Today’s Headlines: Superman Returns for Sequel; Fox To Stop Motion Animate Fox; LucasArts Ships New Game; Spiderwick Director Attached To Houdini Adventure; Sony Projectors To Be Installed In Theaters; New Fantasy Series Rising At Walden; Lucas Turns Out For Carrie Fisher 50th Birthday Bash; Computer Trickery May Spawn Movie Mashups; The Guardian�s Fluid VFX Secrets Revealed; MGM Confirms Terminator Re-cast; LucasArts Talks Lego / Star Wars Success; Brad Pitt Likes Time Travel; Caligari Awakens Again; Worf Resists New Trek Movie – Objects To New Trek VFX

Superman Returns for Sequel

( Seems the guy in the red underoos will get a second outing after all.

Recent reports suggested that �Superman Returns� didn�t make enough bank to spur Warner Bros� interest in a sequel, and as a consequence they were going to put the franchise on hold again. Not so, according to IESB.

The site reports that Bryan Singer has just carved a deal to get going on the next �Superman� movie. The ink is literally still wet, with the director having just signed the deal last weekend. It�s believed the movie will be underway next Fall (around September).

The compromise apparently exists with the budget � Warner isn�t giving Singer another $260 million to play with, but a significantly less $140-175 million. Still enough to entice Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth and Frank Langella back to the Daily Planet.

Even with its lesser budget, the �Returns� sequel is said to be more action-packed than the first film, with IESB reporting that it will centre on Superman going nose to nose with one of the most popular villains in the comic�s history (rumoured to be Jor-El).

At the San Diego Comic Con in July, Singer promised fans an even better sequel to its predecessor, comparing it to �Star Trek II : The Wrath of Kahn�.

�What I was referring to was the fact that, when you do a first film like X-Men, for example, you’re introducing a world and a set of characters�, he later today USA Today. “Once those characters are introduced, once we’ve lived with them for awhile and we know them, when you get into a second film like an Empire Strikes Back (sequel to Star Wars: A New Hope) or a Wrath of Khan, you can make an action-adventure film and you don’t have to bank all that time getting to know the characters. Now you can raise the stakes, raise the jeopardy and make a leaner, meaner movie.”

Fox To Stop Motion Animate Fox

(Variety) Fox Animation will adapt Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Fantastic Mr. Fox into a film that will mix several forms of animation, primarily stop-motion.

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach adapted the book; Anderson will direct and produce with Scott Rudin.

The book tells the story of a fox who uses his wits and cunning to outfox three dimwitted farmers who tire of sharing their chickens.

The project was originally bought by Joe Roth and Revolution Studios in 2004. When Revolution folded, Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri moved in on the project.

Fox marks the director’s first feature foray into animation. Anderson plans to make Fox in England.

LucasArts Ships New Game

( Latest Star Wars game shipped off to retailers LcasArts has shipped its latest Star Wars game to retailers in North America, the company announced Wednesday.

The game, “Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption,” is an expansion of “Star Wars: Empire at War.” The game – which lets players enjoy the tactics of piracy, kidnapping and bribery – promises a “peek inside the shady underground of the galaxy,” said Nancy MacIntyre,

vice president global sales and marketing for LucasArts.
The game was produced by LucasArts, the former Marin company now based in San Francisco, and Petroglyph, a game development studio in Las Vegas.

Spiderwick Director Attached To Houdini Adventure

(The Hollywood Reporter) Walden Media has attached director Mark Waters to develop an adventure film about a 14-year-old who discovers that he is a descendant of the great illusionist Harry Houdini.

The Hollywood Reporter says Jessica Tuchinsky, Waters’ producing partner at Watermark Pictures, will produce along with her husband, Jason Hoffs (The Terminal).

An original idea developed at Walden Media, the project centers on a young boy, who upon hearing the news of his lineage, embarks on a journey to unravel the secrets of Houdini’s past, uncovering a legacy the famed magician was trying to protect.

“Houdini has exerted a fascination on people for the last hundred years,” said Hoffs, who will be producing with his wife for the first time. “The movie takes place in the present, but our lead character and the audience will learn some of the secrets of what Houdini was really up to.”

Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls) is shooting The Spiderwick Chronicles for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures in Montreal. He is attached to direct two projects for Disney, Bob the Musical and the recently announced Me2.

Sony Projectors To Be Installed In Theaters

( Sony said Tuesday that it’s ready to begin installing its SXRD high-definition digital projectors in theaters across the country. The system boasts 8.8 million pixels, or four times the resolution of systems already in place in U.S. theaters. The 4K systems have recently been tested in 12 Landmark Theater screens. Now, Sony says, it is ready to begin turning out 100 projectors a month beginning in December. Sony said it had received commitments from four major studios to release films on digital files in the 4K format.

New Fantasy Series Rising At Walden

(Variety) Walden Media (�The Chronicles of Narnia : The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe�) are placing all their little chickadees into a basket that they hope will hatch a few golden eggs. The studio has announced production on the first chapter in another fantasy series they�re doing. �The Dark is Rising� is based on a 5-part series by Susan Cooper.

Walden � who are co-financing the film with FOX � hopes the series will appeal to those that dashed to theatres to see �The Chronicles of Narnia� last Christmas.

David Cunningham (�The Path to 9/11�) will direct �Rising�, which tells of a youth who discovers at age 11 that he’s a Sign Seeker, the last of a group of immortals dedicated to fighting a growing presence of dark forces. He comes to the realization that he’s charged with saving the world.

Lucas Turns Out For Carrie Fisher 50th Birthday Bash

( TMZ is reporting on a bunch of celebs turning out for Carrie Fisher’s big birthday bash, including Lucas himself.

Once at Carrie’s birthday bash, we found a bevy of celebs. Matthew Perry, Robert Downey Jr., “Swingers” star Jon Favreau, veteran actor Kevin Nealon, “Star Wars” director George Lucas, and Sharon Stone who showed up sporting a red bindi on her forehead.

Also out over the weekend Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean, comedian David Spade, “Dancing With the Stars” party girl Cheryl Burke, pro skater Chad Muska, “Lost” star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and a rare appearance by “Goodfellas” gangster Ray Liotta.

Computer Trickery May Spawn Movie Mashups

Over the past 25 years various systems have been employed to incorporate computer animation into films. Crude early attempts like those in Tron and The Last Starfighter turned into nearly seamless usage in Titanic, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the recent remake of King Kong. And that�s not even crediting the progress in cartoon-style animated movies like those from Pixar and DreamWorks.

As computing power increases and clever new techniques merge with traditional filmmaking tricks, these digital effects become harder to spot; sometimes you have to remind yourself �Oh yeah, that�s impossible� in order to force yourself to notice them. Mind you, a good script helps a lot�there�s a lot more time available to think about trickery in a lousy movie�but effects are becoming good enough they�re hardly even special anymore, and are often used to tweak scenes in ordinary films.

Three of the most common techniques that use computers are motion capture, rear projection, and matte effects. Rear projection traditionally involves actors placed in front of a movie screen displaying separately shot footage projected from behind the screen so there are no shadows cast on it. In the old-fashioned method this often produced hokey effects�think of cheap horror movies from the middle of the last century. But it could be effective, especially in black-and-white films where there are fewer issues of tonal matching to deal with. In the digital realm (or on TV weather reports) a coloured backdrop is used and then replaced with whatever image is needed.


The Guardian�s Fluid VFX Secrets Revealed

( “With the release of Buena Vista�s THE GUARDIAN on Sept. 29, 2006, the potential of RealFlow 4 by Next Limit Technologies was revealed.

A strategic alliance among Next Limit Technologies, Hollywood vfx studio Flash Film Works and Fusion CI Studios (an R&D and fluid vfx studio) has leveled the playing field dominated by much larger studios.

Working in-house with the primary Flash Film Works, Mark Stasiuk of Fusion CI Studios developed the fluid vfx pipeline and supervised a team of seven artists using RealFlow 4 to create elements of stormy ocean surfaces such as boat wakes, whitecaps, bow sprays and enormous breaking waves. Relying on RF4�s new 64-bit, multithreaded, stable fluid engine, in conjunction with the fluid dynamic functionality added by Stasiuk�s customized scripting, vfx supervisor William Mesa ordered up complex, large-scale fluid elements of millions of particles that precisely fit the director’s requirements.”


MGM Confirms Terminator Re-cast

( MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands revealed this week that the studio is on the hunt for another star to headline the next �Terminator� movie.

“It’s like the ‘Batman’ or ‘Superman’ franchise in that it lends itself to having different actors in the roles,” he said, adding that the film will not be called �Terminator 4�.

One rumour that�s starting to doing the rounds is that Sylvester Stallone � who headlines MGM�s forthcoming �Rocky Balboa� � might have been asked to feature in the new �Terminator� pic. (Doubt he�ll accept the offer � because it will be seen as picking up his former action adversary�s sloppy seconds).

Sands is also hoping to produce two prequel films to �Lord of the Rings�, based on �The Hobbit�, as well as sequels to �The Thomas Crown Affair� and �Dirty Rotten Scoundrels�.

LucasArts Talks Lego / Star Wars Success

Some people might really scratch their heads about the Lego Star Wars series’ success, but it’s quite simple really. The game has gameplay that’s very easy to pick up, and it’s designed to play with friends, significant others or siblings. Plus, a combination of two of the most successful brands in the world designed for kids and kids at heart doesn’t hurt.

“Lego sensibilities shine through all aspects of the game,” asserted Can. “The sense of humor in Lego Star Wars II is very much built in seeing the Classic Trilogy re-created in Lego. From characters falling apart when they are ‘eliminated’ to seeing the Lego Death Star, consumers get to see their two favorite brands combined from the first five minutes of the game to the last.

“Yes, the game was designed for gamers of all ages and types to play. This means that kids can pick up and play, while older adults won’t get bored either. And while the controls are simple and don’t require many button combos, we also have lots and lots of unlockables for more proficient gamers to locate to keep them excited about the game. Finally, the sense of humor in the game also appeals to people of all ages. This is one of those games that is enjoyed by everyone.”

So will we see more Lego Star Wars, now that the reserve of movies has been exhausted? Can responded, “The lack of movies does present a challenge, but you never know.”

Over 1.1 million copies of the game had been sold across all platforms less than two weeks after the game’s September 12th release.


Brad Pitt Likes Time Travel

( Actress Rachel McAdams is in negotiations to take the lead in the New Line feature “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” based on author Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 best-seller.

Brad Pitt will produce the film through his Plan B Prods.

Premise of the character-driven love story focusing on an older man in love with a younger girl, follows a librarian in Chicago who finds himself catapulted forward and yanked backwards in time, usually ten years earlier or later than the present.

On one outing he meets and falls for a beautiful teenage heiress, who ages normally, while he stays the same.

Caligari Awakens Again

( Doug Jones is best known for roles where his face can’t be seen (Abe Sapien in Hellboy, Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth, the Silver Surfer in the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel), but the actor also has a varied career in lower-budgeted indie films � movies where he actually gets to take a break from wearing heavy make-up prosthetics. One such film is a remake of the classic silent horror picture The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which Image Entertainment and Dark Horse Entertainment will be releasing on DVD.

“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is another labor of love for me, another low budget, independent sort of production,” Jones recently told IGN. “The original story [has been] rewritten as a screenplay by David Fisher, who also directed it and also did all of the visual effects on it.”

The film will be the first release for the new alliance between Image and Dark Horse, and it will in fact be a two-disc set that also includes the original 1920 Caligari. But, as Jones explains, aspects of the original picture will also be present in the remake as well.

“The entire thing is a visual effects movie, because we used the original backdrops from the first Caligari,” says the actor. “[Fisher] created matte shots off of the original film that we all acted on green screen in front of, so he’s [combining] us all together with the original film. In those old silent films there were lots of wide shots where the camera just sat still and everyone moved around in front of it kind of like in a play. Well, as people were moving around, he could get the information of the backdrop behind them as they moved, composite it all together as a matte shot with no people in it, put us on the green screen, and then marry the two later.”

The idea behind the project was to maintain the original German Expressionism style and art direction of the 1920 film, but to expand on the storyline and fill in the plot holes that were a typical pitfall of silent era movies. The actors were dressed in the same costumes and make-up as the 1920 actors were, but this time they got to actually speak their lines � that’s something that the original players of course never had the chance to do.

“We all had a silent film look to us,” says Jones. “The story is a bit expanded with the dialogue so there’s more storytelling being done. If you watch the original film first, the second one will answer a lot of questions you had about the first, because you know in a silent film you’ve got lots of waving of hands and people saying things to each other, and then finally a card comes up that just says, ‘Yes, mother.’ And you’re like, ‘After all that?!’ So the talkie version answers a lot of your questions, but the script stays very true to the story. It’s like what you think they would have said in the original film.”

Jones plays Cesare in the movie (originally played by Conrad Veidt), and the actor does admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed when he first took on the role. Just as Abe Sapien and the Silver Surfer were much-loved characters prior to his tackling them, Cesare is loved by classic horror film purists. The “‘Oh, that sucks’ potential,” as Jones calls it, is intimidating, but he hopes that fans will watch the film with an open mind.

“Being able to play Cesare for me was such a treat because there’s another film icon, Cesare the somnambulist, one of the first monster-type characters on film, before Frankenstein, before the Mummy,” he says. “It’s like he was this scary guy, but what I liked about him so much was not that he was a scary icon, but that he was another reluctant bad guy. He didn’t know he was bad. He was asleep and being told what to do by this evil Dr. Caligari, going on his killing sprees and whatnot, so I found him sort of sympathetic. Playing with this character doing evil deeds but with such a heart� it was such a fun character to plow into. I hope we pulled it off.”


Worf Resists New Trek Movie – Objects To New Trek VFX

(The Detroit News) Though he doesn’t believe that newer is always better, Michael Dorn (Worf) also doubts that making a film set before the original series might not be the best idea for the Star Trek franchise.

Reflecting on The Next Generation, Dorn asked a crowd at Motor City Comic-Con, “Do you realize next year will be 20 years?” Dorn attracted Trekkies and mundanes alike at the convention, where he answered questions about specific episodes and reflected on directing for Deep Space Nine and Enterprise.

Asked about rumours that Star Trek XI will focus on Kirk and Spock’s younger days, Dorn advised that fans not believe everything they hear, but also said he wasn’t fond of the idea. “In Star Trek you always go forward, you never go back…that’s the way it’s always been,” he said. He did not sense the same fun-loving atmosphere when he directed the cast of Enterprise that he experienced on The Next Generation – which he almost left early on due to irritation with the makeup – and found the cast of Deep Space Nine more serious than Next Gen’s.

Dorn credited Star Trek with bringing him to the attention of producers who gave him voice work on such animated series as Gargoyles, Spider-Man and Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century and said he did not worry about typecasting, saying, “If you’re afforded roles like that the rest of your career, take ’em. Because it’s work…my career’s not over yet.”

In addition to resisting a prequel film, Dorn is not pleased about the remastering of the original series episodes to feature new visual effects. “The special effects were always secondary,” he said.

By NMancer

One thought on “FX Movie News: 10-26-06”
  1. Walden doing The Dark is Rising makes me very very happy.  They did so well with Narnia, I wouldn’t trust my favorite book of all time with anyone else. 

    (ask Dan, I’ve got 4 different copies of it smile

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