FX Movie News: 11-1-06

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Today’s Headlines: Jackson Agrees To Halo Movie Delay; Stan Winston’s Odyssey Begins; Universal Options Everlost; Animation Mentor Garners Leading Distance Learning Awards; Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game” Ready To Play?; Shrek 4 Coming to Theaters in 2010; Peter Jackson Gets The Keys To A Bomber; Oscar Screeners Heavy With VFX; James Cameron Takes On 3-D Cave Diving Film; Eragon’s Stefen Fangmeier Moves Ahead At ICM; Wachowski Brothers Helming Speed Racer; National Treasure 2 Starts Filming in January; Wanna Live On Elm Street?; Peter Jackson Readies To Train Dragons; Sci-fi Without CGI?; Michael Bay Will Lay Waste To Your City

Jackson Agrees To Halo Movie Delay

(news.bbc.co.uk) Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson and software giant Microsoft have stopped production on a feature film version of the popular video game Halo.
Film studios Fox and Universal pulled out last month, but the film-makers vowed to continue with the project.

Now Microsoft says it has “mutually agreed” to delay the film with Jackson and his co-producer Fran Walsh.

“We are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait,” it said in a statement.

The movie was due to be directed by first-time feature film-maker Neill Blomkamp.

Jackson, who won a best director Oscar for Lord Of The Rings, was an executive producer on the movie, which was scheduled for release in the summer 2008.

Rising costs:

Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox dropped out as financial backers in October.

Rumours suggested the studios were concerned the budget could reach $400M, after an original projection of $270M.

The film-makers said the studios pulled out after they and Microsoft refused to reduce their deals on the project.

Halo is widely credited with making Microsoft’s Xbox games console a success in the West.

The video game has a complex mix of mythology, characters and worlds and follows the adventures of futuristic super-soldier Master Chief as he fights to save mankind from an alien race.

The original game was launched in 2001, and went on to sell five million copies around the world.

More than seven million gamers bought the 2004 sequel, and the series’ third instalment is due out next year.

Stan Winston’s Odyssey Begins

(variety.com) Creature effects guru Stan Winston and his producing partner Brian J. Gilbert have struck a multi-picture deal with Ralph Kamp and Louise Goodsill’s sales shingle Odyssey Entertainment.
The first project will be “Speed Demon,” a horror movie to be directed by U.S.-based German helmer Peter Winther.

Odyssey will begin pre-selling “Speed Demon” at the American Film Market, which starts today. The project is in pre-production to shoot in spring.

“Speed Demon,” written by Randy Vampotic and Mike Sorrentino, is the story of an underworld enforcer hunting a small-time crook on a desert highway, who finds that he, himself, is being tracked by a mysterious, terrifying creature.

Under their new relationship, Odyssey will have first look at all future projects from Stan Winston Prods.

The two companies are jointly developing “Way Station,” a sci-fi chiller that will go into production after “Speed Demon.”

Kamp and Goodsill first teamed up with Winston’s L.A.-based production outfit to make “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” directed by Italian commercials helmer Dario Piana.

The $10 million horror movie shot this summer in London and the Isle of Man. Odyssey will screen footage at AFM.

According to Winston, the collaboration was so positive that both sides wanted to extend it into a long-term alliance.

“I look back on my 35 years in the business, and I can’t remember any working relationship that was smoother,” Winston said.

Winston made his name as the creature designer on the “Terminator” series, the “Jurassic Park” franchise and “Aliens,” winning Oscars for all three.

He set up his production company SWP with Gilbert to make his own projects, alongside the f/x work that he and his team do for other producers via Stan Winston Studios.

Universal Options Everlost

(scifi.com) Universal Pictures has optioned Everlost, a Neal Shusterman fantasy novel that will be developed as a potential directing vehicle for Gary Ross through his Larger Than Life banner, Variety reported. Shusterman will write the script.

Published by Simon & Schuster, Everlost focuses on Nick and Allie, teenage passengers in cars that collide. They meet in a netherworld known as Everlost, unsure if they’re alive. The teens try to navigate an odd world that is populated by young people from different historical periods, with a couple of bad guys in the mix. The book is the first of a series, and the hope is to hatch a franchise.

Animation Mentor Garners Leading Distance Learning Awards

(news.awn.com) The online character animation school, Animation Mentor, received the preeminent 2006 21st Century Award as well as the 2006 Best Practices in Programming Award Gold Level at the U.S. Distance Learning Awards (USDLA) Celebration of Excellence last evening (Oct. 23, 2006). Presented by the USDLA, a leading distance learning organization, the 21st Century Award salutes a pioneering organization that has changed distance learning through new and innovative solutions and the Best Practices Award recognizes outstanding programming practices.

Based in Berkeley, California, AnimationMentor.com (http://www.animationmentor.com) is a distance learning school at which top working professionals teach the art of character animation to students worldwide. Opened March 2005, the school offers an 18-month program built from the ground up by its founders, Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, whose combined credits include CARS, FINDING NEMO and STAR WARS: EPISODE 3.

Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game” Ready To Play?

(scifi.com) Director Craig R. Baxley, who has helmed various adaptations of Stephen King’s books over the years, told SCI FI Wire that he’s set his sights on a film version of King’s 1992 thriller Gerald’s Game, adapted by King himself. Gerald’s Game follows a woman, Jessie Burlingame, who ends up handcuffed to a bed in an isolated cabin in Maine and experiences hallucinations after she accidentally causes her husband, Gerald, to suffer a heart attack during a sexual encounter.

Baxley has previously directed King television movies, miniseries and limited series such as Kingdom Hospital, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, Rose Red and Storm of the Century. He said of Gerald’s Game: “Obviously, it was written 15 or 16 years ago, and [King has] made it a contemporary piece. What I gravitate to about Stephen is the psychological aspect of the thrillers. I don’t gravitate to when the cats explode and the blood flies and everything else. I think that’s what intrigues [Frank] Darabont, too. I just read that he’s going to do The Mist for Stephen, an updated version. But Stephen is such a wonderful writer when it comes to character. I’m very fond of him, obviously, and we have a very good working relationship. We’ll see what happens.”

As for King’s adaptation, Baxley said: “He’s done a feature adaptation of it, and he’s got Nicole Kidman, who was interested last year. It’s a new convention for Gerald’s Game, put it that way.”

Shrek 4 Coming to Theaters in 2010

(comingsoon.net) DreamWorks Animation reported its earnings for the third quarter of 2006 on Tuesday and revealed that Shrek 4 will hit theaters in 2010. Also, the Puss in Boots movie, previously expected to go straight to DVD, will instead be a theatrical release sometime after Shrek 4.

“‘Puss in Boots’ is a unique creative property that has the potential to be a valuable extension of the ‘Shrek’ franchise,” stated Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “We are excited to be developing this into a feature film where we think it has the greatest opportunity.”

The company announced that its new partnership with Nickelodeon has identified its first two creative concepts for ongoing television series based on DreamWorks Animation theatrical properties. The first will be based on the hit penguin characters from the company’s 2005 theatrical release Madagascar and the second series will be derived from DreamWorks’ 2008 theatrical release Kung Fu Panda.

Lastly, the company revealed its theatrical release slate for 2009 from its projects currently under development. Monsters vs. Aliens, the working title of an original concept from DreamWorks Animation, is scheduled for release in the summer of 2009. How to Train Your Dragon, based on the book by Cressida Cowell, is scheduled as the company’s release for the 2009 fall/holiday season.

DreamWorks Animation’s next project, Flushed Away, hits theaters on Friday, November 3. It will be followed by the company’s Shrek the Third on May 18, 2007.

Peter Jackson Gets The Keys To A Bomber

(nzherald.co.nz) Peter Jackson has just landed a Lancaster bomber.

Let us rephrase: Peter Jackson has just been handed a Lancaster bomber and he’s very happy about it.

Canvas has come with a gift – a scale Airfix kitset of the World War II aircraft used in the Dam Busters raids.

Jackson is producing a remake of the movie about the RAF mission so he probably doesn’t lack for models of the plane.

But an Airfix one will soon be rare – the British model company is financially not long for this world. With it goes the boy’s-own hobby heritage of many a model-making guy of Jackson’s generation …

“Hey, fantastic,” he says with such enthusiasm you fear he might postpone the promised 40-minute interview and get out the glue and camouflage paint instead.

“It was our childhood, wasn’t it, Airfix kits?” he sighs examining the box and explaining that this is actually the “Lanc” model after the ones which launched the bouncing bombs. “So there’s a sequel after the dams break.”

He was an Airfix kid. Still is, actually, saying he occasionally bids for old kitsets on eBay.

Oscar Screeners Heavy With VFX
(Variety.com) The Screener Season has only begun, but there’s already a trend: Universal, Paramount and Fox Searchlight have created two versions of their titles for the various constituencies.

U and Par are sending out two-disc versions of their respective “United 93” and “World Trade Center” to various voting orgs, with the second disc containing “making of” docus. But since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and BAFTA have strict rules about the content of screeners — just the film, nothing else — a separate DVD went to those groups.

From 20th Century Fox, voters can expect to see “X-Men: The Last Stand” for sound effects, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” for animated film and “Flicka” for song with Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl.”

Warner Bros. will mail out “The Departed,” “Blood Diamond,” “The Fountain,” “Superman Returns,” “We Are Marshall” and “The Good German”.

Disney will send “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “The Prestige” and “Cars” .

Utley said Searchlight sent films to the WGA, which the studio hadn’t done in the past. The reason: “The strongest tool you have is the number of people who see the movie.”

James Cameron Takes On 3-D Cave Diving Film

(scifi.com) Gary Johnstone will direct and James Cameron will produce a 3-D adventure thriller for Rogue Pictures, according to an announcement made by the studio’s co-presidents Andrew Karpen and Andrew Rona. Rogue will make the film in collaboration with Cameron’s Earthship Productions.
Cameron will produce the film with Andrew Wight. John Garvin penned the script, which involves filming in real caves in Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

In a statement issued by Rogue Pictures, producer James Cameron said, “Earthship is a small guerrilla group that has proven itself capable of efficient production under the most intense conditions anywhere in the world. Expanding its mission statement to include features seemed a natural evolution. We decided to make a gritty, expedition-themed film using the 3-D cameras and techniques that we�ve developed.

When we looked for a partner, Rogue seemed the best fit, because they really understood the type of picture we want to make. Plus, they�re genuine fans of film, so they�re fun to work with.�

The film will utilize the 3-D Fusion camera system, developed by Cameron and Vince Pace. Cameron and Pace’s system allows the film to be shown in 2-D as well as 3-D theaters.

The Official Synopsis

The story takes place in the breathtaking world of cave diving, one of the last frontiers of exploration remaining on this planet. The film will explore the human mind as well as the underground depths, as the characters are stripped to their most primitive selves after they are trapped and lost deep below sea level. There, a father and son will struggle to survive and come to terms with each other in the most dangerous and unforgiving environment on Earth.

Eragon’s Stefen Fangmeier Moves Ahead At ICM

(post-gazette.com) As part of its search for new revenue sources, talent agency ICM is trying to create new job opportunities for less experienced and therefore lower-compensated clients. A case in point: visual-effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier, who a couple of years ago was gunning for his first directing gig. Because he was willing to accept a fraction of his standard $1 million fee, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox hired him to direct its December fantasy film “Eragon.”

Now, hoping to parlay that into a more lucrative project, Robert Newman, the head of ICM’s motion picture group, has been sending Mr. Fangmeier several new scripts per week. “Robert didn’t make any money off me on this particular project,” says the director. “It’s about the future things I’ll be doing.”

Source: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06298/732850-28.stm

Wachowski Brothers Helming Speed Racer

(comingsoon.net) The big-screen, live-action version of Speed Racer is ready to go, this time with Larry and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix” trilogy) behind the wheel, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The Wachowski brothers are writing and will direct the Warner Bros. movie, which will be produced by Joel Silver. They are reuniting with several of the creative behind-the-scenes talent from the “Matrix” films, including executive producer Grant Hill and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta, who won an Oscar for his work on The Matrix.

Based on the classic 1960s series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida that later was retooled for North American audiences, the big-screen film will follow the adventures of the young race car driver Speed in his quest for glory in his thundering gadget-laden vehicle, Mach 5. The movie will feature other characters from the show, including Speed’s family and his mysterious archrival, Racer X.

When Silver worked on V For Vendetta with the Wachowskis, he approached them about tackling the project. The duo were reluctant to do it unless they could figure out a way to bring something new to the table.

“They are approaching these racing scenes in a way you’ve never seen before,” said Silver, adding that the brothers are designing the movie’s look as they write.

The plan is for the Wachowskis to shoot the family-friendly film in summer 2007 for a summer 2008 release.

National Treasure 2 Starts Filming in January

(MTVnews.com) Producer Jerry Bruckheimer tells MTV that the highly-anticipated sequel to National Treasure is getting underway.

“I met with Nic yesterday, and it’s getting very close,” he said. “We’re going to start filming in January.”

Discussing the National Treasure 2 script, Bruckheimer revealed: “It’s another little treasure hunt, and this time it involves [Abe] Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth and 18 pages which are actually missing from [Lincoln’s] diary.”

Teasing the plot further, Bruckheimer posed the central question of the sequel. “What was in those 18 pages?” he asked.

Wanna Live On Elm Street?

(fangoria.com) With the U.S. housing market taking a 35-year plunge, it seems even some of cinema’s more infamous abodes aren’t impervious to the drop. Now you can own the four-bedroom home located at 1428 Elm Street, or more accurately 1428 N. Genesee Ave in Hollywood, CA, which Realtor.com is currently featuring here, for the bargain price of $1,095,000.

The listing describes the home as a Spaulding Square fixer opportunity. With some work this could be your Family Dream Home, backyard with pool 4 entertaining, 4 bedrooms 3.5 bath & office. Terrific living room with fireplace, formal dining room and bar set up. No mention of the fact that Nancy Thompson and family, as well as a series of others, had rather unfortunate stays in the home, but to horror fans the structure is easily recognizable as Freddy Krueger’s preferred haunt (the current homeowneru2019s decision to change the door and trim color from blue to green isn’t fooling anyone).

Make a bid: http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/HomeListing.asp?snum=1&frm=bymlsid&pgnum=1&mls=xmls&js=off&fid=so&vtsort=&ss_aywr=&locallnk=&poe=realtor&ct=&zp=&primaryZp=&nearbyZp=&mnprice=0&mxprice=99999999&mnbed=0&mnbath=0&typ=1&typ=2&typ=4&mnsqft=0&exft=0&exft=0&exft=0&exft=0&lid=06-126179&sid=077A06CE99C4C&snumxlid=1067227604&lnksrc=00001

Peter Jackson Readies To Train Dragons

(insomniacmania.com) Peter Jackson is set to direct an adaptation of hit book “His Majesty�s Dragon” which is the first in the series of “Temeraire” novels.
Production will begin as soon as Jackson has finished work on his next movie, an adaptation of the novel “The Lovely Bones”.

“His Majesty’s Dragon” has the very exciting setting of being set in the Napoleonic wars, whilst also featuring dragons as normal everyday weapons!

We all know that Jackson can do epic fantasy in his sleep, and he’s a dab hand at filming huge battle scenes, so recreating such an epic period as the Napoleonic Wars with the added bonus of winged serpents shouldn’t prove too taxing for him!

Sci-fi Without CGI?

Weeks before shooting his second movie, Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky took the film’s star, Jared Leto, to see The Matrix?at?a Brooklyn mall. It was the spring of 1999, and Aronofsky had already established himself as one of the most promising directors of his generation. His indie debut, ? � a brainy thriller filmed for $60,000? �? had been a sleeper hit at the Sundance Film Festival the year before, earning him an award for best director.
“I walked out of The Matrix with Jared and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?'” Aronofsky says. “The Wachowskis basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured. Suddenly Philip K. Dick’s ideas no longer seemed that fresh. Cyberpunk? Done.”

Challenged and exhilarated, the director started taking walks around Manhattan with an old college buddy, Ari Handel, to toss around ideas for a new film they would eventually call The Fountain. After spending eight years at New York University mapping the brains of rhesus macaques, Handel had quit neuroscience to become a writer. Aronofsky and Handel’s freewheeling conversations ranged over primate neurology, the physics of space travel, and the history of Mayan civilization. One of the director’s first concepts for the script, Handel says, was a dramatic juxtaposition: “I remember Darren saying, ‘How cool would it be to cut from a battle scene in some historical period to a man traveling alone in space for an unknown reason?'”

For Aronofsky, the seminal science fiction films of previous eras � like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars � had dared to reimagine space and time. “2001 was the first sci-fi movie to deal with real physics,” he explains. “Kubrick introduced his audience to a zero-g world with no up and down or left and right. Then Lucas came along with Star Wars and kicked it all into hyperdrive.” He felt that in the past three decades, the visual innovations introduced by these directors had degenerated into a set of stale conventions, particularly an overreliance on digital imagery. After seeing The Matrix, Aronofsky became determined to be the next director to push the genre into new territory. “No matter how good CGI looks at first, it dates quickly,” he says. “But 2001 really holds up. So I set the ridiculous goal of making a film that would reinvent space without using CGI.”
More: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/outsider.html

Michael Bay Will Lay Waste To Your City

(jalopnik.com) As a word of warning, if Michael Bay says “I want to film my movie in your city” — say no. Just because it’s a movie like Transformers — and he’s like some big muckety-muck director, it doesn’t matter. The guy’s a “shoot for the edit” kind of director. That means he’ll do as much damage as possible shooting one of his big-budget flicks — ten times the damage to your town, city or favorite asteroid as is necessary — just to make sure he’s got the right shot when he gets back to the edit room where he’ll splice together the best of the carnage. Best bet’s just to not let him get anywhere near you, your loved ones, your belongings or the city you call home.

Lucky for Detroit, we’re used to fires, explosions and the sounds of random gunfire. It’s part of the reason we’re the most masculine city on Earth. If you don’t believe it — check out the huge gallery of explosive shots one of our readers took of General Bay storming downtown Detroit. Or as we here in the Motor City like to call it– Wednesday.

Source: http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/news/transfomers-in-detroit-michael-bay-will-lay-waste-to-your-city-205438.php

Gallery of devastation: http://www.jalopnik.com/photogallery/DetroitTransformers2/