FX Movie News: 11-7-06
Yesterday’s Headlines: Robert Downey Jr. Commits To Motion Capture For Iron Man; The Next Level Of F/X; London VFX shop “The Mill” To Open In Santa Monica; Pixar’s Ratatouille Becomes A Game; Dunst To Star In Ghost; Sega Developing Iron Man; 1933 King Kong Movie Camera Up for Auction; Stan Lee Attends Golden Apple Comics Grand Reopening; Disney Sends ‘Pirates 2’ to iTunes; Brandon Routh Signs On For “Superman Returns” Sequel; Screenwriter blasts ‘LUCAS TO BLAME FOR INDIANA JONES DELAY’; Godzilla 3-D in the Works; James Cameron Thinks Facial Mapping; Will Fox’s Bet On Eragon Pay Off?;
Robert Downey Jr. Commits To Motion Capture For Iron Man
(comingsoon.net) “The suit for ‘Iron Man’ is so complex and does so much stuff that except for once or twice or from the chest up, I’m not required to do all that much,” Downey Jr. told us when asked if he’d been fitted for the armor yet. “What I will do is a lot of motion capture so that the movement isn’t just some random stunt guy. A lot of time I look at CGI and I’m like ‘What’s the reference for this? This looks like a cartoon reference not a person.” So I said I want to do all the motion capture work, which is like eight months after finishing shooting, but as much as it as I can do, I will.”
“I went after it like a greyhound after a rabbit,” he said when asked whether Favreau approached him or whether he went after the part. “I loved Marvel and ‘Iron Man’ to me is the goods. To tell you the God’s honest truth, I’d thrown them all away for Sgt. Rock, because I really grew up on Hogan’s Heroes, Sgt. Rock. I’m still addicted to the History Channel and the Military Channel is my thing, but Tony’s the best because I could never be Sgt. Rock. He’s a little bigger and more butch and has a cigar, I don’t see it. Tony’s a perfect fit for me, and if I was ever going to do this type of thing, I thought, you know, like early ’40’s. Great, because when you hang up your ‘macho hat’ and start directing or doing other stuff, it’s not an embarrassment to be doing this in your late ’40s still if we wind up doing three of them.”
He also said that there would be some major casting announcements soon including Tony Stark’s secretary Pepper Potts and one other, but he couldn’t let the cat out of the bag despite being excited about the chance to work with the actors.
Iron Man is scheduled for May 2, 2008, but you can see Downey Jr. in Steven Shainsburg’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, which opens in New York and Los Angeles this week, and check out the rest of our interview with Downey Jr. here at ComingSoon.net in the next week.
The Next Level Of F/X
(kansascity.com) Raytown guy Steve Sullivan already has one Academy Award. With a little luck, heï¿½ll get his second early next year.
Never heard of Steve Sullivan? Thatï¿½s not surprising. Heï¿½s not an actor or a writer or a director.
Heï¿½s an electrical engineering graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla who now works as director of research and development for Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucasï¿½ legendary special effects firm.
He spends his time developing ideas that will revolutionize moviemaking.
ï¿½Iï¿½ve had nothing but fun so far,ï¿½ the 39-year-old Sullivan said during a recent visit back home with his wife and their new baby boy.
ï¿½Itï¿½s an ideal situation for me ï¿½ Iï¿½m overseeing lots of big projects, but Iï¿½m also getting my hands dirty, working on individual movies. Right now Iï¿½m doing effects for the ï¿½Transformersï¿½ movie, the third ï¿½Pirates of the Caribbean,ï¿½ the next ï¿½Harry Potterï¿½ ï¿½ and we just finished work on the new 3-D version of ï¿½The Nightmare Before Christmas.ï¿½?ï¿½
A big chunk of his job description involves finding ways to make big-league special effects more affordable.
ï¿½There are still movies out there waiting to be made, but theyï¿½re too expensive,ï¿½ Sullivan said. ï¿½Weï¿½re trying to come up with ways to make them happen. Right now a special effects film can cost $150 million, which means youï¿½ve got to have a name director and certain stars to justify the expense ï¿½ and it becomes a cookie-cutter process.
ï¿½I compare it to the Model T assembly line ï¿½ youï¿½ve got thousands of people, each doing a very specific job like tightening a nut, and then they pass the car on to the next guy whoï¿½ll do his specific job. Weï¿½re trying to develop ways so that any movie can be made relatively inexpensively by a small group of people who can use technology to do all those things.ï¿½
Sullivanï¿½s current project was used to create Davy Jones and his barnacled crew in the last ï¿½Piratesï¿½ film.
ï¿½We developed a new motion capture technique that allows us to build models, sets and characters from pictures. There are laser scan techniques for this already, but theyï¿½re cumbersome and costly. An actor has to come to the scanning booth or the booth has to be taken to them.
ï¿½The system weï¿½ve developed can be used on location, right there on the set. Itï¿½s important because it changes the relationship of the director to his f/x people and how films get shot.ï¿½
Sullivan credits his boss, George Lucas, as the inspiration for most of ILMï¿½s innovations.
ï¿½George has been thinking about this since the early ï¿½70s. He knows what he wants as a director ï¿½ he wants a system that not only professional directors can use, but one that can be used on home computers so that kids can make their own movies.ï¿½
Sullivanï¿½s most recent motion capture technique is eligible for a technical Oscar this year. If he wins, it will go on the shelf next to the one he won a few years ago for the ILM Motion and Structure Recovery System, or MARS, which uses mathematical formulas and computer software to allow moviemakers to create ultra-realistic special effects while reducing costs.
London VFX shop “The Mill” To Open In Santa Monica
(postmagazine.com) London-based visual effects company, The Mill, plans to open a major facility in Santa Monica, CA. The studio, founded in London in 1990 and specializing in advertising work, also has a location in New York City.
The Mill has worked on projects for Sony PlayStation, Honda and Guinness. In 2001, it won an Academy Award for its effects work in the film Gladiator, but has since exited the film post arena.
The new office in Santa Monica will open in January and will be staffed by The Mill creatives who’ve relocated from London and New York, as well as local talent.
Founder/chief executive Robin Shenfield, notes, “We have so many advertising agencies, production companies and editorial clients already focused on these cities that it makes absolute sense to locate ourselves in the same place. Creative advertising still relies on a great deal of personal interaction. There are some things that simply cannot be done as well without being there.
“The feedback we have had from clients on the West Coast is that there is a real appetite for a more European look, particularly in terms of compositing.
That has very much been our experience in New York and we anticipate that to be the case on the West Coast.”
The London office houses has a staff of more than 100, along with 11 Flame suites, three short turn-around Smoke suites, two Spirit Datacine machines and a CGI department with up to 40 workstations running a variety of software. Its New York operation now comprises a core team of 70. At least 12 professional and technical staff will work in the Los Angeles office from the outset.
Pixar’s Ratatouille Becomes A Game
(psp.ign.com) Ratatouille is the next animated film from Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles, and is due summer 2007. And since no animated movie can go without a videogame tie-in, THQ has announced it will partner with Disney Pixar to publish the game.
The movie follows a rat name Remy who is looking to raise his stature in society and get a taste for the finer things in life. Developed by Heavy Iron Studios, who also translated The Incredibles, the Ratatouille game puts players in control of Remy and allows them to relive many of the film’s moments in the form of mini-games and head-to-head multiplayer challenges.
No word yet as to whether or not pronouncing the game’s name correctly is one of the mini-games.
Dunst To Star In Ghost
(hollywoodreporter.com) Paramount Vantage has acquired A.N. Wilson’s supernatural novel A Jealous Ghost for Kirsten Dunst to star in and produce. Virginia-based writer Megan Holley will adapt the book for the screen.
Dunst had said that she was interested in finding a dark, elevated psychological thriller in the vein of The Shining and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion.
Holley’s take detours from the book, which is written in the third-person omniscient voice, dropping certain elements while creating new characters and story points. The take sees Dunst playing a young woman studying in London who, upon beginning a relationship with one of her professors, starts seeing demons.
Sega Developing Iron Man
(scifi.com) Sega and Marvel announced that they have entered into a deal for the game publisher to develop and distribute video games based on Marvel’s Iron Man superhero franchise for next-generation gaming platforms.
A feature film based on the venerable comic franchise is in the works, to be directed by Jon Favreau. Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard star.
The companies didn’t discuss details of the upcoming game titles or potential release dates.
1933 King Kong Movie Camera Up for Auction
(kongisking.net) The camera that shot the 1933 King Kong and Son of Kong is up for auction at Christie’s Auction House on Old Brompton Rd, London. The auction is November 22, 2006.
From christies.com: Our sale on 22 November will feature a unique Leica M3 camera no. 873000 from 1957 specially made by Leitz; several important single-owner collections such as a Leica collection of models including the Compur, Reporter and black-paint cameras; and the Samuleson Brothers Collection of motion picture cameras. Of special note is the Mitchell camera used to film the classic 1933 film King Kong.
To be sold:
London, South Kensington
Chiristies info: http://www.christies.com/departments/overview.asp?DID=13
Stan Lee Attends Golden Apple Comics Grand Reopening
(comicbookresources.com) For the past 27 years, Golden Apple has been nothing less than a Los Angeles comics institution. November 1st, 2006 marked the dawning of a new age of the Golden Apple, as they celebrated their grand re-opening at their new location at 7018 Melrose in Los Angeles, California, and CBR News was on the scene.
A product of the blood, sweat and tears of the late Bill Liebowitz and his wife Sharon, the upkeep of Golden Apple is still a family affair. When Bill unexpectedly passed on two years ago, his son, Ryan Liebowitz, relocated his family from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to help his mother run the business.
Dozens of comics fans lined up to catch a glimpse of the gentleman who was scheduled to preside over the ribbon cutting ceremony, the man himself, Mr. Stan Lee. And the Liebowitz’s did not disappoint. But before the man of the hour did his thing with the scissors, Ryan and Sharon Liebowitz invoked the name of the store’s dear departed proprietor, and thanked their customers for years of loyalty.
More with pics: http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=8812
Disney Sends ‘Pirates 2’ to iTunes
(macworld.co.uk) Disney has confirmed plans to release hit movies ‘Cars’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ through iTunes US by Christmas.
The Disney/Pixar classic ‘Cars’ emerged as the number one animated movie this year. It will be made available through iTunes US from 7 November.
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ follows one month later, appearing for sale on iTunes US from 5 December.
Brandon Routh Signs On For “Superman Returns” Sequel
(sliceofscifi.com) Brandon Routh has committed to the “Superman Returns” sequel, that was announced on October 30th by Warner Bros. and director Bryan Singer.
In a recent interview Routh indicated that he would need to buff-up again soon because, as he put it, ï¿½Bryan saidï¿½..they were going to add some more fighting elements and stuff like thatï¿½. might be kind of interesting to throw some punches or throw something, I donï¿½t know, a little more active.ï¿½
It will require Routh to hit the gym to get down to his proper fighting weight before shooting on the untitled sequel begins. ï¿½I think Iï¿½ve got a while, ï¿½reported Routh. We probably wonï¿½t start for another at least six months. Theyï¿½ve got to get things written so Iï¿½m still in the gym. I still work out a little bit but certainly not as much as I had been.ï¿½
Screenwriter blasts ‘LUCAS TO BLAME FOR INDIANA JONES DELAY’
(pr-inside.com) Screenwriter FRANK DARABONT has blasted GEORGE LUCAS for the delays behind the fourth INDIANA JONES movie.
The highly anticipated sequel was ready for filming back in 2004, but despite a script from Darabont that impressed director STEVEN SPIELBERG, the film’s producer Lucas blocked the impending shoot – citing problems with the screenplay.
Speaking to Moviehole.net, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION director Frank Darabont says, “That was terrifically frustrating. I worked for over a year on that. I worked very close with Steven Spielberg. He was ecstatic with the result and was ready to shoot it two years ago. “He was very, very happy with the script and said it was the best draft of anything since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. “Lucas read it and said, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so, I don’t like it.’ And then he resets it to zero when Spielberg is ready to shoot it that coming year, (which) is a real kick to the nuts. “You can only waste so much time and so many years of your life on experiences like that, you can only get so emotionally invested and have the rug pulled out from under you before you say enough of that.”
Godzilla 3-D in the Works
(sunjournal.com) Sophisticated techniques turn animated and live-action footage into three-dimensional images, as in this summer’s “Superman Returns” and James Cameron’s upcoming epic “Battle Angel.”
“Home theater systems are becoming more advanced,” said Ron Bartsch, projection manager for The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre in Dearborn, Mich., explaining the popularity of 3-D projects. “But 3-D gives people something people can’t come close to duplicating in their home.”
Some projects in the planning phase are even more ambitious. “Godzilla 3-D” is in the planning phase as a Japanese film targeted for theaters here. “Star Wars” makes its 3-D debut next year, most likely. “Battle Angel,” which is based on an anime comic book, was originally scheduled for 2007 and may be pushed back to 2009.
“A few years ago, I started down this path of creating this 3-D camera system, and once I started working in that, I couldn’t imagine myself going back and shooting with the camera I used before,” director James Cameron told ComingSoon.net. He said he deliberately delayed the film to allow more theaters to catch up with the technology to display it – it will be a digital 3-D title.
“Barbie and the Magic Pegasus” and “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D” made their 3-D debut on DVD. And even “Medium,” the TV show, got into the third dimension with a special broadcast last fall.
“People are thinking, “Why should I spent $20 to go to the theater?”‘ Bartsch said. “You can’t do 3-D in your house.”
James Cameron Thinks Facial Mapping
(movies.ign.com) Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron hopes to begin shooting the sci-fi actioner Avatar ï¿½ his picture about human and alien relations on a far-off colony ï¿½ early in the new year (possibly as soon as February).
The director has previously hinted that he would be casting mostly low-profile, non-household-name actors; announcements can’t be far off.
In addition to flesh-and-blood talent, Cameron may also be considering computer-generated characters for Avatar. According to the New York Times, there’s a facial-mapping software package made by a company called Imagemetrics that Cameron’s looking into.
Cameron intends to push the technological envelope with Avatar. He’s going to shoot the movie with a digital photography rig he developed himself over a period of several years, and he’s also mulled the possibility of tying in the film’s release with an Avatar-based massively multiplayer online RPG. Nothing seems to have happened on the computer game front lately, however.
Watch for Avatar in 2008, and watch IGN Movies for the latest news!
Will Fox’s Bet On Eragon Pay Off?
(businessweek.com) It’s been another Frodo-free year for Hollywood, and the suits are getting nervous. In 2001, ’02, and ’03, Frodo and his army of hobbits and elves hypercharged the box office, practically minting money for New Line Cinema, which distributed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In all, the three films grossed $1.1 billion at the U.S. box office, according to Boxofficemojo.com. The final installment, 2003’s The Return of the King alone sold $337 million in tickets in the U.S. and $1.1 billion worldwide.
Little wonder then that the rest of Hollywood has elf-envy. Every studio worth its screening room has been eagerly tapping the fantasy kingdom to find its own mega-hit. Walt Disney had a massive hit last year in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A sequel is planned for 2007, Disney has said. General Electric’s NBC Universal studio has a movie in development based on British author Michael Moorcock’s Elric novels, featuring an albino wizard.
Fox’s entry in the fantasy fest is Eragon, written at age 15 by Christopher Paolini, whoï¿½big surpriseï¿½thrived on books by Rings’ author J. R. R. Tolkien when he was growing up in Montana. The book revolves around 15-year old Eragon and his pet dragon, who save the kingdom of Alagaï¿½sia with the help of, yup, some elves and dwarves.
You Deserve a Promotion
Never underestimate Hollywood’s ability to hop on a good thing, and Fox is doing its best to hop as high as possible. It’s spending north of $120 million to make Eragon, having shipped in designers from George Lucas’ ILM special effects shop to help create the dragon. It has brought on producer John Davis, one of Hollywood’s best, and the guy who delivered the 2004 sci-fi hit I, Robot for Fox.
There’s already an Eragon video game headed to stores, and Fox has signed a ton of licenses for lunch boxes and t-shirts and has enlisted Mountain Dew, Intel , and Eragon publisher Random House as promotional partners. Heck, ol’ Eragon even has his own page on MySpace. If there’s a 20-year-old out there who hasn’t heard of Eragon by the film’s Dec. 15 release date, I’ll put on an elf suit myself.
So the money spout ought to open up on pretty soon for Fox, right? Well, that would be an ending worthy of any fantasy novel. And maybe there will be one. Fox has been on a hot streak for some months, with hits this year such as X-Men: The Last Stand, and Ice Age: The Meltdown.
Fighting the Champ
But Eragon won’t have a cakewalk once it opens. It’s scheduled to open the same weekend as Blood Diamond, another big-budget action flick, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a South African mercenary in Sierra Leone. A Will Smith drama is also opening that week: The Pursuit of Happyness (sic).
And the week after it opens, Eragon will have to contend with another heavily promoted flick, the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum. Even Sylvester Stallone is returning to the ring 16 years after his last Rocky flick with Rocky Balboa.
If you’ve got a hefty film, usually the competition steers clear. The fact that other studios aren’t making way for Eragon tells you something. Moreover, if you’ve detected any buzz for this movie, you’ve got supersonic hearing. Despite the three years Eragon spent on the New York Times bestseller list and the millions of copies the book sold, the movie doesn’t seem to be one of those hold-your-breath, can’t-wait-to-see-it events. No flood of fan sites.