FX Movie News: 10-20-06
Today’s headlines: Studios Pull Out Of Halo Movie; Hellboy 2 Nearly Green-Lighted; Behind the scenes at ILM making Nightmare Before Xmas 3-D; Stop Motion Masters Find ”Novel” Path To The Silver Screen; Fraggle Rock Movie in the Works; ILM Model Shop Book Now Available; Animation Out, Simulation In At LucasArts; CG Igor Is Just Gold; ‘Pirates’ Infamous Ghost Ship Anchors A Disney Cruise; ILM / Pixar Contacted For Fake Moon Landing Remake
STUDIOS PULL OUT OF JACKSON HALO MOVIE
(scifi.com) In a surprise move, both Universal and Fox have pulled out of their agreement to co-finance a movie version of Microsoft’s Halo SF video game, Variety reported. Rumors had circulated that the studios were concerned over a budget that was rising above the original projected $135 million pricetag. But the filmmakers said the double defection came after Universal and Fox played hardball and unsuccessfully tried to get the filmmakers and Microsoft to reduce their profit participation, the trade paper reported.
The studios made the pay cut demand as an Oct. 15 deadline approached. On that day Microsoft was to have received the bulk of a promised $5 million upfront payday. The software giant also stood to receive 10 percent of gross revenues for rights to the game and a script by Alex Garland, the trade paper reported.
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh were on board as executive producers. They denied through representatives rumors that the budget had ballooned to around $200 million, Variety reported. Mary Parent, Scott Stuber and Peter Schlessel are producers.
Microsoft is already in talks with other distribution partners. Prep work on the film continues. Most of the preproduction is being done at Jackson and Walsh’s visual-effects studios in New Zealand, Weta Digital and Weta Workshop.
As word of the Universal and Fox exit spread, speculation centered around the inexperience of Halo director Neill Blomkamp, a 27-year-old first-time feature director.
So where does this leave Halo? Stalled for the foreseeable future. Peter Jackson’s people say the movie will move forward, and that they’ll take it to production. How they’ll do that without any money is anyone’s guess.
Hellboy 2 Nearly Green-Lighted
(scifi.com) Guillermo del ToroÂ—who directed the 2004 big-screen version of Hellboy, based on Mike Mignola’s comic-book seriesÂ—told SCI FI Wire that the long-gestating sequel, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, is all but a “go” project. “It is officially a go, but we’re still working on the budget to prove to the studio that we can do it for that number,” del Toro said in an interview while promoting his upcoming film, Pan’s Labyrinth. “It’s a pretty low number for the size of movie we want to do. Adjusted for inflation, it’s as low a budget as the first one, but the scale of it is about twice the first one.”
Hellboy 2 will bring back most of the main characters, including Ron Perlman’s big red demon, Selma Blair’s pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and Doug Jones’ amphibious Abe Sapien. It will also feature killer robots and a new character, the spectral B.P.R.D. agent Johann Kraus. “The heart of the film is that fantasy has been grounded by reality,” del Toro said. “It’s been ground to dust by reality. Hellboy is fighting for the humans, but he starts realizing that maybe not everything is right in the way that he does things. Everyone will be backÂ—Ron, Selma, DougÂ—except for Agent Myers [Rupert Evans].” Hellboy 2: The Golden Army is slated to begin shooting in April in Budapest and London for Universal Studios. Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.
ILM Behind the Scenes On Tim Burtons NightMare in 3d Video Feature
(moviesonline.ca) Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the special effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic took the process of 3-D and pushed it to a level that has never before been attempted. TIM BURTONÂ’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN DISNEY DIGITAL 3-D opens in theaters today!
Take a look: http://www.moviesonline.ca/movienews_10206.html
Stop Motion Masters Find ”Novel” Path To The Silver Screen
(digitalproducer.com) What would Christmas be without marauding aliens? Fortunately, stop motion animation masters the Chiodo Brothers have come through with a new illustrated childrenÂ’s book called “Alien Xmas,” the story of how a nasty little alien is transformed by the spirit of Christmas after being sent to steal everything on the Earth.
And being the Chiodo Brothers, makers of the cult classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space, theyÂ’ve already planned out the film version of “Alien Xmas.” While writing a book may seem a roundabout way to make a film, the brothers have a perfectly reasonable explanation. The market for original properties in Hollywood has shrunk as studios seek titles that have built-in audiences, whether theyÂ’re remakes, sequels, comics Â– or books. Where “Alien Xmas” once had the stigma of being an original film/TV property, now itÂ’s got validation as a published book.
Â“I came up with this little idea of aliens at Christmastime, and as we were creating elements for the pitch, we thought, let’s expand the story to a book, get it published, and see if we can create some momentum from the book that might help in selling the property,Â” says Stephen Chiodo, who shares writing credit for “Alien Xmas” with screenwriter Jim Strain
Fraggle Rock Movie in the Works
(comingsoon) The Jim Henson Company now confirms what millions of internet fans have speculated: the Company is in development on a full-length feature about the Fraggles, stars of the 1980’s television show “Fraggle Rock.” The announcement was made today by Lisa Henson who serves as co-CEO of The Jim Henson Company with her brother Brian Henson.
The untitled film will for the first time take Gobo, Wembley, Mokey, Boober and Red on an adventure outside of Fraggle Rock where they will interact with the strange beings in “outer space” (also known as humans). The treatment is being written by author Ahmet Zappa (The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless) who will also executive produce the project with Brian Henson and Jason Lust. Lisa Henson will produce.
Lisa Henson said, “‘Fraggle Rock’ has remained a favorite project at our Company and has certainly continued to be loved by its many devoted fans, so we are thrilled to begin work on this project. With its message of celebrating diversity and its ambitious goal of promoting world peace, now is the perfect time to embark on a new Fraggle adventure.”
“I’m very excited to be working with The Jim Henson Company on this project,” said Ahmet Zappa. “So much of my childhood was spent watching ‘Fraggle Rock’ … I never missed an episode! I’m also really looking forward to using music to tell the story; it played such a central role in the original series and truly helped create the ‘Fraggle Rock’ that we know and love today.”
ILM Model Shop Book Now Available
(starwars.com) Last year, readers and costumers alike were blown away by the scale, sophistication and beauty of the Limited Edition of Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars by Insight Editions / Palace Press. The producers behind that book return this year with Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop.
This handsome volume will be available in both standard and Limited Editions. Both share the insightful first-hand accounts from author Lorne Peterson, one of Industrial Light & Magic’s veteran modelmakers who has worked on all six Star Wars films. He serves as guide to some of the most memorable and amazing models constructed for the saga, recounting the stories behind their development from 1976 through present days. The 224-page book is filled with over 300 full-color photographs and illustrations from the Lucasfilm archives, many of which have never been published before. Some of the best-loved models of the saga — like the Millennium Falcon and the AT-AT walkers — are showcased in magnificent multi-page gatefolds. The book also features a preface by George Lucas, a foreward by Rick McCallum and an afterword by Phil Tippett.
The Limited Edition goes beyond this detailed look with extras worthy of showcase display. The book itself is enhanced with six additional gatefolds unique to the Limited Edition, a 12-page booklet highlighting some classic models, perforated postcards, accordion-style foldouts containing cutouts of ships, and a 16-page booklet with additional historical details about the model shop. Also included is a DVD of Star Wars documentaries and behind-the-scenes imagery gathered and produced by award-winning producer Van Ling.
The Limited Edition book comes in a massive clamshell box that features a detailed recreation of the Millennium Falcon’s rear quarter. Inside are cubbyholes for storing the actual three-dimensional models that are included with the book. Peterson has faithfully recreated one of the “lost models” of Star Wars, a version of Luke’s landspeeder that includes removable figures of Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The speeder comes with a reflective stand to recreate the simple “mirrored skirt” effect employed by the filmmakers to make it appear the vehicle was floating.
Also in the Limited Edition are seven hand-painted reproductions of the Death Star surface panels molded by Lorne Peterson. At the start of Star Wars production, the Death Star surface was one of the many models that Peterson was charged with producing, and now he brings that experience to readers and collectors with seven sections that can be laid out in varying configurations to form a stretch of Death Star surface.
The Limited Edition also includes a supplementary 32-page softbound book, From Putty to Pixels, showcasing computer graphic renderings of digital models from the Star Wars films. It also comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Price: $395.00
Order here (limited edition, of course): http://shop.starwars.com/catalog/product.xml?product_id=405590;category_id=301;pcid1=;pcid2=&rid=SMCMFH00001
Animation Out, Simulation In At LucasArts
(gamespot.com) We’re all familiar by now with the concept of next-generation games. After all, we’ve been watching the Xbox 360 story unfold for almost a year now–great graphics, bigger concepts, more gaming genres intertwined. In all, it’s about a more-sophisticated gaming experience.
But LucasArts might disagree about just what a next-generation gaming experience really is. In a talk titled “Unlearn What You Have Learned,” Chris Williams, lead producer on the forthcoming and as-yet-untitled Indiana Jones game, outlined just how the next-gen gaming experience should be fundamentally different even from what we’re seeing now.
The basis of this experience stems from a George Lucas vision and the bringing together of LucasArts and movie-effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, responsible for the stunning visuals in films such as War of the Worlds. The two companies have been working for the past 18 months on a piece of technology called Zed, a toolset for creating content for next-generation platforms.
The combination of the two sets of experience is, according to Williams, having a very positive impact on working practices. “ILM can achieve this impossibly beautiful, incredibly graphically advanced look, but it can take forever to achieve, like on Pirates of the Caribbean when it can take hours, if not days, to render out a single frame. What we’re finding in working with them is that, because they have this level of knowledge, we can work back from that to something that will run at 60 frames per second on the PlayStation 3.”
As well as learning from the way that films are made, for example the progress being made in facial animation, it is giving LucasArts the capability to leverage ILM-like effects within games.
CG Igor Is Just Gold
(moviehole.net) Ari GoldÂ’s definitely a lollipop taker Â– not a giver, but nonetheless, in this case heÂ’s doing it for the tykes.
Â“EntourageÂ” star Jeremy Piven, the man behind everyoneÂ’s favourite fictional (or is he?) talent agent, is set to provide the voice of a leading character in Â“IgorÂ”, a new CG animated comedy from Exodus Film Group.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Igor” centers on a mad scientist’s hunchbacked lab assistant Igor, who has big dreams of becoming a scientist and winning first place at the annual Evil Science Fair.
It will be distributed domestically by the Weinstein Co., which also has secured rights in most foreign territories. Weinstein Co. will be selling “Igor” at next month’s American Film Market.
Piven Â– who will also be seen in the upcoming actioner Â“SmokinÂ’ AcesÂ” – will voice the role of Dr. Schadenfreude, Igor’s nemesis, with comedienne Molly Shannon voicing Eva, a giant, indestructible monster invented by Igor. They join a cast that includes Steve Buscemi, John Cleese and Christian Slater.
‘Pirates’ Infamous Ghost Ship Anchors A Disney Cruise
(dallasnews.com) Star-struck Mouseketeers of all ages can see the Flying Dutchman, the ship made famous in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest at Castaway Cay, the Disney Cruise Line’s private Caribbean island.
The film prop, with its barnacle-encrusted bow, flaunts ragged sails and imparts a bona fide look of haunting the open seas for eternity. It provides a scenic photo backdrop for Disney’s passengers. If you opt to rent a boat during your Castaway Cay stay, you can get a closer look at the ghost ship.
In the film, the 175-foot ghost ship is commanded by the legendary Davy Jones, who serves as nemesis to the infamous pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp. As at many of Disney’s vacation venues, fictional characters abound on board its ships. And Castaway Cay is no exception. The eccentric pirate (or his doppelganger) may be spotted around the island. Contact: www.disneycruise .com; 1-888-325-2500
ILM / Pixar Contacted For Fake Moon Landing Remake
(brainsnap.com) ORLANDO, FL – NASA has announced plans to stage an elaborate recreation of the historic first moon landing in 1969. Speaking from the Kennedy Space Center, a senior spokesperson has revealed that plans to “go all-out this time”.
NASA has come under public scrutiny recently following National Geographic documentaries that prove that the protective carbon layers on the Space Shuttle are “about as useful as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest”. Insiders claim that a fresh PR campaign from the space research body is long overdue. The recent boost of funding from the federal government to facilitate the moon landing recreation is regarded by experts as the first wave of a wider public relations initiative.
“We’ve already been in contact with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, the people at Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar Studios,” NASA spokesperson Yuri Mooney told Brainsnap.
Mooney went on to say that they had thought about asking enigmatic director Brian Singer in an advisory capacity, but the idea fell through at the last minute. “Most people are still confused by the ending of the Usual Suspects – and we’d really prefer to clear up this moon landing stuff once and for all.
“Naturally we will be looking for an improvement on what passed for special effects in 1969. There’ll be attention paid to not labelling rocks, not having any wind to blow flags, not having converging shadows and not having any stars in the sky. This will be a total CGI-fest. We also thought about asking Andy Serkis to be a friendly alien, but negotiations broke down with the actor when we reasonably requested the use of a body-double instead of Serkis.”
NASA is not ruling out a special Andy Serkis appearance in a possible sequel, NASA on Mars: The Fury of Wind Machines, which is hypothetically slated for US release in 2011.
When asked would the moon landing remake would be in the form of a ‘live transmission’ like the last time, Mooney responded: “It’s doubtful at this stage – sixties audiences were far more interested in live performance shows than we are. There’s far less risk of anything going wrong if we get it the CGI perfect well in advance.
“We’re calling it the George Lucas approach,” the NASA spokesperson told journalists. “It’s sure to be a hit.”