June 13, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 13, 2006

Disney Downshifts Cars Take - Stock Tumbles

Disney downshifted its reported grosses for the animated film Cars to $60.1 million from an initial estimate of $62.8 million, indicating it had a weak Sunday.

As a result, Disney's stock tumbled as opening-weekend estimates failed to reassure skeptics who think the studio overpaid for Pixar, the studio that produced Cars and other recent animated hits.

Shares closed down 1.5 percent at $28.90 after recovering from a sharper 3.5 percent dip earlier in the day, the trade paper reported.

Cars' $60.1 million take is well behind the $62.6 million opening of Monsters, Inc., and Cars is now number four out of Pixar's seven animated features for opening-weekend gross, the lowest since Toy Story 2 in 1999.Variety reported.

Paramount Switches Tim Burton Pics

(empireonline.com) Scratch another Jim Carrey movie from active development – Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is following Used Guys back into limbo.

The culprit, Paramount head Brad Grey, who has shoved the biopic of Ripley that Carrey was to star in and Tim Burton was to direct, off the schedule for a re-write. “In a world where we wanted to do more work on the script, this seemed to make more sense,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. The sticking point apparently came about the budget, which, given the hefty visual effects load, was looking at the $150 million range.

But despite having already started pre-production on the Ripley tale, Burton won’t be cooling his heels… Paramount has simply swapped Believe It Or Not for Sweeney Todd. Adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s musical about the throat-slitting, pie-filling “demon barber of Fleet Street” by John Logan, the film will start its journey towards getting the green light.

And guess who Burton is considering for the lead? His surname rhymes with “step”… Yes, to exactly no one’s surprise, Johnny is top of the list.

If you were disappointed by the news, take heart: this won’t be the end for Believe It Or Not according to Paramount’s Gail Berman. "We love this project and look forward to making it with Tim and Jim - just later than originally planned," she told the Hollywood Reporter.

60% Infection Rate In PCs

(forums.cgsociety.org) Microsoft on Monday said that it found and removed malicious programs - called "bots" - from six out of 10 Windows computers checked during a recent 15-month period.

The disclosure, announced in a report at the Tech Ed conference in Boston, is the strongest proof yet that bots are contaminating wide swaths of the Internet. Bots infect PCs with software that allows them to be controlled by an attacker to spread spam, attack websites or steal identity data.

"We're seeing an extremely active level of activity," says Matthew Braverman, Microsoft product manager. "Most malicious software we see today affecting Windows customers is more tied to financial gain."

'Prettier World' of Computer Modeling

(hindu.com) Taking issue with the perception that computer models lack realism, a Sandia National Laboratories researcher told his audience that simulations of the nanoscale provide researchers more detailed results - not less - than experiments alone.

The invited talk by Eliot Fang was delivered to members of the Materials Research Society at its recent semiannual general meeting.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory. Fang derided the pejorative "garbage in, garbage out" description of computer modeling - the belief that inputs for computer simulations are so generic that outcomes fail to generate the unexpected details found only by actual experiment.

Fang not only denied this truism but reversed it. "There's another, prettier world beyond what the SEM [scanning electron microscope] shows, and it's called simulation," he told his audience. "When you look through a microscope, you don't see some things that modeling and simulation show."

More: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200606131440.htm

Man of Steel Not Gay Says Director

(nzherald.co.nz) After weeks of internet speculation that the new Superman movie portrays the Man of Steel as gay, the director of the film has issued a strong denial, saying it is the most heterosexual character he has filmed.

Superman "is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I've ever made", said Bryan Singer, director of Superman Returns, a new movie about the crime-fighting superhero that opens at the end of this month.

"I don't think he's ever been gay."

In recent months, the movie's ability to lure its target audience has been questioned by internet buzz probing the superhero's sexuality.

Young men are the movie's target audience and the film needs to attract millions of them to earn a profit and relaunch the Superman film franchise.

A major gay magazine, The Advocate, ran a cover story with the headline: "How Gay is Superman" and the Los Angeles Times weighed in with its own story on whether being gay might hinder or help the movie's box office takings.

After all, gay romance Brokeback Mountain won awards and raked in US$178 million ($281.7 million) worldwide.

So he wears a leotard and flies around in a red cape. Big deal, Singer said, noting Spider-Man wears tights. The X-Men do too, and they aren't gay. Singer ought to know, he directed 2000's X-Men movie and 2003's X2: X-Men United.

Singer said his version of the Man of Steel, who is played by Brandon Routh, is a "very romantic icon" - handsome, virtuous and vulnerable.

In the movie, Superman comes back to Earth after a five- year absence. Early on, audiences learn the love of his life, hard-charging reporter Lois Lane, has moved on from her infatuation with him. She has a new boyfriend and a child.

Yet when he re-enters her life, Lois still has that sexy gleam in her eye, and he can't wait to fly her to the moon.

"We were all scratching our heads," said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of Superman owner DC Comics. "He's not a gay character."

Happy Birthday Ralph McQuarrie

(Theforce.net) Today is the birthdayof the man responsible for the look and feel of Star Wars itself. From all of us at TheForce.net and across the entire fan community, we wish a very Happy Birthday to Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie.

Check it: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Chateau/9532/sw.htm

French Animation Undergoes "Renaissance"

(ca.today.reuters.com) The winning feature film at this year's Annecy International Animation Festival was director Christian Volckman's striking black-and-white futuristic thriller "Renaissance."

The film's title is an apt reflection of the unprecedented boom taking place in the French cartoon business.

A report released last week by the Center National de la Cinematographie showed eight French animated films were completed in 2005, double the number in any of the previous four years.

The lineup at Annecy, which wrapped Saturday, bears testimony to the bursting health of the French animation industry. Two of the five features in competition were French-made, while the fest opened with another local picture, "U," the tale of a princess rescued from misery by a unicorn, directed by Gregoire Solotareff and Serge Elissalde.

Michel Ocelot's dazzling Arabian adventure "Azur and Asmar" also unspooled after its premiere at Cannes in Directors' Fortnight, and "Piccolo, Saxo and Company," based on the best-selling musical children's story, had its premiere in the Alpine lakeside town.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as French producers known for traditional live-action movies are increasingly becoming involved in animated projects.

More: http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=2006-06-13T024356Z_01_N12355534_RTRIDST_0_ENTERTAINMENT-ANIMATION-COL.XML&archived=False

Fighter Wing Commander Learns About Transformers

(alamogordonews.com) Tularosa Basin movie fans have been keeping a close eye on certain goings-on at Holloman Air Force Base and other locations recently. And during a press conference Friday morning, officials were finally able to let the public in on exactly why.

Lt. Col. David Moore, 49th Fighter Wing commander, welcomed the press to the event, explaining what was happening.
"As you know, we have been working in collaborationwith Dreamworks studios over thelastmonth ortwo preparing to support them in filming a major Hollywood motion picture out here at Holloman ... we see thisas a perfect opportunity to showcase all ofthe great capabilities ... our airmen in action, our base," Col. Moore said.

The film, "Transformers," is based on the morphing 1980s Hasbro toy.

For some time, the name of the film was officially withheld by Dreamworks. Friday's press conference was the first time Holloman officials were able to confirm the titleof the film.

"We have been anxious to talk about what we're doing out here," Moore said. "We're happy to finally have the opportunity to discuss the movie publicly."

Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks have been working in the area, preparing for the 10-day shoot for approximately a month. However, the process of actually bringing the filmmakers to the area has taken much longer.

1st Lt. Christian Hodge, who worked with the Department of Defense to bring this film to the area,said he actually began looking at Air Force locations for the filming of "Transformers" last summer aftercoming upon the idea almost accidentally.

"I first found out about the moving surfing around online," said Hodge. "In July of last year I first read about it, thinking, 'Hey, jets that change into robots ... Air Force jets.' So I called over to the studio (Dreamworks), got a high ranking executive on the phone ... about two or three months ago we got a call from a location scout."

Holloman was just one of many bases being looked at in the beginning, said Hodge.

"They looked at seven Air Force bases. Holloman happened to be lucky," he said.

But in saying that Holloman was lucky to get the film shoot, Hodge explained that luck had very little to do with it.

"These guys are working so hard," he said."It's a huge endeavor. This is the best choice because of White Sands ...Holloman itself has been so engaging, arms wide open to try to help them."

Hodge admits that he was a big fan of Transformers when he was a child.

"I grew up watching those cartoons," he said,"I had those toys. I think I played with them a little too long.

"My mom was worried about me," Hodge said, grinning broadly. "She kept saying, 'Why don't you go outside and talk to some girls.'"

Moore said now that Holloman will take a big role in the film -- he estimates approximately one-third of the film will be shot in the local area -- he and his staff have learnedjust how much alikebig movie project and military operations are.

"We have been very excited to see exactly how a major motion picture unfolds," Moore said. "We've discovered something that frankly surprised us, andthat is the great similarity between a major motion picture filming operation and a military operation. There were many commonalities that we were unaware of. We have discovered that they, like us, go to great lengths to organize and prepare to set up their shots to film, considering the camera angles, considering the light, considering when everything will be ready, making sure it's prepared. There is enormous similarities between that and a military operation."

Moore also addressed concerns some may have about folks in the fighter wing slacking up on their jobs in defense to take part in the filming process.

"How is it that we possibly have time to work to support a movie? Well, let me tell you, our overriding position going into this has been that we will not do anything to compromise our readiness," Moore said.

"We see this as a fortunate convergence of talent. We have seen the Dreamworks team come onto our base with many professionals with many different capabilities all coming in working toward a common goal."

There are many issues to consider when bringing a major film production to a base such as Holloman. But one of the most important to the Department of Defense, said Army Lt. Col. Paul Sinor, lead public affairs representative for the DOD, is military image.

The Army will also have a role in the upcoming filming, with a set having been built on White Sands Missile Range. When it came time to give permission to Dreamworks for the shoot, Sinor said the DOD looked at just how the military would be portrayed in the film.

"The DOD gets numerous requests to support TV production and films," said Sinor."And because of the number ... we have to be very selective about the (projects) we support."

Sinor said the production of "Transformers" will be the largest film project the DOD has supported since the film "Blackhawk Down," released in 2001.

"The reason this was selected is "it's a realistic portrayal of what the military does," Sinor said. "That's one of the first criteria of military support, it has to be a realistic portrayal of the military. So this film, even though its somewhat "science fiction," what the military does in this film is a realistic portrayal of actual Air Force and Army personnel. We've worked with the director, Michael Bay, on a film before -- "Pearl Harbor " -- so we understand how (Bay and his team) operates, he understands how the military operates. We have a very good relationship."

The relationships being forged by Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures in Otero County aren't limited to on base, however.

According to Kathleen Curtis of the Otero County Economic Development Council, the impact of such a large film production is also being felt downtown.

"We're really excited that they're here in Alamogordo," Curtis said. "We are most appreciative of the time that they took to scout us out, to look around, to analyze what was here and to really see the advantage (to using) the locations in Alamogordo.

Like Moore, Curtislikened the influx of personnel and equipment to the military.

"It's not unlike a small army," she said.

"Production has needed building supplies, catering services, rental cars, equipment rentals, cleaning and laundry services, dining and eateries ...utilities, everything that you can imagine, they've needed, and our community has been able to respond to that," she said.

Curtis also touched on the economic impact "Transformers" has had on Otero County.

"The easiest way to measure (the economics)is probably the hotel rooms," Curtis said. "If anybody has tried to get a hotel room recently they know that there's been a tremendous impact."

Curtis believes the film's economic impact could number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"During the shooting period, if we were just to have a 10-day shoot ... in that 10 days we know that there will be about a half a million dollars spent," she said.

And the monetary benefits could wind up being long-term, Curtis believes.

"We're also well aware that having the opportunity to have such a film production here in Alamogordo and inOtero County will have a lasting effect," she said. "Not only will we have an increase in tourism and all the things that follow through that, it will also provide great exposure in the long term because of this film production. (We hope it will)serve to encourage other productions to come to this area and make great use of the wonderful locations we have in Otero County."

Otero County Film Liaison Joan Griggs agreed.

"We're excited to have them here in Otero County," Griggs said. "We appreciate Dreamworks and Paramount, specifically director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg for bringing to us the largest production ever made in the state of New Mexico. We see the film industry as taking New Mexico very seriously at this point."

Griggs said she believes Dreamworks picked Otero County for their latest project because "Otero County is film friendly," she said.

But she gives much credit to Holloman.

"This new Transformer movie simply could not happen without Holloman Air Force Base," she said.

When it comes to finances, some have raised concerns that using Air Force and other military resources in a film might be sucking up taxpayer dollars. But Sinor said that is not the case.

"There is no cost to the taxpayer for these films," Sinor said. "If you see them flying this airplane on the film, whatever that airplane costs per hour, the production pays it. It does not cost the American taxpayer a dime. The military you see in the film working as extras, they're on leave on that day and they're paid by the production. So it's not that this is our regular work day, but instead of working for national defense we're playing soldiers and airmen in a movie."

It's a difficult balancing act, Sinor said, keeping military priorities at the top of the list.

"I'm working between the two biggest bureaucracies in the world, that being the military and Hollywood," Sinor said, grinning. "It's a wild job, a wild life."

Moore admits he's thrilled to have Dreamworks and Paramount use his base as the location for this film.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to showcase our terrific airmen and our amazing Air Force capabilities," he said.


Posted by dschnee at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 12, 2006

Lucas Wants Connery For Indy 4

(comingsoon.net) Lucas was among those honoring Connery as he received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award on Thursday. "I would love him to be in the next 'Indiana Jones'... maybe I can push him into it," said Lucas. When asked if he knew whether or not Connery wanted to appear in the film, Lucas said, "I think he does."

Lucas jokingly added, "We are writing him in whether he wants to do it or not."

Excuses Abound as Cars Under-Performs

(jimhillmedia.com) Disney's spin machine went into overdrive yesterday, as the Mouse tried to explain away why it wasn't actually disappointed that "Cars" (Which had originally been projected to take in $70 - $75 million) only managed to make $62.8 million over its opening weekend.

The good news is ... "Cars" was No. 1 at the box office this past weekend, raking in an estimated $62.8 million. Which (according to Box Office Mojo) gave this John Lasseter film the second highest opening weekend gross ever for a film that was released in the month of June (Only Warners' "Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban" -- which debuted back in June of 2004 -- earned more. Taking in $93.6 million over its opening weekend).

The bad news is ... $62.8 million is a figure that's significantly south of what had originally been projected for this Pixar Animation Studios production.

According to Chuck Viane, president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution: "As far as expectations go, we've all grown accustomed to hitting home runs. And -- in anyone's ballpark -- $60 million is a home run. On Monday, 61 percent of (the children in the U.S. will be) out of school. Then a week from Monday, 81 percent. That's the great thing about the summer — it's not just about the weekend. The week takes on the aura of being a seven-day playdate."

On average -- tickets sales for a Pixar picture tend to drop off by 37.6% from that film's opening weekend to its second weekend in release ... Well, that indicates that Mickey probably doesn't have another "The Incredibles" or "Monsters, Inc." -sized hit on its hands.

That perhaps is the real problem here. That expectations were unnaturally high for "Cars." That -- given the $7.4 billion that the Walt Disney Company just paid out in order to acquire Pixar -- that the investment community unrealistically assumed that this animation studio's string of smash hit films would just go on forever.

Now that attention has turned toward how "Cars" performs during its second weekend in release, a lot of people at Pixar & Disney hoping and praying that moviegoers prefer Lightning McQueen over the more realistic street racers that can be seen in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (I.E. That Universal Pictures release that rolls into theaters next Friday).

Because if this new John Lasseter film actually follows current box office trends and its ticket sales fall off by more than 50% during this Walt Disney Pictures release's second weekend in theaters ... Well, Mickey may find himself with some real "Cars" trouble on his hands.

Paramount and Nick Pick Up CG Mayfly

(Variety) Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies have picked up the children's film pitch Mayfly from writing team Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, reports Variety.

The insects have a very short lifespan, with some living only for one day. The story concerns a mayfly who accidentally oversleeps and, with the help of a tortoise friend, discovers the value of living for the moment. Concept puts the opposing lifespans of the two creatures into play since tortoises often live close to 100 years.

Nick Movies executive Julia Pistor will produce the CG-animated project.

Feast Gets A Release Date - Outspoken FX Artist "Jazzed"

(moviehole.net) Was just talking to one of the producers of "Feast" , who has some good news for those who have been yanking for the film to hit the creamy screen. It's coming. I swear. September. September 22, to be exact.

The movie - which you'll recall was the result of the last "Project Greenlight" - will be released in several theatres, and then will hit DVD sometime near Halloween. So, a very quick window between the cinema release and the DVD release. Regardless, it's great that it's finally coming out - and on the big screen, the way a good ol' splatterfest should be seen.

Fangoria Magazine spoke recently to FX artist Gary Tunnicliffe, who revealed that plans finally seem to have been nailed down to get the movie on the big screen. “We were on the set of PULSE [on which Tunnicliffe and his Two Hours in the Dark company provided FX for extensive reshoots; more on that soon], and we were all going, ‘Look, when’s FEAST coming out?’ And the Dimension guys put their hands on their hearts and said, ‘October, Halloween, this year.’ It’ll be 200 screens, midnight shows I believe, followed by a big DVD release. So finally, people are going to get to see the movie.” Just as we were putting this item together, The Weinstein Company announced on its site that the opening date will be September 22; the size of the release has yet to be officially announced.

“I’m so jazzed about FEAST; people are gonna love it,” Tunnicliffe continues. “Like I’ve always said, I believe it will find its audience, and the audience will find FEAST. I think it will catch on like wildfire.”

That would be a happy ending for the John Gulager-directed film, which has been on Dimension’s shelf for some time now and whose often contentious production was opened for all of TV-land to see on the GREENLIGHT series. “People [who’ve seen the show] say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you said some of the things you said,’ but the truth is, I could’ve been made to look a lot worse,” Tunnicliffe admits. “I said some pretty horrendous things—I was not backward about coming forward. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty outspoken, and I have a big mouth. Some days I said things, and my crew would look at me wide-eyed, and then the cameras would leave and they’d go, ‘I don’t believe you said that, dude! You just said that guy was an asshole on camera!’ Ah well, it’s all in the heat of battle, who cares? But obviously, it was funny to be standing in a store in Hollywood later, and have someone walk up and say, ‘You’re the guy who said, “You’re the director, why don’t you f**king direct me,” right?’ ”

Harry Potter 5 Shoots In Italy

(comingsoon.net) An Italian newspaper reports this morning that crew and production team members from Order of the Phoenix have been visiting a series of small medieval towns in the Savona area (near Genoa), with a view to shooting part of the movie in Italy. I don't know how reliable this is, given they're not supposed to film outside the UK... Could it be a second-unit crew? The mayor of Balestrino (one of the small towns) says people from WB have "surveyed" the locations, but are yet to get in touch with the local administration. But they said they loved the atmosphere: this part of Italy offers breathtaking landscapes, what with both the Tirreno sea and the Alps being close by. There's also a centuries-old sanctuary to the Virgin Mary, which would make striking background scenery...

The Mayor also says WB asked him to postpone any plans of renovation and repair to the ancient buildings - apparently, they don't want building sites and scaffoldings in the movie... The fact they could come in Italy to film something is important majorly because no HP movie has been filmed outside UK as I remember (maybe I'm wrong)

Superman Returns Gets Spider-Man 3 Teaser

(CGtalk.com) Director Sam Raimi revealed during an interview with Superhero Hype! that the first teaser trailer for "Spider-Man 3" will accompany the theatrical release of "Superman Returns."

Project 880 Sequel In The Works

(cinescape.com) Casting has begun for James Cameron's first major motion picture since TITANIC, PROJECT 880.

The story of PROJECT 880 is set in the future and follows Jake, a paraplegic war veteran who is taken to another planet. The planet, Pandora, is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture.

Moviecitynews posted the casting details and what they are looking for in each character. For Jake, the male lead, they want: Early- mid 20's. Caucasian. Angry and jaded, he harbors a grudge against the world and his current situation. Highly intelligent and creative, he hides his softer side behind a thick wall of issues. Having suffered great tragedy, he is scarred both emotionally and physically. His encounters with the local indigenous culture changes his life.

Casting details:

[JAKE (FORMERLY YOUNG MALE LEAD)] Early- mid 20's. Caucasian. Angry and jaded, he harbors a grudge against the world and his current situation. Highly intelligent and creative, he hides his softer side behind a thick wall of issues. Having suffered great tragedy, he is scarred both emotionally and physically. His encounters with the local indigenous culture changes his life.

[NEYTIRI (FORMERLY YOUNG FEMALE LEAD)] 16 - mid 20's. Female. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian, but exotic in some way…"other". Jake's lover and teacher, a Na'vi native of Pandora. She moves and behaves with confidence and a sense of nobility. Lithe as a cat. Athletic and agile, she is a warrior. Graceful movement and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.

[GRACE (FORMERLY THE MENTOR)] There is no need to submit on this role.

[NORM] (mid 20's) A scientist who has trained for years to come and work on Pandora with the Na'vi. Can be American or from another country. He feels that he has been pushed aside by Jake, but eventually they come to respect each others strengths. He has an unlikely relationship with Trudy and can't get over her interest in him. Not something he has experienced a lot. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.

[AKWEY] (mid to late 30's) Male Any ethnicity, including Caucasian. A Na'vi who has volunteered to work with the humans. He is a quietly noble presence. Someone to trust implicitly. His relationship with one of the human doctors is touching in its unrequited intensity. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.

[TSU'TEY] (early to mid 20s). Male. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian. A Na'vi who has been chosen to be Neytiri's mate...until Jake comes along. Groomed as the next leader of the tribe, he has a potentially explosive personality. But we must also be able to see his vulnerability when he comes to realize that to save his people he must trust the man he hates most. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.

[QUARITCH] (40-50) Male American. A seasoned Marine Corps colonel who has come to Pandora to be in charge of the troops. One side of his face is twisted by scars from an encounter with some Pandoran predator. He is calm and focused. He has trained his whole life for a war and wants to fight one here. He believes he is doing the right thing.

[SELFRIDGE] (35-50) Station supervisor. Male. American. A smart, forceful, charismatic man who is utterly focused on the success of the operation of Pandora. His calm, almost breezy style belies an absolute ruthlessness in the pursuit of his goals. Like his historical prototypes, the governors of Spanish and English colonies in the Americas, his mission is to overcome all obstacles to gain a foothold in the new world, and more importantly, show a return on the staggering investment. Think of him as a classy, young, ambitious agent.

[TRUDY CHACON] 25-35. Female. Tough, serious, straight-laced ex-Marine pilot. She has an unlikely relationship with Norm. She can't believe this smart scientist thinks she is so cool. And he has never met a woman like her and can't get over her interest in him.

PROJECT 880 is Cameron's first major motion picture since TITANIC. The film will use Cameron's his new digital 3-D technology to film the movie.

PROJECT 880 is aiming for a 2008 release with a sequel already in the works.

Peter Jackson Likes Bending Spoons

(uk.news.yahoo.com) The Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson is reportedly close to signing a deal with celebrity spoon-bender Uri Geller to turn his novel into a movie.

Ella, which charts the story of a young teenager who discovers she has psychic powers, will be a low-budget British-based project, Geller hopes.

The psychic met the New Zealand film-maker last month (MAY06) to discuss the venture, and wowed the director with his trademark metal-bending powers.

Geller says, "I gave the book to Peter Jackson two weeks ago.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed because it's an incredible novel. Ella has some kind of power in it so I believe, if it's done in the right way, it'll be a spectacular film.

"Peter was definitely impressed though. And he even filmed me spoon-bending."

For Indian Superstar, "VFX is the way of the future."

(animationxpress.com) Superstar Shah Rukh Khan really meant it when he remarked,"I want to open my own VFX studio" in a recent interview to a business daily.

Located at Khar in Mumbai, Red Chillies Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. the entertainment company owned by King Khan recently kickstarted its VFX division 'Red Chillies-VFX'.

Shah Rukh who is currently shooting in Kuala Lampur for Farhan Akhtar's Don commented “VFX is the way of the future. I personally believe that with all the colour, charm, passion and the lyricism that already exists in hindi cinema, the way to enhance the romance of films is going to be through the addition of VFX in our technique of cinema. Technology can only better the process of story telling and narration. It is a tool which the largest film-making nation in the world cannot afford to ignore!"

"Also, it is necessary to develop our own system as somehow the understanding of VFX in an Indian way is important because it will help us retain our USP of films and not end up being a reflection of the western way of thinking when it comes to effects. VFX is the next big addition to our films and needs to be nurtured and developed if our films have to truly get international in the near future” added Khan.

"Technology giant HP is providing end to end solutions for our studio. Our team size is currently close to 25 - 30 artists and technicians and we are looking to ramp up to a team strength of 100 in a couple of years time" he added.

CGI Festival UK Coming Soon

The CGI Festival in 2004 was launched to provide creative artists in the UK a showcase of the latest CGI work in Film, Television and Games development. It provided an opportunity to participate in Master classes, Technical Presentations as well as technique based sessions from some of the World's leading artists on the exhibition floor. Over 1,500 people attended the event, with many of the conference sessions sold out.

We are now delighted to announce that our 2006 dates for this bi-annual event will be made available shortly. Once again, we are planning to present world class speakers from the world of 3D and all areas of computer graphics. The event will take place in London in November.

Please be sure to check back to the web site for regular updates to the event and our plans for what will be a very exciting event.

Check it out: http://www.cgifestival.co.uk/


Posted by dschnee at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 9, 2006

Spiderman 3 Suffers Sound Stage Fire

(orangecounty.cox.net & cms.firehouse.com) (Culver City, CA)-- A fire broke out in a sound stage at Sony Studios in Culver City this morning, forcing a brief delay in filming of the upcoming "Spiderman" movie. The blaze at Sound Stage 27 was difficult to deal with because it was burning inside a wall. Los Angeles City Fire's Brian Ballton says firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint the area in the wall where the heat source was. There were no injuries, but the fire burned up the wall to the catwalk. While no official cause has been determined, Culver City Fire officials say they think it could have been sparked by welding torches that were being used on stage.

Fifteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, four LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Rehab Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team and Deputy Chief Mario Rueda under the direction of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas responded to a Structure Fire at 10202 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

The Culver City Fire Department requested Los Angeles Fire Department assistance to battle a fire on Stage 27 at the Sony Pictures Studios.

A Unified Command was promptly established and Fire Suppression resources from both agencies utilized a combination of "Class A" firefighting foam, wet water and multiple handlines to extinguish the flames.

There were no injuries reported to Los Angeles Fire Department personnel. Both the cause of the blaze and dollar loss will be determined by Culver City Fire Department officials.

Photo: http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=46&id=49668

Intel To Slash Chip Prices Up To 60%

(CGtalk) "Intel Tells Customers It Will Cut Prices by 60%
to Gain Share
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Customers of Intel Corp. said the world's
biggest computer-chip maker plans to reduce prices on Pentium
processors by as much as 60 percent to reclaim market share from
Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Executives at Micro-Star International Co. and Gigabyte Technology
Co., two of Taiwan's biggest makers of circuit boards for computers,
said Intel officials told them the price cuts will start July 23. Tom
Beermann, a spokesman for Santa Clara, California-based Intel,
declined to comment. "

"Gatchaman" CG Feature Gets Underway

(Dark Horizons) Imagi Animation Studios, in association with
Tatsunoko Production of Japan, will produce a new CG-animated
feature-length motion picture for theatrical release based on the
long-running anime franchise "Gatchaman" (better known in Western
countries for edited and dubbed versions under the title of "Battle of
the Planets").

The new film will be written and directed by Kevin Munroe, who is
currently writing and directing Imagi's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
CG-animation that is being distributed by Warner Bros. in the U.S. and
The Weinstein Company internationally. The announcement was made today
by Francis Kao, CEO and Vice Chairman of Imagi International.

"We will push the wow factor to a new level with Gatchaman, a
groundbreaking anime that has devoted fans worldwide, including
myself," Kao said. "With the visual impact available through
state-of-the-art CG animation, I think the film not only can satisfy
fans, but will also appeal to moviegoers looking for something new and
exciting. I am thrilled to work on this excellent franchise with

Gatchaman centers around five young superhero ninjas who must defeat
the nefarious terrorists known as Galactor, who are threatening to
capture Earth's resources. With 205 TV episodes, one feature film, and
three direct-to-video films, Gatchaman has over 30 years of history.

In addition to its success in Japan, the series has fans in the U.S.
from various domestic re-edited versions of the show, including
"Battle of the Planets," "G-Force," and "Eagle Riders."

"Growing up as a kid, Gatchaman was the first influence that pushed me
into the world of animation, comics and writing," Munroe said. "I'm
honored to get the chance to bring Gatchaman to the big screen the way
it was always meant to be - huge action mixed with the real human
drama. Gatchaman is a great next step after TMNT, in terms of
storytelling and visual scope and also for Imagi as a player in the
animation world."

Imagi Animation Studios is now producing its own feature length
movies, including the first CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
movie, which will be distributed by Warner Bros. domestically March
30, 2007 and The Weinstein Company internationally. Imagi has also
produced CG-animated TV series, such "Zentrix," which was released in
Europe and Asia, "Digital Monster X-Evolution" with Bandai and Toei of
Japan, and NBC's "Father of the Pride" for DreamWorks.

Lucas Attends Stem Cell Foundation Gala

(SFgate) Gala ducats were one of the priciest ($1,500) in
recent memory. But super-swell stem cell supporters only paid heed to
the fact they were helping the nation's only such foundation achieve
its voter-mandated mission: privately funded research for therapies to
combat, and perhaps cure, chronic disease and disability.

They got their money's worth: guests were greeted by doormen sporting
Cartier-red uniforms; Lewis Sykes echoed the rotunda's natural beauty
in elegant all-white decor; and McCall Associates served up its
(usual) gourmet fare.

Among the poobahs: Gala chairwoman Deborah Strobin, her brother, Ilie
Wacs; Gap founder Don Fisher and wife, Doris Fisher; Gordon & Betty
Moore Foundation president Ed Penhoet; Ann and John Doerr; David
Dolby; Jan Yanehiro; Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick; Paul Pelosi; Nob Hill
Gazette publisher Lois Lehrman; Anette Harris; Richard Goldman and his
family, Lisa and Doug Goldman and Marcia and John Goldman; Mike and
Kelly Halper; O.J. Shansby; George Lucas; Cartier's Robert Atkinson;
Donna Casey; Darian Swig; and Beth Townsend.

"For many of us, it's been quite a journey," said Mayor Gavin Newsom,
praising supporters who fought to land the institute here. "Tonight is
not only an investment in our future but the chance to make a
difference in the world."

The mayor also paid tribute (in absentia) to sound pioneer Ray Dolby
and his wife, Dagmar Dolby, for their personal donation of $16 million
to UCSF for the new $100 million center.

New HULK Movie Is Not A Sequel But...A Remake?

(aintitcool.com) iFMagazine has an exclusive interview with Avi Arad about upcoming Marvel comic based films.
In the piece, Arad seems to imply that the long-gestating HULK sequel will be more of a remake than a continuation\u2026

ARAD: (edit) \u2026a lot of people are looking forward to the comic book version of the HULK. That\u2019s the one we are making, and I think it will be incredibly satisfying. It will be big and awesome and a big ride.

iF: So will you be recasting HULK with completely new actors?

ARAD: It\u2019s a \u201cdo-over\u201d. I loved the HULK movie, it was just a different approach, and it wasn\u2019t exactly the comic. We want to be much closer to the comic. It\u2019s what we would rather do.

This could be taken two ways.
Perhaps they\u2019re simply adjusting/re-considering Ang Lee\u2019s approach to the first film \u2013 without necessarily negating its spin on Hulk's "origin story"? But, Arad appears to be saying that the follow-up is a remake \u2013 an odd choice that doesn\u2019t seem entirely necessary in my mind. I\u2019d rather see a HULK continuance that is \u201ctruer\u201d in essence and vibe to its source material, than to watch yet another re-hashed origin story.

Management Drain Continues For Digital Domain

(AWN) Michael Pardee joins Sway Studio as exec producer after
serving as head of production for commercials at Digital Domain since

"This is a key development for Sway," said company founder and former
Digital Domain exec Mark Glaser. "I've known Mike for more than 10
years and he's the perfect person to oversee all of our production in
a seamless, cohesive and streamlined manner." Pardee will work
alongside executive producer Shira Boardman.

Pardee brings vast live-action and post-production experience to his
new position, having worked with directors such as Rob Cohen, Filip
Engstrom, David Kellogg and David Fincher (Nike's award-winning GAME
BREAKERS and last year's Heineken Super Bowl spot starring Brad Pitt).

Pardee grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, and received his BA in
Political Science from Loyola in Chicago.

"[Glaser] has built Sway into a breeding ground for artists to
showcase their individual talents within a team atmosphere. The work
and the level of talent from the artists are unsurpassed by other

Transformers Gets A Very Big Eye

(empireonline.com) For a group of robots that were once advertised as “more than meets the eye”, that’s a gigantic eye.

Yes, the first teaser image from Michael Bay’s Transformers film has arrived, and it must be said… Paramount obviously through that the War Of The Worlds concept of a giant alien body part menacing our planet worked wonders, because for this we get a massive Decepticon eye malevolently observing us.

As well as the poster, the official site has gone live, though at the moment its limited to a countdown and an option to sign up for updates.

Take a look: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23545

VES Calls for International VFX

(visualeffectssociety.com) For the first time, the Visual
Effects Society's Festival of Visual Effects will include an ongoing
showcase which will highlight examples of the best visual effects work
being done by international artists. This year's Festival, the eighth
annual, will be held July 6-8, 2006, at the famed Egyptian Theatre in

Lucas, Spielberg, Ford Attend Connery Lifetime Achievement Award

(SFgate) Hollywood's elite gathered to pay tribute to Sean
Connery, who received The American Film Institute's annual lifetime
achievement award.

Directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and actors Harrison Ford,
Andy Garcia and Mike Myers were among the stars who cheered on the
legendary actor Thursday at the ceremony at the Kodak Theatre.

Myers wore a tuxedo jacket and a kilt to honor the Scottish actor.

"Men want to be him, women want him, and in my case I both want to be
him and want him," Myers joked.

"He's extremely professional, very talented and has an amazingly
strong presence on the screen," Lucas said from the red carpet.

Connery thanked the audience for "one hell of an evening."

"I got my big break when I was five years old, and it's taken more
than 70 years to realize it," he said. "At five I learned to read, and
I would not be standing here without the books, plays and scripts."

Connery was launched to stardom in the 1960s and 1970s, playing agent
007, or "Bond, James Bond," as he introduced himself to foes.

He also starred in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,""The Hunt for
Red October" and "The Untouchables," which earned him an Oscar for
best supporting actor.

He is the 34th recipient of the award, the Institute's highest honor
for a career in film.

Past recipients include Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock,
Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg,
Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and
George Lucas.


Posted by dschnee at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 8, 2006

Rodriguez Readies For Sin City 2

(cinematical.com) Here is a quick update for all you clamoring fans anxiously, breathlessly awaiting a sequel to Frank Miller's Sin City. There's not a lot of detail in this update, but there is some solid, encouraging news which should perk you up for a while. Robert Rodriguez (in an interview discussing his upcoming joint project with Tarantino, Grindhouse) dropped a few words about the plan of action for Sin City 2. According to Rodriguez, "We're going to start that probably in about six months." Nothing like a certain, confident answer -- but at least it is something, right?


(showbizdata.com) Hand-drawn animation may not be dead, after all. Pixar's creative chief, John Lasseter, has told Time magazine that he may restore Disney's traditional animation unit, which the studio dismantled in response to the success of computer-generated animation, like that employed by Pixar. "Of all studios that should be doing 2-D animation, it should be Disney," Lasseter said in an interview with film critic Richard Corliss. "We haven't said anything publicly, but I can guarantee you that we're thinking about it. Because I believe in it."

Sci-fi Battle Royale Heads To New Line

(comingsoon.net) New Line Cinema has bought the remake rights to the controversial Japanese sci-fi film Battle Royale and set up the project with Neal Moritz and Roy Lee, reports Variety.

The original film, produced by Toie and released in 2000 amid concerns about its violence, is set in an apocalyptic future in which schools are overrun by uncontrolled violence; the government responds by organizing an annual Battle Royale, in which a school class is picked at random and students are pitted against each other on an abandoned island in a game of survival.

Toie also produced a sequel in 2003, Battle Royale II -- Requiem, in which a new class of teen students are forced to battle a rebel group let by a survivor of a previous Battle Royale.

Google Forging Ahead With Wi-Fi Efforts

(news.zdnet.com) Google will begin a phased rollout of a free wireless Net access service in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif., this summer and is still hammering out details with San Francisco officials for its citywide Wi-Fi service there.

Testers who volunteer to offer feedback for the Mountain View project will be able to sign up for Wi-Fi starting sometime this summer, and the service will be widely available to the public later this year, Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, said Wednesday.

"The Mountain View network rollout is on track to be completed by (the end of) June," Sacca said. Google will operate the network itself and has partnered with wireless technology providers, equipment vendors and integration providers to design, build and install the network, he said.

"We are going to be an ISP here in Mountain View," Sacca said, adding that there are no plans at this time to put ads on the service.

Meanwhile, Google's free Wi-Fi service in San Francisco may or may not have advertisements, he said. "If we get to the point that we decide that providing ads to end users is a benefit, then we might do it," he said. Ads are "not driving this...For us it is much more of an experiment and a lofty social benefit."

He could not say when deployment might begin.

Transformers Movie Speculation Continues

(CGtalk.com) 'Transformers Fan' from Don Murphy Message Board has send us collective thoughts on the upcoming Transformers movie, shared on dozens of posts that he has put together. (With common miscommunication that occurs when posting in message boards, we update our story to reflect the true meaning of Don's rambling.)

In the first draft of the script there were 4 main characters (Transformers) on each side but the plans are to expand that to 5 on each side in the next script revision.

TF cast is composed of Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ratchet, Bumblebee and Arcee for the Autobots and Megatron, Soundwave and Starscream for the Decepticons. The remaining 2 Decepticons are yet to be determined.

As of now, Soundwave’s alternate mode is a helicopter, however Hasbro prefers Soundwave mass shift and the writers seem to be okay with it.

Hasbro seemed anxious to get Soundwave into musical form to unleash Ravage even if it made no sense. They wanted him to turn into something musical later in the story and spit CDS. Soundwave’s minions are to be included in the film and are said to be “part of him.”

Ratchet is currently set as a fire truck. The writers want to make him an ambulance, DreamWorks doesn't. Hasbro actually doesn't mind if he is an ambulance or a fire truck. Jazz will be some sort of sports car and Arcee will be some type of motorbike. DreamWorks is floating a proposal to all the car companies now and licenses being worked out.

The story that sets in Soutwest, USA will be about Autobots who have been on Earth for a long time, (possibly as far back as biblical times) and are engaged in hidden war with other transformers. It will told from human perspective.

There are currently no plans for a 2nd or 3rd film. Assuming the first film does well, 2 more are likely to follow.

The film is aimed to be rated either PG or PG-13 with a November 17th, 2006 release date. The script is expected to be done by July 1st, preproduction begins September 1st and filming begins December 1st. ILM is expect to do the effects.

Please Note: this is all subject to change.


Union Deal Increases Animation Salaries and Benefits

(animationschoolreview.com) Animators across the country have something to celebrate. The negotiation team for their union worked out a deal with animation producers that will increase their animation salaries and benefits over the next few years.

The Animation World Network, a website dedicated to the animation industry, recently reported that the union representing animators struck a good deal with animation producers. Negotiators for the Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE, otherwise known as TAG, unanimously recommended that the Guild accept the terms of the agreement. A spokesperson for the union mentioned that union negotiators went into meetings with animation producer representatives from Adelaide Productions, the Cartoon Network, Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, Columbia, DreamWorks, Fox, MGM, and Universal with goals to increase animation salaries and pensions, as well as employer health and pension contributions for free-lance animators. They apparently achieved these goals.

Animation Salaries to Increase with Employment Longevity

The current agreement seems to increase animation salaries at a greater rate the longer an animator is employed with a studio. Under the terms of the deal, animation workers are only guaranteed a $0.75 increase in the weekly wage minimums after the first year of employment, but receive a compounded 3% animation salary increase after the 2nd and 3rd years of employment. This animation salary increase is commensurate with the increases achieved by unions representing live action members.

If you’re an aspiring animator that has yet to do work for a major studio, this news should encourage you to keep trying to get your foot in the door. Before this agreement was reached, many young animators suffered without healthcare and other benefits while earning their reputations doing freelance work. Today, even if you still have to work for peanuts before getting a break, you at least have the opportunity to earn health care benefits and add a little money to your retirement pension.

Gamblers Put Odds On Cars Opening Weekend

(showbizdata.com) One online oddsmaker is predicting that Disney/Pixar's Cars will earn more than 77 million this weekend. In order to win on the Curaçaon-based Pinnacle Sports website, winners will have to bet that it will make less than that amount. Another website, BetUS.com, is not quite so extravagant in its prediction, forecasting a take of more than $41.5 million for the three-day opening. Meanwhile, early reviews of the film are not encouraging. Variety comments, "With Cars, Pixar's enviable run of creative triumphs comes to a skidding stop." The Village Voice says that the movie moves at "a turgid pace, with all the traction of a boxcar going uphill in molasses." David Ansen in Newsweek was somewhat kinder, writing, "Cars inspires more admiration than elation. It dazzles even as it disappoints." On the other hand, Richard Corliss in Time pronounces Cars, "the first great movie of the summer."


Posted by dschnee at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 7, 2006


(cinescape.com) Imagi and Warner Brothers Pictures have announced a new computer animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES film. Warner Brothers, who is handling domestic distribution, will release the film on March 30, 2007.

Studio and TWC said the new PG-rated film will be slightly grittier than the three live-action "Turtles" movies released by New Line more than a decade ago. Combined, those three pics grossed more than $256

million at the U.S. box office.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles represents a brand that is widely recognized all around the world, and we think this new CG version will be a huge hit among audiences everywhere," said TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein, who made the announcement with Warner Bros. Pictures prexy of distribution Dan Fellman.

Casting Notice for James Cameron's 880

(Movie City News) Movie City News has posted a new casting notice for James Cameron's Project 880, which starts filming in November. The plot for the 20th Century Fox feature is described as follows:

In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.

Send in your head shot: http://www.moviecitynews.com/Notepad/2006/060606_npd.html

Alien Vs Predator 2 Set To Sign Directors

(cinescape.com) IGN FilmForce posted a bit of an odd scoop today regarding AVP 2 and a possible director for the film.

The scoop suggests that Greg and Colin Strause are set to sign on to direct the sequel to 2004's Alien vs. Predator. Apparently they have met with the producers and are all set to sign on.

For more details on the scoop you can go here for the story.

AVP2 is aiming for a August 2007 release.

ILM Syncs Up Artists With Production Staff

(vfxworld.com) Iridas announced that Industrial Light & Magic has purchased universal site licenses of FrameCycler Professional 3.5 for its facility in the Letterman Center in San Francisco, Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore and the Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael. Now artists at all three locations will have immediate access to uncompressed frame-based playback for review and analysis of their work on every workstation.

FrameCycler Professional 3.5 uses advanced RAM-buffering for playback, reads and writes virtually all file formats in the industry, and offers powerful playback and image analysis tools for animators, compositors and other artists. FrameCycler Professional also allows users to apply LUTs in combination with Iridas.Look files for calibrated and/or color graded playback. FrameCycler Professional is the only uncompressed playback application to run on the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

"We chose FrameCycler because it's reliable, works across all of our platforms and has a proven track record in the industry," stated Lucasfilm cto Cliff Plumer. "Having a common viewing tool for both digital artists and our production staff greatly improves communication which benefits the entire production process."

"Industrial Light & Magic pioneered modern visual effects," said Lin Kayser, Iridas ceo. "We've been enjoying their work in theaters for years now. It's an honor to be working with them."

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is a Lucasfilm Ltd. company serving the digital needs of the entertainment industry for visual effects. ILM has been awarded 14 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and received 17 Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards.

Hellboy 2 Moves to Paramount

(FMagazine) Apparently Hellboy helmer, Guillermo del Toro, revealed at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors that the sequel has moved from Columbia Pictures over to Paramount Pictures.

The magazine reports the following:

"We're moving studios right now," says Del Toro. "They don't have a deal with Sony anymore and we are looking for financing for Hellboy 2. It's at Paramount right now. It's bigger in scale, but not necessarily in budget. Abe Sapien has a much bigger part, and we're keeping closer to the mythology of the comics." Del Toro giggled with glee as he revealed a singer whose music would be part of the film. "There is a song by Barry Manilow, and you'll have to find out about how that fits in. I know you are all saying 'what the fuck is that?!'"

Personally I thought Hellboy had its flaws, but overall it was a fun movie and I would love to see a sequel. I hope it moves forward.

ILM's Todd Vaziri Talks Mission: Impossible III VFX

(ilmfan.com) Todd Vaziri is of course well known around VFX circles since he started the amazing VFXHQ website, the benchmark of VFX websites. His career has spanned Flat Earth Productions, on the Xena: Warrior Princess TV show, Banned From The Ranch, on such projects as Inspector Gadget, Hollow Man and Doctor Dolittle, and Pixel Magic on projects like Driven and Hart's War. He joined ILM to work on Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and has since served as digital and compositing artist on such projects as Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Van Helsing, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

He completed work as Sequence Supervisor of J.J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III which was supervised by Roger Guyett. He recently took some time to discuss some of the secrets and extensive "invisible effects" in the film.

More: http://www.ilmfan.com/articles/2006/todd_vaziri_mission_impossible_3/

No Australia Shoot For INDIANA JONES 4?

(cinescape.com) Scoop from a reader regarding Steven Spielberg and the potential shooting of INDIANA JONES 4. Take it for what it is:

Assume this is of interest. I'm from Burleigh Heads in Queensland, Australia. You may remember a while back about a rumour that Steven Spielberg was filming "Indiana Jones 4" down here? well, as of today, you can squash it. It's not true.

I just started an internship at Warner Studios (the production side / not the theme park side), and someone told me about that - the rumours - today. Apparently, Spielberg was here doing something for a mini-series or biography channel special, the guys im working for told me. That's it. No "Indy", I'm sorry to say. He had been in at Warner Studios checking those out at one stage too - but not once was anything about "Indy 4" mentioned. It's third-hand talk, but enough to squash the rumour I reckon.

As for what's going on here : A new film from Paul Merurio called "Reality Check" has wrapped, a while back actually, (we saw some of it), Vinnie Jones and Nathan Jones are doing a new movie called "The Condemned", a thing called "Vodoo Lagoon" I've seen mentioned a few places, there's several new kids shows in the works (mostly animated), and John Cena's doing "Demolition Man 2" next.

Report: Harryhausen Tribute in LA

(kongisking.net) Film effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen (JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD) was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in Character Creation at Universal Studios at a special screening of THE SCI-FI BOYS. At the event, Ray Harryhausen and other attendees gathered to send their special greetings to Peter Jackson in New Zealand. Peter Jackson is the "host" of THE SCI-FI BOYS (DVD from Universal), which, with Dennis Muren, Leonard Maltin and Rick Baker, takes us through the history of special effects.

In addition to Harryhausen, those sending greetings to Peter Jackson included director John Landis (ANIMAL HOUSE, BLUES BROTHERS, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON), Anne Robinson (star of the 1953 WAR OF THE WORLDS George Pal film), Bob Burns (who appears in PJ's KONG and owns the original 1933 KONG armature) and SCI-FI BOYS music composer Brian Lambert, who declares PJ to be the "King of the Spirit of Fun!." You can now see streaming video of their greetings, plus the presentation of a Lon Chaney statuette to Harryhausen at THE SCI-FI BOYS website. At the site, you'll also see video of Peter Jackson's message about THE SCI-FI BOYS, and a historic 20 minute panel discussion between Forrest J Ackerman (editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS), Rick Baker, Steve Johnson (creature creator of ROSWELL alien) and Basil Gogos, who painted almost all the early covers of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine.

The Video: http://www.pauldavids.com/sci_ficomp.html

Ellen Pasternack Talks Festival of VFX

(fangoria.com) Fango got the exclusive lowdown from publicist Ellen Pasternack on the 8th Annual Festival of Visual Effects, to be held July 6-8 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Boulevard). The three-day Visual Effects Society extravaganza, set to feature workshops and discussions led by some of the industry’s leading artists (including Academy Award winners Dennis Muren, John Myhre and Robert Skotak), will focus on “cutting-edge technological advances, historical achievements, strategic planning and forecasting for the future of visual effects in film, television, and animation.” Festival plans also include the transformation of the Egyptian’s famed courtyard into a “Festival Courtyard,” which will host VFX and entertainment-industry vendors, special displays, raffles and a Hospitality Tent.

“We’re thrilled to be at the Egyptian with this year’s festival,” Pasternack says. “It’s a great theatre for the panelists, and the courtyard area provides a perfect place to hold the event for vendors who’ve previously wanted to participate as more than just sponsors. We’re really excited about it.”

In addition to the previously mentioned talent, LORD OF THE RINGS visual FX consultant Mark Stetson, as well as an estimated 50 other “internationally acclaimed entertainment veterans,” will be in attendance to enlighten the predicted 3,000 festival attendees. Panels will include “Virtual Vs. Real Sets,” (hosted by production designers Myhre, Jeannine Oppewall et al.), “Creating Life One Frame at a Time: The Art of VFX Animation,” (hosted by Steve Chiodo, Randy Cook and ILM’s senior visual FX supervisor Muren) and the John Bruno, John Jardin, Ian Hunert and Kurt William-hosted “The Challenges of Creating X-MEN: THE LAST STAND,” among others.

“A Look Back At ALIENS—20 Years Later,” a retrospective of the 1986 horror/sci-fi classic (pictured), should prove to be another highlight of the fest, with panelists set to include creature fabricator Alec Gillis, VFX miniature supervisor Pat McClung, VFX co-supervisor and director of photography Dennis Skotak and VFX supervisor and longtime James Cameron collaborator Robert Skotak. The aforementioned Stetson and his visual FX team will appear as well, hosting the panel “Bringing a Super Hero Back to Life,” in which they will discuss the methods they used in resurrecting the Man of Steel for this summer’s highly anticipated feature SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Finally, festival pass and invitation holders will have the chance to catch a special advance screening of the ImageMovers/Amblin Ent./Sony Pictures Imageworks film MONSTER HOUSE. Opening theatrically July 21, the computer-animated, PG-rated film (created using the same performance-capture techniques utilized in last year’s POLAR EXPRESS) follows the plight of three children who band together to combat the titular mysterious and monstrous abode which threatens their community.

Strike One For Pixar?

(film.guardian.co.uk) After a honeymoon period lasting nearly 20 years Pixar Animation Studios appear to have hit a rocky patch with Cars, their latest cartoon spectacular. Tipped as one of the year's biggest hits, the film opens in the US this Friday and in the UK on July 28. But early reviews are not encouraging.

Directed by John Lasseter, Cars tells the story of a rookie sports car (voiced by Owen Wilson) who becomes stranded in the homespun township of Radiator Springs, off Route 66. Expectations for the film are high following the success of The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, but critics appear to agree that Cars is not in that class.

"With Cars, Pixar's enviable run of creative triumphs comes to a skidding stop," said Variety. The film, it added is "a dusty near-two-hour ride" and "the action keeps running out of gas." For good measure, the magazine went on to argue, "Lasseter discovers that there are only so many car puns he and five other credited writers can exhaust."

The Village Voice agreed that the film has a "turgid pace, with all the traction of a boxcar going uphill in molasses." The film was "a disappointment, following the grown-up comic-book that was The Incredibles."

Many reviewers also felt that Cars' plot was too indebted to the 1991 Michael J Fox comedy Doc Hollywood, in which a hotshot Los Angeles doctor learns a new set of values when he is stranded in an average American town. "It just rips off Doc Hollywood, almost note for note," said Christy Lemire of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Hollywood Reporter was kinder to the film. "It might not be up there in The Incredibles/Finding Nemo/Toy Story stratosphere," it admitted. "But the charming Cars is nevertheless a thoroughly pleasing way to mark Pixar Animation Studios' 20th anniversary.


Posted by dschnee at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 6, 2006

Ghost Rider Approved For Epic VFX Finale

(cinematical.com) When the release date for Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider got rather significantly pushed back, it certainly raised some eyebrows. Rumors naturally began circulating that the studio was afraid of the film and wanting to bury it in the movie dead-zone of February. According to Cage, the real reason for the delay was a helicopter. Apparently, director Mark Steven Johnson was really interested in packing the film with some serious high end special effects but only managed to convince the studio to add them at the last minute, resulting in a severe production delay. As Cage explained : "There were some effects that finally got authorized by the studio which Mark really wanted and they're pretty big and it took time to put them together and design them. So we had to delay it and I think it's good because it's something we really wanted to fight for with Ghost Rider going into battle with a helicopter." So there you have it, folks. Johnny Blaze will be fighting a helicopter in what is apparently a rather epic CGI scene.

Pine Mulls Postapocalypse

(The Hollywood Reporter) Chris Pine is in final negotiations to star in the untitled Pastor brothers postapocalyptic thriller being produced by This Is That and distributed by Paramount Vantage. The Paramount specialty label pre-emptively bought the film shortly after January's Sundance Film Festival, where Alex Pastor was awarded the jury prize for international short for The Natural Route (La Ruta Natural), which he wrote and directed.

The untitled film, which will be written and directed by Alex and David Pastor, revolves around four friends trying to escape a viral pandemic in the American West who discover that they are more dangerous to one another than any virus. Pine would play one of the friends.

Sony President Predicts End of PC Gaming

(actiontrip.com) In this week's edition of German magazine Der Spiegel, Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment's Worldwide Studios, addresses the issue of Sony's alleged copying of the Wii motion-sensitive controller with their own PS3 tilt-sensitive controller, but what's even more precious is Phil's prediction that PS3 will literally kill the PC as a gaming platform:

Besides defending the PS3, Harrison took time to evangelize the device, which will launch worldwide this November. In particular he said the Linux-based operating system on the console's hard drive will have enough processing power and non-gaming functionalities to render traditional PCs--most of which use a form of Microsoft's Windows OS--moot in the home. "We believe that the PS3 will be the place where our users play games, watch films, browse the Web, and use other [home] computer functions," said Harrison. "The PlayStation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC."

"The Watchmen" In Production?

(sneakpeektv.blogspot.com) According to the personal blog of composer John "X-Men: The Last Stand" Powell, he is in the 'preliminary' stages of scoring Warners upcoming feature adaptation of "The Watchmen", based on author Alan Moore's graphic novels:

"...The second project is still in preliminary stages. It is entitled "The Watchmen", based off the famous graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. No release date has been set for the film, but I'll be sure to update you if you're terribly curious..."

It was announced March 25 that director Zack "300" Snyder was in negotiations to direct "The Watchmen".

The project was picked up by Warners, after being stalled at Paramount, December 2005.

In development as a film since the 1980's, "The Watchmen" crime-conspiracy stories, set in an 'alternate' America, focus on costumed hero 'Rorschach' and his vigilante lifestyle.

According to sources, Paramount still holds the rights of first refusal to co-finance the film.

TRON CG Pioneer Passes Away

(news.awn.com) Bill Kovacs, who co-founded Wavefront Technologies, earned a 1997 Academy Award for science and engineering innovations and who worked as a programmer on TRON, passed away last Tuesday at his home in Camarillo, California. Kovacs, who was 56, died of a stroke in his sleep brought on by a cerebral hemorrhage.

In 1984, Kovacs co-founded software company Wavefront Technologies in Santa Barbara, California. He was the company's cto until he left in 1994, when the company went public. In 1995, Silicon Graphics acquired Wavefront. Later, both firms merged with Toronto-based Alias Research to form Alias Wavefront. Wavefront's software was combined with code from Alias Research to create Maya software. Maya, of course, is now a leading computer animation tool owned by Autodesk.

In 1997, Kovacs shared the Scientific and Engineering Academy Award with Roy Hall. The two were recognized for their work in developing Wavefront's Advanced Visualizer computer graphics system.

At Robert Abel & Associates, Kovacs was a programmer for Disney's 1982 feature, TRON, which incorporated early computer animation and paved the away for the 3D revolution.

After working for Wavefront, Kovacs was a consultant to game manufacturer Electronic Arts and Hollywood digital production company RezN8. He also was a founding partner in software startup Instant Effects.

Mutant Chronicles Gets Sexy, Fearless Fighter

(ropeofsilicon.com) Devon Aoki is set to join Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Stephen Rea and John Malkovich in Simon Hunter's sci-fi action thriller The Mutant Chronicles, based on the popular role-playing game.

The site continues to report with the following description of Aoki's role in relation to the rest of the plot:

Aoki will play Duval, a sexy, scarred and fearless fighter with a wild streak who puts her duties as a soldier ahead of her role as the mother of two small children. The film is scheduled to begin shooting in early summer in London and on the Isle of Man. Malkovich's character Constantine heads a United Nations-style council of four corporation-run countries that have pillaged Earth's natural resources. When a marauding army of "NecroMutants" wages a battle against humans for the little that remains, Constantine is tempted to destroy the planet and evacuate some of its people rather than allow it to be overtaken, all with the corporations' best interests in mind. Jane plays Lieutenant Mitch Hunter, a 23rd century Marine who leads the humans in their fight and becomes Constantine's antagonist. Stephen Rea plays the former commander of Hunter. Ron Perlman portrays the leader of a religious sect who thinks he can destroy the mutants and save the planet, recruiting Hunter to join him. Benno Fürmann portrays Hunter's former nemesis who joins him to fight for the greater good, and Malkovich appears as the head of a council of corporations that rule the Earth.

The film is expected to get underway in early summer in London and on the Isle of Man.

IBM To Pour $6 billion Into India

(Reuters) IBM plans to invest nearly $6 billion in India over three years, underscoring the country's ever-increasing importance as a global hub for IT outsourcing and expertise.

IBM, the world's largest computer services company, said Tuesday that it plans to expand its services, software, hardware and research businesses in India, where it already is the largest multinational company with 43,000 employees in 14 cities, up from 4,900 in 2002.

"India and other emerging economies are an increasingly important part of IBM's global success," Samuel Palmisano, the chief executive, told a meeting of more than 10,000 employees in Bangalore, India's IT hub. "IBM is not going to miss this opportunity."


Marvel Comic Black Widow Feature Dropped By Lionsgate

(IGN FilmForce) The live-action feature film version of Marvel Comics Black Widow has been dropped by Lionsgate. The studio was said to have let the project go due to the less than stellar box office results from other recent female-driven action films. I'm not buying that excuse however, because even though Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux may not have done as well as expected, other such films as the Laura Croft adventures, Underworld films and the Resident Evil franchise have done exceptionally well.

The film's writer-director, David Hayter, who confirmed the bad news, told IGN that after Lionsgate dropped Black Widow, Marvel and I then spoke to a few other financing entities, but I never felt comfortable that we had found a place that was willing to take the movie, and the character, seriously.

He continued, I have put it aside until a reputable studio comes along, but in the meantime, I am heartbroken. I love this character, I love the story/world we came up with for her, and I sincerely hope the movie gets done some day. In the meantime, I am creating an original feature to shoot next year.

Black Widow was to be a contemporary and realistic espionage adventure that would have taken the Black Widow into Kazakhstan, to the Red Room and beyond.

Motion Capture Studio Acquires 25,000-square foot Facility

(uemedia.net) Vicon, developer of motion capture technology, and House of Moves, the company's motion capture service division, announced the opening of a new 25,000-square foot facility in Los Angeles, CA. The studio brings together House of Moves' motion capture production services with VICON's hardware and software development, product support and consulting to provide film, games and television customers end-to-end motion capture resources and services under one roof.

Located at 5419 McConnell Avenue in the Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles, the facility offers multiple stages for real-time simultaneous full-body, hand and facial capture with VICON MX40s, the state-of-the-art in motion capture cameras. Stage 1 measures 150 by 70 feet with a 25-foot ceiling and is designed for large-scale, high character count real-time capture. The stage is currently set up to provide a 45 by 35 foot capture volume and can be expanded beyond 100 by 50 feet for massive volume motion capture.

Stage 2 is of the same size and is being designed to record studio-quality audio during performance capture sessions, capturing face, finger and full-body motion of multiple actors simultaneously and at high resolution. Client confidentiality is completely maintained between the two main capture stages. In addition to the VICON and House of Moves motion capture production services team, VICON product developers and engineers are also on site, guaranteeing access to the very latest technology and industry knowledge.

The building offers an array of customer-focused amenities such as dedicated client areas, green room, client offices and workspaces, separate wardrobe rooms for talent, wireless and wired secure Internet access, complete kitchen and food preparation facilities, screening room and conference areas.

Transforming into Davey Jones for The Pirates of the Caribbean series

(movieweb.com) Bill Nighy had a stand-out performance in Love Actually as Billy Mack; we even got to hear his tremendous vocal chords. But, now, Mr. Nighy will be forever known as Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

As he'll explain, Davey is awaiting the repayment of a debt from Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) - but it's not any ordinary debt. As you've probably seen in the trailers, Davey is not a normal human - he's half man, half sea creature.

We had the chance to speak with Bill about joining the star-studded cast for the second and third installments of the Disney franchise. We also talked about his roles in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film, Flushed Away; and he's also re-teaming with Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz.

Here's what he had to say: http://www.movieweb.com/news/04/13004.php

Visual Effects Studio: The PC Game

(gamespot.com) If Hollywood makes a hit movie, you can expect a sequel, and if a publisher releases a hit PC game, you can expect an expansion pack. So it's not too surprising that Activision and developer Lionhead are prepping The Movies: Stunts & Effects, the first expansion to last year's strategy game that's a blend of The Sims with a virtual moviemaking studio. In The Movies, you could build and manage a Hollywood studio through history, commission scripts, hiring directors and actors, building studio lots and sets, and releasing a steady stream of movies. Or, you could also go into the elaborate moviemaking tools and create your own cinematic wonder that you could upload to the Internet and share with everyone. Stunts & Effects looks to satisfy both kinds of fans of The Movies, and as its name suggests, you'll be able to create more-intense kinds of movies.

Stunts & Effects will be the kind of expansion that integrates itself seamlessly into the original game, which means that you won't have to launch Stunts & Effects separately from The Movies. Once you install the expansion, all the new content will automatically appear in the regular game. And in terms of content, you'll have plenty of new sets, props, and costumes at your disposal, which should allow for greater creativity and flexibility in your scripts.

The "effects" in Screens & Effects are due to some special new sets based on the same type used by Hollywood studios in effects-laden movies. The new blue-screen set will let you place props on the set how you'd like and play out any scene on it. Then there's the new green-screen set for aerial shots using full-size and miniature vehicles, such as space shuttles. A miniature city set will let you create cityscape flybys, and you'll also be able to use miniaturized versions of all the full-sized vehicles in the game to create epic scenes, such as Godzilla-style monster battles. In all, there are approximately 15 new sets in the expansion, though the versatility of the blue- and green-screen sets shouldn't be underestimated.

The other big new feature in the expansion is the focus on stunts and stuntmen (and stuntwomen). Stuntmen are a new class of character in the game, and you can hire and train stuntmen to carry out more-intense physical scenes. In the original game, your main actors had to do their own stunts, but now you can hire stuntmen using the new stuntman building that you can construct on the studio lot. As with actors and crew members, potential stuntmen will line up outside the building, and you can pick who you want to hire as a stuntman. You can then build training facilities that will improve the stuntman's abilities, as well as a hospital where stuntmen can get patched up if things go wrong. Stunts can range from slapstick gags (such as getting hit in the head by a wooden plank) to more death defying acts, such as leaping off of buildings. It all depends on the skill level of your stuntmen.

Using stuntmen in your movies is easy, as the simple and elegant user interface from The Movies has only had a few modifications to accommodate the new features. For instance, when you pick up a screenwriter, a new icon appears in the script office that will let you order that screenwriter to write a script tailored to your stuntmen. You can create a regular action movie, or a "stunt-heavy" action movie depending on where you drop the screenwriter. The writers will then take into account the abilities of your stuntmen and write scenes that are within their range. You can also go into the custom script room and create scenes that are beyond your stuntmen's abilities, though the danger is that the finished film will feature all stunts regardless of whether they succeeded or failed, and that, in turn, will have an effect on the movie's performance with the critics and the box office.

When the script is finished, simply drop it off in the casting office, assign stunt doubles to the appropriate roles, and then start filming. Once the movie is done, you can watch the results as well as see the critical reaction. And there's also a new award category to reward the best stunts of the year, and these rewards will give you new bonuses and achievement goals. Put it all together, and Stunts & Effects looks to be a must-have addition to fans of The Movies everywhere. We played around with a near-final version of the expansion, and it looks like it will be good to go for its release early next month.


Posted by dschnee at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 5, 2006

SPEED RACER To Be Made By Wachowski Brothers?

(cinescape.com) Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the Matrix trilogy, may sign on to write and direct SPEED RACER for Warner Bros.

None of the parties would go on record, so as of now it simply stands as a rumor. It was reported years back that Vince Vaughn was in talks to star as Racer X who is the long-lost and very protective brother of the title character.

Can "Cars" Crash Through The $75 - $80 Million Barrier?

(jimhillmedia.com) By this time next week, we'll know.

By that I mean: By this time next Monday morning, we'll finally have the preliminary box office results in hand for the opening weekend of "Cars." And then we'll know for sure if John Lasseter's newest film has actually met Wall Street's expectations.

"And what exactly are Wall Street's expectations for 'Cars' ?," you ask. Well, I just spent this past weekend working the phones. Talking with various investment analysts & entertainment industry observers about what the magic number might be. As in: What's "Cars" actually going to have to earn over its opening weekend in order to please the investment community?

Mind you, none of these folks were willing to go on the record with me. Supposedly out of concern that something that they'd tell me might then come back to haunt them, offend the Mouse in some way.

But – that said – there was a fairly strong consensus among these folks about what the magic number for "Cars" had to be. And that was that Pixar Animation Studios' latest release has to earn at least $75 million over its opening weekend in order to be seen as a box office success.

The message that I kept hearing over & over wasn't that "Cars" had to be No. 1. As in: That it had to beat either"Shrek II" 's $108.0 million and/or "X-Men: The Last Stand" 's $102.7 million. But – rather – that Pixar's latest animated feature had to finish in the No. 2 position in order to be taken seriously. Or – at the very least – as a very strong No. 3.

Okay. Obviously, that's a pretty high goal to shoot for. But given that there's already pretty good buzz going about "Cars" (More importantly, that all the initial reviews for this new Pixar film have been generally positive) … That $75 - $80 million target for an opening weekend gross is still very achievable, right?

I'd told that the folks at Pixar aren't all that pleased that – just four weeks after it hits theater – "Cars" finds itself in direct competition with Captain Jack Sparrow. Which perhaps explains why – in the Summer of 2007 – this situation will be reversed. With Disney's third Pirates picture (Tentatively subtitled "World's End) bowing on May 25, 2007, while Pixar's next animated feature, "Ratatouille" (A Brad Bird-directed opus which deals with the gastronomic adventures of Remy the Rat, who wishes to become one of France's greatest chefs) will debut on June 29th.

More: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2006/06/05/2738.aspx

VFX For IMAX: Magnificent Desolation Presentation

(hollywoodindustry.com) Come join us for the GIANT season finale as we discuss some of the very unique visual effects in the IMAX movie Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon, the movie that was awarded Best Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project this year by the Visual Effects Society. Hear Tim Sassoon and Johnathan Banta of Sassoon Film Design present some of their work from the movie with moderator Marty Shindler. Craig Barron of Matte World Digital will present work on the IMAX movie MacGillivray Freeman's Greece: Secrets of the Past. Myles Connolly, Editor on Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France, will discuss the unique computer graphics aspects of that movie.

VENUES & MAPS: Social Hour... Karl Strauss Brewing Company / Universal CityWalk http://www.karlstrauss.com/PAGES/Locations/Brewer_Restaurants/Start.htm#cw

Presentation and Screening... IMAX Theater / Universal CityWalk 100 Universal City Plaza Universal City, CA 91608 http://www.citywalkhollywood.com/groupsales/pdfs/ucw_map.pdf

Blue Screen Pioneer Dies

(news.yahoo.com) LOS ANGELES - Arthur Widmer, who developedsome of the most widely used special effects technology in films and
earned an Academy Award last year for lifetime achievement, has died.

He was 92.

Widmer died of cancer on May 28, his publicist Jane Ayer told the LosAngeles Times for a story published Sunday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Widmer the awardfor his work in developing Ultra Violet and "blue screen" special effects processes.

"Art's pioneering work has had a profound impact on the filmindustry," said Richard Edlund of the academy's Scientific and Technical Awards Committee when the award was announced. "Many of thefilms we hold dear would not have been possible without his contributions to image compositing technology."

Working for Warner Bros. in the 1950s, Widmer developed the UltraViolet Traveling Matte process, an early version of what would become
known as blue screen, in which two different images shot at differenttimes and places could be combined into one.

"If you want to have a couple sitting at a cafe in Paris, you couldsend the couple to Paris and hire a crew and get all the lights and stop the traffic and shoot it, but that would be very expensive," Widmer told the Los Angeles Business Journal last year. "Instead, you get a little mock-up on the stage of the table and chairs and set the couple there and shoot them against the blue screen in the background."

Widmer left Warner Bros. in 1964 to design and build the optical department for Universal Studios, where he continued the development of blue screen and other visual effects until his retirement in 1979.

Ghost Rider Waits On VFX

(scifi.com) Nicolas Cage, who stars in the much-delayed comic-book movie Ghost Rider, told SCI FI Wire that the film is all but finished and that the delays resulted from a desire to get the visual effects right. "They're just tweaking certain things toward the end," Cage said in an interview during a break in filming of his next film, the SF thriller Next. "The reason why the movie was delayed—I know that's been on people's minds—is there were some effects that finally got authorized by the studio that [writer-director] Mark [Steven Johnson] really wanted, and they're pretty big, and it took time to put them together and design them. So we had to delay it. I think it's good, because it's something we really wanted to fight for, with Ghost Rider going into battle with the helicopter."

In Ghost Rider, which is based on the Marvel Comics series, Cage plays a stunt motorcycle rider who makes a pact with the devil and spends his nights as an avenging demon whose head is a flaming skull. The film has had several rumored release dates and has been officially slated for a Feb. 16, 2007, release, several months after its last official release date of July 14.

How Star Wars Surprised The World

(americanheritage.com) In the late 1970s most movie theater owners simply weren\u2019t interested in a movie set in space. The last truly successful science-fiction film had been 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey; more recent fare, such as the ecological fable Silent Running (1972), had bombed. So on May 25, 1977 29 years ago today Star Wars opened on just 32 screens nationwide.

It didn'9t look like a logical career move for its creator, the director George Lucas, either. After the unexpected smash success of his American Graffiti (1973), which earned him two Oscar nominations and millions of dollars, the then-29-year old director was a hot commodity in Hollywood. For a follow-up he decided to develop an idea he'd been tinkering with for years: a space fantasy, complete with elaborate sets and dazzling special effects. He struck a deal with 20th Century Fox for $150,000 to write and direct the movie that would become Star Wars.

More: http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/web/20060525-star-wars-george-lucas-movies-hollywood-luke-skywalker-darth-vader-american-graffiti-science-fiction-special-effects.shtml

Madsen Denies Playing Mrs. Indiana Jones

(comingsoon.net) The chances of a fourth "Indiana Jones" movie is becoming the stuff of legends after the seventeen-year hiatus since the third movie, and it's become something that many Harrison

Ford fans have been chomping at the bit in hopes it will still happen.

Supposedly, there's a script already completed, and back in February when Virginia Madsen was doing press for the thriller Firewall, in which she played Harrison Ford's wife, word started getting around that the Oscar-nominated actress was in line to play "Mrs. Indiana Jones" in the planned movie.

And the Fantastic Four Sequel Is Called...

(moviehole.net) Does the sequel to "Fantastic Four" sequel have a title? Looks like it.

As of today, it seems to be "Fantastic Four : The Next Chapter", according to a Fox Australia Media Schedule, dispatched to local film hounds this morning.

Interesting. Not bad. Hmmm. Effective enough, I guess.

The sequel, which reunites the cast of the original (Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans), will see the Fantastic foursome discover that there are other people out there like them - i.e with super powers - one of them being, the Silver Surfer.

Tim Story returns as director.

Spiderman Struggles To Remembr Lines

(showbizdata.com) That was Peter Parker himself, aka Tobey Maguire, struggling mightily to get through a one-line scene while filming "Spider-Man 3" in Madison Square Park the other day. "He had to do about 50 takes of a 20-second scene in which he turns to the camera, walks three steps, and says one line," reports a Lowdown spy, noting that the line was inaudible. "Equally over-the-top was Tobey's lion-sized entourage, sitting just behind the shoot. Literally, between cast, crew, family and friends, there were like 50 people watching this shot. At one point, he actually laughed because he couldn't keep it together to deliver his one line. Sad." Maybe Tobey would be less distracted if he left some of his admirers at home.

Vadar Thanks Lucas

(showbizdata.com) Hayden Christensen was named best villain for his turn as Darth Vader in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." at the 2006 MTV movie awards. He thanked George Lucas "for giving me the chance to play such a cool character."

VFX Trends: Virtual San Francisco Cheaper Than Being There

(sfgate.com) With the exception of a ride on a cable car, the mutant heroes and villains in the big action movie "X-Men: The Last Stand," which opens Friday, pretty much complete the San
Francisco tourist checklist.

Magneto, Wolverine, Angel and the rest walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz and camp out in Muir Woods; they wander to the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Park, and even take time for a quick flyby over North Beach.

But although the movie takes place in the Bay Area -- and San Francisco landmarks figure significantly in the plot -- no actor set foot in the city and almost no live action film was shot here.

Unknown to most moviegoers, special-effects innovations have reached the point where a filmmaker can set a $100 million summer blockbuster in an exotic locale without sending the usual fleet of actors, makeup artists, cinematographers and key grips there.

It's a growing strategy by movie studios grappling with the nearly 8 percent drop in box-office receipts from 2004 and 2005. As the visual effects get better and costs for filming in beloved locations like Paris, New York and San Francisco remain high, studios are finding it significantly cheaper and faster to build sets on back lots and use models and computers to fill in scenic backgrounds.

While the third "X-Men" movie is an extreme example because so few crew members actually touched ground in San Francisco, every big action movie released this season has filmed at least one scene using similar techniques.

"The technology is evolving so much faster than any of us as observers are aware," said 20th Century Fox President Hutch Parker, who helped supervise the "X-Men" film and is executive producer of this summer's remake of "The Omen." "It has in some ways made the prohibitively expensive affordable. I'm not going to say we couldn't have done this five years ago, but it wouldn't have been as convincing."

The crew of "Mission: Impossible III," was sent to Shanghai for a few weeks, but spent months building and filming a fake Shanghai in Los Angeles.

"The producers were thinking this could get very expensive with a lot of crews waiting around for something to happen," said "Mission: Impossible III" visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, who worked for Industrial Light & Magic, based in the Bay Area. "The reality of making big movies is, your daily nut is huge. The cost of location shooting is astronomical, because of the support crew that's required to travel. And the last thing you want to do is go somewhere and not be able to achieve what you want."

Guyett said among the problems with filming in Shanghai is that the city encourages its citizens to turn off their lights at 10 p.m. This would have given director J.J. Abrams a narrow window to shoot the vibrant backdrops he wanted. Fog, haze, safety issues and other considerations led the team to build a pseudo-Shanghai in Los Angeles -- using computers to fill in whatever they couldn't construct.

More: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVNA91.DTL&hw=ILM&sn=002&sc=279

Gods & Monsters

(theledger.com) His fingers have molded nightmares, cradled miracles, pressed the divine flesh of gods. Skeletons rise and cackle in his grasp; when he beckons, dinosaurs step roaring through the mists of history.

What drives such a cordial, self-effacing man to raise demons from the darkness and breathe life into petrified myths?

"Maybe I have a Zeus complex!" Ray Harryhausen said, laughing.

It's a line he's used often in his 85 years, and it helps sum up his career as one of the most innovative and influential special-effects wizards in the history of movies.

Harryhausen's mastery of stop-motion animation -- the painstaking technique used most famously in the original "King Kong" -- has spawned screen images that have astonished three generations of moviegoers and moviemakers.

More: http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060507/NEWS/605070323/1021

Take The Lucas Trivia Quiz

(trivia4u.com) Take our 10 Question Trivia Quiz And Earn FREE Tickets To Your Favorite Theme Park. (Of the 40 people who took this trivia the average score was 55 Highest score to date is 100.00)

Get started: http://www.trivia4u.com/trivia/286/George-Lucas/google/george%20lucas%20news/


Posted by dschnee at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 2, 2006

Dreamworks Animation Expanding To India

(animationxpress.com) It's official and its coming straight from DreamWorks SKG cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg's mouth.

"DreamWorks is very much looking at doing business in India," he told Animation 'xpress at the Cannes Film Festival where he was promoting Over the Hedge.

Katzenberg said he had been to India twice in the past nine months. "India is a very exciting place and has potential for great animation. We've been very impressed with the Indian animation community's enthusiasm to master the constantly changing tools of CG animation. We believe this eagerness will lead to the development of a highly skilled animation community."

He added, however, that Dreamworks foray into India would not be in the form of outsourcing. "It will be definitely more than that"

Katzenberg pointed out that what animation is witnessing is its second renaissance. "The first wave was in the eighties and was more handdrawn," he pointed out. "Today, animation is digital. Today's animated movies demand superior technological achievement along with tremendous artistry and storytelling. Now is a great time for our industry."

DreamWorks Animation produces two movies per year.

VFX Maven Stan Winston To Procuce Deaths

(scifi.com) Italian commercial director Dario Piana will make his feature directorial debut with The Deaths of Ian, an independent horror film produced by venerable F/X maven Stan Winston's production company, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written by Brendan Hood, Deaths tells the story of an all-American guy who is murdered each day by horrifying pursuers, only to wake up in slightly different lives to experience the terror of being murdered again.

The movie will provide plenty of creatures that will be created by Stan Winston Studios. Producers are Winston and Brian Gilbert. Odyssey Entertainment is financing the movie, scheduled for a summer shoot on the Isle of Man.

Italian native Piana has directed about 400 commercials and also is attached to Phoenix Pictures' Werewolf and Millennium Films' Snakeskin.

How 11 VFX Companies Created X3

(vfxworld.com) When it came time to prepare the last of Fox's mutant-themed trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand (which broke box office records during its Memorial holiday debut), there were some firm absolutes: One, there would be the addition of new mutants, including impressive examples of their powers in action. Second, the eye-popping visual effects set pieces would raise the bar. Third, the scale and the mortal stakes for the X-team would be raised as well through the complex vfx sequences conjured up by writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. Their epic ideas proved to be so vast and challenging, that 11 visual effects companies were hired. Vendors such as Soho VFX, Framestore CFC, CIS Hollywood, Rhythm & Hues, New Deal Studios Inc., Kleiser-Walczak, Hydraulx and Lola Visual Effects all contributed work to the film, with The Moving Picture Co. (MPC), Cinesite and Weta Digital contributing the largest sequences.

VFX sup John Bruno went to recent collaborators MPC to take on key vfx sequences for the film. Nicolas Aithadi, visual effects coordinator at MPC, explains how they were drafted onto the project. We were supposed to do a lot more than what we ended up doing. In the beginning, there were less visual effects companies, maybe three or four, so the movie was divided into bigger pieces. Quite quickly, we all realized the time we had to do the effects, it was too big and we had to give up on some of the effects and concentrate on what was possible in the time, because it was a really short project in terms of time. For the biggest sequence we did, we got the shots somewhere in December and had to deliver them in March. It was quite tight in the schedule so we preferred to concentrate on what we could do.

More: http://vfxworld.com/?atype=articles&id=2897

Warner Buys Affleck's CG Animated Ark

Warner Brothers has acquired Aardvark Art's Ark, a Casey Affleck screenplay for an animated family film, Variety reported. Affleck will executive-produce.

The movie revolves around the adventures of an animal family aboard Noah's Ark. The script is the second for Affleck, who co-wrote with Matt Damon the Gus Van Sant-directed Gerry, which starred both Damon and Affleck.

Affleck stars with Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman in Gone, Baby, Gone, the Miramax adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel that Casey's brother, Ben Affleck, wrote and directed.

ILM at SIGGRAPH 2006: Preview 5, Sketches

(siggraph.org) ILM members will be presenting 4 sketches at SIGGRAPH 2006 covering such projects as Poseidon and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Other studios presenting sketches include Pixar, Digital Domain, MPC, Blue Sky Studios, PDI/DreamWorks Animation, Weta Digital and Rhythm and Hues...

You can check the ILM related sketches here:


You can check the other VFX related sketches, which cover projects like Cars, King Kong, Over the Hedge, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Flushed Away, here: http://www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=sketches

Man Behind King Kong Takes On PS3 Role

(avinfo.co.uk) The actor who has been heavily involved in computer generated graphics in movies has transferred his knowledge for use in a new game for the Playstation 3.

Andy Serkis was the actor behind Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movie, as well as being the human face behind King Kong.

He is now working on his video game debut, which will come in the PS3 title Heavenly Sword, in which he will play an evil king.

The actor is also the dramatic director of the martial arts game, which is being developed by UK game developer Ninja Theory.

Sony's Playstation 3 will be in UK shops in November in order to catch the Christmas rush and the game is thought to take advantage of its power to make their title closer to the quality of a Hollywood production than anything before.

As one of the leading games, it should be released soon after the console.

MORK & MINDY Movie Coming

(cinescape.com) In the latest issue of ESQUIRE magazine, it states that ROBIN WILLIAMS is involved in a "MORK & MINDY" movie. It's short and sweet, just mentioning that he is involved and that "Pam Dawber, your boat has come in".

Thank god Williams will be Mork again.... you couldn't imagine it with anyone else in the lead role!!

Pam Dawber mentioned this a while back on Dark Horizons actually, saying "Robin and I were speaking at a function, and he's the one who said he'd love to do a 'Mork' movie sometime - and what's great about Robin is that wouldn't even consider doing it if the original cast didn't return. About six, seven months later, I had a call from Miller-Milkis who said that it was a possibility, and if it happened - would I like to do it. It took me all of five seconds to scream yes. But to cut a long story short, it was put in the pipeline, but Robin had just been so busy with all his other movies that we didn't have time for this one. Everytime we bump into each other though, he still insists we are going to do it one day - a Robin promise. I look forward to it, it'll be such a blast".

ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2 Wants Sigourney

(cinescape.com) A report from a studio insider regarding ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2. Here is the basic gist:

- None of the cast from ALIEN VS PREDATOR will be returning.

- Movie will be set in a different time.

- Studio wants Sigourney Weaver to play a part.

- Weaver hated the idea behind the film.

ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2 is a 20th Century Fox film and is aiming for an August 10, 2007 release.

Fountain Released In October

(scifiwire) Ain't It Cool News is reporting that Warner Brothers will release Darren Aronofsky's oft-delayed SF epic film The Fountain on Oct. 13.

The film, which was shot last year in Montreal and elswhere, had been in development since 2002, when it initially featured Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

They eventually left the project, and Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz stepped in to make the century-leaping story of a man, a woman and the Fountain of Youth. The movie kicked into high gear in 2004.

The movie was teased at last year's Comic-Con International in July, with a press party, interviews and a panel, and expectations were for a release late in 2005. That date came and went.

Two More X-Men Spinoffs For Fox

(moviehole.net) Twentieth Century Fox still haven’t found a cure for their enthrallment with “X-Men”.

On top of the “Wolverine” and “Magento” movies, a studio rep tells USA Today that they’re looking at doing a further two spin-off’s, one featuring popular comic book character Emma Frost.

The character is featured prominently in the comics, but didn’t appear in any of the three “X-Men” movies.

David O’Russell (“Three Kings”) is developing the ‘Emma Frost’ film, which, I’m assuming, will be an origin tale, explaining how the lass became to be a sexy mutant telepath who can transform her skin into diamonds.

According to Wikipedia Frost has been both friend and foe of the X-Men. She was originally one of the wealthy, mutant elites who comprised the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. She has had a lifelong interest in teaching the next generation and led the club’s junior team the Hellions.

After her students’ deaths, she joined Charles Xavier’s cause, mentoring the X-Men junior team Generation X. She later joined the X-Men and became headmistress of the Xavier Institute, although her ethics and loyalty remain in question.

The other spin-off film they’re discussing, is one that would fix “on the kids in (Professor X's) school, focusing on their lives, and less of a global adventure for the team," says Hutch Parker, production president of 20th Century Fox.

New VFX For Famed Universal Tram Tour

(chicagotribune.com) Fast cars dancing to hip-hop, King Kong's Skull Island and the littered suburban scene after a 747-jet crash from "War of the Worlds" are all part of the newly revamped Backlot Tour here at Universal Studios Hollywood. In the biggest overhaul of the tour since it began in 1964, there will be assorted new attractions added to the leaping dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park" and other stalwart features. The new tour--in the works for about a year--will go into previews in early June, with an official opening on June 26. It lasts about 45 minutes--the same as the old tour--and is packed with lots of information on (and promotion for) the movies made on this working studio lot.


Posted by dschnee at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 30, 2006

Halo Movie in Limbo

(ve3d.ign.com) 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

(sneakpeektv.blogspot.com) 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

(stuff.co.nz) 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?

(CGtalk.com) 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

(cinescape.com) 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: http://michaelbay.com/blog/newsblog.html

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

(news.yahoo.com) 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

(cinescape.com) 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, www.visualeffectssociety.com, or contact the VES office at (310) 822-9181 or info@visualeffectssociety.com.

CARS Run Even in Rain

(cinescape.com) 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

(sneakpeektv.blogspot.com) 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

(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.


(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."


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

May 24, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 24, 2006

Transformers Movie Name & Location Revealed

(filmforce.ign.com) 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

(scifi.com) 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

(filmforce.ign.com) 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

(forbes.com) 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

(moviehole.net) “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"

(filmforce.ign.com) 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

(nytimes.com) 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.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/movies/21darg.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin


(thehotbutton.com) 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?

(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.


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

May 22, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 22, 2006

Variety Contradicts 'Indy 4' Script Approval

(spielbergfilms.com) 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

(muppetcentral.com) 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

(visualeffectssociety.com) 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 marjo@elementfx.net 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

(nzherald.co.nz) 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

(cgchar-animation.com) 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

(news.awn.com) 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

(cinescape.com) 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

(variety.com) 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

(news.zdnet.com) 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

(cinescape.com) 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

(empireonline.com) 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: http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=resourceguide

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

(scifi.com) 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

(empireonline.com) 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

(news.awn.com) 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

(livescience.com) 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.

More: http://www.livescience.com

CG Anim Giant Swallowed

(news.awn.com) 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. ( RedlightCenter.com is a social experience within a 3D
virtual reality. Within the RedlightCenter.com universe, users can freely move about and experience a wealth of social interaction via 3D animated personal "avatar" characters.

Ray Schwartz, President of RedlightCenter.com, 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 RedlightCenter.com 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.

RedlightCenter.com is now open to a limited number of users in a pre-beta phase.

Cars: The Render Stats

(upcomingpixar.blogspot.com) 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

(scifi.com) 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

(gamasutra.com) 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 Conceptart.org, 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: https://mudbox3d.com/form/betaRequestForm/betaform.html

Henry Selick's CORALINE Comes Into Focus

(aintitcool.com) 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

(aintitcool.com) 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

(scifi.com) 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

(previews.teamxbox.com) 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?

(sliceofscifi.com) 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

(empireonline.com) 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?

(moviehole.net) 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."

More: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1194022-1,00.html

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

(news.zdnet.com) 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?

(moviehole.net) Another switcheroo for the next Halloween movie it seems.

According to HorrorChannel.com, 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

(showbizdata.com) 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.


(fangoria.com) 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

(sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com) 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 www.digitaldomain.com.


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 www.wyndcrest.com.

More: http://www.d2.com/press_release.html

FANTASTIC FOUR 2 Flies to a New Date

(cinescape.com) 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

(comingsoon.net) 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"

(jimhillmedia.com) 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.

More: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2006/05/16/2409.aspx

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

(latimes.com) 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

(cinematical.com) 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

(news.toonzone.net) 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.

More: http://news.toonzone.net/article.php?ID=10518

King Kong & Star Wars at Autodesk Digital Film Tour

(animationxpress.com) 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"

More: http://www.animationxpress.com/anex/y2k6/headlines/anex773

More: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6071909.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed

Spiderman 3 Exits Cleveland

(superherohype.com) 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

(hollywoodindustry.com) 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'

(vfxworld.com) 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.com) 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: http://www.wonderfest.com/about.htm

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