The movie, which starred Jeff Daniels and musician Dave Matthews, will be to converted into a theatre production by Avenue Q director John Tartaglia.
The production will follow the exploits of a young girl who befriends a stray dog she finds at a Winn-Dixie supermarket.
Producers have tapped Tony Award winner Duncan Sheik and Nell Benjamin to compose the songs and lyrics, and an Irish wolfhound called Taran will lead the cast.
The programme will begin workshop readings this spring (12) and producers ultimately hope to take the show to Broadway.
In this film based on the Newbery Award-winning children's book by Kate DiCamillo Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) is a lonely 10-year-old girl who has moved to a sluggish small town in Florida with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). She has a tough time getting through to her dad: when he is not preaching the gospel he walks around in a haze haunted by the departure of Opal's mother many years before. But when Opal adopts Winn-Dixie named after the supermarket where she found the mutt things start to brighten up for the little girl. With her special companion by her side Opal ends up meeting some pretty interesting people in the town. They include Miss Franny (Eva Marie Saint) the local spinster librarian who spins great stories; Otis (Dave Matthews) the shy drifter working at Gertrude's Pet Shop; and Gloria (Cicely Tyson) an old blind lady living with ghosts from her past. Through Opal's sunny disposition and Winn-Dixie doggone tenaciousness they help the town find their joy and their sorrow. And at the same time they mend Opal's troubled relationship with her father. Collectively now awwww!
All the players fit snugly in this warmhearted movie especially the talented young Robb who makes her feature film debut in Winn-Dixie. It's imperative to cast an adorable child and Robb doesn't disappoint keeping things genuinely fresh with the big eyes infectious smile and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm charm. Daniels too doesn't overplay it as the wounded preacher--aptly described by Opal as a turtle--who rarely sticks his head out of his shell. Veterans Eva Marie Saint and Cicely Tyson do what they can with their stereotypical parts as the kindly spinster storyteller and kindly old wise woman respectively. But it's singer-turned-actor Dave Matthews who stands out as the drifter with a troubled past but can "sing most anything " even charming the animals in the pet shop á la the Pied Piper. His poignant performance is up there in the sentiment department.
Here we go with the children and the animals again. Wayne Wang (Maid in Manhattan The Joy Luck Club) is the latest director to take a stab at guiding those most unpredictable of actors. As he explains "Sometimes the going is slow. But then suddenly something magical happens that you couldn't possibly have planned or anticipated." It's true. There are definite moments of inspired sweetness especially between Opal and Winn-Dixie played by a Picardy Shepherd a rare breed of dog from France that has the look of a big old lovable mutt. And of course you can't go too wrong using heart-tugging material based on a beloved children's novel on par with Where the Red Fern Grows and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. That's also Because of Winn-Dixie main problem. Fans of the book will certainly love the film but overall it doesn't really offer anything new in this genre. It's the same general premise about the kid and a dog--or a horse a deer whichever animal works best--who can change the lives of those around them just from being pure of heart. Maybe it's the curmudgeon in me but Winn-Dixie just doesn't stand out among the plethora of films similar to it.
Top Story: Simpson Says Money Helped
O.J. Simpson claims without the money to pay his "dream team" of lawyers, he would probably have been found guilty of murder. Nine years after his trial, the former football player vowed to Playboy magazine in a recent interview that he was innocent of the charges of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman but admits being able to afford such worthy representation helped him in his case. "I didn't commit the crime. That is why I got off," he told Playboy. "I feel in my heart that I got off because I was innocent. But I don't know if I could have proven my innocence if I didn't have the money. And that's a shame. Yes, it is a shame that in this country it costs so much to get good representation."
Reloaded Scores Big Worldwide
The Matrix Reloaded has reached $730 million at the worldwide box office. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the second installment in the Matrix series, with a combination gross of $450 million overseas and $280 domestically, is now ranked 12th on the all-time worldwide box office chart. The trade paper also reports Reloaded is the first film in history to gross more than $100 million in a single weekend internationally and is the biggest grossing R-rated movie on both the domestic and international charts. The film's 1999 predecessor, The Matrix, did $456 million worldwide. The final installment, The Matrix Revolutions, opens domestically on Nov. 5.
Nemo Bests Lion King
Let's hear it for the little fish that could. Disney's The Lion King, the long-held record holder for top grossing animated film in the U.S. at $328.5 million, has finally been bested by Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo, which has taken in $328.7 million domestically, Reuters reports. "Nemo is the biggest film of the summer, the biggest film of the year, and now it is the biggest animated feature of all time," Exhibitor Relations president Paul Dergarabedian told Reuters. Lion King still holds the worldwide record at $780 million.
Blake Makes Public Appearance
Actor Robert Blake, currently out on bail awaiting his trial for the shooting death of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley May 2001, made a rare public appearance Sunday, attending services at a South Los Angeles church, City News reports. He was met by reporters, to whom he said, "Thank you God…I'm with people that I love. You have no idea how important fresh air and sunshine is.'' When a reporter asked Blake what he thought about Kobe Bryant, who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, Blake smiled and said, "how about,'' and then began singing, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,'' City News reports.
Bobby Brown Arrested for Violation
While dining with his wife, Grammy winner Whitney Houston, singer Bobby Brown was picked up by authorities for an alleged probation violation, The Associated Press reports. Brown was arrested Friday night at a restaurant in an Atlanta suburb after an unidentified caller tipped authorities, a police department spokesman told AP. The spokesman did not, however, know how the singer violated his probation. Last November, Brown was arrested in Atlanta on charges of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, speeding and having no driver's license or proof of insurance. He also did a 26-day stint in a Florida jail in 2000 for a previous probation violation, AP reports.
Jolie Makes Plea for Chechen Refugees
In her continuing efforts as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, actress Angelina Jolie made a plea to the Russian government Sunday not to force thousands of displaced Chechens back to their war-torn homeland, Reuters reports. Jolie was speaking out for those 80,000 who fled Chechnya amidst fighting but who are now under pressure by Moscow to return to vote in a local leadership election, planned to bring peace to the nation. "You give them an option and you ask them if they want to return home. I am asking you today to make sure they have that option," the Tomb Raider actress said at a news conference.
Duff's Got the Stuff
For the first time in four months, those American Idol idols were bumped off the Hot 100 Singles Sales by TV 'tweener Hilary Duff, Billboard reports. Duff's single "So Yesterday" topped the sales charts, beating down the eight-week run of Idol finalists' "God Bless the USA" followed by the nine-week run of Clay Aiken's "This is the Night"/"Bridge Over Troubled Water." Duff's single, however, is only No. 55 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Role Call: Soccer Fever Takes Hold, Dave Matthews Shops Winn-Dixie
Director David Anspaugh and writer-producer Angelo Pizzo, the duo behind the inspirational sport movies Hoosiers and Rudy, are making another one--The Game of Their Lives, based on the 1950 U.S. World Cup team, AP reports. The tournament in Brazil was the last World Cup appearance for the Americans until 1990, and still is considered by many to be the greatest in the history of U.S. soccer, when the U.S. beat England 1-0...Singer Dave Matthews will make his acting debut in Because of Winn-Dixie for 20th Century Fox. According the Hollywood Reporter this coming-of-age tale revolves around a 10-year-old girl who moves to the small Florida town of Naomi with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). Lonely, the girl grows close to a big, ugly dog she names Winn-Dixie after the supermarket where she finds him. Through the dog, she befriends a colorful cast of characters that becomes her extended family, including a drifter (Matthews) and a librarian (Eva Marie Saint).