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June 05, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 5, 2006

SPEED RACER To Be Made By Wachowski Brothers?

(cinescape.com) Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the Matrix trilogy, may sign on to write and direct SPEED RACER for Warner Bros.

None of the parties would go on record, so as of now it simply stands as a rumor. It was reported years back that Vince Vaughn was in talks to star as Racer X who is the long-lost and very protective brother of the title character.

Can "Cars" Crash Through The $75 - $80 Million Barrier?

(jimhillmedia.com) By this time next week, we'll know.

By that I mean: By this time next Monday morning, we'll finally have the preliminary box office results in hand for the opening weekend of "Cars." And then we'll know for sure if John Lasseter's newest film has actually met Wall Street's expectations.

"And what exactly are Wall Street's expectations for 'Cars' ?," you ask. Well, I just spent this past weekend working the phones. Talking with various investment analysts & entertainment industry observers about what the magic number might be. As in: What's "Cars" actually going to have to earn over its opening weekend in order to please the investment community?

Mind you, none of these folks were willing to go on the record with me. Supposedly out of concern that something that they'd tell me might then come back to haunt them, offend the Mouse in some way.

But – that said – there was a fairly strong consensus among these folks about what the magic number for "Cars" had to be. And that was that Pixar Animation Studios' latest release has to earn at least $75 million over its opening weekend in order to be seen as a box office success.

The message that I kept hearing over & over wasn't that "Cars" had to be No. 1. As in: That it had to beat either"Shrek II" 's $108.0 million and/or "X-Men: The Last Stand" 's $102.7 million. But – rather – that Pixar's latest animated feature had to finish in the No. 2 position in order to be taken seriously. Or – at the very least – as a very strong No. 3.

Okay. Obviously, that's a pretty high goal to shoot for. But given that there's already pretty good buzz going about "Cars" (More importantly, that all the initial reviews for this new Pixar film have been generally positive) … That $75 - $80 million target for an opening weekend gross is still very achievable, right?

I'd told that the folks at Pixar aren't all that pleased that – just four weeks after it hits theater – "Cars" finds itself in direct competition with Captain Jack Sparrow. Which perhaps explains why – in the Summer of 2007 – this situation will be reversed. With Disney's third Pirates picture (Tentatively subtitled "World's End) bowing on May 25, 2007, while Pixar's next animated feature, "Ratatouille" (A Brad Bird-directed opus which deals with the gastronomic adventures of Remy the Rat, who wishes to become one of France's greatest chefs) will debut on June 29th.

More: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2006/06/05/2738.aspx

VFX For IMAX: Magnificent Desolation Presentation

(hollywoodindustry.com) Come join us for the GIANT season finale as we discuss some of the very unique visual effects in the IMAX movie Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon, the movie that was awarded Best Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project this year by the Visual Effects Society. Hear Tim Sassoon and Johnathan Banta of Sassoon Film Design present some of their work from the movie with moderator Marty Shindler. Craig Barron of Matte World Digital will present work on the IMAX movie MacGillivray Freeman's Greece: Secrets of the Past. Myles Connolly, Editor on Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France, will discuss the unique computer graphics aspects of that movie.

VENUES & MAPS: Social Hour... Karl Strauss Brewing Company / Universal CityWalk http://www.karlstrauss.com/PAGES/Locations/Brewer_Restaurants/Start.htm#cw

Presentation and Screening... IMAX Theater / Universal CityWalk 100 Universal City Plaza Universal City, CA 91608 http://www.citywalkhollywood.com/groupsales/pdfs/ucw_map.pdf

Blue Screen Pioneer Dies

(news.yahoo.com) LOS ANGELES - Arthur Widmer, who developedsome of the most widely used special effects technology in films and
earned an Academy Award last year for lifetime achievement, has died.

He was 92.

Widmer died of cancer on May 28, his publicist Jane Ayer told the LosAngeles Times for a story published Sunday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Widmer the awardfor his work in developing Ultra Violet and "blue screen" special effects processes.

"Art's pioneering work has had a profound impact on the filmindustry," said Richard Edlund of the academy's Scientific and Technical Awards Committee when the award was announced. "Many of thefilms we hold dear would not have been possible without his contributions to image compositing technology."

Working for Warner Bros. in the 1950s, Widmer developed the UltraViolet Traveling Matte process, an early version of what would become
known as blue screen, in which two different images shot at differenttimes and places could be combined into one.

"If you want to have a couple sitting at a cafe in Paris, you couldsend the couple to Paris and hire a crew and get all the lights and stop the traffic and shoot it, but that would be very expensive," Widmer told the Los Angeles Business Journal last year. "Instead, you get a little mock-up on the stage of the table and chairs and set the couple there and shoot them against the blue screen in the background."

Widmer left Warner Bros. in 1964 to design and build the optical department for Universal Studios, where he continued the development of blue screen and other visual effects until his retirement in 1979.

Ghost Rider Waits On VFX

(scifi.com) Nicolas Cage, who stars in the much-delayed comic-book movie Ghost Rider, told SCI FI Wire that the film is all but finished and that the delays resulted from a desire to get the visual effects right. "They're just tweaking certain things toward the end," Cage said in an interview during a break in filming of his next film, the SF thriller Next. "The reason why the movie was delayed—I know that's been on people's minds—is there were some effects that finally got authorized by the studio that [writer-director] Mark [Steven Johnson] really wanted, and they're pretty big, and it took time to put them together and design them. So we had to delay it. I think it's good, because it's something we really wanted to fight for, with Ghost Rider going into battle with the helicopter."

In Ghost Rider, which is based on the Marvel Comics series, Cage plays a stunt motorcycle rider who makes a pact with the devil and spends his nights as an avenging demon whose head is a flaming skull. The film has had several rumored release dates and has been officially slated for a Feb. 16, 2007, release, several months after its last official release date of July 14.

How Star Wars Surprised The World

(americanheritage.com) In the late 1970s most movie theater owners simply weren\u2019t interested in a movie set in space. The last truly successful science-fiction film had been 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey; more recent fare, such as the ecological fable Silent Running (1972), had bombed. So on May 25, 1977 29 years ago today Star Wars opened on just 32 screens nationwide.

It didn'9t look like a logical career move for its creator, the director George Lucas, either. After the unexpected smash success of his American Graffiti (1973), which earned him two Oscar nominations and millions of dollars, the then-29-year old director was a hot commodity in Hollywood. For a follow-up he decided to develop an idea he'd been tinkering with for years: a space fantasy, complete with elaborate sets and dazzling special effects. He struck a deal with 20th Century Fox for $150,000 to write and direct the movie that would become Star Wars.

More: http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/web/20060525-star-wars-george-lucas-movies-hollywood-luke-skywalker-darth-vader-american-graffiti-science-fiction-special-effects.shtml

Madsen Denies Playing Mrs. Indiana Jones

(comingsoon.net) The chances of a fourth "Indiana Jones" movie is becoming the stuff of legends after the seventeen-year hiatus since the third movie, and it's become something that many Harrison

Ford fans have been chomping at the bit in hopes it will still happen.

Supposedly, there's a script already completed, and back in February when Virginia Madsen was doing press for the thriller Firewall, in which she played Harrison Ford's wife, word started getting around that the Oscar-nominated actress was in line to play "Mrs. Indiana Jones" in the planned movie.

And the Fantastic Four Sequel Is Called...

(moviehole.net) Does the sequel to "Fantastic Four" sequel have a title? Looks like it.

As of today, it seems to be "Fantastic Four : The Next Chapter", according to a Fox Australia Media Schedule, dispatched to local film hounds this morning.

Interesting. Not bad. Hmmm. Effective enough, I guess.

The sequel, which reunites the cast of the original (Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans), will see the Fantastic foursome discover that there are other people out there like them - i.e with super powers - one of them being, the Silver Surfer.

Tim Story returns as director.

Spiderman Struggles To Remembr Lines

(showbizdata.com) That was Peter Parker himself, aka Tobey Maguire, struggling mightily to get through a one-line scene while filming "Spider-Man 3" in Madison Square Park the other day. "He had to do about 50 takes of a 20-second scene in which he turns to the camera, walks three steps, and says one line," reports a Lowdown spy, noting that the line was inaudible. "Equally over-the-top was Tobey's lion-sized entourage, sitting just behind the shoot. Literally, between cast, crew, family and friends, there were like 50 people watching this shot. At one point, he actually laughed because he couldn't keep it together to deliver his one line. Sad." Maybe Tobey would be less distracted if he left some of his admirers at home.

Vadar Thanks Lucas

(showbizdata.com) Hayden Christensen was named best villain for his turn as Darth Vader in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." at the 2006 MTV movie awards. He thanked George Lucas "for giving me the chance to play such a cool character."

VFX Trends: Virtual San Francisco Cheaper Than Being There

(sfgate.com) With the exception of a ride on a cable car, the mutant heroes and villains in the big action movie "X-Men: The Last Stand," which opens Friday, pretty much complete the San
Francisco tourist checklist.

Magneto, Wolverine, Angel and the rest walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz and camp out in Muir Woods; they wander to the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Park, and even take time for a quick flyby over North Beach.

But although the movie takes place in the Bay Area -- and San Francisco landmarks figure significantly in the plot -- no actor set foot in the city and almost no live action film was shot here.

Unknown to most moviegoers, special-effects innovations have reached the point where a filmmaker can set a $100 million summer blockbuster in an exotic locale without sending the usual fleet of actors, makeup artists, cinematographers and key grips there.

It's a growing strategy by movie studios grappling with the nearly 8 percent drop in box-office receipts from 2004 and 2005. As the visual effects get better and costs for filming in beloved locations like Paris, New York and San Francisco remain high, studios are finding it significantly cheaper and faster to build sets on back lots and use models and computers to fill in scenic backgrounds.

While the third "X-Men" movie is an extreme example because so few crew members actually touched ground in San Francisco, every big action movie released this season has filmed at least one scene using similar techniques.

"The technology is evolving so much faster than any of us as observers are aware," said 20th Century Fox President Hutch Parker, who helped supervise the "X-Men" film and is executive producer of this summer's remake of "The Omen." "It has in some ways made the prohibitively expensive affordable. I'm not going to say we couldn't have done this five years ago, but it wouldn't have been as convincing."

The crew of "Mission: Impossible III," was sent to Shanghai for a few weeks, but spent months building and filming a fake Shanghai in Los Angeles.

"The producers were thinking this could get very expensive with a lot of crews waiting around for something to happen," said "Mission: Impossible III" visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, who worked for Industrial Light & Magic, based in the Bay Area. "The reality of making big movies is, your daily nut is huge. The cost of location shooting is astronomical, because of the support crew that's required to travel. And the last thing you want to do is go somewhere and not be able to achieve what you want."

Guyett said among the problems with filming in Shanghai is that the city encourages its citizens to turn off their lights at 10 p.m. This would have given director J.J. Abrams a narrow window to shoot the vibrant backdrops he wanted. Fog, haze, safety issues and other considerations led the team to build a pseudo-Shanghai in Los Angeles -- using computers to fill in whatever they couldn't construct.

More: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVNA91.DTL&hw=ILM&sn=002&sc=279

Gods & Monsters

(theledger.com) His fingers have molded nightmares, cradled miracles, pressed the divine flesh of gods. Skeletons rise and cackle in his grasp; when he beckons, dinosaurs step roaring through the mists of history.

What drives such a cordial, self-effacing man to raise demons from the darkness and breathe life into petrified myths?

"Maybe I have a Zeus complex!" Ray Harryhausen said, laughing.

It's a line he's used often in his 85 years, and it helps sum up his career as one of the most innovative and influential special-effects wizards in the history of movies.

Harryhausen's mastery of stop-motion animation -- the painstaking technique used most famously in the original "King Kong" -- has spawned screen images that have astonished three generations of moviegoers and moviemakers.

More: http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060507/NEWS/605070323/1021

Take The Lucas Trivia Quiz

(trivia4u.com) Take our 10 Question Trivia Quiz And Earn FREE Tickets To Your Favorite Theme Park. (Of the 40 people who took this trivia the average score was 55 Highest score to date is 100.00)

Get started: http://www.trivia4u.com/trivia/286/George-Lucas/google/george%20lucas%20news/


Posted by dschnee at June 5, 2006 06:45 AM


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