Disney announced its deal to add Avatar-licensed attractions to its parks two years ago, and today it officially kicked off construction on Pandora at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The plan is to have it finished in 2017, complete with …
Are you ready to go back to Titanic?
That is not just a famous line from the 1997 Oscar-winning box office phenomenon, they are also the words producer Jon Landau used this morning in front of a packed theater of journalists at Paramount to introduce 18 minutes of the film’s new 3D conversion. Paramount and 20th Century Fox — which holds international rights after bringing in Paramount to be domestic distributor when the film was sailing way over budget — will open the new 3D-converted Titanic on April 6, 2012. That’s just days before the 100th anniversary of the ship’s maiden launch on April 10, 1912.
“We didn’t want to release it on the day of the sinking, we wanted it to be about the ship itself, but obviously it sank,” said the film’s writer/director/co-producer/co-editor and all-around King of the World James Cameron, who explained that with the 100th anniversary of the fabled ship’s sailing the time was right not only for 3D but to bring the movie back for a new theatrical experience — even though it has been out in various video formats for years. “It has to do with the psychology of going to a theater. We make a committment to spend those two or three hours in a shared experience with others … and there is a whole generation that hasn’t seen it at all,” Cameron said, adding that in the modern world of cell phones, texting, emailing and other distractions, it is hard to get the full intended impact of a film like this at home.
Of course, Cameron has publicly stated he isn’t a fan of 3D conversions for films that have a choice. But he makes an exception for those “20 or 30 classic films out there” that can find a new audience with the format, and Titanic fit the bill. “I love 3D; if I had the 3D cameras at the time, I certainly would have loved to have shot the film with them,” he said. When I spoke with him afterwards in the lobby, his enthusiasm was infectious for the film and the new technologies he now has at his disposal to give it new life. He said the whole movie would have been shot differently today than in 1997: Rather than building those massive ship sets, he would have relied much more heavily on CGI and other techniques than the not-so-cost-effective way they did it then. He said that fortunately for him the film made money (that’s an understatement), but it could have had a very different outcome. In other words, a lot of dice were rolled on Titanic, which of course went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time until Cameron’s own Avatar usurped it a couple of years ago. It would now take another billion or so for it to come back from the video bins and topple Avatar — an unlikely outcome — but one informed source working on the new re-release told me another “4 or 5″ (hundred million) could be in play. Certainly Disney’s success with The Lion King’s 3D conversion is whetting appetities all over Hollywood for the boxoffice possibilities of library titles.
“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).
The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.
Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.”
After a judge last week denied a motion to dismiss, a lawsuit is tentatively scheduled to play out in LA Superior Court on August 8 that pits former William Morris literary agent Dave Phillips against William Sherak, president of the 3D conversion house StereoD. Phillips alleges in court papers that after inviting Sherak to be his 50/50 partner on emerging 3D technology that Phillips had been retained to shop in Hollywood, Sherak betrayed him. By the time 18 months worth of meetings culminated in the deal that led to the formation of StereoD, Sherak emerged with a 32% stake in that company and signed a 3-Year $14 million deal to run it after Deluxe acquired StereoD in May. Phillips was offered $30,000 to sign a release and go away.
Sherak, the son of Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak, is accused of breaching an oral agreement and his fiduciary responsibility to Phillips. At issue is whether the technology Phillips plugged Sherak into (it originated with Kerner, an offshoot of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic) led to the deals that formed StereoD and should be counted in the 50/50 3D deal split Phillips said he and Sherak agreed to in an oral (not written) contract. Phillips claims in his complaint that Sherak often assured him their position would be protected because of his father’s industry clout, but that he eventually became evasive after Phillips was offered the $30,000. Stereo D has quickly become a major player in 3D conversions of films that include Captain America, Avatar, Jackass 3-D, and Thor.
Phillips claims that he brought Sherak into the 3D mix because they were longtime friends and he knew Sherak’s father would use his clout to put them in rooms with the Hollywood heavyweights needed for deals that would enrich the duo with finder fees. According to Phillips’ complaint, the elder Sherak orchestrated meetings with the likes of Ron Perelman, Deluxe’s Cyril Drabinsky, Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Lightstorm’s Jon Landau. The elder Sherak also arranged for Fox to provide a print of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to be converted into 3D for demos.
Along the way, the younger Sherak arranged meetings with Christopher Mallick, the financier of Middle Men, a film Sherak produced. These meetings evolved into a focus on 2D to 3D conversion technology called VDX that wasn’t owned by Kerner, but rather a Japanese inventor named Kuniaki Izumi. The filing indicates Phillips and Sherak were involved in bringing Izumi in from Japan to meet Mallick, who shortly after dropped his Kerner pursuit. He struck a deal with Izumi that paid the inventor $1 million for technology that became the core of Stereo D. Mallick gave equal ownership stakes in StereoD to himself, Sherak and Middle Men star Giovanni Ribisi. Phillips was not included.
HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 19, 2011) – Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment jointly announced today that James Cameron’s “TITANIC” will be re-released worldwide on April 6, 2012.
The release, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail (April 10th), will present the film in 3D for the first time ever.
Written, directed and produced by Cameron, “TITANIC” is the second highest grossing movie of all time. It is one of only three films to have received a record 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director; and launched the careers of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Called “A spectacular demonstration of what modern technology can contribute to dramatic storytelling” by Variety upon its release in 1997, the long in the works 3D conversion is being overseen by Cameron and his Lightstorm producing partner Jon Landau who produced the hit movie.
UPDATE 11 AM: TOLDJA! Alcon just issued a press release. Looks like James Cameron won’t be taking the producer credit, but his Lightstorm team of Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini are still taking the lead on this. …