Articles from September 2006

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END filming gets underway in Palmdale

After some delays, filming of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END has begun at Site 9, the former aircraft production hangar in Palmdale, California. Extras who work on Davy Jones’s ship, the Flying Dutchman, have been called to film on Friday, September 29th, as well as Monday and Tuesday of next week. Dharma_bum reports that a new casting call for AT WORLD’S END extras has been issued for the end of October; the agency is looking for “extremely thin men with long hair and beards and women with pale skin and natural hair color.” Security at the Palmdale set is reported to be as tight as it was at the Burbank studios, which means visitors will not be able to get anywhere near the set or see the cast members.

The Zone thanks dharma_bum for the update; it’s good to know that cameras are rolling again on AT WORLD’S END. You can read all the details on the Porch, on the thread called “AWE filming moves to Palmdale.”

Producer Graham King comments on Peter Weir's departure from SHANTARAM

In an interview with Geoffrey Macnab for SCREEN DAILY (U.K.), Initial Entertainment Group’s Graham King addressed the delay on his film of Gregory David Roberts’ SHANTARAM. Mr. King and Johnny Depp are producing the film for Warner Bros.; Johnny is slated to play the leading role, and production was originally supposed to begin when PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3 wrapped this fall. Now those dates have been pushed back several months due to the departure of director Peter Weir.

Graham King acknowledged that he and his producing partners have not yet found a replacement for Mr. Weir. “We’re talking to a few directors right now,” King told SCREEN DAILY. “It’s very unfortunate about Peter. He’s truly one of the best filmmakers that there is,” King said. “He just had a vision of the movie which wasn’t mine and Johnny’s.” King added that when SHANTARAM does begin filming, he hopes to bring the project to a studio in the U.K.–perhaps Leavesden. The Zone thanks emma for finding the interview!

DEAD MAN'S CHEST tops international box office once again

The Jolly Roger is still flying over the international box office, as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST claimed the number #1 spot for the 11th time in the past 12 weekends. According to the Hollywood Reporter, DEAD MAN’S CHEST grossed $7.6 million abroad. The blockbuster’s total overseas take is now $625.6 million; it has passed HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS ($614 million) to become the fourth-most-successful overseas movie of all time. DEAD MAN’S CHEST’s next target is the all-time #3 movie, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, which earned $658 million. The Zone thanks emma for the box-office news; you can read The Hollywood Reporter article on the News & Views forum.

A report from the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END set in Palmdale

Dharma_bum continues her reports from the various sites of the filming of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END. Her contact who investigated Site 9, the airplane hangar at Palmdale where AT WORLD’S END filming is supposed to be taking place, found security on the site and a few cars in the parking lots, but none of the hustle and bustle that indicates filming is underway. “It looked like a film site being prepped,” the observer wrote. And don’t expect the Palmdale site to be another Redondo Beach, where visitors could get access to Johnny Depp; the road leading onto Site 9 has security and is posted with No Trespassing signs. “Site 9 has two large hangars and two smaller buildings in front of them. The entire site is gated and fenced and guarded,” dharma’s contact reports. “One of the guards had a full guard outfit including a gun. The doors to one of the hangars was partially open but you could not see in at all. The doors open sideways away from the parking lot. . . . There is no way to get close at all.” We thank dharma_bum and her reporter for the update–they probably saved some Depp fans a long and frustrating trip. You can read the full account on the Porch, on the thread called “AWE Filming Moves to Palmdale.”

Intriguing rumor–maybe Mike Newell to direct SHANTARAM?

Since there has been very little hard news about SHANTARAM since Australian director Peter Weir left the project in June, we thought we’d pass along a report from author Gregory David Roberts. Roberts told an audience at the Mantua Literature Festival that Mike Newell is among the directors under consideration to helm SHANTARAM. Newell, the director of DONNIE BRASCO, has proven himself adept with complex stories, exotic milieus, and large ensembles, and he never permits the characters to be smothered by the special effects. No matter how colorful the background, Mike Newell’s movies are always about people. He might have just the right touch to direct a sprawling saga like SHANTARAM.

Gregory David Roberts also told his Mantua audience that Johnny Depp is “perfect” for the role of Lin. He also praised Johnny’s humility: “Johnny is a special man, he doesn’t put on airs like the majority of those who are involved in the Hollywood Star system.” Roberts said that SHANTARAM would begin filming next autumn.

Thanks to emma for the news and Peachy for translating from the Italian.

A new film project for Johnny Depp: Infinitum Nihil buys REX MUNDI graphic novels

The endlessly surprising Johnny Depp has found another property he’d like to bring to the big screen. Johnny’s production company, Infinitum Nihil, has purchased the rights to REX MUNDI, a series of graphic novels by Arvid Nelson and Eric Johnson. Infinitum Nihil has hired Jim Uhls, the screenwriter of FIGHT CLUB, to adapt the novels into a screenplay. Uhls describes the project as “a noir-ish RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. There are murders and a mystery, and the lead character discovers a massive conspiracy, biblical in its origin.” If you’re thinking this sounds a bit like THE DA VINCI CODE, you have it backwards: REX MUNDI was published before Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel.

REX MUNDI, which means “King of the World,” is an alternate-universe story. It is set in Europe in 1933, but the story’s central conceit is that the Protestant Reformation, which began in 1517, never took place. Instead, Europe is still dominated by a very powerful Catholic Church, the Inquisition is still continuing, and the non-European world consists of colonies. Johnny Depp will play the protagonist Julien Sauniere, a pathologist investigating the mysterious death of the priest who found him as an orphan.

In an interview from January 2006, REX MUNDI co-author Arvid Nelson told writer Paul Dale Roberts that Johnny was his choice to play Julien:

ROBERTS: If REX MUNDI became a movie, who would play the character parts and why?

NELSON: The only thing I feel strongly about is Johnny Depp. I’d love to have him play Julien. Why? Well, he seems like a such a cool, interesting person, like he really cares about the roles he takes. He never makes spectacular, forgettable garbage; his movies always have something more to offer. I don’t know anything about him personally, but somehow he just seems a lot like Julien.

Thanks very much to Charlotte Depp and DeepinDepp for breaking the story; you can read much more about REX MUNDI on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST out on DVD in Region 1 on December 5th

Disney will release the DVD of 2006’s biggest box office hit, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST, in region 1 on December 5th–just in time for holiday gift-giving. Disney will release two versions of DEAD MAN’S CHEST. The single-disc version will contain the film, an audio commentary track by writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and the blooper reel. The deluxe 2-disc Special Edition DVD contains all the features on the single-disc version, plus, Disney promises, “a treasure-chest of bonus booty.” Unfortunately, that bonus booty does not include our favorite feature on THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL DVD–a commentary track with Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski–or such usual staples as the movie trailer or deleted scenes. Too bad.

Here’s what the Special Edition DVD does include: a behind-the-scenes documentary; a Captain Jack featurette called “Captain Jack: From Head to Toe”; a sword-fighting featurette with Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Jack Davneport; “Creating The Kraken,” on the film’s stunning sea beast; “Fly On The Set”–an on-location view of filming the “Bone Cage” scene; a featurette on the legend of Davy Jones; a feature on the updated Pirates of the Caribbean resort attraction; producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s personal on-set photo diary; and footage from the Disneyland premiere of DEAD MAN’S CHEST. Keep a sharp eye on the premiere footage–maybe you will see Johnny Depp greeting some of the Zoners who attended. Disney promises that “much of the bonus material is exclusive to this DVD release.”

The Zone thanks DeepinDepp for posting the news. The list prices look rather high–$29.99 for the single disc version, $34.99 for the Special Edition two-disc set–so it’s worth hustling to find pre-release and day-of-release discounts. The Disney store is currently offering the Special Edition for $24.99 and the single disc for $19.99; if you place your order by December 4, Disney will include a $10 online gift card that can be used at the Disney store through December 30th. Thanks to Depputante for posting that offer; you can read all about it HERE.

Aaarrgh! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day–have some fun with Disney

Aaarrgh, mateys–it’s September 19th again, and you know what that means–it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day once again! Most fans of Johnny Depp find this second nature by this point, due to repeated viewings of THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL and DEAD MAN’S CHEST, and can Talk Like a Pirate any day of the year (and often do, much to the consternation of our families and co-workers). This year Disney Home Entertainment has gotten into the pirate spirit by launching a lively interactive site called “Dead Man’s Mail.” If you’re finding yourself silent as Mr. Cotton without his parrot, a visit here will soon have you talking like a seasoned member of the Black Pearl’s crew. Just click HERE to get started. You can even send customized animated pirate email! Thanks to DeepinDepp for the news and Disney for the interactive site.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST reclaims #1 spot in overseas box office

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST reclaimed the #1 position on the international box office charts this weekend, thanks to a record-breaking opening in Italy, where it earned a sensational $12.8 million . . . or about double the opening box office for THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. DEAD MAN’S CHEST has been #1 overseas for 10 of the past 11 weeks and has earned $612.5 million in total overseas boxoffice.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s second adventure now ranks fifth in a group of only six films ever to have earned more than $600 million in overseas admissions, and its distributor, Buena Vista International, believes that DEAD MAN’S CHEST will surpass the #4 film, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, with an international gross of $614.7 million, by next weekend. The total box office for DEAD MAN’S CHEST now stands at $1.03 billion.

Thanks to FANtasticJD and DeepinDepp for sharing the box office news–you can read the full story on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Here’s some good news for the patient Italian fans, who endured an 11-week wait for DEAD MAN’S CHEST to open in their homeland; there will be no waiting for AT WORLD’S END, which is scheduled to open worldwide on the weekend of May 25, 2007.

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp to receive the "Courage to Care" Award from Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has just announced that it will honor Johnny Depp with the “Courage to Care” award for philanthropic excellence on behalf of children. The award will be presented at the 2nd annual Noche de Ninos Gala on October 7th, “a star-studded, multicultural celebration honoring individuals who make a difference in the lives of children around the world.” Joining Johnny as this year’s “Courage to Care” recipients will be Ralph Alvarez of McDonald’s Corporation and philanthropists Debbie and Mark Attanasio.

The Noche de Ninos Gala is a fundraising event for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, an international leader in pediatrics which specializes in treating the most critically ill and injured children, using cutting-edge medical care. The inaugural gala in 2004 honored Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Leonardo DiCaprio, and raised more than two million dollars for the hospital. Ms. Lopez will return to this year’s gala, to be held on Saturday evening October 7th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, to present Johnny Depp with his award.

The event is open to the public, but only those with deep pockets can attend, as a single ticket costs $1,000. For more information see the Zone’s News & Views forum. Information about ticket availability can be obtained from Levy, Pazanti & Associates at (310) 201-5033. Thanks very much to Theresa for breaking the story!

“Johnny Depp embodies the very spirit of the ‘Courage to Care’ Award,” says Giselle Fernandez-Farrand, who created the Noche de Ninos Gala. “He puts smiles on the faces of thousands of children through his great work on film, and his longtime private advocacy of children and children’s charities is nothing short of inspirational.” We heartily agree. Congratulations, Johnny!

Disney announces that PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END will open worldwide on May 25, 2007

Mark your calendars: May 25, 2007 will be Captain Jack Sparrow day around the world, as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END opens simultaneously in all markets. This is a vastly different strategy from that used with DEAD MAN’S CHEST, which featured staggered openings throughout the summer. “We’re going to open on the weekend of May 25 in every country around the world,” Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi told Screen Daily. “It will be our widest release ever,” Zoradi added, “and it will be the first time that our company has done a literal day-and-date release.”

We think that’s a wise decision: nobody wants to wait a moment longer than absolutely necessary to see the conclusion of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy. Bring on Captain Jack! You can read the full Screen Daily story on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Thanks very much to emma for breaking the good news.

Keith Richards finishes filming his role in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

After months–no, years–of anticipation, the long-sought appearance of Keith Richards in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels is a done deal. Richards filmed his scenes as the pirate Teague in AT WORLD’S END at the Disney Studios in Burbank last week. Fellow Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood told a radio interviewer about an unusual aspect of Keith’s preparation to play a pirate: “He said to me, ‘I’m not allowed to shave from now on, so they’re gonna tie little bits on my beard (chuckles)’–whatever bits grow. He said, ‘They’re gonna dangle bits off of it, and the longer it gets, the more they’re gonna tie on.’ And I, I just thought, ‘Oh dear, I’m dying to see this!'”

Yes, we’re all dying to see it, and we only have until May 25, 2007 to wait . . . . Thanks very much to emma for sharing the Ron Wood story, and dharma_bum for her usual excellent reporting of the comings and goings on the POTC: AT WORLD’S END set. You can catch up with all the movie set news on the Porch thread entitled “AWE Filming Moves to Burbank . . . with Keith Richards.”

ONBC's next project will be a discussion of SWEENEY TODD

Liz and DeppintheHeartofTexas, the moderators of Oprah Noodlemantra’s Book Club, have announced that ONBC’s next book will be the play SWEENEY TODD, written by George Dibdin Pitt, as revised by Marvin Kaye. Liz and DITHOT also advise becoming familiar with the Stephen Sondheim musical version of SWEENEY TODD, since it will figure prominently in the discussion (of course). The ONBC moderators began posting tidbits of background information for SWEENEY TODD on Monday; the discussion itself begins on October 9th. Perfect timing! Johnny Depp begins rehearsals for his role as the demon barber of Fleet Street in November; shooting of Tim Burton’s version of SWEENEY TODD begins at Pinewood Studios on February 5, 2007.

Johnny Depp to appear in video for Johnny Cash song, "God's Gonna Cut You Down"

Johnny Depp has appeared in several music videos during his career, and will be adding a new credit to his resume soon. Acclaimed video director Tony Kaye, whose most recent award-winning effort is “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, has been given the rather daunting task of directing the videos for the late Johnny Cash’s final CD. For “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” Cash’s song about the Grim Reaper, Kaye has filmed a Who’s Who of current pop culture; in addition to Johnny Depp, we’ll see Keith Richards, Owen Wilson, Bono, Kanye West, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Chris Rock, and Trevor Howard, among many others, taking turns mouthing Cash’s lyrics over his signature gritty vocals. Thanks to emma and DeepinDepp for the video news; you can read the full story on the News & Views forum.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST officially joins the "billion-dollar club," says Disney

Captain Jack Sparrow is wearing his crown in our photo, the better to celebrate PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST becoming only the third movie in history to earn more than a billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts. DEAD MAN’S CHEST earned its $1 billion-plus in record time, too. With a domestic box office take of $415+ million, DEAD MAN’S CHEST is the #1 movie for 2006 in North America. Its international total of $587.5 million makes DEAD MAN’S CHEST the #1 movie of the year in overseas markets as well. To see a (very impressive) list of the box office records DEAD MAN’S CHEST now holds, check the story on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Thanks very much to emma for the news!

Regarding DEAD MAN’S CHEST joining the billion-dollar club, Dick Cook, the chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, told reporters: “To say we are excited is an understatement. This is truly an historical time for The Walt Disney Studios and a time to celebrate. ‘PIRATES’ continues to perform on all cylinders and this is a real tribute to the remarkable team of Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio.” Cook added, “The film’s phenomenal success all over the world proves once again that audiences will vote to come back again and again when presented with great entertainment.” Well said, Mr. Chairman! Now could we have some more, please?

Drum roll please . . . PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST earns $1 billion worldwide!

Captain Jack Sparrow and his movie crewmates have now earned more than $1 billion at the box office this summer, placing PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST in very exclusive company. Only two other films in history have ever earned $1 billion: all-time box-office champ TITANIC ($1.83 billion) and the final LORD OF THE RINGS installment, THE RETURN OF THE KING ($1.13 billion).

In an article published September 7, Variety attributes the success of DEAD MAN’S CHEST to three factors: “the worldwide drawing power of Johnny Depp; the still-substantial goodwill from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, which topped $650 million worldwide; and pic’s deep fan appeal.” Variety does see the success of DEAD MAN’S CHEST raising expectations for AT WORLD’S END when it debuts on May 25, 2007 . . . on the heels of SPIDER-MAN 3 (opening May 4) and SHREK THE THIRD (opening May 18). Thanks to emma for posting the Variety article; you can read it on the News & Views forum.

DEAD MAN’S CHEST can add the “fastest-to-$1 billion” title to its impressive list of box office achievements. Congratulations to Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski, the producers, writers, cast and crew of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST . . . you are truly one in a billion.

A dream comes true–Keith Richards shoots his scenes for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

Filming of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END has shifted from the water to the Burbank soundstages this week. Keith Richards is in town to shoot his scenes as the pirate Teague, and is expected to wrap his part by Saturday. We’d say “Break a leg” to the novice pirate-actor, but given Keith’s recent tumble from a coconut tree, that could be tempting fate . . . so instead we will thank him for making so many dreams come true. Can’t wait to see you in the movies, Keef!

The Zone thanks dharma_bum for the updates on AT WORLD’S END. She reports that there will be some second-unit filming in the waters around San Pedro at the end of this week and during next week, but Johnny Depp will not be involved. You can read the full discussion on the Porch.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST tops the international box office for the 9th week in a row!

Nobody can catch Captain Jack Sparrow–PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST sailed to the top of the international box office charts for the 9th week in a row. As of September 4, DEAD MAN’S CHEST had earned $579.1 in overseas markets, and is on course to reach $1 billion in worldwide earnings by the end of the week, reports Variety. The only other films in history to earn $1 billion are TITANIC (of course) and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING. Very impressive! The Zone thanks emma for reports from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter; you can read the full stories on our News & Views forum.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST boosts summer movie revenues, says AP's David Germain

Johnny Depp’s PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST gave a welcome boost to summer movie revenues and re-energized an industry that had been in decline, writes David Germain of the Associated Press in his end-of-season report. The record-breaking box office performance of DEAD MAN’S CHEST brought audiences back to the theaters; factoring in higher ticket prices, Germain says, the moviegoing audience actually grew about 3.1 percent this summer, while revenues were up more than 6 percent. DEAD MAN’S CHEST grossed more than $400 million domestically, making it far and away the most successful movie of the North American summer. Three other films–CARS, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, and THE DA VINCI CODE–grossed more than $200 million each; SUPERMAN RETURNS is hovering around $196 million and may cross the $200 million mark before it ends its run. You can read David Germain’s analysis HERE.

TV ALERT–Johnny Depp's appearance with David Letterman to re-air on Wednesday, September 6th!

Great news! Johnny Depp’s delightful appearance on THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN will be rebroadcast on Wednesday night, September 6th. Johnny was in fine form that evening, relaxed and confident, with his wry humor much in evidence. If you can’t wait until Wednesday night to hear that story about the 21 JUMP STREET billboard caper again, David Letterman has the clip available on the LATE SHOW website HERE. Thanks very much to DeppKat for the update!