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The Hollywood Universe – 2/19/08


  The Hollywood Universe – 2/19/08

1) In the wake of the now resolved writers’ strike, Paramount has pushed back the release date for J.J. Abrams’ reinventing of Star Trek from Christmas to May 8, 2009 to serve as a summer tentpole picture. Replacing the film on the holiday schedule for Paramount will be the Brad Pitt-Cate Blanchett fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, moved forward from the Thanksgiving weekend to a Dec. 19th opening. 
2) Paul Bettany is set to star in the supernatural thriller film Legion, a Screen Gems film directed by visual effects star Scott Stewart, from a script by Peter Schink. Legion tells what happens when the biblical God loses faith in humanity and sends his legion of angels to wipe out the human race. Mankind’s only hope lies in a group of misfits holed up in a diner in the desert who are aided by the archangel Michael, played by Bettany. Production begins in New Mexico in March.

3) Lawsuit News #1: The charitable trust for the estate of J.R.R. Tolkein is suing New Line Cinema over profits for the blockbuster movie trilogy adaptation of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims New Line failed to pay at least $150 million in monies owed to the London-based trust, on the basis of a 1969 contract with the studio that originally purchased the film rights to the work and entitled Tolkein’s estate to 7.5 percent of gross receipts of an adaptation. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a legal settlement between New Line and the films’ director and producer Peter Jackson over profits from the series. Jackson is now on-board to co-produce the live action adaptation of the prequel children’s tale, The Hobbit. The Tolkein trust seeks to terminate New Line’s rights to Tolkein’s works, which would put the current Hobbit production out of business.

4) Lawsuit News #2: Movie studio Twentieth Century Fox is suing Warner Brothers studio over who has the right to develop, produce and distribute a film based on the graphic novel Watchmen. Fox claims it holds the exclusive copyrights and contract rights to the property, acquired between 1986-1990, and to the screenplays written by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm, and seeks to enjoin Warners from going forward with the project. Production on Warner's film based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel is almost done with shooting under the helm of director Zack Snyder. The cast includes Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman. Fox apparently assigned some of the rights in the property to Largo International, which were then transferred to producer Lawrence Gordon when Largo was dissolved. Gordon was to pay Fox a buy-out price if another studio was brought in to develop Watchman, a buy-out Fox claims has not been made, nor have other key rights been purchased. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified damages.

5) Kristen Bell will star in the fantasy-tinged romantic comedy When in Rome, for Disney, directed and written by Mark Steven Johnson. Bell plays a successful NY real estate agent who travels to Rome for her sister’s wedding. While there, she picks up coins from a reputed “fountain of love” and when she returns to New York, she is swamped by suitors. Bell will also be seen in the upcoming Star Wars-themed film Fanboys and the comedy Surviving Sarah Marshall. Shooting for When In Rome begins at the end of March.

6) The Visual Effects Society held their sixth annual awards ceremony and Transformers and Industrial Light & Magic won the top movie prize, the award for outstanding visual effects in an effects-driven film, and the award for best single visual effect for its desert highway sequence. Industrial Light & Magic also won two awards for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End. Pixar’s animated Ratatouille won for best supporting visual effects in a motion picture, outstanding animated character in a motion picture and best effects in an animated picture. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix won the special effects category. In the television awards, Battlestar Galactica: Razor won the award for best made-for-TV movie.

7) Pixar’s Ratatouille swept the Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society, which recognize achievements in feature film and television animation, winning 10 awards in all, including best feature production, best writing and directing for Brad Bird, best voice acting for Ian Holm, best character animation, best music, storyboarding, production design and animated video game. Other winners included Surf’s Up for best animated effects; best animated television production for Creature Comforts America, best animated television production for children to El Tigre and best directing in an animated TV production to Seth Green for Robot Chicken Star Wars.

8) Bo Zenga, one of the producers for the satirical Scary Movie, will be making his directorial debut with the horror spoof Stan Helsing for Stone Village Pictures. The story takes place on Halloween night when reluctant hero and video-store clerk Stan Helsing has to save his town from the six biggest monsters in cinematic history. Shooting on the film begins in April. 
9) Fantasy film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus from writer and director Terry Gilliam was shut down after the tragic accidental death of its star Heath Ledger. Now the film, which tells the story of an acting troupe that makes use of a magic mirror to other dimensions, has found a solution by recruiting three star actors, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, to play different versions of Ledger’s character “Tony,” in the different dimensions the character visits. The film will also be using the footage Ledger shot of his character before his death. The film also stars Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield and Verne Troyer and is loosely scheduled for release in 2009. Shooting on the picture is expected to resume shortly.
10) Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long and Sean William Scott will provide  voices for the CGI animated film Planet 51 for New Line Cinema and Ilion Animation Studioes. The film revolves around a group of planetary residents facing an alien invasion when a spaceman comes to warn them.

11) The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awarded Ratatouille with its Best Animated Feature award and The Golden Compass with Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

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