LucasGeorge Lucas continues to mine the Force for major coincoin.

Heading into last week's E3 vidgame confabconfab, Lucasfilm said it would release the theatrical version of the original trilogy on disc for the first time -- a seeming reversal of the filmmaker's earlier vow to never do so -- concurrent with vidgame sequel "Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy" and a new line of toys.

And next month, his new publishing imprint rolls out "Cinema by the Bay," a handsome coffee-table tome on Bay Area filmmakers such as Francis Ford CoppolaFrancis Ford Coppola, Carroll BallardCarroll Ballard and PixarPixar -- and with chapters devoted to each installment of "Star Wars."

Fans greeted the latest DVD initiative with mixed emotions. Purists rejoiced at the chance to watch the "Star Wars" films as they first appeared on the bigscreen, while others grumbled online at the prospect of ponying up for yet another set of discs.

Lucas opted not to release the original theatrical version on DVD two years ago, instead upgrading the f/xf/x and recutting the pics to integrate them with his prequels. He said then that was the way he intended the pics to be presented. Now, both versions will be available on each disc.

Lucas is exploring new projects not directly tied to his past. Publishing director Lucy Wilson says the second book from George Lucas Press is a statistical look at everything in the world that kills you. "His interests are not just limited to one subject," she says.

No Job Cuts For Intel

( Intel is unlikely to shut plants or slash jobs following a top-to-bottom review announced last month to address shrinking market share and slowing computer sales, a senior executive said Sunday.

"That has not been the expected outcome," Gordon Graylish, Intel's vice president and general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Reuters. He said Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini "certainly shared that as well."

Otellini said last month that "no stone will remain unturned," raising expectations among analysts that the chipmaker, which employs nearly 100,000 people, could cut jobs and overhaul key parts of its business.

DIE HARD 4 May Be a Go

( Bruce Willis has announced that shooting on a fourth Die Hard movie is as close to starting as ever.

"We're as close as we've ever got to getting Die Hard 4 started," Willis said. "It won't be called Die Hard 4 but that will be the story. Hopefully it will be out next summer."

There had been rumors of script problems slowing development as it seems the script centered on a giant wave hitting New Orleans. A new script seems to have been created and the movie seems to be moving forward. A rumored working title was Die Hard 4: Die Hardest, but that will probably change in the near future if the project gets underway again.

The original Die Hard hit theaters in 1988.

Guillermo Plots A New Trilogy Entry

( While Guillermo Del Toro still plans to direct The Witches and Hellboy 2, he hasn’t forgotten about his planned Spanish trilogy.

He’ll follow The Devil’s Backbone and the incoming Pan’s Labyrinth with 3993, written by Sergio Sanchez.

According to the director, the movie will "portray 1990s Spain, how it still has some fantastical rooting in things that happened in 1939.

Variety Publishes VFX Resource Guide

Take a look:

A Visit From The Tooth Fairy

(sliceofscifi) The writing team of Lowell Gantz and Babaloo Mandel have been given the job of turning the 17-page Jim Piddock treatment of “The Tooth Fairy” into a full-scripted family-fable comedy.

Gantz and Mandel have worked together in the past and written such family comic successes as “Splash,” the Ron Howard film starring Tom Hanks, “Parenthood” with Steve Martin, “Robots” starring the voice of Robin Williams and “Fever Pitch” with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

Other than what might be construed from the title and the announcement by 20th Century Fox that it will be a family oriented fantasy and comedy, not much else is known about the plot at this point and the studio plans on keeping a tight lid on it, at least until the completion of Gantz and Babaloo’s first draft.

Jason Blum is set to produce for Fox and Piddock will fill the role of executive producer.


Posted by dschnee at 05:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 19, 2006

Dean Devlin to Helm Effects-Packed Ghosting

(hollywoodreporter) Dean Devlin is making a shift from producer to director. He will helm Ghosting, an effects-packed paranormal thriller, says The Hollywood Reporter.

He will begin shooting the film early next year after principal photography is complete on the September shoot of his sci-fi adventure Isobar.

Devlin (Independence Day, Flyboys) also will produce Ghosting for his company Electric Entertainment with in-house partners Kearie Peak and Marc Roskin.

Jessie Alexander's script centers on a crippled cop who works with a group of undercover investigators who temporarily paralyze hearts to move back and forth between the land of the living and the dead.

Robert Rodriguez Casts Planet Terror

( Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez and Josh Brolin will star in Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, a 60-minute zombie movie to be accompanied by a slasher film directed by Quentin Tarantino and released under the title Grind House by Dimension Films,

Universal CG Film Gets A New Helmer

( Mike Johnson, who co-directed The Corpse Bride with Tim Burton, has been drafted in to take over directing Universal’s animated movie The Tale Of Despereaux.

Despereaux is based on Kate DiCamillo’s book The Tale Of Despereaux: Being The Story Of A Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup And A Spool of Thread, which Universal optioned two years ago. Sylvain Chomet, who brought us Belleville Rendezvous, had planned to direct the film, but was also trying to make another ‘toon based on an unproduced Jacques Tati script. But the load became too great and now Johnson will handle Despereaux.

The CG-animated story follows the misadventures of three friends, a banished mouse, a rat who loves light and a girl with cauliflower ears, who help a princess.

Stan Winston Writes Effects Tell All Book

( Stan Winston is collaborating on the first-ever book to reveal all the behind-the-scenes secrets of his groundbreaking and hugely influential artistry and effects work.

Titan Books of London will work closely with Stan Winston and the artists of the Stan Winston Studio on the new book, tentatively titled THE WINSTON EFFECT: THE ART AND HISTORY OF STAN WINSTON STUDIO, written by CINEFEX editor Jody Duncan.

THE WINSTON EFFECT is currently scheduled for release in the autumn of 2006 as a lavish hardcover book. Covering Winston’s entire career from his early days as a make-up apprentice at Disney Studios, through his artistic successes with ALIENS, THE TERMINATOR, JURASSIC PARK and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, to his goals for the future and the ripple effect of his work on other creative minds, the book will feature an extensive array of sketches, production art and photographs straight from the studio archives.

“This is a dream project for us,” said Titan publisher Nick Landau. “We are beyond thrilled to be working with an artist of Mr. Winston’s caliber. The book itself will be a work of art, a collaboration between artist, writer, and publisher that will celebrate Mr. Winston’s role as one of the most talented and innovative creators working in Hollywood today.”

“I’ve been blessed by having been involved in a body of work that spans over 35 years and utilizes the creative minds of the brilliant filmmakers, artists and technical geniuses behind some of the most memorable movies of all time,” Winston said. “I am exposed to this body of work every day that I walk into my studio. It’s an awesome experience and one that I’d like to share with as many people as possible — hence the need to create this book. Although 'state of the art' in every technical way has been used to advance our abilities in creating characters, at the core of their reality still remains the unparalleled tool of the artist’s eye. This book will expose the reader not only to the advancement of our technical expertise, but more importantly to the artists that have brought the work to life. These are truly the renaissance artists of the 20th and 21st centuries."

Poseidon' Packs Punch of Real Science

( Pity the cruise ship Poseidon, for fortune does not follow her.

But it's that same doomed nature that drives director Wolfgang Petersen's 2006 update of the 1972 disaster epic "The Poseidon Adventure."

One is forced to wonder whether another remake of producer Irwin Allen\u2019s "Adventure" is warranted especially after the stunning failure of last year's television take on the story but Petersen's new version is at least an eye-catching evolution of its source material, and if the history of public fascination with disaster films is any guide, this one may fare well either way.

The hallmarks of the "Poseidon" legacy which began with writer Paul Gallico's novel in 1969 are all present. A massive, Moon-blotting rogue wave (which scientists say is a real type of event; see a gallery of big waves and more on this below) topples unsuspecting partygoers on New Year's Eve, leaving only a ragged band of survivors to desperately seek escape.

"Poseidon" excels in both action and special effects the initial and gargantuan wave is just terrifying, especially in IMAX and moves at a breakneck pace sure to exhaust the viewer by the film's end.


CG Anim Giant Swallowed

( Liberty Media Corp. is buying IDT Ent. from parent company IDT Corp. it was announced today, May 16, 2006. Liberty will give up its holdings in IDT Corp. to add this diversified production/distribution group of companies to its holdings, which includes Starz Ent. Group that will have the capability to create a wide array of CG-animated and live-action programming for domestic and international distribution in all major channels, including broadcast syndication, premium television, theatrical and home video/DVD.

Liberty Media’s sells its interests in IDT Corp. for $186 million in cash and the assumption of existing indebtedness.

Newark, New Jersey-based IDT Ent. ( is a social experience within a 3D
virtual reality. Within the universe, users can freely move about and experience a wealth of social interaction via 3D animated personal "avatar" characters.

Ray Schwartz, President of, who is based in Los Angeles, said, "We are excited to be offering the Internet's most unique
social experience to adults who are open-minded and interested in exploring their sexuality. Women and men can live out any of their fantasies in an empowering and safe environment. Exploring through their avatar characters, users can have fun dancing to live music, viewing some of the world's most erotic art, or watching a sexy show. If someone's imagination can conceive it, it can be fulfilled in this unprecedented sexual universe.

The cyber universe offers Community Events, such as parties, classes, meeting rooms, live music with dancing and art-gallery
openings. These events are broadcast within the online universe. Users also have the ability to put on their own events to real audiences within the various RedlightCenter theaters. User-presented events are expected to include the multimedia broadcast of content from podcasts, films,
book-readings, comedy acts, band performances, instructional classes and more. is now open to a limited number of users in a pre-beta phase.

Cars: The Render Stats

( Byte and Switch has an article about how Pixar rendered and processed their latest feature film, Cars.

They talked with Pixar's VP of technology, Greg Brandeau, to find out more.

Brandeau says that Cars has put more internal strain on his systems than any other Pixar film to date, '...swallowing up a colossal 2,300 CPU years over the course of the last five years. In other words, in Brandeau's view, a single CPU would have to run for 2,300 years in order to do all the number crunching for this movie.' says the article.

Here are some more facts about the movie and its processing...

- it used 300 times more compute power to make than Toy Story

- 1 gigabyte of memory wasn't enough on their server heads. They had to use something in the region of 32 gigabytes.

- After to switching to a SAN, Pixar cut its rendering times from 10 hours per frame (which should have been normally 1, but the frames created so much stress on the servers, it just didn't happen), down to 1 hour per frame.

Christie's to Sell 'Star Trek' VFX Shooting Models

(Reuters) - Trekkies will be setting their phasers to "bid" this fall when Christie's holds the first official studio auction of memorabilia from all five "Star Trek" television series and 10 movie spinoffs.

CBS Paramount Television Studios is cleaning out its vaults for the sale, comprising more than 1,000 lots totaling some 4,000 items, to be held from October 5 to 7 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the original "Star Trek" series, Christie's announced on Thursday.

Fans and collectors will have a chance to acquire "Star Trek" artifacts ranging from models of the "Starship" USS Enterprise to Capt. James Kirk's uniform or Capt. Jean-Luc Picard's jumpsuit in an auction where Christie's expects to raise more than $3 million.

Other items to hit the block include props, weapons, prosthetics and set dressings unearthed from five Paramount warehouses.

Among the highlights are a miniature of the Starship Enterprise used in visual effects for the film "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country," expected to sell for $15,000 to $25,000, and a replica of Kirk's chair from the original TV series that was recreated for the 1996 "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," which is estimated at $10,000 to


Fans with more modest budgets can train their sights on a host of Trekkie ephemera like the 10-inch Resikkan nonplaying prop brass flute used by Patrick Stewart as Picard in the episode "The Inner Light" in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," which carries a low estimate of just $300.

Cathy Elkies, director of special collections at Christie's, said the value of the objects was difficult to gauge because "we don't factor in that emotional fury generated around this kind of material."

Posted by dschnee at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 18, 2006

Del Toro Helming Witches

( Guillermo del Toro, whose Pan's Labyrinth will screen in competition at this week's Cannes Film Festival, will team with fellow Mexican helmer Alfonso Cuaron on an English-language adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1973 book The Witches for Warner Brothers, Variety reported. Cuaron signed a three-year, first-look production deal with Warner in 2004.

Del Toro is set to direct from his screenplay; Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) will produce through his New York-based production company Esperanto.

Del Toro told the trade paper that his Witches adaptation would be "quite smaller, but most likely very much designed," alluding to the eye-popping look of the previous movies. He has written 70-plus of what he expects will be a 100-page screenplay.

British helmer Nicolas Roeg previously adapted The Witches for the screen in 1989.

King Kong CG Sculpting Tool Goes Public

( New Zealand-based Skymatter announced that its 3D modeling software Mudbox is now available for public beta.

Mudbox, which was used in beta form on films like King Kong, is a 3D sculpting, detailing, and design tool developed by a number of vfx and game industry experts. It's a standalone application that is currently in its first beta, and the development team is already promising several planned features and improvements to follow its release.

The software is set to be unveiled publicly in June at the, Montreal Artists's Workshop hosted by Massive Black and, during which Massive Black's director Petey Konig will demonstrate the new Mudbox software application over the course of four days.

Mudbox is a friendly sculpting, detailing, and design tool developed by three experienced cg artists, a group of whiz programmers, and a beta team composed of some of the planet's top vfx and gaming production companies and artists. It's a standalone application that, in our experience, slides smoothly into company pipelines and artist workflows.

Mudbox's version 1.0 commercial release will happen sometime later in 2006. Until then, users who are interested in taking part in the Mudbox public beta can apply at the software's official website:

Henry Selick's CORALINE Comes Into Focus

( Good news came from Variety for all of us Henry Selick and Stop-Motion animation fans... CORALINE, which is being made at what used to be Will Vinton studios, but was acquired by Phil Knight (yeah, the tennis shoe guy) and turned into LAIKA ENTERTAINMENT - which is doing a series of Stop-Motion and alternative to CG animated feature films. Their first feature to be released is going to be CORALINE based on Neil Gaiman's fantastic book. Well - the good news is that the film has landed at one of the absolute best alternative film mini-major distributors in LaLaLand... FOCUS. Which means the film will be marketed, distributed and treated with the absolute best intentions. Something that hasn't always been given to Henry Selick... right Fox?

No Wide Screen or THX For Orig Star Wars

( The original Star Wars Trilogy releases are going to be the 1995 Laserdisc masters and The Digital Bits confirmed today that they won't be anamorphic widescreen transfers, just the letterboxed transfers, which would mean we're not getting the full theatrical experience. For sound junkies there is no option to listen to a digitally remastered THX soundtrack. We'll get the two-channel stereo.

Lucas called the original theatrical versions "work prints" and it seems like he still feels that way.

Hollywood's New Reality Amid Special Effects Boom

(The Wall Street Journal) Growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the early 1990s, Greg and Colin Strause were the ultimate computer geeks. While other teenagers played sports or flirted with girls, the Strause brothers huddled over a computer in their father's basement creating movie-style special effects.

Now, thanks to Hollywood's obsession with expensive computer-generated tricks, the Strause brothers have hit the big time. Having worked on "Titanic," "The Day After Tomorrow" and this summer's "X-Men: The Last Stand," the brothers can afford to live in luxury condos in Marina del Rey, overlooking the ocean.

"We used to get flack for being nerds," says Colin. "Now we're nerds with Ferraris and Bentleys."

Spurred by box-office success, studios are lavishing unprecedented time and money on whiz-bang effects. Their enthusiasm is creating a new dynamic in moviemaking in which technology is replacing on-screen talent as the biggest source of budget inflation. This summer's films, which are packed with digital extravaganzas, are helping set a new benchmark: the $200 million movie.

But technology can't always deliver the kind of efficiencies to Hollywood that it generally provides to other industries. It has made filmmaking not only more expensive and time-consuming but also more difficult to manage. The people who create special effects consider themselves artists and their agenda is to get it right - not make it cheaper.

With so much money at stake, tensions have grown between studios, which want to keep costs down, and special-effects houses, which are grappling with escalating costs of hardware and talent. Meanwhile, some filmmakers are finding it hard to resist the allure of technology, which can come at the expense of storytelling.

"Visual effects add the arms and head to the Venus de Milo but should never come up with the entire Venus de Milo," says Scott Ross, founder and chairman of Digital Domain, a leading digital-effects company, which has worked on "Titanic" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Amid the excitement, studios are beginning to realize that relying on special effects is financially risky. Such big-budget films tend to be bonanzas or busts. If a movie hits the jackpot, it can create a box-office juggernaut that mints money on video and television for years to come. If not, it can burn a massive hole in a studio's finances, as Sony Corp. discovered last summer with its expensive aircraft thriller "Stealth." As effects budgets creep toward $100 million, studios are in combat mode, playing vendors off one another to get the best deal.

Last winter's "King Kong," with its life-like depiction of a giant ape, created a new standard in the effects world - and in Hollywood. At $207 million, it was the largest budget ever publicly acknowledged by a studio (executives frequently downplay the true cost of their films).

Now similar numbers are popping up all over town. According to people familiar with the movies, "X-Men," from News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, arrives this month at $210 million, Walt Disney Co.'s "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is fast approaching $225 million, and "Superman Returns," made by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., is likely to weigh in at $261 million.

Topping them all is Sony's "Spider-Man 3," due for release next year, which people close to the studio say will cost between $250 million and $300 million. Some studios say their costs are eased by tax credits, which could, for example, shave $20 million off the cost of "Superman Returns." For the same reason, Fox says the final tally for "X-Men" is $165 million.

The price tags underscore that effects, not stars, sell big movies these days. Of the top 10 U.S. all-time box-office hits, all but "The Passion of the Christ" were visual-effects vehicles. Just one of last year's domestic top 10 - the slapstick romantic comedy "Wedding Crashers" - had actors, rather than effects as its star.

To keep drawing people to theaters, studios feel pressure to keep pushing computer-generated realism to new levels. In 1985, "Back to the Future" featured more than 100 special-effects "shots" - short sequences of about five seconds - depicting state-of-the art fantasies such as a flying sports car and fading body parts. Two decades later, movies can include 2,000-plus effects shots.

For "King Kong," made by General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, director Peter Jackson accumulated close to 3,500 effects shots, as he navigated armies of dinosaurs and tinkered with the finer features of the giant ape. According to executives at Mr. Jackson's digital-effects company, 500 shots were started and not finished and another 350 hit the cutting-room floor.

Around the time of the film's release in December, Universal publicly pegged the tab at $207 million, after originally budgeting $175 million. Two people involved with the movie say the final cost was closer to $250 million.

Many newcomers flooding into the business drew inspiration from moves like the 1991 "Terminator 2." Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg from the future, it revolutionized the effects world with scenes featuring T-1000, a robot warrior made of liquid metal that could emulate both a human and inanimate objects.

Most of those effects were the brainchild of Industrial Light & Magic, a company set up by director George Lucas in 1975 to handle the special effects for his "Star Wars" movies. The granddaddy of the effects world, ILM dominated for years with groundbreaking work on movies from "E.T." to "Jurassic Park" and "Mission: Impossible."

ILM's success spawned a wave of copycat houses, some set up by ambitious ILM alumni, others by technically adventurous filmmakers. In 1993 Mr. Jackson and a group of partners set up an effects house in New Zealand, Weta Digital Ltd., which did most of the work for his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

That same year another rival, Digital Domain, was created by ILM alumnus Mr. Ross with James Cameron, the director and producer behind the "Terminator" movies and the 1997 box-office buster "Titanic."

In a sign of the conflicting interests of effects artists and filmmakers, Mr. Ross and Mr. Cameron ended up falling out over the shipwreck epic. Mr. Ross accused Mr. Cameron in published reports of endlessly refining the movie's effects to such a degree that the company lost money on the project. Bert Fields, an attorney for Mr. Cameron, says the director disputes Mr. Ross's account and adds that Digital Domain didn't fulfill its contract. Mr. Cameron subsequently resigned from Digital Domain's board. Mr. Ross declines to comment on the dispute.

The Strause brothers got their big break as a result of that feud. In 1997, when Mr. Cameron was frantically casting around for extra artists to work on "Titanic," they were brought on board to create the ship's nemesis iceberg. Using a team of eight artists, the brothers spent three months creating 12 shots, each lasting four seconds.

As teenagers in Waukegan, Ill., they got their start creating logos for small local companies on a primitive 1980s computer. Their father later bought a more powerful machine to help them win bigger accounts. It worked, earning the boys $25,000 to create an animated eagle used in an ad for a local gas station.

Greg, 31 years old, and Colin, 29, moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to work on music videos and television shows. Four years after setting up their company, Hydraulx, the Strause brothers now own multiple computer workstations costing $300,000 each. New high-end monitors costing $30,000 flicker through the dim light of their new studio in Santa Monica, Calif. The brothers also built a $1 million screening room for clients. Greg Strause estimates that computer maintenance alone costs $300,000 a year. And that's for a relatively small studio.

One of their most recent projects was "X-Men," set for release May 26. For flashback sequences, they took 25 years off the movie's main actors - including Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart - by smoothing out their wrinkles and shaving pounds off their faces. A plastic surgeon advised them during the process.

Despite their technological sophistication, visual effects are still labor-intensive, requiring human artists and ever-more expensive computer tools. To achieve realistic effects, each image requires hundreds of hours of minute adjustments. Hardware is also wildly expensive and computers need to be constantly upgraded.

For this summer's $160 million disaster movie "Poseidon," for instance, ILM created a three-minute opening sequence of a cruise ship at sea that was almost entirely computer-generated. ILM says it took a year. Each shot in the sequence required 4,000 frames. Each frame took 25 hours to make on the company's most sophisticated computers.

On a recent morning, ILM animation director Hal Hickel tinkered with a sample image of Davy Jones, villain of this summer's "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel. Staring at an image of Davy with his octopus beard in the screen's top right, Mr. Hickel used his mouse to delicately shift the character's facial features. For Davy Jones' upper lip alone, Mr. Hickel's computer has 24 commands for manipulating the sneer by minute degrees. Every few seconds of animated footage took 10 days or more to complete, he says.

"When you're doing really realistic stuff, there are just so many little details," Mr. Hickel says.

The entirely digital character is based on actor, Bill Nighy, who was filmed in a "motion capture" jumpsuit that recorded his movements so they could later be manipulated by a computer. The character has a crab claw, a pirate outfit and a beard of more than a dozen independently-moving octopus tentacles. More than 500 artists worked on "Pirates of the Caribbean." Manpower is by far the most costly element of the special-effects business.

"You have to make the audience believe it's a real character," says Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of many effects-laden movies, including the "Pirates" series. "They can never see the edges or the workings of the digital imagery."

Today's effects breakthroughs, however, are short-lived, one reason why companies are constantly reaching for the next big thing.

"The amazing liquid metal effects in 'Terminator 2' were in tire commercials within six months," recalls Yair Landau, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio behind the "Spider-Man" movies. "A lot of imagery and technology gets assimilated into culture and you have to raise the bar to give audiences a superior experience every time."

With such firepower at their finger tips, filmmakers have to face a question: When do they stop? In the past, filmmakers would often settle for the first special-effects sequence created, so cumbersome was the production process. Now, filmmakers have multiple options and spend many nights holed up in editing suites perfecting sequences.

"In the old days, five to 10 iterations of one shot was normal, now it's not impossible to have 50 to 60 iterations for complex shots," says Greg Strause.

The simultaneous rise of cosmetic effects, which can fix anything from an actor's acne to bad lightning, has created even more opportunities for tinkering in post-production. Filming with new digital cameras creates a sharper, cleaner look, but one that shows up every blemish and wrinkle. A filmmaker can add weeks of work and about $250,000 getting rid of facial hair, a wig line, or bags under an actor's eyes.

ILM says such late-stage, or "911," work is common. ILM says it frequently charges anywhere from $20 million to $80 million for work on an effects-heavy movie.

Production crunches are common and effects houses often race to meet tight deadlines - something that pushes costs even higher. For the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean," Disney has a tight window to finish the elaborate effects; the studio expects to be working on the film until close to its July 7 release, say people involved with the movie.

Sometimes, there isn't enough time, forcing filmmakers to do things the old-fashioned way. In a scene from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," in which the hero does battle with a dragon, ILM wasn't satisfied with the computer-generated fire, says Tim Alexander, a visual-effects supervisor.
Rather than spending more long days fiddling with each spark, ILM hired a flame-thrower that it filmed on stage. Then it superimposed the footage onto the sequence. The tab for a day like that, ILM says: $40,000 or $50,000.

2nd Helmer Quits Tonight

( Director Gabriele Muccino, who signed on to helm Will Smith's superhero drama Tonight, He Comes, has quit the project only weeks after coming aboard, Variety reported. The movie remains on course to shoot next year, the trade paper reported.

Muccino was hired after Jonathan Mostow left because of creative differences. Smith and Muccino had such a strong rapport on the recently completed The Pursuit of Happyness that the star was eager to reteam with the Italian helmer. Once the dust settled and Muccino got into the project, they decided that the story of a superhero in midlife crisis wasn't for him, and the split was amicable.

ILM Helps with Eragon Video Game

( The whole thing seems like something out of a novel: A 15-year-old graduates high school after being home-schooled his entire life. He then spends his time writing the first book in a fantasy trilogy, which is then published by his parents. Setting out on a promotional tour of schools and libraries, he ends up having his book read by a widely published author, who then praises it to his publisher, which picks up the right to the trilogy. The tale (with the second book since published) is subsequently licensed by one of the leading movie studio to be immortalized to the silver screen.

As fantastic as the story sounds, the fact is Christopher Paolini lived it, and his Eragon story is set to be a Fox movie before Christmas. And now developer Stormfront Studios and Vivendi Games is looking for a simultaneous release for an Eragon video game for Xbox, Xbox 360, PC and PS2.

In an early look, Stormfront and Vivendi gave us a peek at what they’re constructing. A good chunk of the game’s 16 levels will be epic battles on the ground through the Eragon world. Stormfront noted that it had been brought in two years ago and given full access to the movie sets in Budapest to match the look in the game. Additionally, Stormfront also stated that Fox enabled the development studio to “size up” the area covered in the game to beyond what the sets entailed, and Don Daglow, Stormfront’s CEO, told us that Eragon will be the biggest game the company has worked on.

Combat will be enabled through melee weapons (such as swords), ranged weapons (such as a bow and arrow) and magic (to push and pull enemies around, as well as blasting fire). To match the book’s story and movie imagery, the game will feature some dramatic turns, including timely zooms into the action when you grapple an enemy, giving you a close up on the battle’s key moments.

Other levels will feature Saphira, the story’s giant dragon. In the one such level that Stormfront demonstrated, the player controls the dragon as it swoops through a maze of valleys, taking out enemies while trying to protect the five towers that were scattered around the area. Offensive attacks consisted of fire breath and mighty swings of the dragon’s tail to knock enemies and their weapons off the valley walls.

Gamers who feel the need to touch every corner of a title will enjoy that Stormfront has loaded Eragon with “secret eggs.” The bonus items will not only open up replayability, as players will re-run levels to try and find all of the eggs, but each one will also unlock an item, such as concept art or interviews with the four movie actors who contributed voiceovers. There are also different ways to complete levels, so you can replay a level in pursuit of high scores.

Perhaps the coolest feature that Eragon will offer is on-demand cooperative play. At any time, another player may pick up the second controller and take over a character in the battle. In the ground levels, this consists of joining in as one of Eragon’s cohorts, and in the dragon levels, one player controls Saphira while the other controls Eragon on the dragon’s back. If the second player decides to ditch the game (or there’s no second player), the AI takes over as your support.

The look of the game should be solid. Our preview revealed some great battle animations even for an early, work-in-progress title, but also caused Daglow to comment on the help his company received from Lucasfilm’s special-effects house ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) to give the dragon’s flying as much “authenticity” as possible.

Speaking of graphics, Vivendi and Stormfront weren’t showing the Xbox 360 version at the same time, but claimed that the advanced hardware would offer that version of Eragonto have a “dramatic appearance benefit,” as well as enabling other additional features. We’re expecting this week’s E3 show will reveal at least some of those benefits, which we’ll pass on to you.

No MI:3 In China?

( It looks like Tom Cruise is facing a set-back for the release of “Mission Impossible: III” in the Chinese market. The country’s officials have put a stop to its theatrical premiere of the spy thriller citing the film portrays a tarnished “image of of Shanghai.”

This roadblock took Cruise and Abrams by surprise as all preliminary approval from all the right governmental bodies had already been given.

This block will significantly hurt the expected burst of revenue the studio was hoping to garner from its Chinese debut since many top-graded piracy copies will have already been dispensed and viewed by the time the film does open in theaters across the country later in the summer.

Posted by dschnee at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 17, 2006

Bruckheimer Battles Evil Creatures

( Jerry Bruckheimer has bought the rights to an action spec script. Yes, we’re exactly as shocked as you.

The producer has nabbed Game Boys by Tom Ropelewski and Evan Katz for Disney. Their story follows two thirtysomething console jockeys who are hired by the government to battle evil creatures that have somehow sprung to life from the very video game our heroes have the top score on. We bet they get paid in crisps.

There’s no director or cast attached yet.

A Dreamscape Remake?

( Kyle Newman, writer/director of the forthcoming “Revenge of the Nerds” remake, (kill me NOW) tells IESB that he’s had discussions about possibly calling the shots on another 80’s redo, Dennis Quaid starrer “Dreamscape”.

Remember that little video classic?

In it, Quaid (looking very ‘Indiana Jones’ on the VHS sleeve, from memory) played a clairvoyant who decides to use his powers for good – instead of gambling, as one normally would – and enter the minds of some folks who are having disconcerting nightmares. Unfortunately, there’s another psychic on the scene - who is using his powers for eeeeeeeevvvvil.

Kate Capshaw, Max Von Sydow, and Christopher Plummer also starred in the film, which was directed by Joseph Ruben.

It only made about $2 million bucks, stateside, on it’s opening weekend back in August of 1984, but the film did have a good idea behind it, so not really surprised Hollywood’s looking to do it again.

So who do you think would make a good Alex Gardner?

Get Your CG Motor Running


John Lasseter grew up in Southern California, where driving is people's passion and second career, and a car their church and fortress. So if you ask Lasseter about car love, you get an impromptu prose poem. "Car love," he says, "is the sound of a throaty V-8 rumbling and revving, the acceleration throwing you back in the seat--especially when you get on a beautiful, winding road and the light's dappling through the trees. For me, it's a combination of enjoying the beauty of cars, classic or cool modern ones, and also the actual driving: getting out on the open road, whether it's a family road trip or driving by myself on a nice windy road and enjoying the ride."


Prince Caspian Pushed Back to Summer '08

(The Hollywood Reporter) Walt Disney Pictures' follow-up to Andrew Adamson's blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has been pushed back from December 14, 2007 to summer 2008.

The Hollywood Reporter says Disney rescheduled The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian hours after Columbia Pictures circulated an announcement Tuesday staking a claim on December 8, 2007 for the domestic release of its new fantasy fable The Water Horse. Both sweeping epics are produced by Walden Media and when left to open one week apart were perfectly poised to cannibalize one another's 2007 Christmas box office.

In related news, Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) announced today that "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" has become the number one top-selling DVD of 2006. The film was released on April 5 and has sold over 11 million units in route to claiming this year's top DVD spot.

"We are delighted with the tremendous success of 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.' This award-winning film is a stellar addition to the celebrated Disney collection and has set the tone for the next chapter in this promising franchise," commented Bob Chapek, president of BVHE.

Concurrently, with Narnia in the top DVD spot of 2006, BVHE holds five of the top 10 titles so far this year. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Chicken Little, Lady and the Tramp, Flightplan, and Bambi II are all strongly positioned within the top 10 titles of 2006. "We are very fortunate to have such a strong line up of titles that appeals to every demographic. It is the backbone of what this studio has always been known for," Chapek added.

Mindfire Turning Fear Effect Into Movie

(The Hollywood Reporter) Mindfire Entertainment plans to turn the popular Eidos video game Fear Effect into a feature film, with director Stanley Tong in talks to helm the actioner.

The Hollywood Reporter says Mindfire CEO Mark A. Altman (House of the Dead 2, DOA: Dead or Alive) is set to produce with Mindfire chairman Mark Gottwald and senior vp business affairs Chuck Speed, based on a screenplay by Steve Kriozere.

Altman described the movie as Mission: Impossible meets Silent Hill, adding that the film will faithfully follow the story line of the original PlayStation game. It will be set 10 years in the future, however, rather than in the alternate world of the source material.

Gates Wants To Let You In Your Co-Workers' Heads

( Microsoft is hoping that social networking techniques will help win a few friends for its enterprise search technology.

On Wednesday, as part of a keynote speech to executives gathered in Redmond, Wash., for Microsoft's annual CEO Summit, Chairman Bill Gates will show off new server software that aims to help workers find data stored on their company's computers as well as information located only inside the brains of their colleagues.

The next release of Microsoft's SharePoint server software will have a feature called Knowledge Network that automatically builds profiles of employees and their areas of expertise.

That's important because a ton of business data is stored in brains, rather than hard drives. Estimates are that anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of a company's institutional knowledge is inside of its employees' heads.

A lot of important knowledge is not written down in a document, said Jon Beighle, a general manager in Microsoft's online services group.

Today, workers in large companies have a tough time figuring out who of their colleagues knows what. Microsoft's technology tries to ease that task by looking through workers' e-mail and other data and then automatically generating working profiles.

The software also takes a page from social networking sites in the way that workers get matched up with in-house experts. The software can see if the information seeker and expert have any worker friends in common who might be able to make an introduction. Workers can also choose whether they want to be open to being contacted directly. Recognizing the obvious privacy concerns, Beighle said the software allows a worker to view and alter his or her profile before it is made available to colleagues.

"It does it in a very open and transparent way so people have an opportunity to see their profile and make changes," Beighle said.

At the summit, Gates will also explain how Microsoft is trying to beef up its capacity to search the information that is in computers and servers.

Within Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft is adding the ability to search through different types of corporate data. The next version is expected to tap not only data stored on intranets, but also data in business applications like Siebel or SAP. Microsoft is in the process of transforming SharePoint from a portal maker to a broader server-based complement to Office.

Gates is also expected to preview a Windows Live Search program that will allow workers to search their desktop, across a corporate network, and the Web from within a single program. That software, still in early development, is scheduled to show up in beta and be released in final form in the second half of this year.

Halloween prequel, now a sequel?

( Another switcheroo for the next Halloween movie it seems.

According to, Jake Wade Wall's script for the next Hallwoeenmovie will not be the one being used now, apparently.

Wall's script will not be the basis for the new film. His idea took place in the years before Michael escaped from Smith's Grove Sanitarium, which would be a cool idea if it weren't for the noticeable lack of Donald Pleasance, says the site.

We can now tell you that the new Halloween, which will likely be officially announced any day now, will take place at Smith's Grove Sanitarium but will not be a prequel. It will be full-blown Halloween movie, complete with the trademark mask and slow gait.

Pixar keeps the sequels in the house

( John Lasseter, the co-founder and creative leader of Pixar, has acknowledged that he worried endlessly during the protracted negotiations with Disney about the possibility that Disney would produce sequels to the original Pixar films like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. if a deal extending their relationship wasn't concluded. In an interview with Fortune magazine, Lasseter said, "It would have been easier just to walk away, but Steve [Jobs] stayed in there for me, because I loved these characters that we have created. They're like family, like children. And if we didn't get a deal, Disney would own our children. Who knew what they would do? These were the people that put out Cinderella II. We believe that the only reason to do a sequel is if you have a great story, period. It's not 'Let's just keep cranking it out.'" Lasseter said that he and Jobs decided to wait until Michael Eisner left as CEO of the studio before resuming negotiations with Disney, and that he received a phone call from Robert Iger on the day he was named to succeed Eisner. "And that said a lot to us, because he was serious about wanting to make a deal with us to keep distributing our films. He understood that the biggest issue for us wasn't money, but to have control of our characters." When he heard that Disney wanted to take over Pixar, Lasseter recalled, "at first I was very nervous." However, he added, Jobs reassured him, saying, "Get to know Bob Iger. That's all I can say. He's a good man."

An Alternative To Motion Capture Hits The Market

"LookAhead Decisions Incorporated (LDI) today unveiled a new service for automatically generating motion for 3D characters based on its breakthrough ActiveMotion (R) software. With ActiveMotion, a game developer or animator can cut their motion generation costs and time by as much as 90 percent.

Until now, motion capture has been the only alternative to produce realistic motion for animated characters. ActiveMotion is the first automated tool to generate arbitrary and realistic motions for any multi-articulated character in any environment. Rather than using cumbersome motion capture equipment and paying for expensive studio time, ActiveMotion automatically generates files in standard motion capture formats by harnessing the power of the CPU. It couples a physics simulator with proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology similar to world-championship chess programs to sort through billions of possible motion sequences to find those motions that are both the most realistic and closest to the target motions.

"The ActiveMotion service can be used to generate basic human and animal motions such as walking, running, tackling, and jumping, but it is especially good for generating realistic motion for complex terrains, dangerous or specialized stunts, non-humans, or imaginary multi-limbed characters -- all difficult or impossible to do with motion capture," said Dr. Mukesh Dalal, President and Co-Founder of LDI. "

Uma Thurman buys rights to 'The Swarm'

(AP) Uma Thurman, along with two German producers, has secured the film rights to German author Frank Schaetzing's best-seller The Swarm, his publisher said Tuesday.

The ecological thriller dominated Germany's best-seller lists for nearly a year and was translated into 18 languages.

Thurman, along with Ica and Michael Souvignier, plans to shoot the movie at several international locations, Kiepenheuer & Witsch publishers said in Cologne.

"Several big-name studios and producers have pitched for the stuff in the past few years," Schaetzing said. "For me, Uma, Ica and Michael are the ideal constellation for an international film success. We have the same vision."

Thurman, 36, was nominated for an Oscar for 1994's Pulp Fiction. Her screen credits also include roles in The Producers and the Kill Bill movies.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

"Narnia" Top DVD of Year

(Hollywood Reporter) Disney said Tuesday it has sold more than 11 million DVDs of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," making it the top-selling video in the United States so far this year.

The DVD, released April 4, edged ahead of "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire," which has sold just shy of 10 million units since its early March DVD release.

Walt Disney Co. stock reached a new 52-week high of $30.45 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, before ending 36 cents higher at $30.35.


( Halcyon International Pictures has officially announced that William H. Macy will star as the President of the United States in HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR. The sequel, which reunites the original RE-ANIMATOR team (director Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna, writer Dennis Paoli and lead actor Jeffrey Combs), focuses on a Bush-like president who dies in office. His staff covertly brings in Dr. Herbert West to reanimate the Commander in Chief, and the expected chaos ensues. Yuzna plans on producing a new trilogy of RE-ANIMATOR films with Halcyon partners Ray Haboush and Ted Chalmers.

Fans can ask Gordon about HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR during the director’s talk at the next FANGORIA Weekend of Horrors convention in Burbank, June 2-4.

DreamWorks Pins Hopes For Happy Ending On Creature Feature

( Dreamworks Animation needs its new animal movie, "Over the Hedge" to help it overcome a beastly year.

Wall Street punished the company for overpromising on "Shrek 2" DVD sales and early box office receipts from "Madagascar." Stock slides and shareholder lawsuits followed. The company, based in Glendale and employing 350 in Redwood City, has watched its stock lose 28 percent of its value in the last 12 months. And DreamWorks' October movie, "Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" fared poorly at the box office, dragging down the company's first-quarter earnings, reported earlier this month.

"Over the Hedge," an animated feature about a mischievous raccoon and his pals, is due out May 19. Variety and other trade magazines have given the film mixed reviews but it played well for movie theater owners in March at the ShoWest gathering in Hollywood. The movie will face heavyweight competition, opening opposite "The Da Vinci Code" and less than a month before Disney/Pixar's much-anticipated "Cars."

DreamWorks President Lew Coleman, who said the company's annual performance is largely dependent on the film, acknowledged the crowded market.

"It's a good family story with great characters. However, it's a very competitive time to be releasing a film," he said in a recent earnings call. "We will all be watching closely to see how it holds up against the rest of the summer releases."

Hopes for "Hedge"

Guessing the performance of a movie is a messy business.

Analyst Jessica Reif Cohen of Merrill Lynch, who doesn't own DreamWorks stock, expects "Over the Hedge" to gross $195 million in the United States and roughly $420 million worldwide -- about what "Madagascar" did last year. But DreamWorks won't likely see a lift until later this year when the film starts to sell as a DVD. "Madagascar" DVD sales have done well, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter and beating some analysts' expectations.

Entertainment industry analyst Dennis McAlpine said "Madagascar" is one of the few animated films to generate solid-but-not-spectacular sales.

If "Over the Hedge" flops, "they've got a problem, if it's a hit, they've got a franchise," he said. "There isn't much in-between."

DreamWorks, which has put out six computer-animated features in its 12-year history, has landed films on both sides of the chasm. It is best known for its mega-franchise based on a lovable green ogre.

Posted by dschnee at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 16, 2006

Michael Bay Acquires Digital Domain

(Darkhorizons.con) George Lucas has Industrial Light + Magic, Peter Jackson has Weta, and now Michael Bay has Digital Domain reports Reuters.

Investment Group Wyndcrest Holdings, in which Bay and former NFL star Dan Marino are principals, are set to announce today the acquisition of the 13-year-old visual effects studio in a deal estimated to be worth $35 million.

Considered one of the 'big four' of feature film effects houses, Digital Domain was founded director James Cameron and F/X guru Stan Winston in 1994 and has worked on the visuals of such films as "Titanic" and "What Dreams May Come".

Its likely that Bay's next pic "Transformers" will award its effects contract to the company.

Official Press Release On DD:


Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC Principals Michael Bay and John Textor to co-chair the Digital Domain Board of Directors

Former senior Microsoft executive and Wyndcrest Principal Carl Stork named CEO and Board member; C. Bradley Call to remain president and COO of Academy Award® -winning firm

Venice, Calif., May 16, 2006 – Digital Domain, the Academy Award®-winning full-service digital studio and production company responsible for jaw-dropping visual sequences in such films as “Titanic,” “Day After Tomorrow” and “I, Robot” as well as commercials such as the recent Budweiser Super Bowl “Superfan” spot, has been acquired by South Florida-based Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC, a group led by director Michael Bay and investor John Textor.

Carl Stork, a long-time senior Microsoft executive and principal of Wyndcrest Holdings, has been elected chief executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Digital Domain, replacing Scott Ross who is stepping down as CEO and remaining a consultant to the company. C. Bradley Call will remain president and chief operating officer. Bay and Textor will co-chair the Board of Directors.

“At a time when every top grossing motion picture is relying on digital visual effects to help tell compelling and entertaining stories, we believe this translates into a bright future for companies in this field, and we believe Digital Domain represented a unique opportunity to invest,” said Stork, whose accomplishments at Microsoft included leading the development of Windows® 95/98. “The creative and talented team at Digital Domain has a great reputation in both the feature film business and in the commercial advertising community for high-quality, award-winning work. Adding the expertise, business acumen and diverse relationships of the Wyndcrest principals will allow Digital Domain to capitalize on the rapidly expanding opportunities in the entertainment business.

“On behalf of all involved with Digital Domain, I would like to thank Scott Ross for his remarkable contributions as a founder and leader of the company over the past 13 years,” Stork said. “We intend to draw on his advice and counsel over the coming years and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

“Having worked with Digital Domain in the past, I am well aware of the talent and creativity of the team here, and understand first-hand why the company has a well-earned reputation for creative and high-quality work,” said Bay. “Rapidly evolving digital visual effects technology is going to allow motion picture directors to tell even more compelling and visually stunning stories in the future, and we believe that Digital Domain is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these new technologies, as well as new distribution channels and platforms.”

“Digital Domain is well-positioned with exceptional people and leading technology at a time when reliance on visual effects is increasing in every sector of entertainment,” said Textor, who has known Bay since their days at Wesleyan University and has been his business partner for eight years. “We look forward to combining these attributes with a renewed commitment to build the commercial and film industries’ leading director-centric visual effects business. Through the addition of new capital and the appropriate strategic relationships, we are also committed to the extension of the Digital Domain business into the direct development of animated films and effects-reliant live action films.”

“While we all believe we’ve accomplished a great deal in the industry, we’re incredibly enthusiastic about the future as we believe this new ownership group will provide the necessary capital and strategic resources to allow us to grow our business profitably in both feature films and in advertising while retaining an environment that encourages our artists to strive for ever-greater heights of creative excellence,” said Call, a decade-long Digital Domain executive who assumed the presidency of Digital Domain, as well as day-to-day responsibility for leading the company, in 2002.

“We know that our future depends on continuing to satisfy the creative needs of our clients in a manner, and on a budget, that other competitors cannot match,” Call added.

Stork will take over as Digital Domain CEO effective immediately.


Founded in 1993, Digital Domain is an award-winning full-service digital studio and production company that creates special visual effects and other visual imagery for feature films, commercials and music videos. A pioneer in digital effects, Digital Domain’s business units have been recognized with awards from the top industry organizations. In its 13-year history, Digital Domain has won five Academy Awards®: two for Best Visual Effects (“Titanic,” “What Dreams May Come”); and three for Scientific and Technical Achievement for its proprietary imaging software. The company has also been nominated for three other Academy Awards® for Best Visual Effects (“Apollo 13,” “True Lies,” “I, Robot”). In addition, its excellence in digital imagery and animation has earned Digital Domain multiple British Academy (BAFTA) Awards, and Prix Arts Electronica and Prix Pixel INA awards.

Digital Domain’s Commercials division provides digital imagery and animation for television commercials, working with the top commercial directors. Serving Fortune 100 companies, the division has built a reputation as an innovator and industry leader in television commercial production and is the largest and most-awarded creator of digital imagery in its field. To date, it has been awarded 34 Clio Awards, 22 AICP awards, 8 Cannes Lion Awards and numerous other advertising honors. The Commercials division has also produced multiple music videos working with artists that include The Rolling Stones, Faith Hill, Creed, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Bjork, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Nine Inch Nails, and has earned Grammy® and MTV “Music Video of the Year” Awards.

Digital Domain’s D2 Software subsidiary was established to productize the software tools developed by Digital Domain, such as the company’s Academy Award®-winning Nuke™ compositing package.

Using high-end digital software technology, Digital Domain capitalizes on the studio’s extensive industry relationships and years of production experience to develop films of exceptional quality for an international audience. For more information, please see


Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC, is a Florida-based private investment and acquisition firm focused on technology-related opportunities in entertainment, telecommunications and the Internet. Wyndcrest actively supports its portfolio companies to assure the optimal positioning and deployment of associated technologies as well as the efficient execution of related business plans.

Wyndcrest is comprised of five investment principals with significant financial and legal expertise in the closure of public/private mergers, acquisitions and investments, and in the operation of large, small and start-up companies. The principals, John Textor, Michael Bay, Jonathan Teaford, Carl Stork and Dan Marino, have direct extensive experience in the disciplines of management, technology development, strategic planning, business development and investment banking. For more information, please see


FANTASTIC FOUR 2 Flies to a New Date

( It seems the Fantastic Four are no match for a bunch of toys. Transformers and Fantastic Four had both been staking claim to the July 4th, 2007 release date, a game of chicken if you will. The Fantastic Four swerved first.

Bumping the release up two weeks, Fantastic Four 2 will now release on June 15th. This marks the second time Fantastic Four has chickened out, once with War of the Worlds and once with Transformers. The original Fantastic Four was also slated to release on July 4th and also moved up two weeks to avoid another tent pole.

The collapse in Used Guys production left the June 15th date open.

MGA, Crystal Sky & Arad Team on Bratz

( MGA Entertainment, Inc., Avi Arad Productions and Crystal Sky Pictures are teaming up to bring MGA's famous Bratz dolls to the big screen.

A screenplay, tentatively entitled Bratz, is in the process of being written with a targeted production start of late fall 2006 in Los Angeles.

Under the deal, Crystal Sky Pictures will finance a live action feature film based on the popular Bratz characters. MGA's Isaac Larian, Avi Arad, and Crystal Sky's Steven Paul will produce the picture, and Crystal Sky Pictures president Benedict Carver will executive produce.

Bratz is one of the biggest-selling toy franchises in the world. Its array of spin-off products include a Bratz magazine, an animated series on 4 KidsTV, a number of DVD titles and videogames, as well as a number one selling album on the Billboard Children's Chart and multiple lines of clothing, footwear and other accessories.

"We are very excited about working with Avi Arad and Crystal Sky Pictures to create the definitive 'Bratz' live action feature film," said MGA founder and CEO Isaac Larian. "They both have a good understanding of the kids' market and a real feel for the 'Bratz' brand."

"One of my first loves was the doll industry. 'Bratz' allows me to revisit the girl's business. The 'Bratz' attitude and character will make an exciting and inspirational live-action feature," said Avi Arad.

"'Bratz' underscores Crystal Sky's strategy of delivering strong film franchises to the worldwide distribution community," said Crystal Sky chairman Steven Paul. "I am excited to be in business once again with Avi Arad, and for the first time with Isaac Larian of MGA."

Dreamworks Anim Producer: "You always have to be sure & take those meetings"

( It's one of Hollywood's great unwritten rules: "Take every meeting."

Meaning that -- no matter how unlikely it may seem that anything productive will actually come out of a face-to-face meeting with an industry exec -- you should still explore every possiblity. In short, take every meeting.

And no one understands this better than Bonnie Arnold, the producer of Dreamworks Animation's latest animated feature, "Over the Hedge." Back in 1991, Arnold was just an associate producer. Mind you, she was an associate producer who had worked on some very impressive motion pictures: Most notably Kevin Costner's 1990 Academy Award winner, "Dances with Wolves" as well as that 1991 holiday season smash, "The Addams Family."

But -- at the same time -- Bonnie was still just an associate producer. Which -- in the really-for-real Hollywood hierarchy -- wasn't all that high in the food chain. Which is why -- when Walt Disney Pictures called and said that they were interested in offering her a position as an in-house line producer -- Ms. Arnold followed the conventional wisdom and said: "Sure, I'll take that meeting."

Which is how Bonnie wound up at the Mouse House in early 1992. And during her get-acquainted phase (Where Ms. Arnold was making the rounds at the studio, trying to find a project that she actually felt passionate about), Bonnie bumped into Peter Schneider, the then-head of Disney Feature Animation.

And Mr. Schneider ... He was intrigued by Ms. Arnold's experience with visual effects. Particularly all of the sequences in "The Addams Family" that had made use of computer animation. Peter explained to Bonnie that "We've got this movie that we're thinking of making. One that would involve an awful lot of CG. But -- to be honest -- we're unsure about how to handle this project. We don't know whether to treat this production as a straightforward film or just as 1500 effects shots that are strung together."

Schneider asked Ms. Arnold if she might be interested in riding herd on this still-somewhat-shakey WDFA project. Bonnie said yes. But before Peter could actually give her the job, Bonnie had to "take a meeting" with this film's director, John Lasseter.

So Lasseter & Arnold met and really hit it off. Which is how Bonnie wound up being the producer of "Toy Story," the picture that helped make Pixar Animation Studios into the powerhouse that it is today.


Bryan Singer Leaving "Logan's Run"?

(darkhorizons) Bryan Singer is taking a break after wrapping up work on "Superman Returns" which means he may not direct the remake of "Logan's Run" after all reports Variety.

Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver want to start lensing the sci-fi pic this fall, which would've meant Singer would end up shooting two tentpoles -- "Logan's" and a "Superman Returns" sequel -- back-to-back.

Even if he doesn't direct "Logan's Run," Singer is still likely to play some sort of role and perhaps take a producer's credit. "V for Vendetta" director James McTeigue is rumoured to be stepping up to the helm but at present its only speculation.

Singer himself is not expected to make an official decision either way about "Logan's Run" until "Superman Returns" bows in July. Assuming "Superman Returns" is a hit, Warners plans to start shooting the sequel in the later part of 2007 with Singer again at the helm.

Flop Goes The Movie, in Hiding Goes the Exec

( In Hollywood, it's always safest to kick a man when he's down.

Last week the movie jungle was abuzz with glee over the lackluster opening of "Mission: Impossible 3," largely because Tom Cruise's popularity in Hollywood is roughly on a par with Dick Cheney's. This week the knives are out for "Poseidon," an eye-rolling remake of the 1972 epic that had such a dismal debut, barely cracking the $20-million mark in its opening weekend, that naysayers have dubbed it the disaster movie that really is a disaster.

The reviews were not kind — the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern called "Poseidon" a "deeply dreadful movie." Inside the industry, talk focused on who at Warner Bros. would take the blame for a $160-million project that will depend on gullible filmgoers in Stuttgart and Senegal to make its money back. In a business where envy and insecurity reign supreme, there's nothing worse than having a movie that doesn't open. If you don't feel bad enough already, someone else will be happy to rub some salt in your wounds.

Hollywood is so enamored by success that few people can cope with the flop sweat of failure. "You feel as if you've been sucker punched, like the wind's knocked out of you," says former Warners production chief Bill Gerber, now a producer, who has survived stinkers like "The In-Laws." "It's agonizing. As a producer, you can be working on a movie for 10 years and then by Friday night, it's over. And it's a very public humiliation. It's tough walking into the Grill on Monday, feeling the pain."

Not that you can't see it coming a mile away, especially in today's instant-info world where research tracking numbers paint a pretty accurate picture of a movie's box-office potential in the weeks leading up to its release. By early last week, the bad buzz about "Poseidon" was fueled by NRG tracking numbers that showed that while 27% of moviegoers said "The Da Vinci Code" was their first-choice movie and 17% said "X-Men: The Last Stand" was their first choice, "Poseidon" was a first choice of a mere 6% of moviegoers.

"As the head of a studio, you can see it coming," said Joe Roth, who has run 20th Century Fox, Disney and Revolution studios. "The tracking surveys are pretty accurate, at least on a pass-fail basis, so you have to prepare yourself. But the actuality is always worse. This is a business where, in terms of emotions, the hits are always bigger but the flops are always bigger too."

After a fall, some people flee the city, seeking refuge. Others stay inside, the doors closed and lights dim. When I had lunch with producer Brian Grazer after one of his movies fizzled, we stayed in his office instead of heading over to the Grill. "Going out is just too awkward," he explains. "Nobody knows what to say. And if I don't know what they mean when they say 'congratulations' after I've had a hit, how do I know what they mean when they say, 'Oh, I'm so sorry?' "

After all, who wants to work the room when your friends, not to mention your enemies, can barely disguise their glee at seeing you fall on your face? "That's definitely what made it hard for me to get out of bed after 'Dumb and Dumberer' came out," says New Line production chief Toby Emmerich, recalling his reaction to the 2003 summer sequel that, as the saying goes, aimed low and missed. "You don't want to face all that negative energy."

The negative energy is, of course, not new. In "Final Cut," Steven Bach's bracing account of the making of "Heaven's Gate," the former United Artists executive recalls being at a virtually empty ballroom where the studio had a reception after the ill-fated movie's premiere. If the mood were not already grim enough, Bach was accosted by the manager of one of the actors in the picture, who said with gin-soaked breath, "Now I can tell you what I've always wanted to tell you, which is what a [jerk] you are."

Producer Steve Tisch hasn't forgotten the lonely feeling of having to put on a brave public face after making "The Postman," a costly 1997 Kevin Costner dud. "When you go to the Grill for your Monday lunch after you've had a $100-million movie that flops, you have the feeling as you're walking by everyone is whispering, 'There's the poor guy who produced "The Postman." ' It can be very humbling."

Roth says he learned from watching how people like Barry Diller and Michael Eisner handled failure. "They were good in defeat," he said. "In fact, Eisner was much better in defeat than in victory. He'd always say, 'Try as hard as you can, take your chances, then get on with life.' Privately you're at home, depressed, retching, not answering the phone or reading the papers. But you have to come into the office on Monday and try to be optimistic, without being an idiot about it, like jumping on couches. You just put it behind you."

Producer Sean Daniel was the head of production at Universal for someone who really hated to lose — industry titan Lew Wasserman. "When a movie failed, Lew was profoundly unhappy and he shared it with you — you knew it," he recalls. "But he had perspective. He'd remind you that this was just one event in the big picture and you should never lose sight that you'd live to fight another day."

Still, the signs of defeat are unmistakable. "The sound of failure is silence," says Terry Press, head of marketing at DreamWorks. "When you have a hit, your phone starts ringing at 6:45 a.m. and never stops. In failure, there is a deafening silence. No calls from distribution, no calls from journalists, no calls from the filmmakers. It's the Hollywood version of bird flu. You feel like everyone is saying, 'Get my mask out. I don't want to be near any failure germs.' Even your own relatives don't call."

For producer Mike De Luca, who was head of production for years at New Line Cinema, nothing was quite as fraught as riding in the elevator up to the office with studio chief Bob Shaye after a bad opening weekend. "Bob and I had known each other a long time, so when I'd lost him a lot of money and we got in the elevator together I could tell by the way he looked at me — and didn't say anything at all — that it was going to be a very long day."

Some movies have such walloping bad press along the way that by the time they open it almost feels as if the worst is over. In 1992, when he made "Toys," producer Mark Johnson was shocked to hear his film trashed before anyone had seen it. "We were on a dubbing stage, trying to finish the movie, and one of the morning TV talk shows had a reporter going through the lineup of summer films, and when he came to 'Toys,' he said, 'This is going to be a real stinker.' I mean, we hadn't even finished the movie, and we were already marked as a disaster."

De Luca, who greenlighted "Town & Country" at New Line, wasn't even around to suffer when the movie was released. "The studio was so sure it was a flop," he recalled, "that they preemptively fired me before the movie came out."

So is there any way to retain a healthy psychological perspective? Or should you just go out and get drunk, a popular remedy for generations of hard-driving industry strivers? The New Hollywood opts for a more holistic approach. For Tisch, surviving a flop is a lot like going through the seven stages of grief, moving from anger and denial to knowledge and acceptance. As Emmerich put it: "Whether it's a giant bomb or a huge hit, it's always better not to smoke the Hollywood crack pipe. It's just as bad to over-celebrate a giant hit as it is to be masochistic about a huge flop. They're both going to send you to the wrong place."

Press says that when she has a failure, she stays home and cooks. "It's therapeutic. You put all these things in a bowl, shove it in the oven and out come brownies. You feel like — finally I succeeded at something."

Going into the weekend, Warners, at least publicly, still sounded optimistic about "Poseidon." While admitting that "we're a bit taken aback by the tracking numbers," studio chief Alan Horn said, "the tracking looks good overseas — it's doing even better than 'Troy.' " He reminded me that several Warners films that had been judged flops in their U.S. openings had gone on to success in the international marketplace. "I'm not a one-weekend guy," he said. "I don't count the votes till they're all in."

If things don't pan out for "Poseidon," the Warner execs might try the De Luca recovery method. After "Zathura," a film he produced, tanked last year, De Luca screened "Elf," the 2003 hit made by the same director, Jon Favreau. "It was a good way to remind myself that I'd worked with someone I admire," he said. "When I've had flops I've watched 'Caddyshack' to make me laugh, or 'Godfather 2' to inspire me. It reminds you that great movies exist, even if you didn't actually make one this time around."

Posted by dschnee at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 15, 2006

Michael Bay Shares Transformers Secret

( I never knew Michael Bay had a website, but that's probably because I never cared to know. From the frequency of his posts there I'd wager the man barely remembers he has a website himself -- but you can't blame him, I suppose. The man is quite busy these days and not everyone is as connected to their fan base as someone like Kevin Smith or Joss Whedon. He remembered this weekend, however, and used it to come out swinging against the large amount of Transformers rumors that've made their way to the internet these past few months. Bay seems to be quite distressed by these rumors, and in a relatively defensive sounding post he tore into Don Murphy and others who have leaked plot information.

According to Bay, much of what we've learned is false. Bay said he's got a "secret" to share with us all ... a secret "the writers don't know, nor my crew, or Steven Spielberg, or the presidents of Paramount and Dreamworks. Not even Don Murphy who is not involved on the day to day with this movie." And just what is this precious, precious secret, unknown to the even mighty Spielberg? "Many of the names in the script are aliases." Why this is devastatingly important, or why he felt he could share it with us after keeping it a secret for so long, I have no idea. Apparently, though, it was important enough for him to get NDA's for all parties involved to sign.

I guess the big question here is whether he's talking about the human or Transformer character names. It he's talking about humans, it means nothing to anyone. Nobody cares about their names. However, given the weight he is putting on this, it seems more likely he means the Transformers themselves ... which could have relatively drastic implications. I can't imagine he'd make a Transformers movie without keeping the major characters around, but then we are talking about the man responsible for The Island, so who really knows?

CG "Over the Hedge" Pushing the State of the Heart

( Bonnie Arnold's resume may not look very long, but it includes an impressive array of top films, from Dances with Wolves to Pixar's Toy Story to Disney's Tarzan. Her latest credit is as the producer for DreamWorks' Over the Hedge, based on the comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. Arnold spoke to Toon Zone News recently over the phone about her role on Over the Hedge and the earlier films in her career.


King Kong & Star Wars at Autodesk Digital Film Tour

( Trust Autodesk to come up with the best.

Last year, Autodesk arranged the Digital Intermediate tour which was focused on the art of colour grading and was addressed by the likes of Steven Poster, ASC & former President of the American Society of Cinematographers, Jean-Francois Panisset of Sony Pictures Imageworks as well as Philippe Reinaudo from Europe's leading film lab Éclair Laboratoires.

This year Autodesk has widened the scope of the event to include Visual Effects and has organised a Digital Film Tour which boasts of big names like King Kong Director Of Photography Andrew Lesnie ACS, ASC and Industrial Lights & Magic digital supervisor Grady Cofer.

Speaking to Animation 'xpress Autodesk Media and Entertainment, Regional Manager for South East Asia & India Pankaj Kedia said,"Last year Autodesk Media and Entertainment hosted a DI tour which was focused on the art of colour grading. The DI Tour was very well received by the Indian film fraternity and our audience consisted of 450 participants which included DoP's, film makers and the post production community. The success of last years event coupled with the growth of digital technologies in the Indian film industry, we have decided to widen the scope of this year's event to include Visual Effects. As a result, this year's event will also focus on the applications of two of Autodesk Media and Entertainment's most popular products i.e. Flame (VFX) and Lustre (DI)"

"What we intent to focus on this year, is the momentum that has built up worldwide and in India, in the usage of DI and digital post production processes. As a part of this we are bringing 2 very high profile speakers (who have celebrity status in their respective fields) - Andrew Leslie, DoP for King Kong & Lord of the Rings and Grady Cofer, Digital Supervisor from ILM to present. The films that would be discussed would include the biggest blockbusters of recent times - King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars Episode III and War of the Worlds"



Spiderman 3 Exits Cleveland

( Spider-Man 3 filming ended in Cleveland on Saturday, despite reports that it was extended until Tuesday:

Reports claiming that the Spider-Man 3 Cleveland shoot was extended until Tuesday appear to be false. Cleanup crews are quickly changing "New York" back to Cleveland. Banners and some store fronts still remain, but the cleanup crew is quickly removing broken glass, car parts (including 2 destroyed armored trucks), and sand from the side of Euclid while traffic has resumed on the opposite side of the street. I took some photos of the 3 armored trucks and some cleanup efforts.

Porn Industry Blazes Tech Future For Hollywood

( Hollywood has been tiptoeing its way toward letting consumers buy a movie online, burn it onto a DVD and watch it on a living-room TV.

While the studios hesitate, the adult film industry is taking the leap.

Starting Monday, Vivid Entertainment says it will sell its adult films through the online movie service CinemaNow, allowing buyers to burn DVDs that will play on any screen, not just a computer.

It is another first for adult film companies that pioneered the home video market and rushed to the Internet when Hollywood studios still saw it as a threat.

"Leave it to the porn industry once again to take the lead on this stuff," said Michael Greeson, founder of The Diffusion Group, a consumer electronics think tank in Plano, Texas.

Vivid says its downloads, which will cost $19.95 (euro15.45), do not use CSS. Instead, online retailer CinemaNow is using an alternate, proprietary system that it says will protect the adult movies by preventing the burned DVD from being copied to other discs.

"They built a better mousetrap," Asher said of CinemaNow.

Despite the challenges, mainstream studios are taking some risks and inching toward downloadable DVDs.

Both Warner Bros. and Universal Studios have launched hybrid programs overseas in which consumers who download films also get a DVD in the mail.

But the real goal, analysts say, is to pipe major Hollywood movies and TV shows over the Internet directly to TV sets, bypassing DVDs altogether.

"How about I just turn my set on and press 'go,'" Greeson said. "That's the holy grail."

Weinstein Co. Like CG 'Igor'

( The Weinstein Co. will represent all international rights to the CG-animated feature comedy, IGOR, from Exodus Film Group. IGOR is being produced by John D. Eraklis and seasoned animation exec Max Howard, who has collaborated on such animated blockbusters as THE LION KING, ALADDIN, SPACE JAM and THE IRON GIANT. The Weinstein Co. will distribute the film in North America and will begin selling the international territories at the Cannes Film Festival.

Chris McKenna (AMERICAN DAD) has penned the playfully irreverent comedy with a new twist to the classic monster genre, IGOR is the story of a mad scientist’s hunchbacked lab assistant who has big dreams of becoming a scientist in his own right and winning the coveted first place award at the annual Evil Science Fair.

Glen Basner, The Weinstein Co. Int’l president, said, “We are extremely excited to add IGOR to TWC’s already diverse slate of films. Audiences around the world will surely root for our hunchbacked hero as he realizes that being evil isn’t all its cracked up to be.”

“We’re thrilled to extend our distribution relationship with the Weinsteins and have them take IGOR to Cannes,” Eraklis added.

Other CG-animated projects for The Weinstein Co. include the fourth installment of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH, OPUS, CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE and Hood vs. Evil, the sequel to the box office hit, HOODWINKED.

Exodus Film Group’s CG-animation slate includes THE HERO OF COLOR CITY and AMARILLO ARMADILLO, with Howard set to exec produce. Exodus is in pre-production on the live-action film, BUNYAN & BABE, featuring the voice of comedic actor Eddie Griffin (DYSFUNKTIONAL FAMILY,SCARY MOVIE 3) as the CG-animated Babe the Blue Ox. Eraklis is producing BUNYAN with exec producer Tarquin Gotch (HOME ALONE, CURLY SUE). Award-winning composer Basil Poledouris (THE JUNGLE BOOK, LONESOME DOVE) is composing the score.

Walnut Creek Beats Out S.F. For Lucasfilm's Letterman Eats

(San Francisco Business Times) San Francisco's newest corporate landmark is getting its first restaurant. But not by one of the city's landmark chefs.

Instead, for the inaugural eatery in the Letterman Digital Arts Center, the Lucasfilm people have turned to ... Walnut Creek?

Indeed. Va de Vi, a bistro and wine bar that has developed a committed fan base in its hometown with an impressive wine list and internationally flavored small plates of shareable food, will open its second site, serving both lunch and dinner in Letterman's red brick Building D.

According to Lucasfilm, literally dozens of restaurants were vying to become the center's first culinary tenant. Va de Vi may have had the inside track: Apparently some Lucasfilm employees who live in Walnut Creek put in a good word for the place. The lease got signed last week.

"The team of Stan Raaen, John Walz and Dale Raaen and chef Kelly Degala also brought an enthusiasm that was unmatched," said Raul Saavedra, leasing director for the center.

The new tenant will make plenty of hungry film, special effects and video game-makers very happy. The center has been open, with a cafe but otherwise restaurantless, for nearly a year.
Autodesk keeps going Hollywood

San Rafael's Autodesk continues to pursue its Hollywood dreams.

The 24-year-old company, known for its design software for architects, sashayed into the entertainment software arena last year with the acquisition of Toronto-based Alias, which makes animation and visual effects software used by companies like San Francisco's Wild Brain.

Now the company is moving farther up the red carpet, partnering with the father of Angelina Jolie's forthcoming baby, Brad Pitt. The company is sponsoring an upcoming PBS documentary series that will focus on sustainability in architecture. The six-part series, titled "design: e2, the economies of being environmentally conscious," will explore the social, political, cultural, environmental and economic issues of sustainable architecture and current solutions. It will be hosted by Pitt, who's been dubbed a "starchitect" for his interest in design.

Practical VFX Wizards Flock To Kentucky

( WonderFest is a weekend of hobby escape that’s held every Summer in Louisville, Kentucky USA! It features movie special effects guests, the largest model contest in the U.S. for sci-fi, horror & comics-related subjects, model and toy dealers galore, and seminars to entertain and improve hobbyists of all ages! Some highlights:

ALIENS Revisited: Return to LV-426...
It’s the 20th Anniversary of James Cameron’s blockbuster action-horror epic and we’re celebrating with displays and this presentation by Bob Burns and miniature FX-master Pat McClung! See exclusive video from the Burns Museum of classic miniatures and props like the Sulaco, the Narcissus, the drop-ships plus the full-sized Queen Alien and her minions and hear tales from the Colonial Marine trenches from Pat, one of the sole survivors of the production!

Persistence of Vision: The Animated Career of Randall William Cook
Randall William Cook’s career as a stop-motion animator, creature and FX makeup designer has spanned 30 years, culminating recently in three (count ‘em!) Academy Awards for visual effects on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the role of 2nd Unit Director for last year’s dazzling King Kong! WonderFest is proud to welcome him as he talks about the state of the FX art and looks back on highlights of his work on films like The Thing, Ghost Busters, The Gate, Fright Night, 2010 and…The Further Adventures of Major Mars?

Modeling ENTERPRISE in a BIG way!
Sides Model builder Sean Sides will present an overview of the 2+ years involved in the construction of his amazing Federation starship on display at this year’s show! The presentation will include pictures and discussion from the basic armature assembly, the electronics and wiring, body work to final assembly and finish. At the end of the presentation, Sean will also share a glimpse into his newest, even Bigger project!

Check it out:

Posted by dschnee at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)