What VFX-filled movies will dominate 2008? How’s this for starters? The introduction of Iron Man and Speed Racer along with the return of The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones, The Incredible Hulk, The Mummy, Hellboy, Harry Potter, Narnia, James Bond and Star Trek. Plus a couple sci-fi remakes, an animated leap into sci-fi and a few curiosities. VFXWorld offers a glimpse of the most anticipated movies we’ll be covering this year, so mark your calendars.

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies announced today that the family adventure “The Spiderwick Chronicles” has moved its release to February 14, 2008.

From the beloved best-selling series of books comes “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” a fantasy adventure for the child in all of us. Peculiar things start to happen the moment the Grace family (Jared, his twin brother Simon, sister Mallory and their mom) leave New York and move into the secluded old house owned by their great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Unable to explain the strange disappearances and accidents that seem to be happening on a daily basis, the family blames Jared. When he, Simon and Mallory investigate what’s really going on, they uncover the fantastic truth of the Spiderwick estate and of the creatures that inhabit it.

Salma Hayek has signed on to star opposite John C. Reilly in Universal Pictures’ horror drama Cirque du Freak, which will mark her first acting role since her maternity leave.

Production begins next month. Paul Weitz is directing the film, which is based on the best-selling 12-book children’s series by Darren Shan.

Weitz is also producing alongside Lauren Shuler Donner.

Reilly will play a vampire who drafts a 14-year-old to serve as his assistant. The youth is turned into a half-vampire and becomes the catalyst in a battle between vampires and the rival Vampanese. Hayek will play Madame Truska, the bearded lady.

Jeff Barnes, co-founder and CEO of the Computer Cafe Group, was elected chairman of the Visual Effects Society board of directors.

He succeeds visual effects supervisor Jeff Okun.

Rounding out the VES 2008 board officers are first vice chair Carl Rosendahl, private consultant and Carnegie Mellon University faculty; second vice chair Richard Winn Taylor II, cinematic director at Electronic Arts LA and worldwide cinematic consultant at EA; treasurer Ray Scalice, vp and general manager of Pixel Magic; and secretary Pam Hogarth, director of industry relations of Gnomon School of Visual Effects.

Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures are negotiating with the estate of legendary SF author E.E. “Doc” Smith for film rights to Smith’s seminal Lensman novels, Al Trestrail, Smith’s grandson and manager of his estate, told SCI FI Wire.

The series, first published in the 1930s, is considered one of the earliest serialized SF sagas, and Smith is widely considered the father of the “space opera” genre. The Lensman series has been cited as a primary influence by many of today’s authors and filmmakers, including Star Wars’ George Lucas and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski.

[Editor's Note: For those of you in the industry who are familiar with John Swallow, many might consider this a 'welcome change'. And if you haven't heard about how John Swallow used to be a lion tamer (for real), I'll tell you as much of the story as I know sometime.]

Jennifer Bell has been promoted to senior vp visual effects production at Universal.

In related news, John Swallow, who has served as head of the visual effects department since 2002, has left Universal, though he will continue to provide creative input on productions including “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” “Cirque du Freak” and “Land of the Lost.” Swallow started with Universal in 1996 as vp production technology and moved up to executive vp production technology in 2003.

First Warner Brothers announced it was going Blu, then the producers of blue movies started making similar sounds about a move to Blu-ray. Microsoft has even made some noise about the Blu-ing of xBox after the fall of HD DVD.

All this is all well and good for Sony’s format (and welcome news for anyone who got a PS3 this holiday season), but it’s nothing compared to the legions of geeks who’re waiting–nay, clamoring–for the Star Wars saga to go HD. If that series of SF masterpieces (okay, call them blockbusters) went Blu, it would be a mammoth body-blow to the HD DVD format. Lucasfilm is officially “agnostic” at this point, but what do the series hardcore fans want? You know, the ones who dress up in wookie suits for the cons.

Not content to rehash events from the first film (as well they shouldn’t be), the producers behind The Host 2 intend on not only stirring up steaming-fresh political controversy…but heightening the mutated threat as well.

According to Sci-Fi Japan, a press release from Chungeorahm Film states the next chapter will be a prequel (confirming last month’s suspicions), written by Kang Full, and “multiple monsters” will crop up. Along with the release came a concept sketch by Full depicting a fork lift driver holding one of the creatures at bay.

Deluxe completed its previously announced acquisition of Rainmaker Income Fund’s post-production and vfx business in Vancouver and its vfx operation in London. The divisions have been renamed Deluxe Vancouver Ltd., which is a division of Deluxe Ent. Services Group Inc.

The acquisition does not include Rainmaker’s animation business in Vancouver.

“We are pleased that the Minister of Canadian Heritage approved the deal,” said Cyril Drabinsky, President/CEO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. “A talented group of people are joining our worldwide operation,” added Drabinsky.

Total frickin’ awesomeness from Olan Mills, Sears and other fine portrait studios circa 1970’s.

Click here to view them all, and let me know if you find any of yourself.

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