Variety has reported interest by Walt Disney Studios in producing Prom, a comedy written by television writer Katie Wech. Citing the success of High School Musical as inspiration, the teen romp is said to be written in the vein of film legend John Hughes or Cameron Crowe. Quick to note that the project is still in development stages, Variety suggests Disney is looking at a way to produce the film for only five to ten million, significantly less than even the aforementioned Disney Channel Movie cost, most notably by casting virtual unknowns for the leads, thus heightening the film’s chances at churning a profit.
Joe Nussbaum is set to direct the project which still has yet to be given the greenlight by the studio, with Ted Griffin and Justin Springer set to produce.
THE BIG PICTURE
- DIVINE DIGS – Director Tim Burton’s London office was once owned by Arthur Rackham, a famous English book illustrator who created the iconic color plates for the 1907 edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
- THE QUESTION IS WHO ARE YOU? – Lewis Carroll is actually a pen name for Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics at Christchurch University in Oxford, England.
- WONDERLAND, NO UNDERLAND — Underland is the same fantastical land that Alice visited as a child, but—according to screenwriter Linda Woolverton—she misheard the word “Underland” and thought they said “Wonderland.” Woolverton says Underland is a part of the Earth, lying somewhere far beneath our world. It’s come upon hard times since the malevolent Red Queen took over the throne, but is a truly wonderful land, which might explain why the girl who mistook it for Wonderland has been called upon to help return it to its glory.
- ALMOST ALICE — “ALICE IN WONDERLAND” sparked two music CDs, including the motion-picture soundtrack, featuring an extraordinary score by composer Danny Elfman, and “Almost Alice,” a 16-song companion compilation featuring the film’s end credit track “Alice,” written and performed by Avril Lavigne, plus songs from artists who were inspired by the film, including All American Rejects, 3OH!3, The Cure’s Robert Smith, Franz Ferdinand and Shinedown. The album’s title, “Almost Alice,” comes from a line in the film. All of Underland has been awaiting Alice’s return since she first visited as a child, but when she does come back, nobody—including Alice—believes she’s the right Alice, the confident and feisty Alice they once knew. Eventually, the wise caterpillar tells her she’s Almost Alice.
- DEPP’S DESIGNS — Actor Johnny Depp goes through ample preparation for each of his roles and preparing to play the Mad Hatter was no different. Long before production began, the actor began doing watercolor paintings of what the Mad Hatter might look like, discovering later that his vision was quite similar to director Tim Burton’s.
- MAD HATTER MOOD RING — The Mad Hatter suffers from mercury poisoning, a common and unfortunate condition of many hatters of the time who used the chemical regularly for their craft. Depp and Burton elevated this Hatter’s madness by literally showcasing the character’s many mad mood swings in his makeup and wardrobe, creating a virtual human mood ring.
- CHANGES — Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice, is five feet four inches in real life but Alice changes size throughout the course of her adventures in Wonderland, ranging from six inches to two feet to eight-and-a-half feet, to a maximum of 20 feet tall. The production worked hard to use practical methods rather than special effects and often it was a case of putting Alice on an apple box to make her taller than everyone else.
- DRINK ME — The potion Alice drinks to shrink is called Pishsolver. The cake she eats to grow is called Upelkuchen.
- SWEET AND SOUR — Actress Anne Hathaway, who portrays the White Queen in “ALICE IN WONDERLAND,” decided that her representation of the character wouldn’t be completely vanilla. The White Queen comes from the same gene pool as the evil Red Queen, after all, so Hathaway envisioned a “punk rock vegan pacifist” and was inspired by Blondie, Greta Garbo, Dan Flavin and Norma Desmond.
- FUTTER-WHAT? — Futterwacken is the term used to describe the Underlanders’ dance of unbridled joy. Composer Danny Elfman was stumped when it came to creating the music for the dance. He wrote four different pieces for the director, each fun, unique and, as Elfman says, “pushing the bounds of what could be acceptable.”
- TWO TWEEDLES — Actor Matt Lucas was tapped to play both Tweedles, rotund twin brothers who constantly disagree with each other and whose confusing chatter makes little sense to anyone but themselves. Lucas, however, was unable to play Tweedledee and Tweedledum at the same time (for some reason). Actor Ethan Cohen was called on to portray Dum to Lucas’ Dee (or vice versa) during filming, but will never actually appear on screen.
- BANDERSNATCH? — This disgusting, drooling, foul-smelling creature has a big filthy body and the squashed, teeth-baring face of a rabid bulldog. The creature leaves Alice with a rather painful reminder of the Red Queen’s horrible reign.
BEHIND THE SCENES
- MEASURING UP — Costume designer Colleen Atwood had her work cut out for her when it came to creating the costumes for Mia Wasikowska’s ever-changing Alice. The character wears a variety of different garments, including one purportedly made from the Red Queen’s curtains and even armor. Atwood had to find fabric in different scales, and construct costumes for Mia that would help illustrate her size changes.
- ON WITH HIS HEAD — Crispin Glover portrays Stayne, the Knave of Hearts, in the film, but only his head appears on screen. The body of the character, who’s seven-and-a-half feet tall, is computer generated. On set, Glover wore a green suit and a pair of stilts to make him taller. His face was fully made up for the role (complete with an eye patch and scar). For the final film, Stayne’s entire costume, body and even his cape are CGI. Only his face is real.
- ON WITH HER FACE — Helena Bonham Carter endured three hours of makeup each morning to transform into the fiery Red Queen. With the help of makeup pro Vallie O’Reilly, the actress was decked out in white powder, lots of blue eye shadow, painted eyebrows and perfect, heart-shaped bow-mouth lips. The special effects team enlarged Bonham Carter’s head in post production, creating the final look for the big-headed Queen.
- SOLE SURPRISE — Costume designer Colleen Atwood added a red heart to the soles of the Red Queen’s shoes, visible when the pampered royal places her feet on a live pig-turned-footrest.
- STILT TROUBLE — After Crispin Glover, who spent much of his time on stilts during production, twisted his ankle filming one particular scene, he was often followed on set by stuntmen all dressed in green who were there solely to catch him in case he fell again.
- CARROT CAPPERS —Tim Burton wanted the animal characters in Wonderland to appear real rather than cartoony. So before creating the White Rabbit, animators spent a day at a rabbit shelter for abandoned rabbits, observing the animals and shooting photo reference footage to ensure they captured the nuances of rabbits chewing and wriggling their noses.
- 2D to 3D — Director Tim Burton decided to shoot the film in 2D and convert it later to 3D. The director was so impressed with the results of the conversion of his film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to 3D, he opted to go a similar route for “Alice.”
- SUPER SFX SUPERVISOR — Tim Burton turned to legendary special effects guru Ken Ralston and Sony Imageworks to create the wondrous world of Wonderland and its inhabitants. Ralston (whose credits include the original “Star Wars,” as well as “Forrest Gump” and “The Polar Express”) and his team completed more than 2,500 visual effects shots in total. While the team used a combination of live action, animation and a host of other effects techniques, motion capture technology was not tapped for the film.
- IN THE GREEN — To represent the digital characters on set, the production used either cardboard cut outs, full-size models or else resorted to men in green with eyes stuck to various parts of the anatomy to help the actors with their eyelines and to give them something real to react to.
- HAIR-RAISING — When the animators were looking at reference photography of real caterpillars, they noticed they had hair on them. So Absolem the Caterpillar was treated to his very own CG fuzz.
- THE REAL STUFF — Very few real sets were built for Wonderland. In fact, only three versions of the Round Hall (where Alice ends up after falling down the rabbit hole) and the Red Queen’s dungeon were practical sets. The rest were created digitally.
- EYES HAVE IT — The Mad Hatter’s eyes were slightly enlarged making them between 10 and 15 percent bigger than Johnny Depp’s own.
- HIT THE NET — When the animators began to design the Dodo, their first port of call for reference was Google Image Search, followed by London’s Natural History Museum.
- BIG HEAD — A special 4K hi-def camera called a Dulsa with 4,000 lines of resolution was used to shoot Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen to enable her head to be blown up to twice its size in post-production without losing any image quality.
Originally slated to be released on April 2, the release date for Touchstone Pictures’ The Last Song has been moved to March 31, 2010.
The Associated Press is reporting that The Walt Disney Company affirms that the Miramax label will continue to exist and the films reported as being shelved will be distributed throughout theaters through 2011.
Disney says the most recent move was in line with the long term plans involving Miramax which include reducing the number of films produced per year to a maximum of three.
The article attributes an email sent from a [former?] Miramax employee, directing recipients to a specific Disney employee as the source of confusion.
The Wrap reported yesterday that Disney has officially decided to shut down Miramax Films after a recent period of slowly shrinking the production and distribution company, most recently ousting its president Daniel Battsek and closing the New York offices. Founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the pioneering film company was named in honor of the Weinsteins’ parents (Miriam and Max) and was acquired by Disney in 1993. After a strained relationship with The Walt Disney Company, the Weinsteins left Miramax in 2005 and began another new film company on their own.
The Wrap, which offers reponses from director Kevin Smith and Harvey Weinstein himself states that the Weinsteins are interested in recovering the Miramax name but as of yet there has been no response from Disney other than an offer from Robert Iger to sell the company outright to anyone for $1.5B.
Released a few days ago, exclusively through MTV, Walt Disney Studios has now offered us the following hi-res image of a sleek new Tron Legacy billboard ad featuring a yellow light cycle. This ad compliments the original blue version we first introduced you to last month.
In this new clip from When in Rome, courtesy of Touchstone Pictures, Nick (Josh Duhamel) takes Beth (Kristen Bell) out for a romantic dinner in an experimental restaurant he hopes will pick up where the two left off in Rome, he gets a bit more than he bargained for, the least of which is the waitress (Kristen Schaal of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3).
Principal photography is underway in London for Walt Disney Pictures’ “JOHN CARTER OF MARS.” Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom Series,” the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter, who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (WILLEM DAFOE) and Dejah Thoris (LYNN COLLINS).
“I have been waiting my whole life to see the characters and worlds of ‘John Carter of Mars’ realized on the big screen,” says Stanton. “It is just a wonderful bonus that I have anything to do with it.”
Produced for Walt Disney Pictures by Jim Morris (“WALL•E,” “Ratatouille”) and Colin Wilson (“Avatar,” “War of the Worlds”), the live action/animation film marks Academy Award®-winning director/writer Andrew Stanton’s (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”) first foray into live action. Stanton directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Disney•Pixar’s “WALL•E,” which earned the Academy Award and Golden Globe® for Best Animated Feature (2008); Stanton was nominated for an Oscar® for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” garnering an Academy Award-nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (2003). He has worked as a screenwriter and/or executive producer on Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” (which he also co-directed), “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Ratatouille” and “Up.”
The stellar ensemble cast is led by Taylor Kitsch (NBC’S “Friday Night Lights”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the title role, Lynn Collins (“50 First Dates,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) as the warrior princess Dejah Thoris and Oscar® nominee Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man 3,” “Shadow of a Vampire”) as Martian inhabitant Tars Tarkas. The cast also includes Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways,” Spider-Man 3), Polly Walker (upcoming “Clash of the Titans,” “Patriot Games”), Samantha Morton (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “In America”), Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Body of Lies”), Ciaran Hinds (“Munich,” “There Will Be Blood”), British actor Dominic West (“300,” “Chicago”), James Purefoy (“Vanity Fair,” “Resident Evil”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). Daryl Sabara (“Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” “Spy Kids”) takes the role of John Carter’s teenaged nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The creative team includes Oscar®-nominated production designer Nathan Crowley (“Public Enemies,” “The Dark Knight,” “Batman Begins”), costume designer Mayes Rubeo (“Avatar,” “Apocalypto”), cinematographer Daniel Mindel (“Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible III,” “Spygame”) and video effects supervisor Peter Chiang (“The Reader,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”).
janD23: The Official Community for Disney Fans today unveiled a host of special events that have been designed especially for its growing worldwide membership base.
Among the exciting offerings for 2010 are exclusive D23 one-year anniversary parties at the Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort, free “50 and Fabulous” film screenings at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, and a special 40th anniversary celebration event to honor the Walt Disney Archives.
“In our first year, D23 created some truly memorable event opportunities for our members, and this year we plan to outdo ourselves with a mix of all-new events and encores of fan favorites,” said Steven Clark, head of D23. “D23 Members are going to have more opportunities than ever to be part of the Disney magic through the events we have planned in 2010, and we hope they’ll be as excited as we are to experience them alongside their fellow members.”
D23 Members will receive notification of special events and reservation times via e-mail, and all events are offered on a space-available basis. More details on events, and on becoming a D23 Member, can be found at www.disney.com/D23.
Rich Ross, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios (TWDS), announced today that Sean Bailey has been named President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production as the segment continues to restructure its operation. In his new role, he will oversee all aspects of live-action development, film production and physical production for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. Additional changes to international theatrical distribution, multicultural initiatives, publicity, communications and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment were made as part of the business’ new strategic direction.
“Building upon a strong foundation with the company, Sean brings great creative instincts and considerable filmmaking experience to his new role at The Walt Disney Studios. His close relationships throughout the creative community and industry at large make him an ideal leader to set the direction of TWDS’ future film slates,” said Ross. “Sean’s talent, energy, and commitment to delivering quality content will help us achieve our goals of producing and distributing Disney-branded movies that entertain audiences worldwide.”
“I am honored and thrilled to join a company with the history and tradition of The Walt Disney Studios,” said Bailey. ”Working with the strong team that has been assembled under Rich’s leadership, I look forward to working with the Studios’ impressive array of talented filmmakers to create entertaining, inspiring films that uphold the legacy and quality of classic Disney movies and capture the imagination of our global audiences.”
Bailey’s feature film producing credits include Matchstick Men, Gone Baby Gone and the upcoming Disney film, Tron Legacy. He is the founder and president of the production company, Idealogy, Inc. He also co-founded the integrated media firm, LivePlanet, with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore and was the executive producer of several high profile television programs including LivePlanet’s three-time Emmy-nominated Project Greenlight. Sean wrote the screenplay Liberty for The Walt Disney Company and co-wrote the screenplay Solace.