Tuesday, May 13, 2008

News - 05/13/08...

Exclusive look at character designs from upcoming Pixar/Disney films!

Rush over to the Character Design blog while you can for a rumored first look at early character designs from upcoming Pixar and Disney character: Miley Cyrus’ character Penny from this November’s Bolt; the soulful singing crocodile from the anticipated 2D feature The Princess and the Frog; the prince of Glen Keane’s Rapunzel; and several character from Pixar’s first fairy tale, Brenda Chapman’s The Bear and the Bow. The site also features great character designs from past Disney classics such as Robin Hood, 101 Dalmatians, The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas.

New Wall•E pictures emerge online
Five new stills from the Pixar film are now up at MovieWeb.

Iron Man Beats Speed Racer

The summer’s second big release put the pedal to the metal over the weekend, but Warner Bros.’ Speed Racer didn’t have quite enough gas to pull past Paramount Pictures’ release of Marvel Ent.’s Iron Man. The superhero movie added approximately $50 million to its domestic take during its second week, while Speed Racer crossed the finish line with an estimated $18 million.

After last weekend’s phenomenal $100 million opening for Iron Man, Speed Racer’s $18 million debut is a major disappointment for Warner Bros., considering the amount of money that went into the film’s robust marketing campaign, not to mention its hefty visual effects bill. The Wachowski brothers’ Berlin-based production was shot primarily against green screens with ILM, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Digital Domain, CIS Hollywood, Rising Sun Pictures, Evil Eye Pictures, BUF, CafeFX, Pacific Title and Lola Visual Effects all filling in the brightly colored world inspired by Tatsuo Yoshida’s classic manga and anime series. Given the enduring worldwide popularity of the cartoon show, the film should do brisk business overseas and on home video.

Speed Racer landed in the no. 3 spot while What Happens in Vegas, the Cameron Diaz/Ashton Kutcher vehicle earned an estimated $20 million, a respectable opening for a situational comedy made for a mere $35 million. The Sony Pictures romantic comedy Made of Honor came in at No. 4 over the weekend with around $7.6 million, followed by Universal’s Baby Mama with an estimated $5.7 million.

The competition will heat up this weekend as Disney releases the eagerly awaited sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Hot on its heels with a May 22 release date is the even more anticipated Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth installment in Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ blockbuster adventure saga.

Witchblade Movie Greenlit

Having sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since its 1995 debut, the Top Cow comic-book property Witchblade is set to hit the big screen through a partnership with Platinum Studios and Arclight Films. Accroding to Daily Variety, Arclight's Gary Hamilton and Nigel Odell will join Platinum Studios' Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Havenwood Media’s Steve Squillante as producers on the live-action adaptation. Production is slated to begin in September, possibly in Australia.

Witchblade revolves around a police officer who comes into posession of a jewel-encrusted gauntlet that gives extraordinary powers to its wearer, a specially chosen female from each generation. The property previously made to the screen in 2000 as a live-action TV movie that became a short-lived TNT series. More recently, Gonzo Digimation intorduced an anime series based on the comic in 2006.

Top Cow recently saw its Wanted comic book series adapted by Universal Pictures. Based on an original concept by legendary comic creator Will Eisner (The Spirit), the film by Nightwatch director Timur Bekmambetov stars Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, and is set for release on June 27.

After successfully launching the Men in Black property with Sony Pictures, Platinum Studios has two sci-fi feature films based on its comics are set up at DreamWorks—Atlantis Rising and Cowboys and Aliens. The company recently teamed with Hyde Park Ent. to produce Dead of Night, an adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi’s cult-favorite Italian comic book series Dylan Dog, with Superman Returns star Brandon Routh in the lead role, and is also working with Disney to adpat its Unique comic.

Chipmunks Return in 2010

When the first movie based on Ross Bagdasarian’s high-pitched trio of rodents made more than $358 million worldwide, a sequel became inevitable. Now Daily Variety reports that 20th Century Fox is planning to release Alvin and the Chipmunks II on March 19, 2010. The studio also set a date Feb. 27 as the release date for its adaptation of the Street Fighter video game series.

Created by Bagdasarian in 1958, the Chipmunks quickly became popular recording stars, churning out 16 studio records, selling more than 43 million albums and snagging five Grammy Awards. The animated Alvin and the Chipmunks TV series debuted in 1983 and was broadcast in more than 100 countries. An animated feature and various TV specials followed.

Starring Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl) as Dave Seville and three CG characters animated by Rhythm & Hues, Alvin and the Chipmunks was released on home video in late march and sold more than 2.6 million copies on the first day alone to become the year’s fastest selling home video title. The family flick was also voted Favorite Movie at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards that month.

Universal first adapted Street Fighter for the screen in 1994 with martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme in the lead. Now Hyde Park Ent. and Japanese video game publisher Capcom Ltd. are taking another stab at it for Fox, this time focusing on one of the game’s female combatants, Chun Li. The script is being written by Justin Marks, who is also attached to pen the upcoming Voltron movie for Mark Gordon Prods.

Madagascar Escapes 2 IMAX

IMAX Corp. and DreamWorks Animation SKG today announced that Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa will be released in IMAX theatres worldwide on Nov. 7, 2008. The animation studio’s next five theatrical releases will get the IMAX treatment, carrying the partnership through to May 2010. The Madagascar sequel will follow the June 6 release of Kung Fu Panda, followed by the studio's first three stereoscopic 3-D titles, Monsters vs. Aliens (March 2009), How to Train Your Dragon (November 2009) and Shrek Goes Fourth (May 2010). The pics will benefit from this summer’s rollout of the first IMAX Digital theatres.

“IMAX's early scheduled deployment of its state-of-the-art digital projection system has made possible the release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa into The IMAX Experience,” says DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “DreamWorks Animation remains committed to delivering a premium entertainment experience to our audience and further extending our relationship with IMAX helps us to achieve that goal.”

“The virtual elimination of film prints enables studios to release titles in a shorter window,” adds IMAX co-chairmen and co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. “This allows IMAX theatres to program more content, which we believe will translate into increased revenue for exhibitors and ultimately lead to accelerated growth of the IMAX network worldwide.”

In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo, King Julien, Maurice and the penguins all return for another wild adventure that begins when the penguins repair an old, crashed airplane and keep it in the air just long enough to reach vast plains of Africa. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer and Andy Richter reprise their voice roles for the film, which is co-directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, and produced by Mireille Soria and Mark Swift.

"Kung Fu Fighting" revived for "Panda" soundtrack

"Everybody is kung fu fighting" -- again.

A neo-funk/electronica cover of the disco era classic "Kung Fu Fighting" performed by Gnarls Barkley member CeeLo Green and actor/rocker Jack Black is the first single from the original motion picture soundtrack for Kung Fu Panda, an animated comedy starring the voice of Black.

Interscope Records will release the soundtrack album -- which also features the score by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and John Powell -- on June 3, preceding the film's nationwide release from DreamWorks Animation on June 6.

The hip new remake of "Kung Fu Fighting," with all-new lyrics, was produced by The Underdogs, whose credits include Chris Brown, Marques Houston and Beyonce. The original recording, written and performed by Carl Douglas, shot to #1 in both the United Kingdom and United States in 1974. The soundtrack's single will be available for sale May 27 on iTunes and everywhere digital songs are sold.

"A fan of the song first, it was inspiring and an honor to have the opportunity to reintroduce the record to a brand new audience sprinkled with a little of me on top," said a smiling CeeLo.

CeeLo and Danger Mouse comprise the duo Gnarls Barkley, whose recently released The Odd Couple album follows 2006's two-time Grammy-winning, #1 Pop and #1 R&B/Hip-hop St. Elsewhere.

Co-composers Zimmer and Powell provide the original score music. Kung Fu Panda marks the first collaboration for Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Zimmer (The Lion King) and Powell (Shrek) since DreamWorks' animated The Road To El Dorado in 2000.

"Using as our inspiration classic kung fu films, this score was an opportunity to write something truly epic again, which we don't get a chance to do that often," states Zimmer. "The music had to reflect the fabulous precision and magnificent action pieces depicted in the film, and we used a large-scale orchestra incorporating a good deal of percussion, Chinese drums and other ethnic instruments to create the various themes."

Zimmer is one of the film industry's most respected and sought-after composers, with a career encompassing well over 100 film and TV scores. He won an Academy Award for his score for The Lion King, and has earned six additional Oscar nominations for his work on The Prince Of Egypt, Gladiator, The Thin Red Line, Rain Man, As Good As It Gets and The Preacher's Wife. His more recent film credits include The Simpsons Movie and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End.

Powell is the recipient of two Ivor Novello Awards for Best Original Film Score from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for Shrek in 2001 and Ice Age: The Meltdown in 2006. He also scored Happy Feet, winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2006.

Powell has also scored other animated films, including Chicken Run, Antz, Robots and Horton Hears A Who, as well as the live-action Bourne trilogy. Currently, he is scoring Hancock.

"It was a great opportunity to have a play date with Hans again after all these years," Powell added. "We had missed the chance to collaborate, and this was the perfect film to try out all the ideas we had been talking about."

Kung Fu Panda, which features the voices of Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu and Ian McShane, tells the tale of a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, Po (voiced by Black), who must somehow become a kung fu master in order to save the Valley of Peace from a villainous snow leopard, Tai Lung. In the legendary world of ancient China, our unlikely hero enters the rigid world of kung fu and turns it upside down. Po ultimately becomes a kung fu hero by learning that if he believes in himself, he can do anything.

Kung Fu Panda was directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, produced by Melissa Cobb, and co-produced/written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.

3D "Cereal Heroes!" served in theaters in 2010

Fable Works, LLC is producing the original 3D-animated feature film "Cereal Heroes!" for theatrical release in 2010, the movie production and animation company announced Monday.

The movie will be produced at Sparx Animation Studios in Paris and Ho Chi Minh City, the capital of Vietnam.

The story follows the adventures of cartoon cereal box mascots who are mistakenly brought to life when a plan to replace the world's fallen superheroes with characters from comic books goes awry. These unlikely "Cereal Heroes" with ridiculous powers soon find themselves alone and on the run in an unfamiliar world that only they can save from certain destruction.

"Cereal Heroes! is a great action-adventure comedy for the whole family," said Fable Works producer Jean-Philippe Agati. "People of all ages will fall in love with these misfit cereal-box mascots as they attempt to save the world from the most powerful super-villains of all time."

Writer David Meinstein optioned the property to Fable Works last year and is writing the screenplay. Meinstein is best known for his work as writer and producer of the G4 Television program Portal.

Artist Stephen Silver is designing the characters for the film, which is currently in pre-production. Silver's best-known work includes the character designs for the animated TV series Kim Possible, Danny Phantom and Clerks.

Odyssey Entertainment Limited, the film's international sales agent, will begin pre-selling the feature at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

"We are delighted to be working with Sparx Animation Studios on this project," said Fable Works producer Laddie Ervin. "They are a highly skilled and talented group who know how to deliver feature-film quality 3D animation on time and on budget."

Sparx is currently completing work on its first feature film, Igor, which is produced by Exodus Production and will be distributed by the Weinstein Company for theatrical release in October. Igor is a playfully irreverent comedy that brings a new twist to the classic monster genre.

Brian Azzarello on Writing for Batman: Gotham Knight

One of the most sought-after writers in comics today, Brian Azzarello is one of the six acclaimed scribes to pen a segment within “Batman Gotham Knight,” the third in the ongoing series of DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies.

Unlike many of his past works, Azzarello’s segment – entitled “Working Though Pain” – takes a decidedly non-violent direction. The segment, which falls chronologically as the fifth of the six segments, explores an early chapter of Bruce Wayne’s training as a mysterious and exotic Indian woman named Cassandra introduces Batman to techniques that would help him to conquer the physical and spiritual consequences of what he does.

Azzarello achieved widespread notoriety – and garnered multiple Eisner Awards – for “100 Bullets,” a collaboration with artist Eduardo Risso which was published by Vertigo for DC Comics. He has continually broken new ground with offerings like Vertigo’s “Jonny Double,” “Hellblazer” and “Loveless” series. Azzarello is no stranger to Batman, having written for the character in “Broken City,” “Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire,” within the “Batman Gotham Knights” series and in “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel.”

A Chicago resident, Azzarello will travel across town to join fellow “Batman Gotham Knight” writers Alan Burnett and Josh Olson, along with producer Bruce Timm, for the film’s world premiere at Wizard World Chicago in late June. "Batman Gotham Knight" will arrive July 8, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, and will also be available that day On Demand via digital cable and for download through broadband sites. The film is produced as a collaboration between DC Comics, Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video and Warner Bros. Animation.

Azzarello took time away from his Mac Power Book to discuss “Batman Gotham Knight,” the character of Batman, the motivations of a writer, and a little cooking, too.

For starters, what was your overall impression of “Batman Gotham Knight,” and were you pleased with your segment?

I liked the film – it’s a very interesting take on the Batman character. It holds together cohesively, yet each episode is strikingly different. And I loved (my segment) – it’s great. I really liked the animation. It was fascinating seeing my words moving around. When I write, I see it in print – I don’t see it moving. So it was fun and it was a good experience.

How did you find the translation from your written page to the vision of the Japanese director and artists?

I was surprised how seamless the translation was. I definitely got what I wrote. The hospital scene is almost exactly the way I thought of it, while the fight scenes – that’s where the animators really put their “wow” into it. But I expected that. Usually that’s where the animators just go crazy.

Were there any particular visuals that struck you within your segment?

Seeing wounded Batman – now that struck me. I enjoy wounded Batman. It humanizes him. It showed a true physical struggle, and that’s something you can relate to. And the character Cassandra was a bit hotter than I thought she’d be … but that’s okay.

When you’re writing for comics – and now for animation – do you put fairly detailed direction between the dialogue, or is it more of a collaborative process for you and the artist/animator?

I wrote the script and then I handed it off, and that’s pretty much the same relationship I have in comics. I really trust my collaborators, and I try to leave them plenty of room so they can bring their strengths to the work. I think that happened in this film, and definitely for my segment – the animation is just amazing. Really amazing.

I have more of an affinity for the stage than I do for the screen, so I’m very conscious of the dialogue. And because I’ve always worked with collaborators, I tend to leave the visuals up to them – on purpose. It’s my belief that if I get the dialogue right, and the artist understands what motivates the characters and what they’re saying, then the visuals will come.

You’re fairly particular about the projects you accept. How’d you get involved with this film, and what made you say yes?

Gregory Noveck of DC Comics talked to my agent, then I had a conference call to discuss the story. They explained the film to me in broad strokes, and asked me to come up with an idea. I chose to focus more on Bruce Wayne, and they liked my pitch. As always happens, they needed the script yesterday, and I was I was on my way to Europe at the time. All I can tell you is that the hotel room in Barcelona was pretty nice, but I can’t tell you much about the city.

You were quoted in a UGO article as saying “Hollywood is nowhere I aspire to be” … and yet, here you are. What happened?

Well, the production may be in Hollywood, but I’m in Chicago – and I’m going to stay here. Is that semantics? I’m not sure. I enjoy doing the work, and I really liked writing for this project – I’d like to do it again. And I know there are people that would kill to work in Hollywood. I’m just not one of those people. I’ll do it, I have done it, but the project has to be right. I’ve been asked to write a lot of things that I’ve declined mainly because the projects didn’t interest me. If I were just writing to pull a paycheck, there’s a lot of other things I could be doing.

What’s your motivation for writing?

If I have a story, if I have something to say, that’s my motivation. For this film, I had something to say about Bruce Wayne as a character, what his motivations are. That there’s something dark and wrong about what drives him. Batman is a super hero and he does good. But I think the Bruce Wayne part of the character’s motivation is slightly twisted. Bruce’s motivations don’t come from a good place. He’s angry and, in that revenge is really his goal, he’s a dishonest character. That’s why he has to wear a mask. He’s doing good, but he’s not doing all the right things for all the right reasons.

That plays into this story. It should be a story about non-violence, but that’s the lesson that Bruce doesn’t learn. On the surface, Bruce is on a spiritual journey, but his spirit was corrupted when his parents were killed. And it’s not something that I think he’s even interested in fixing.

How much research was involved in scripting a story set in India that focuses on the mind-over-matter theme of conquering your pain from within?

I spent a lot of time surfing (the Internet) – it’s a wonder how we all have libraries at our fingerprints these days. I needed to do research on India, and I gathered a lot of information on pain management. What I learned is that a lot of pain management practitioners are con men.

You’ve had some notable experience working on Batman – can you compare the differences in working on this Batman tale vs. “Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire” and “Broken City” or the “Batman: Gotham Knights” comics?

Every time I approach Batman, I like to come from a different angle. In Deathblow, I saw him as a James Bond-type but on an urban level. For Broken City, he was the bitter private eye. On this project, I guess he’s lying to himself. He’s not intentionally conning Cassandra, but he does ultimately con her. He wants to learn what she knows, but he doesn’t want to know it for the reasons she teaches it. She finally figures out that he’s doing it for the wrong reason, but it isn’t until the end – and it’s not until then that even he understands that he’s been lying to himself.

What are you reading these days?

I have a stack of books – The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz; one of Jason Starr’s novels; and then I’ve got Mario Batali’s Italian Grill cookbook. I actually read a lot of cookbooks – I grew up around cooking, and cooking really relaxes me. Nine times out of 10, I’m cooking something Italian, but the weather is turning, so my grill has been fired up a lot lately. I love barbeque – it’s great to cook something for 8-10 hours. That’s such an American way of cooking, but I try to bring a lot of Mediterranean influences into that.

So if you could hand-pick your next achievement, what would it be – win another Eisner, write the next Batman, or have your own show on Food Network?

Well, having my own cooking show sounds like no work at all. Winning another Eisner would be nice. But I think I’d have to pick writing the next Batman – that would be the biggest challenge for me. As a freelancer, if you’re not challenging yourself, nobody is. Every day I have to paint myself into a corner and then write my way out of it.

"New York" Magazine Interviews Ralph Bakshi

New York magazine has posted a brief interview with Ralph Bakshi, where he deals with his role in the rise of artist Thomas Kinkade, the use of a Bob Seger song at the end of American Pop, what he would have used for the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, and what inspired his filmmaking during the 1970's.

BKN Sign Deal With Speed Racer Enterprises

BKN! International has signed a deal for the L&M rights to Speed Racer Classic and Speed Racer- The Next Generation in several key territories. The deal signed with Speed Racer Enterprises grants rights for Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Middle East.

Paul Allen Sheds DreamWorks Stock

Investor Paul Allen has sold 1.2 million shares, or nearly one third of his stake, in DreamWorks Animation, the Associated Press reports.

Allen, who had invested $500 million in DreamWorks SKG when in launched in the mid-1990s, now owns about four percent of DreamWorks Animation stock.

Downey Jr. and Favreau on Iron Man 2

Entertainment Weekly caught up with both Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau after the box office figures for Iron Man started coming in. They asked both about Iron Man 2, coming to theaters on April 30, 2010.

Here's a clip from the Downey Jr. interview, which you can read in full here:

When you were brainstorming with Jon Favreau, what were the elements that you wanted to bring to the next Iron Man movie?

There's this idea of Terrence [Howard] putting on a suit and coming back as War Machine, who is pretty iconic in the Iron Man and Marvel universe. Just seeing where it can all go, but grounding it in a very modern mythology. I see it as greatest dysfunctional family story ever told.... In The New York Post a couple days ago, [there was a cartoon] of Iron Man suited up, and he's telling the governor even his super-powers can't get him out of the budget problem. That was what Jon was hoping for and excited to see the most, the idea that Tony Stark and Iron Man can become part of the cultural fabric. When we heard posters were being defaced to promote political or social ideas, he just got such a hoot out of that.

And a bit from the Favreau interview, available in full here.

Will you be involved with the sequel?

We've been speaking informally about it, and in concept we would all love to work together again. But I found out about the announcement last night, so it's not something that — we would definitely love to collaborate more with the sequel. There's no formal arrangement yet, but in theory we would all love to see it happen.... There's definitely a lot of ideas that we all have now. This type of movie is based on serialized materials, so it lends itself very easily to [many different sequel possibilities]. There's definitely a level of enthusiasm from myself and the cast to tell more stories.

Iron Man earned an additional $6.9 million on Monday and has pushed its domestic total to $109 million.

Buck Rogers is Coming to the Big Screen

Do they, or don't they have the rights? Nu Image/Millennium Films told IGN that no deal is in place yet, but now Variety says that Nu Image/Millennium Films has acquired film rights to "Buck Rogers," and will develop a live-action feature about the venerable pilot who awakens in the 25th Century and battles evil.

IGN also reported that Sin City and The Spirit director Frank Miller was attached to helm the pic, but the company later told them "they are still mulling over director contenders."

Buck Rogers has enjoyed incarnations in books, comic strips, movies, radio and television, a run that began in the 1920s. That included a feature serial from Universal in 1939 that starred Buster Crabbe, and a short-lived NBC series that starred Gil Gerard.

Nu Image/Millennium will search for a studio partner, just the way it did after gaining the movie rights from Paradox Entertainment to "Conan," which is now being developed with Lionsgate.

First Peek at Dragonball's Goku

Both DBtheMovie and the Dragon Ball Movie Blog alerted us to this scan taken from a Japanese magazine showing the first image of Justin Chatwin as Goku in Fox's Dragonball movie. Written and directed by James Wong, the big screen adaptation is scheduled for an April 10, 2009 release. James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Emmy Rossum, Eriko Tamura, Joon Park, Chow Yun-Fat, Texas Battle, Randall Duk Kim and Ernie Hudson co-star.

Iron Man Reaches $342 Million Worldwide!

Iron Man dominated the international box office this weekend, adding $39 million from 7,500 theaters in its second weekend, while What Happens in Vegas earned $23 million from 3,902 locations and Speed Racer made just $12.8 million from 3,940 theaters overseas.

Following its $98 million debut, Iron Man posted the second-largest weekend gross of 2008 despite a 60% decline. Iron Man saw its foreign total hit $165 million in 12 days, lifting the worldwide total to $342 million so far.

New Photo of The Spirit's Octopus

Comic-Con Magazine has debuted a new photo of Samuel L. Jackson as The Spirit arch-enemy the Octopus on the cover of its latest issue. Adapted from the legendary comic book series created by Will Eisner and written/directed by Frank Miller, the action-adventure opens Christmas 2008. Gabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Paz Vega, Jaime King, Dan Lauria, Stana Katic, Johnny Simmons and Louis Lombardi co-star.

Weinsteins Reviving Fraggle Rock

The Weinstein Co. will adapt the Jim Henson series Fraggle Rock into a live-action musical feature, Variety reported. Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked!) will direct the film and write the screenplay. The Jim Henson Co. will produce and The Weinstein Co. will distribute.

Just like the series, the film will be populated by a mix of human characters and Fraggle Rock muppets. It will take the core characters Gogo, Wembley, Mokey, Boober and Red outside of their home in Fraggle Rock, where they interact with humans who they think are aliens. The show premiered on HBO in 1983, ran five seasons and was broadcast in more than 80 countries. It posted strong sales recently when the first three seasons were released on DVD.

Weinstein Co. co-chair Harvey Weinstein, who has been steering his company more aggressively into the family film arena, made the marriage with Lisa Henson, who runs the Jim Henson Co. with her co-CEO brother, Brian Henson. Ahmet Zappa will be an executive producer with Brian Inerfeld.

The deal furthers the relationship between The Weinstein Co. and the creative team behind the animated feature Hoodwinked!. Edwards is reteaming with Hoodwinked! co-writer Tony Leech on the animated alien adventure Escape From Planet Earth, which will mark Leech's directing debut.

Edwards is separately developing a live-action feature adaptation of Cedar Fair's Halloween Haunt franchise, designed to be shot in 3-D by Kerner Optical and produced by Davis Entertainment, Dave Phillips and Tracey Edmonds. That film is looking for a backer.

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