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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?

(moviehole.net) 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

(fool.com) 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

(forums.cgsociety.org) 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: http://www.racethemovie.net/

Team Abrams On Trek XI

(scifi.com) 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

(moviehole.net) 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?


(superherohype.com) 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

(shurtugal.com) 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"

(mentalimages.com) 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.

-H

Posted by dschnee at May 23, 2006 08:31 PM

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