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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

(the-numbers.com) 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"

(Nausicaa.net) 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 News.com) 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 ?

(moviehole.net) 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

(toonzone.net) 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

(videobusiness.com) 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 www.thedigitalbits.com and www.hometheaterforum.com, 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.

More: http://videobusiness.com/article/CA6337246.html


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'S "SHIMMERING" DIGITAL ANIMATION

(filmthreat.com) 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.

More: http://www.filmthreat.com/index.php?section=headlines

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

(dmw.com.au) 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.

More: http://www.dmw.com.au/html/DMF/DMF_Mel_06/dmf_intro.html

Lucasfilm Ltd. Throws Largest Party Ever

(comingsoon.net) 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."

-H

Posted by dschnee at May 26, 2006 08:54 PM

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