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Home --> News Archive: July, 2007
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Jim Carrey to star in Disney CG retelling of Scrooge
From From the L.A. Times   Written by: John Horn, Times Staff Writer
July 7, 2007

From the Los Angeles Times: He's already played the Grinch, and now Jim Carrey is out to ruin Christmas all over again, this time playing Ebenezer Scrooge. Disney announced July 6th that Carrey will play the lead role in the computer-animated, 3-D retelling of "A Christmas Carol," to be directed by Robert Zemeckis. And because Carrey is Carrey, he'll play Scrooge at different ages as well as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future that haunt Ebenezer and make him rethink his misguided ways.

Zemeckis will direct the picture for Disney using the performance-capture animation he used in "The Polar Express" and is using in the upcoming Angelina Jolie film, "Beowulf." (His version of "A Christmas Carol" will combine live action and computer graphics.)

The adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, which has been turned into many previous features and television movies, is scheduled to go into production later this year, with no release date yet announced.

Mickey Mouse arm, wand coming down from Epcot sphere at Disney World
From From Orlando Sentinel   Written by: Scott Powers
July 5, 2007

The 257-foot-tall Mickey Mouse arm, glove and wand logo structure at Epcot is coming down. Epcot Vice President Jim MacPhee announced Thursday morning that the time has come to remove the structure, which has served both as a colorful, lighted Epcot sign since 2000, and as a lightning rod for criticism from Epcot purists who contended the image was out of character for Epcot's architecture.

The structure leans on Epcot's previous and future iconic figure, the Spaceship Earth Pavilion, a 180-foot geodesic sphere that can be seen for miles. The arm and glove went up for Walt Disney World's 2000 millennium celebration. Now, however, with Epcot's 25th anniversary this fall, and the temporary closing of Spaceship Earth attracdtion, MacPhee said, "We think the timing of the removal is right."

Deconstruction of the 50-ton structure begins Monday, and will be completed shortly before the park's 25th anniversary, October 1. Also coming down are the 36-foot-high "Epcot" letters and colored stars splashing across the sphere. Also Monday, the Spaceship Earth ride will close to complete a refurbishing sponsored by Siemens AG. The work should be done by November, MacPhee said.

At 257 feet, the arm-glove-wand addition to the Epcot dome made the structure the tallest point in all of Walt Disney World. Once it comes down, the tallest points according to Sentinel research will be two structures both estimated at 199 feet tall -- the Tower of Terror at MGM Studios and the new Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. The tallest point in the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella's Castle at 180 feet.

In terms of park centerpieces, Epcot's dome and Magic Kingdom's castle will both be the tallest, followed by Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life at 145 feet and then the sorcerer's hat at MGM standing at 100 feet tall.

Ratatouille cooks up lukewarm box office win
From From Reuters   Written by: Staff writer
July 1, 2007

A rat chased millions of moviegoers into US theatres, but the furry star of Ratatouille also whipped up one of the worst openings in the history of Walt Disney Co's cartoon powerhouse Pixar Animation.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, Ratatouille about a rat who aspires to become a gourmet chef sold $US47.2 million worth of tickets during its first three days. It took the No. 1 slot ahead of the new Bruce Willis movie Live Free or Die Hard with $US33.2 million.

It was the lowest opening for a Pixar-produced release since the studio's second effort, A Bug's Life, launched with $US33.3 million in 1998 on its way to a $US163 million total.

By contrast last year's Pixar entry, Cars, drove off with $US60.1 million - a figure regarded as something of a disappointment - and finished with $US244 million.

If Ratatouille follows the same pattern as Cars, it will gross about $US189 million, becoming the third consecutive Pixar release to underperform its predecessor. But Disney was confident Ratatouille would easily pass $US200 million.

Opening weekend predictions among financial analysts for Ratatouille had ranged from $US50 million to $US65 million. But movie industry polling had a more realistic target in the low $US40 million range, according to Chuck Viane, Disney's president of domestic theatrical distribution.


Viane said the competition was unprecedented, with Ratatouille boxed in by Live Free or Die Hard, which got a two-day head start by opening on Wednesday, and by the Monday night release of the hotly anticipated Transformers.

Still, with a little help from the July 4 holiday, he predicted that Ratatouille would be as successful, if not more successful, than most Pixar films.

The most successful of Pixar's seven previous releases was 2003's Finding Nemo, with sales of $US340 million. It opened to $US70.3 million. A year later, The Incredibles kicked off with $US70.5 million, but lost steam and settled at $US261 million.

Both Ratatouille and The Incredibles were directed by Brad Bird. His latest effort revolves around a Parisian rat named Remy who dreams of gourmet stardom.

As usual with Pixar releases, critics heaped superlatives on the film. But it was no secret that Disney faced a marketing challenge with the movie: A rat in the kitchen raises hygiene concerns for some people.

Disney is still proving to investors that last year's acquisition of Pixar is worth its $US7.4 billion price tag. Ratatouille is the first Pixar film to be released that was still in production when the Disney-Pixar deal was sealed.

Willis' Live Free Or Die Hard has earned $US48.2 million in its first five days. The fourth episode of 20th Century Fox's action series, predictably skewed towards older males, the News Corp-owned studio said. It enjoyed a 20 percent bump from Friday to Saturday, indicating strong word of mouth; Ratatouille, by contrast, rose 3 per cent.

Last weekend's champion Evan Almighty, the first big disappointment of the summer box office, slipped to No. 3 with $US15.1 million and a two-week total of $US60.6 million.

With a reported budget of $US175 million, the Steve Carell movie was the most expensive comedy ever made. It was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal Inc.

The top-10 contained two other new entries. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's Sicko opened at No. 9 with $US4.5 million, in line with expectations. The follow-up to Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 played in just 441 theaters vs 3940 for Ratatouille. It was fully financed by the closely held Weinstein Co and released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The drama Evening, starring a slew of heavyweight actresses such as Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep opened at No. 10 with a modest $US3.5 million from 977 theaters. It was released by NBC Universal's art house arm Focus Features.

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