Following the Jim Henson Company/Sony Pictures Entertainment release of Muppets in Space this July, the Muppets will star in a second feature slated for release in the year 2000. Tentatively titled The Next Muppet Movie, the film just entered pre-production, and will feature a storyline that pits Kermit the Frog against a Hollywood agent bent on destroying The Muppet Show.
In other feature film news, a series of Spider-Man movies is planned by SPE and Marvel Enterprises, thanks to the discontinuation of several lawsuits between the two entertainment entities over rights to the character. Merchandising for the movies and the Spidey TV series will be jointly handled by SPE and Marvel.
The bidding war over which studio will distribute the Pokémon movie continues, with all the majors currently in the running. Meanwhile, the feature itself is in the process of being adapted for North American audiences by 4Kids Entertainment and producer Norman Grossfeld. The film was produced by Shogakukan Production Company in Japan, the same company that turns out the Pokémon TV series. Entitled Pikachu’s Summer Vacation, the pic will be accompanied by an as-yet-unnamed short, and is slated for release in the second half of this year.
Columbia Pictures is in final negotiations for the film rights to Astro Boy, a property built around a Japanese comic strip, which Columbia plans to develop for the big screen by Christmas 2000.
The Motion Picture Corporation of America (Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin) is partnering with the itsy bitsy Entertainment Company to produce five feature films for a general family audience. The films will be developed by Lovely Lollipop Productions, the new production umbrella for itsy bitsy’s theatrical and home video division. The first feature is scheduled to be released by the end of 1999. VR & DH