FX Movie News: 10-30-06

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Today’s Headlines: Time Bandits, The Second Coming?; Jack Black Green Lantern Film Dies; Pirates 3 Sail On Niagra Falls; Toon Siege Aims At Adults ; VFX Vet Mike Owens Uses Instincts For Flags Of Our Fathers; “Street Fighter” Movie In Development; Astro Boy Is Back; Blender Beats DreamWorks & Sony For Linux Award; Seattle Sci-Fi Museum Lets You Imagine; Peter Jackson’s Dream – Back To Bad Taste; Firefly Fans Fight Back Against Universal; Special Effects Man Star Of Spider-Man 3?; VFX Team Completes Work For The Fountain; Star Trek Pays For Improved CG Enterprise VFX;

Time Bandits, The Second Coming?

(Variety) The insipid trend of remaking earlier, better films continues with Variety announcing a remake of Terry Gilliam�s 80s fave, �Time Bandits�. Like a slap across the ass with a weighty mallet, ay?

The new movie � assumingly being made with Gilliam�s contribution � will mostly likely be the same thing, just with a higher film stock. The original 1981 film, produced and directed by Gilliam (who created animations for Monty Python’s Flying Circus) and written by Gilliam and Michael Palin, is one of the most famous of more than 30 theatrical features produced by Handmade Films, the London-based independent company backed in part by former Beatle George Harrison.

HandMade, headed by exec, Antony Rufus Isaacs, has been digging through the company archives looking for properties he can exploit.

Jack Black Green Lantern Film Dies

(IESB) Jack Black was asked to star in the film version of DC Comics� �The Green Lantern�, but because of the counterattack online about Black starring as the pea green gladiator, the Warner Bros project has been shelved � at least the version Black was going to headline.

Each Green Lantern (and there�s been quite a few) possesses a “power ring” that gives the user great control over the physical world as long as the wielder has sufficient willpower. While the ring of the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott) was magically powered, the rings worn by all subsequent Lanterns were the creations of the Guardians of the Universe, who granted such rings to worthy candidates. These individuals made up the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Warner Bros were prepared to make the film version of �Green Lantern� more of a comedy, than an adventure film, to suit Black. Thankfully, that idea seems to have been killed.

Pirates 3 Sail On Niagra Falls

(darkhorizons.com) Whilst the news outlets have focused on Buffalo-area storm damage up around Niagra Falls in recent weeks, a Hollywood film crew has had its lenses trained on the brink of the Horseshoe Falls – the biggest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagra Falls.

Now, Access Niagra reports that Walt Disney Studios is shooting falls-related scenes for use in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” scheduled for release in May.

The studio is not saying how the footage of the world-famous waterfall will be used, but there is speculation that moviegoers will see Captain Jack Sparrow and his shipmates facing oblivion courtesy of the giant cataract.

Stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley were nowhere in sight – expected to be added later to the footage used.

Toon Siege Aims At Adults

(scifi.com) Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna, developers of the cult hit Oddworld video-game franchise, are teaming with Vanguard Animation for the computer-animated Citizen Siege, a dark political thriller set in the near future and aimed at adults, Variety reported. Lanning will direct, and Shrek producer John Williams, head of Vanguard, will produce.

Vanguard plans to do much of the work on the movie in its Vancouver studio, where it is currently producing Space Chimps, which will be distributed by Fox next year.

Vanguard plans to raise the budget, estimated at about $40 million, with outside investments, including foreign pre-sales at AFM this week.

VFX Vet Mike Owens Uses Instincts For Flags Of Our Fathers

(vfxworld.com) But visual effects supervisor Owens (who�d previously worked with Eastwood on Space Cowboys) asserts that Clint followed his own instincts when it came to in planning and executing the effects in Flags of Our Fathers. Once a plan was in place, he gave Owens and DD�s team the latitude to do what they do best. His driving intent was to be respectful of the true story behind the film.

Owens recalls, �I did storyboarding and conceptual artwork for key sequences to get a feeling for what Clint was thinking. I needed to understand what he was after, and he wanted to understand what it could look like so he�d know what we could do with it. I hired two storyboard artists and they flushed out the thumbnails that I had drawn. Animatics weren�t necessary. We also used stock stills that showed us the look of the beach at Iwo Jima and the size of the army. Then I devised a plan for the best way to go through this, considering Clint�s style and the subject at hand.
�As a filmmaker, Clint studies a great deal, but then on set he wants to be very spontaneous. He�s very appreciative of the fact that I needed something to figure out where we were headed.�

The visual effects storyboards in no way tied Eastwood to anything as specific as camera angles, notes Owens. � I didn�t want to limit him at all. After we�d looked at stock footage and photos and the storyboards, I felt safe giving him complete freedom. If I nailed it too tight, it wouldn�t be Clint�s movie � it would be about me making a visual effects movie.�

The look that Eastwood wanted was one that was as photoreal as possible. As Owens explains, �It�s as if you were a combat cameraman. We tried to limit very objective shots, especially �platformed� objective shots. Platformed shots make it twice as hard for the visual effects to not look �in your face,� and trying to �say something.� In this movie, they are environmental, not in the forefront.

More: “>http://www.vfxworld.com/index.php?atype=articles&id=3057″> http://www.vfxworld.com/index.php?atype=articles&id=3057

“Street Fighter” Movie In Development

(Variety) Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment and Capcom Ltd. are developing a new movie based on the video game Street Fighter.

The script, being penned by Justin Marks, is set to focus on the game’s most popular female fighter, Chun-Li.

The film is targeting a 2008 release for the 20th anniversary of the video game.

Astro Boy Is Back

(joblo.com) Imagi Studio, the company currently producing the Teenage Mutan Ninja Turtle movie has optioned the rights from Tezuka Productions Co. Ltd. to produced a computer animated feature-length movie based on the hugely popular anime, “Astro Boy” The movie will likely have a premise along the lines of the original 60s-era series, which followed the adventures of “Atom,” who is often oddly described as a “boy-sized robot,” as he takes on enemies while struggling to adapt to the human world. In other news, Astro Boy would be a really funny Halloween costume. The studio is targeting a 2009 release date for the ASTRO BOY movie.

Extra Tidbit: In Japan, the title of “Astro Boy” is “Tetsuwan Atom,” which translates to “Mighty Atom.”

Blender Beats DreamWorks & Sony For Linux Award

(forums.cgsociety.org) The Blender Foundation (http://www.blender.org) just won the UK Linux & Open Source Awards 2006 for the “Best use of CGI with Linux/Open Source” with their short movie “Elephants Dream”.

Maybe this can get a bit more interesting when we know that the runner-ups were DreamWorks (with “Over the Hedge”) and Sony Pictures Imageworks (with “Monster House”).

Seattle Sci-Fi Museum Lets You Imagine

(deseretnews.com) Could this have happened without the existence of science fiction? Could engineers have designed and built the spacecraft, or any previous rockets, without first thinking about the 1902 pioneering science-fiction film “A Trip to the Moon,” which was based on a story by Jules Verne?

And what about the iPod or other MP3 player you’re listening to? Could that have been possible without science fiction?

All scientific developments begin with a concept, no matter how strange the idea. And before a concept becomes a reality, it’s technically science fiction.

If you look around, sci-fi has been instrumental in our space exploration, our cell phones, our personal music players, our TVs, our airplanes, our modes of transportation and even our microwave ovens.

Perhaps you can imagine a place where you can see displays of “Star Wars”‘ R2-D2, the cyborg from “The Terminator,” the B9 Robinson Robot from “Lost in Space” and the cyborgized Alex J. Murphy armor from “RoboCop” all in one place.

Imagine an interactive display screen resembling a space dock that shows a ring of famous movie spaceships in high resolution computer animation. Imagine pushing a button on a spacecraft such as Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and seeing it break from formation to hover in front of you. Now imagine pushing another button and the Falcon’s stats � its equipment, speed and dimensions � appear before your eyes.

More: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,650201454,00.html

Peter Jackson’s Dream – Back To Bad Taste

(stuff.co.nz) After making King Kong last year, the most expensive film in history, Peter Jackson wants to return to his roots by making a sequel to his first the low-budget comic horror movie Bad Taste.

The first official biography on Jackson, to be released in two weeks, reveals that in 1993, after Jackson’s third film, Braindead, he approached the New Zealand Film Commission with plans to make Bad Taste 2 and 3 back-to-back for $7 million. Bad Taste in 1987 cost about $230,000.

In Bad Taste 2 the heroes of the first film would travel to an alien planet to save zombie hunter Derek played by Jackson. In Bad Taste 3 the aliens enact revenge on Wellington with “a spectacular aerial battle over the city with dozens of flying houses, buzzy bees and Santa Claus”.

But Jackson put plans on hold to make Heavenly Creatures, for which he was nominated for a best- screenplay Oscar.

Jackson told The Dominion Post he would love to return to the world of Bad Taste, which he filmed at weekends with workmates while a photolithographer at The Evening Post. “I’d only want to do it under very similar circumstances to how we did the first one,” he said. “I would love to go out with a camera with the guys again at the weekend and shoot Bad Taste 2 or something along those lines. I’d just do my normal stuff Monday to Friday,” he said.

“If we set it up like a normal, professional film it wouldn’t have the same kind of spirit. I have always been fascinated by how I would pull that off how I’d make an amateur home movie again. I don’t think it’s impossible.”

The biography, Peter Jackson: A Film-maker’s Journey by British writer Brian Sibley, also revealed that Jackson had not ruled out making a film about Gallipoli. Jackson’s visual effects studio Weta Digital has restored a film of Anzacs taken in 1915 for the Australian War Memorial, and Jackson’s grandfather William Jackson fought at Gallipoli.

“I have always wanted to do a Gallipoli movie and it’s an incredible story. (Australian director) Peter Weir’s Gallipoli was a terrific film, but it only centred on one particular day over an eight-month campaign. The Anzac story is a very interesting one. It’s always been at the back of my mind as a film that would be worth making a big movie to make.”

Though Jackson did not know when the film could be made, that 2015 would mark the 100th anniversary of the campaign “has been in the back of mind”.

The book also outlined for the first time that Jackson considered making a film.

Firefly Fans Fight Back Against Universal

(slashdot.org) What happens when a film studio and a fanbase get into bed? Fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and the movie by Universal StudiosSerenity are not amused. After being encouraged to viral market Serenity, the studio has started legal action against fans (demanding $9000 in retroactive licensing fees in one case and demanding fan promotion stop), and going after Cafepress. The fans response? Retroactively invoice Universal for their services.”

The Universal law suit: http://forums.prospero.com/foxfirefly/messages?msg=32591.1

The counter law suit’s bill: http://www.browncoatinvoice.com/

Special Effects Man Star Of Spider-Man 3?

(moviehole.net) According to “Film Ick”, the question of whether or not Quentin Beck, AKA Mysterio, is appearing in the upcoming “Spider-Man 3” is a done deal. So they say.

Bruce Campbell is the guy rumoured to be playing the part, which will be of an SFX guru on set of a film based on the webslinger, which Peter Parker goes to check out. All things going well, hopefully this can mean that the one and only Bruce could possibly get a somewhat swankier role in “Spidey 4” if it comes about.

Says said site, “Peter Parker finds out about a Spider-Man movie being made and goes to the set to check it out. Avi Arad and Sam Raimi have cameos as the producer and director. Quentin Beck is the movie’s special FX guy. The fact that Peter and MJ are both in the public eye – though one can never reveal that he is – is milked for a little bit of fun too.

This brief cameo appearance by Beck is just about the full the breadth and depth of the “4th villain” mystery. That makes this a genuine spoiler, I suppose.”

VFX Team Completes Work For The Fountain

(emediawire.com) Look Effects, the Hollywood-based visual effects company whose credits include the features Next, The Blood Diamond, The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, The Producers, Little Miss Sunshine, Rocky Balboa, Superman II and Fur announced today that it has successfully completed work on the forthcoming Warner Bros. picture, The Fountain, by acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky. The film, which takes place over the span of one thousand years, is slated for theatrical release in November of 2006 and stars Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman.

Look Effects, renowned for its visual effects work in feature film, television and commercial productions, was brought aboard the project in its early stages
to help Aronofsky define parameters for achieving his artistic vision without the overuse of computer graphics, a particular dislike of the director. As part of the initial design team, Look Effects conducted extensive research and development in to the most effective means for toning down the use of CG through the creation of practical, yet stunning visual effects.

Look completed nearly 87 shots on the film including major set extensions with huge vista shots of Mayan countries, digital matte paintings, image enhancements, face replacement and blemish removals, and animated reveals of certain key elements in the film such as bringing an inanimate tree to life as a central character in the film.

�Darren was quite clear on what he wanted and his intent to greatly minimize the use of computer graphics,� said Henrik Fett who served as a Visual Effects Supervisor on The Fountain. �Look Effects was thrilled to offer Darren a number of options to successfully achieve his vision without the proliferation of CG. I think the results are outstanding.�

Star Trek Pays For Improved CG Enterprise VFX
(trektoday.com) The remastered Star Trek original series episodes are going to keep improving the look of the Enterprise, a producer said.

“It is not that we are unhappy with the work, but it is not yet the Enterprise as we want to see it,” Dave Rossi told TrekMovie.com. He said that the team working on the episodes has a new model and plans to show the ship performing maneuvers impossible to create with a physical model at the time the original Star Trek aired in the 1960s.

“People need to understand the amazing amount of work these guys had to do from a dead stop,” explained Rossi, who said that CBS gave the team only a month to complete the effects shots for the first remastered episodes. The team is about to start working with the new model, which will give them time “to test lighting, coloring, and yes…those nacelle caps.” They may redo some previously remastered shots to incorporate the new Enterprise, which will make its television debut in November.

Rossi added that the team is working on other ships, such as Khan’s Botany Bay from “Space Seed”, which will be scarred from a lengthy space journey, and a new freighter from “The Ultimate Computer” which is attacked by the title device. A few live-action changes have been made as well, such as Sulu’s chronometer which runs backward in “The Naked Time”. Rossi said that the team members “are all very passionate about it and want to do everything we can, it is just a matter of having the time to do it”