Prexy to remake 'Mysterious' pic

Visual f/x veteran Ken Ralston has renewed his pact as prexy of Sony Pictures Imageworks under a new multiyear contract. The deal includes an agreement to develop a remake of the 1961 Columbia pic “Mysterious Island.”

Ralston’s original contract with Imageworks expired in November.

“Ken Ralston is an artist, a visionary and a dynamic leader who has done a remarkable job setting a standard for creative excellence,” said Ken Williams, prexy of Sony Pictures Digital Studios Division, of which Imageworks is a key component.

“Mysterious Island,” based on the Jules Verne novel, has always been a personal favorite of Ralston’s. He is developing the screenplay, with the goal of directing. Rob Fried (“Rudy,” “So I Married an Axe Murderer”) will serve as producer and co-writer.

Working with Zemeckis

Ralston enters his next presidential term in pre-production with longime collaborator Robert Zemeckis on his next two films, “Castaway,” starring Tom Hanks, and “What Lies Beneath.” Ralston will serve as visual f/x guru on both projects, on which work is expected to continue through 2000.

Ralston and Zemeckis worked together at Imageworks on “Contact,” and previously on “Forrest Gump” and all three “Back to the Future” pics.

Since Ralston’s arrival at Imageworks, the company has undergone significant expansion and earned recognition for its work on such films as “Starship Troopers,” “City of Angels,” “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “Godzilla” and “Anaconda.”

“I came to Imageworks to create a place where you could really push beyond the boundaries of everyone’s imagination,” said Ralston in a statement, “to create a company that had the technology and the artistic talent to really achieve the most amazing images that any director or storyteller could come up with.”

Ralston has won five Academy Awards: for his work on “Forrest Gump,” “Death Becomes Her,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Cocoon” and “Return of the Jedi.” He began his career as an f/x cameraman on “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Dragonslayer.”

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