Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Worth a mention - 10/08/14

"Top Gun 2"  A Priority For Paramount

(              While Tom Cruise is busy filming "Mission Impossible 5," Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer are also reportedly busy gearing up for "Top Gun 2" movie.

According to Hollywood Reporter, Justin Marks, the scribe behind Disney Studio's version of "The Jungle Book" has been tapped to pen the story to the sequel of the 1980's hit movie.

Director Jon Favreau was reportedly attracted to Mark's work for Jungle Book that he was eager to have the writer on board.

Moreover, "Top Gun 2" movie is reportedly in top priority according to Paramount's Head of Production Adam Goodman.

"We'll likely make a Top Gun sequel with Tom Cruise first. Jerry Bruckheimer would produce, with Tony Scott returning to direct. All parties are moving ahead. We've hired Peter Craig to write the script."

Tom Cruise on the other hand, talked about the planned sequel claiming that he would gladly do the film.

He told Sky News: ''With movies, they each have their time - when it's ready to be made. If we can get over some stumbling blocks it will be fun to do.''

Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer is one persistent person, as he has been exerting extreme efforts on how to finally bring a Top Gun sequel to life.

"We've been trying to get that movie made for 30 years, and I think we're getting closer and closer," he told The Huffington Post

"Don (Simpson) and I tried to develop something, we didn't succeed. (Tom) Cruise took over, and he tried to develop something, and he didn't succeed. Now we're back at it," he explained

The Top Gun's original director Tony Scott, who unfortunately passed away in 2012, thought of the current storyline.

"The concept is, basically, are the pilots obsolete because of drones. Cruise is going to show them that they're not obsolete. They're here to stay."

"It's just getting to the starting place. Fortunately for Tom, he's very busy, so you have to find a slot he can fit into and get a budget that [studio] Paramount feels they can make the picture."

However, Jack Reacher star Tom Cruise is nothing but excited about reprising his role in the highly anticipated sequel, according to world known producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

It's nearly three decades after Top Gun has been released in theaters and since then the much awaited sequel has been touted for, but to no avail.

Top Gun 2 movie almost made it to theaters earlier, but was placed on hold on August 2012 following the death of director Tony Scott, which nearly scrapped the movie entirely.

Jerry Bruckheimer who will be producing Top Gun 2 movie has recently confirmed that the second installment to the blockbuster hit way back in 1986 has now resumed.

"We're at a point right now where everybody wants to make it," Bruckheimer revealed to IndieWire.

"For a while it was Tom was excited about it but the studio didn't want to commit or the studio was excited and Tom didn't want to do it. And that's been going on for 30 years. And now we're at a point where the studio is excited and Tom is excited," he added

He continued: "A lot of that has to do with Tony [Scott's] vision. He had a really exciting vision and he got everybody excited about it. That enthusiasm [has] carried forward."

The original Top Gun grossed more than $356 million at the worldwide box office during its release on 1986 that sky rocketed Cruise to fame and becoming one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

For more of the latest and hottest news on Top Gun 2 release date and updates keep tuning in here at

Submissions Open for VES Awards

(               The Visual Effects Society is now accepting submissions for the upcoming 13th Annual VES Awards, taking place February 4, 2015 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Submissions will be open until November 21, 2014 for Visual Effects in Film, Television, Special Venue, Games & Animated created between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

To submit or find answers to any questions you may have about submitting, visit VES notes that viewing materials must be uploaded between November 10-21 this year to be considered.


Roland Emmerich's Independence Day Sequel Moves Forward

    Jeff Goldblum has revealed that he is on board for the Independence Day sequel.

In an interview with Time, the actor said that he has had "a meeting" about reprising his role from the 1996 movie.

"I had a meeting and have been talking over the last several months or year with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the producer," he said, "and they've been cooking up and say they have a part for me in what they hope will be a plan to make another one pretty soon."

Goldblum, who played David Levinson in the movie, also said that the awaited sequel was "brewing".

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: A Visit to ILM

(             Matt went to visit ILM to find out more about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. They might never recover.

“It’s the science of capturing the data, it’s the science of retargeting that onto the creature and it’s the animation artistry coming in and intervening and really interpreting what that data is.”

That’s how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VFX supervisor Pablo Helman succinctly explained how they used motion capture in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a room of journalists. It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Oh, we had to capture data, so we just used science. Then we ran a quick paintbrush over the science and Ninja Turtles fell out. Easy, really.

The lengths the team at ILM have gone to are pretty incredible, though. The time, effort and expertise that’s invested in making sure there are no tells, no giveaway signs that what you’re seeing isn’t there, involves taking the term ‘detail oriented’ very, very seriously.

There’s a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film coming out and I’ve been pretty excited about it. We’d received an invitation to go and speak to some of the people who had created the special effects for it. Not a bad day when that call comes through.

I was booted over to see the good folks at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic). ILM is the special effects company started by George Lucas. You’d know it once you got there, too. A Yoda statue complete with water feature sits outside, there’s a full scale Boba Fett in the lobby and a Star Wars presence (along with bits and pieces from some of the many other movies ILM have worked on over the years) throughout the buildings I got to see. The security guards don’t carry light sabres, though, so there’s still some room for improvement, if not much.

Full article:

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Could Cross $800 Million At Box Office

(           This coming weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy launches into several new markets to complete its box office run around the world. That run has so far stunned most pundits and surely most suits at Disney-Marvel. The film was considered a huge gamble, and many fans and journalists thought it was a crazy risk that simply couldn’t possibly pay off. Even the most optimistic estimates weren’t close to predicting the blockbuster status the film has achieved, and a lot simply assumed audiences weren’t going to be too impressed by a film full of unknown characters and no major star in a lead role with their face on camera, in a comic book film that doesn’t technically have what most people would consider any true “superheroes” in it. But here we are, with Guardians‘ talking raccoon and tree among the year’s most beloved characters, and box office receipts that just won’t stop rolling in (it is still in the top-ten grossing films of the weekend in North America).

Guardians of the Galaxy took in $4 million last week and weekend combined, and should add another 6-7 million to its domestic total by the end of its run, bringing it to around $330 million. Internationally, the film still has to open in China, Italy, and Switzerland. How much it adds in those countries depends on many factors. For comparison, Captain America: The Winter Soldier added roughly $125 million in those markets, but Thor: The Dark World rounded up around $65 million from the same markets, meaning the middle ground is in the neighborhood of $95 million.

Those stand as three starting estimates for high, middle, and low-end potential receipt totals for Guardians. Now add to that the fact it will continue to pull a bit more from other markets where it’s already been playing. What this math tells us is, Guardians of the Galaxy should end its run with at the very minimum $730 million, a mid-range minimum of $760 million, or a high end estimate of perhaps $785 million. Meaning the movie is destined to become either the 62nd, 52nd, or 49th highest-grossing film in history.

However, this assumes Captain America: The Winter Soldier represents the high-end potential for Guardian‘s box office performance in the remaining territories, an assumption that could be blown out of the water for a few reasons…

Guardians is much more sci-fi than superhero, and the anticipation for it has been high in China in particular (where the sci-fi adventure and comedy of Transformers: Age of Extinction set the box office on fire this year). China is also getting over a period of the year when there’s a temporary halt to releases of movies from Hollywood, as a way of helping their domestic film productions. Additionally, as the coming months are mostly filled with more dramatic fare and only a few big blockbuster-type releases, the arrival of the few remaining films of this sort should be particularly welcome when they arrive. Lastly, Guardians‘ characters don’t wear U.S. flags nor are they rooted firmly in western Norse mythology, so they might have an added advantage over Captain America and Thor when it comes to acceptance by audiences in the foreign markets.

So, there’s a very real chance Guardians of the Galaxy will outperform Captain America‘s strong showing. If it manages to outperform to the tune of just a bit more than 10%, that would push the film over the $800 million mark, something rare in the comic book genre — only The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises crossed that line (on their way to topping $1 billion, all). Which would, by the way, boost it up to at least the 44th spot on the all-time highest grossing movies list.

Paramount Animation Pushes Spongebob Squarepants 2 to 2015

(               The Spongebob Squarepants 2 release date has been confirmed, according to reports. Paramount pictures, makers of the upcomig sequel to the first Spongebob Movie, has announced that the release date will be moved to February 6, 2015 instead. It was previously announced that the release date would be this year 2014, until paramount made the announcement. .The movie has been done with filing since November 2013, and as to why the release date got pushed back, fans can ony specualte why, since Paramount did not really mention why they had to push the date back.

Wanda to Create Movie Fund to Attract Hollywood Productions

(               China’s Dalian Wanda Group Corp. is planning to establish a $163 million (1 billion yuan) annual fund to attract movie producers for its yet-to-be-completed mega studio project Oriental Movie Metropolis the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The Oriental Movie Metropolis has been dubbed the 'Chinese Hollywood' for its ambitious scope and the plans for it to be a center for TV and film production in China. Located in coastal city of Qingdao, Oriental Movie Metropolis was announced with much fanfare last year as Hollywood A-listers Leonardo Di Caprio, Catherine Zeta Jones and Nicole Kidman attend the ground-breaking ceremony. Movie execs such as Sony serior vp Ralph Alexander and then international division president of Universal Pictures David Kosse were also in attendance at the ceremony.

Wanda's billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, who has made aggressive commercial and property moves in the entertainment industry as well as flirting with the idea of acquiring a Hollywood production house, said the planned fund would work with the private sector to recreate Hollywood in China. Wang added that the Qingdao district government would provide subsidies of up to 10% of any production studio's annual revenue.

Wang has said in the past that Oriental Movie Metropolis will be the largest studio in the world, and he intimated that he is fully prepared to back the project to success. “The Oriental Movie Metropolis will certainly succeed,” he said.

The Journal reported that a number of Hollywood players were in the room at the announcement of the planned fund including Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser, deal maker John Sloss and the Zhang Qiang, the new head of the Alibaba Pictures Group.

Lego Movie 2 Releasing in 2017, 2 More to Follow

(              Warner Bros. has announced The Lego Movie 2 will release in theaters on May 26, 2017. Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will both return to their roles behind the helm, and Chris McKay, who was an animation co-director on the original, will take the role of director for the sequel. Lord and Miller are still working on the plot to the upcoming sequel, but expect there to be plenty of bricks involved.

Chris Pratt, who portrayed Emmett Brickowski in the first film, told Metro he would love to return for The Lego Movie 2, but has received no official word as to the role or casting yet. Pratt, speaking with Metro, said he didn’t know much about the casting for the sequel at all. He is hoping, however, that Emmett is an integral part of the store once more, as he loved working with both Phil and Chris. The actor also expressed how proud of the film he was, saying it had a nice buzz surrounding it upon release.

The first Lego Movie released this year, 2014, with a budget of  just $60 million to make. The movie went on to earn $257.8 million in North America, and $210.3 million internationally. That brings the total box office sales to $468.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film received highly positive reviews by critics, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating over 95%. Critics said the movie was “boasting beautiful imagination, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story.”

There is currently a rumor floating around that The Lego Movie 2 will feature Marvel characters within the film, as the crossover has been happening quite a lot within the video game world. DC’s Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Women all appeared within the first film, so seeing Marvel characters wouldn’t be a stretch. However, Lord has said Marvel is doing just fine by themselves and don’t need Lego movies anymore to be successful. We’d have to agree, but it would still be a cool crossover to behold.

Lastly, The Lego Movie 2 will have two more films following it afterwards. According to Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has reserved spots on May 25, 2018 and May 24, 2019 for two more Lego movies. That means plenty of unique stories to look forward to in the coming years.

A Tour of 'San Fransokyo,' the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6

(                 The upcoming movie Big Hero 6 represents the first-ever partnership between Marvel and Disney, two entities known for constructing fantastical universes. So it's not surprising that bringing the story to film also required building an entire city of the future: a blend of Tokyo and San Francisco named San Fransokyo.

When encouraged to develop a Disney film that drew from Marvel's universe (which Disney purchased in 2009) directors Don Hall and Chris Williams dove deep into the Marvel archives, selecting an obscure comic—"Perhaps the most obscure Marvel comic," quips Hall—about 14-year-old robotics whiz Hiro Himada and his puffy sidekick, a compassionate caregiving robot named Baymax.

Full article with pics:

How We Resurrected Audrey Hepburn

(                In the first of a new blog series from those who have made some of the world’s most memorable ads, Mike McGee tells us how the ad pushed the boundaries for computer graphics

A computer-generated Audrey Hepburn, who was resurrected for the Galaxy chocolate ad. Photograph: Framestore

It’s not every day you’re asked to bring dead celebrities back from the grave, but in our line of work, it’s becoming more common. It’s something we at Framestore were asked to do when we resurrected Audrey Hepburn for Galaxy’s chauffeur commercial.

Audrey represents heritage, classiness and elegance. So from a strategic and creative point of view, it made sense for Galaxy to communicate its “silk, not cotton” branding through these qualities. What was less clear, however, was just how we were meant to recreate an iconic and globally recognised face when the original footage exists at a resolution incompatible with today’s high standards.

We ended up completely recreating Audrey’s face in computer graphics (CG) – a feat never before achieved at such close-up scale. If this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is. Replicating a photorealistic 100% CG human that stands up to close inspection is the mecca of visual effects (VFX). So this project was an industry first and took us to the edge of what’s possible.

Galaxy’s chauffeur ad, featuring a CG Audrey Hepburm

Skin, eyes and facial hair are just too “perfect” when rendered through a computer. Crucial human subtleties, like the flicker of an eye, can also look robotic when computer-generated. So why go 100% CG?

We couldn’t take the easy option of filming a lookalike and disguising mismatched nuances through shadows and camera angles because, first, Audrey was the absolute star of the show and there was no hiding her in a dark corner; second, as the ultimate symbol of beauty, the likelihood of casting a near-perfect match was nil. So we went the whole hog and digitally recreated every millimetre of her face.

To get reference material of how Audrey would look and act in the script’s scenes, two body-doubles were cast: one to represent her minute 20-inch waist and another to convey as closely as possible her distinctive facial bone structure. Once shot, we’d have footage and data to augment with VFX.

Before the main shoot began on the Amalfi coast, we scanned the face-double using FACS (facial action coding system). This session captured a plethora of hi-res skin textures and more than 60 different facial expressions for animators to replicate when creating the CG Audrey.

Source with video:

Podcast:  IRON MAN 3: Alessandro Cioffi – VFX Supervisor – Trixter

(             During his last visit Alessandro Cioffi told us about the work of Trixter on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Since then he has worked on films such as THE AVENGERS, MARVEL ONE-SHOT: ITEM 47 or CLOUD ATLAS.

Source with podcast link:

New & Old:  Never-before-seen photos Give a Glimpse Behind the Scenes of the Planets of the Apes Franchise

(              Newly released photos with behind-the-scenes looks and concept art from Planets of the Apes will give fans a peek at the production of the franchise.

A new book entitled Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of the Legend charts the development of the movie franchise from the original film starring Charlton Heston to this year's release, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In a production still, Heston is seen behind the scenes with director Franklin Schaffner getting into character as the stranded astronaut Taylor, one of the roles that defined his acting career.

Take a look:

Women in Animation Seeks Members From Toons, VFX, Games

(           In spring 2013, Kristy Scanlan and Margaret Dean, above, were approached with a very daunting task: taking leadership of a 20-year-old organization that seeks to empower the women that they had been working alongside and admiring for years.

“Women in Animation was run by fantastic women who had been doing it for a long time, got burned out and wanted to bring in some fresh blood,” says Scanlan. “We were approached about becoming the new co-presidents and we took some time to do our research.”

Both are industry professionals — Scanlan as Technicolor’s vice president of business development for animation and games, Dean as director of production for Mattel Playground Prods. — and have not taken their new duties lightly.

In the year since their re-launch of the org in October 2013, Scanlan, Dean and their appointed board of directors have started a pilot mentorship program in addition to hosting panels for women involved in films such as “The Boxtrolls” and “Frozen,” co-directed by Jennifer Lee.

“Sitting in that panel with Lee and the others, I reverted back to being a little girl. I was so excited,” Dean says. “To be able to sit there and watch these eight women talk about themselves and the work that they do with complete authority, it was so thrilling.”

Women in Animation now counts more than 800 members, compared to the 120 members that Scanlan and Dean started with. They hope to see their impact affect the industry in the coming years, with women receiving a fairer representation as artists, designers and directors.

“If you look around in the culture, there’s a huge push for women’s issues. It’s a very popular theme right now,” Dean says. “I think we were able to attract a lot of people whom this has always been important to, but now they have the bandwidth to make something happen.”

A Stark Comment: Iron Man 4 Isn't Happening

(             Is Robert Downey Jr. just messing with the media?

While promoting The Judge (in theaters Friday), the actor was asked numerous times if he plans to reprise his role as Iron Man in a fourth movie. On Tuesday, he confirmed that "yes," there is another installment in the works. "I know there are going to be a bunch more Marvel movies," he explained, "and they have big ideas of how to do it best and [they're] in the middle of negotiation, blah blah blah..."

After that interview with Ellen DeGeneres, however, he changed his tune.

Appearing on The Late Show Tuesday, the actor told David Letterman a slightly different story. "There [are] no plans for an Iron Man 4," he revealed. Asked why not, the 49-year-old star said, "That's a valid question. Like it hasn't made enough money? Yeah, I guess they have too much money or something. There is no script for Iron Man 4. They do have a plan and I think they're going to announce it [soon]."

VIDEO: Robert Downey Jr.'s True Hollywood Story

Letterman didn't let up, asking Downey a second time if a fourth Iron Man movie could still be a possibility. "Just between us, no," he told the late-night host. "But, I'm going to do other stuff with Marvel. I'm still going to be involved with Marvel and there's going to be plenty of fun stuff to happen."

Perhaps Downey was merely being coy—Marvel is known for its secrecy, after all.

The Trouble With Dreamworks Animation

(                Jeffrey Katzenberg’s desire to sell the studio he founded has been Hollywood’s worst-kept secret for years. So why can’t he make a deal?

In a July 30 note following DreamWorks Animation’s second-quarter earnings, where it reported a $15.4 million loss, Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz listed as one of just two potentially positive scenarios ahead for the animated studio founded by movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg that it “becomes an acquisition candidate.” The other was that the average box office performance of its upcoming slate of films beats expectations.

Both, however, are thought by sources to be long shots.

“The film lineup looks poor at best,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, who has a sell rating on the studio’s stock and says it is worth $15.50 per share.

For the first time in his 40-year movie career, Katzenberg’s performance is being seriously questioned by both Wall Street analysts and Hollywood peers. As an independent studio not tethered to a larger organization in the cost-heavy field of animated movies, his studio is overly dependent on the box office performance of individual films to meet its financial targets. Further, DreamWorks Animation’s business model of only producing two to three movies per year has suffered from the dual realities of increased competition in family films and an overall downward trend in attendance at the domestic box office. These factor have resulted in a confluence of negative events recently, ranging from missed earnings to losses on poorly performing films to a U.S. Securities and Exchange investigation into a recent Katzenberg stock sale, that have raised questions about DreamWorks Animation’s future.

Yet DreamWorks Animation shares are currently trading significantly higher than Greenfield’s target, closing trading Tuesday at $23.99, primarily buoyed in recent weeks by a short-lived rumor that Japan’s SoftBank was in talks to buy the studio for $3.4 billion. The rumor was fueled, in part, by one of Hollywood’s worst-kept secrets: Katzenberg has been trying to sell DreamWorks Animation for years.

A DreamWorks Animation representative declined to comment or make Katzenberg available for an interview for this story.

Katzenberg isn’t trying to sell his studio because he needs the money — he’s among the richest men in the world with a net worth somewhere between $860 million and $957 million depending on who is doing the calculating. His goal has always been to use a sale of the studio to leverage himself into a bigger job at a larger organization — and get out from under the glare of Wall Street.

The now derailed talks with Softbank dovetailed nicely with that objective. The Japanese telecommunications and internet giant, newly flush with billions of dollars from the Alibaba IPO, is by all accounts looking to spend its way into Hollywood. Its initial interest in DreamWorks Animation likely stemmed from the fact that animated movies, unlike comedies or dramas, play well to an international audience, and DreamWorks Animation’s just happen to perform especially strong in Asian markets.

But multiple sources told BuzzFeed News that Softbank soon realized that, as one Hollywood executive who requested anonymity for fear of damaging relationships put it, “when you dig into the cost structure versus revenue and profits you see that [the studio’s] business model doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Katzenberg began his film career at Paramount Pictures before moving on to Walt Disney Studios, where he had a spectacular decade-long run that included overseeing such animated classics as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, the first animated movie to receive a Best Picture nomination. He left Disney in 1994 after a falling out with then-CEO Michael Eisner and went on to found DreamWorks with partners David Geffen and Steven Spielberg.

In 2004, with the blessing of Geffen and Spielberg, Katzenberg spun out DreamWorks Animation and took it public on the strength of his reputation and the then-budding Shrek franchise.

But independent film studios are only as valuable as their most recent hit, which is why there are so few of them, particularly on the public markets. Hollywood and Wall Street have always had trouble understanding each other mainly because the former is a highly volatile hits-driven business while the latter likes stable companies with reliable earnings growth and cash flow generation. The disconnect is magnified for DreamWorks Animation since it produces just two or at most three films per year.

As a second movie studio executive who also requested anonymity said, “When you only make two movies a year, you better make sure one of them isn’t a flop otherwise you’re in trouble.”

Since 2012, however, DreamWorks Animation has had to record a total of $157.5 million in losses on three movies — Rise of the Guardians, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Turbo. While the amount of the write-downs isn’t large by movie industry standards — Disney took a $200 million loss on John Carter alone in 2012 — they have resulted in extremely volatile swings in the studio’s stock price and earnings because its business model is tilted so heavily toward the box office performance of its films. For the full year 2013, for instance, DreamWorks Animation recorded a profit of $55 million, while for 2012 it posted a loss of $36.4 million.

Full article:

-H             -The real Top Gun School gives a $5 fine to anyone in the staff that quotes the movie.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Worth a mention - 10/07/14

Pacific Rim 2 is Yet to Become a Done Deal

(             Currently in productions for the biker-drama series “Sons of Anarchy”, actor Charlie Hunnam revealed the sequel of “Pacific Rim” is not yet a done deal. In an interview with Nuke The Fridge, Hunnam, who played the Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket in “Pacific Rim”, said that although director Guillermo del Toro has confirmed that “Pacific Rim 2″ is a go, he himself is not so positive about the movie’s details.

Yeah, I just did another film with Guillermo so we had some conversations about it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s definitely going ahead. … We got a release date, got a script ordered, but it’s Hollywood. You never know until you’re on set, but they seem very, very enthusiastic and excited about it. I’ve talked a little bit with Guillermo about the story he wants to tell and it’s pretty b—–,” Hunnam said.

Before filming “SOA’s” last season, the British actor collaborated with del Toro in his upcoming thriller film “Crimson Peak” with Tom Hiddleston & Mia Wasikowska.

… there wasn’t anything between ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Crimson Peak’ because I took the hiatus off with work because I needed a break,” Hunnam said of working with del Toro. “So yeah, it’s pretty nice.

Following the announcement of the movie’s sequel, director Guillermo del Toro revealed that he will start working on the design productions & even start looking for film locations. Although del Toro didn’t say much about the science-fiction film’s plot, the 49-year-old filmmaker aims to begin filming in November this year.

I’m doing a little more location-oriented stuff, there are night battles, but there are also daylight battles,” del Toro teased at Comic-Con. “We are expanding the mythology of the Anteverse. We are taking the characters into a completely different journey this time because Raleigh for me solved his problem the minute he was able to go full circle and save Mako [Mori] by sacrificing himself, which is what he couldn’t do with his brother. He’s not on that journey anymore. He’s on a new journey.

Based on Buzzfeed’s report, Legendary Pictures has not yet given the director the thumbs up, but del Toro will continue working on the script with Zak Penn. The script features the original characters of the movie, including Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori).

There’s also a possibility that there will be a Video game alongside “Pacific Rim 2″. According to Gamerant, Legendary Pictures presented an Oculus Rift virtual reality game at International Comic-Con 2014 in San Diego in late July. The game allowed gamers to control a “virtual jaeger” alongside a projection of Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket while a giant Kaiju monster came their way. Even del Toro too, took a swing at the Oculus Rift.

This is my baby more, but the Oculus was something that I saw from the design, the storyboarding, the sound design, the beta version, all the way to what you see

So as a virtual reality game is already created, can we expect a Video game titled “Pacific Rim 2″ as well? The response was certainly hopeful:

I think that’s something that I would full and wholeheartedly support.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, del Toro teased that “Pacific Rim 2″ may explore the concept of the Drift (a process pilots undergo before synchronizing with the Jaeger) & the Kaiju World more in-depth than the first movie.

He’s also busy working on an animated show & continuing the “Pacific Rim: Year Zero” graphic novel series.

“Pacific Rim 2″ is set to hit theaters on April 7, 2017, according to Screenrant.

Why Christopher Nolan Insisted On Making 'Interstellar' Available On Old School Film

(             Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" is fast approaching, and full details of the film's release strategy have finally been revealed.

Despite the fact that 35mm is almost dead, Nolan, along with directors like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, J.J. Abrams, and a few others, vow to keep the format alive by continuing to shoot on film the old-fashioned way.

Nolan's campaign to save the ailing format picked up steam when Paramount announced Wednesday that theaters equipped with 35mm and 70mm projectors will get the film two days early.

"We are taking a moment to acknowledge the huge heritage of film ... filmmakers like Chris and J.J. want to make sure that film is a part of the business going forward," Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore told The Hollywood Reporter.

In an interview with the Director's Guild of America magazine, Christopher Nolan himself outlined why he prefers film:

"For the last 10 years, I’ve felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I’ve never understood why. It’s cheaper to work on film, it’s far better looking, it’s the technology that’s been known and understood for a hundred years, and it’s extremely reliable. I think, truthfully, it boils down to the economic interest of manufacturers and [a production] industry that makes more money through change rather than through maintaining the status quo. We save a lot of money shooting on film and projecting film and not doing digital intermediates. In fact, I’ve never done a digital intermediate. Photochemically, you can time film with a good timer in three or four passes, which takes about 12 to 14 hours as opposed to seven or eight weeks in a DI suite. That’s the way everyone was doing it 10 years ago, and I’ve just carried on making films in the way that works best and waiting until there’s a good reason to change. But I haven’t seen that reason yet."

35mm and 70mm film can look brighter and clearer than digital projection, though the latest IMAX and 4K digital projection technology comes close. Digital projection has caught on because it's cheaper to distribute, among other reasons.

"Interstellar" will be released in six different formats: IMAX 70mm, traditional 70mm, traditional IMAX, 35mm, 4K digital and standard digital. It will open in 70mm IMAX, 70mm film, and 35mm film on the evening of Tuesday, November 4th — two days before its official release date.

Paramount has set up a website outlining the various ways that you can experience the film and sent out this handy graphic to sum it all up.

Disney/Marvel Making Big Plans Beyond 'Avengers 3,' and it's Making Hollywood Crazy

(             I have no doubt some of the DC/Warner movies will be good, and some will likely be bad, and there will be people who prefer them because there is a strong chance they are going to be radically different in tone than anything Marvel's making, and fandom will continue to rage and debate even as Fox struggles to manage their own unconnected corner of the Marvel Universe. But make no mistake… Marvel is driving the entire conversation right now. Everyone else is reacting to them, or being forced to try to emulate them, or making a conscious decision not to react to them, which is still a reaction, and through it all, Marvel is making the choices they're making based on a long-range story-driven game plan that takes business considerations into account but that also seems designed to ever keep anyone from being in the position of being able to ruin their plans over money.

Over the weekend, Devin Faraci ran a piece about the possible shape of "Avengers 3" over at Badass Digest, and like Devin, there are things I've been hearing for a while now that have me wondering what the Marvel Universe looks like in five years. It won't be the Marvel Universe we know right now, but it will be richer and weirder and much much larger. I think many fans assumed that we'd get to the James Bond moment at some point soon where they have to just start recasting the key roles like Tony Stark or Captain America or Thor, but I think Marvel is reluctant to start down that road.

Instead, it seems like they're focused on cultivating new members of the Marvel family while figuring out the best way to deploy those contractual obligations they've still got pending. It's like an elaborate narrative chess game, and the advantage Marvel has is that they know where all these things are heading. They have long-range plans for the world that have been building now for ten movies and that are nowhere near their final pay-off yet. That's sort of remarkable and unprecedented. That's what I mean when I say everyone else is going to have to play Marvel's game. They've got to start thinking bigger.

There's a fairly pronounced antagonism between Fox and Marvel these days, and it's just going to get stranger as the publishing version of Marvel seems to be making some very strategic decisions about the characters that Fox owns. Deadpool's movie may have finally been announced, but it looks like Marvel's planning to kill Deadpool in the very near future. The rumors about the end of publication for "Fantastic Four" were denied for months, but now look to be true. And the status quo in the world of the "X-Men" is in ruins in a way that looks nothing like the movies currently being made. Whatever Marvel's future is, the Fox deal remains a thorn in their side, a sequester of some of their biggest characters that looks unlikely to ever change.

Sony, on the other hand, may be doing things the opposite way. While I can't get the confirmations I need to verify the story, I'm hearing that there are some very cool "Spider-Man" plans being discussed that would help Sony refocus their enormously important franchise while also opening up some connections in the onscreen Marvel movie universe that would blow fandom's minds. Will it work out? I don't know. I would love to be able to state for sure that it's happening. What seems clear from what I've heard is that Marvel wants to be able to play with all of their characters, and if they can make that work creatively and on a corporate level, they will, and that means the world gets bigger again.

Someone asked me this weekend when this bubble bursts, and for Marvel, I don't see anything that can stop them at this point besides them. For almost two years, I had conversations with people in which I talked about how important "Guardians Of The Galaxy" would be to the studio, and I was told endlessly that it was going to be the point where they bit off more than they could chew. Now that the film is a legitimate phenomenon, it looks like Marvel really can successfully introduce new and unknown characters to the mainstream and they can take chances with tone or with casting as long as they deliver something that works. They have two more giant challenges coming with "Doctor Strange" and "Ant-Man," but they've got all of their energy focused on making those movies not only fit into what's come before, but expand what can come afterwards.

For everyone else, I think the bubble bursts sooner rather than later. You cannot pound the audience into submission. Fox is taking some big chances with "Fantastic Four," and even if the film is really good, it may simply be too big a set of choices that they've made, too radical an interpretation for some fans to get their head around. The "X-Men" movies are going to continue to be what they've always been… some better than others, lots of spin-offs, and way too dependent on Wolverine. We'll see what happens with "Deadpool," but I think they've got a real uphill battle on that one. If you can make a genuine comedy that also works as a superhero adventure movie, that's a sweet spot, and it's what helped "Guardians" enormously, but it's also really hard to pull off. And if they're going to actually try to do their own in-house mash-ups, they need to make all of the individual pieces work first. I don't know if I want a "Fantastic Four/X-Men" movie, because I don't know what I think of the "Fantastic Four" yet, and I have no idea what line-up of X-Men they're even talking about by that point.

And with DC, so much is riding on "Batman Vs. Superman: Please God Let This Franchise Work." Best case scenario, it's the launching ground for the Justice League and a slew of other individual character movies. Worst case scenario, they have to salt the earth, step back, and set aside the ambitious plans they have for the DC universe. There's no guarantee yet, and it can smack of hubris to tell the audience you have ten movies waiting for them if they aren't sure they even like one film yet. When Marvel starts making choices about how to parcel out characters and narrative points, they're doing it from a position of strength right now, and that can't be over-estimated. They are doing it because they are having fun playing with all these various threads they have going, and they know they have great payoffs ahead. It is a singular moment they're having, and every other studio who is in this big-canvass franchise business right now is looking at the end results and not the process.

It only works because they're doing it as one giant story that is all building to something. It's the same game-plan I hear Disney is implementing for the "Star Wars" universe. As 21st century mega-studios go, no one's playing the game the way the various Disney families are, and whatever the plans are for "Avengers 3" or  "Infinity War" or "Secret Wars" or whatever big event is coming, I have a feeling by the time we get there, it will be both inevitable narratively, and welcomed by the fans, and in the end, if the audience doesn't want what you're making, all the game plans in the world don't matter.

Why The New Star Wars Movies Will Be Better With Less CGI

(             One of the sharpest criticisms levied against George Lucas' Star Wars prequels was focused on the writer/director's abandonment of practical effects and puppetry in favor of CGI - which was quite a good deal less advanced than it is today. Fortunately, that's not the direction that the new trilogy of films will be looking in. Both director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy have previously talked about their desire to make Star Wars: Episode VII feel real and feature more non-digital wizardry, and now Star Wars: Episodes VIII and IX director Rian Johnson is joining the chorus with a shared sentiment about the direction of the franchise.

Johnson was recently a guest on the Girls in Hoodies podcast, and while he really couldn't go into any detail about what's in store for Star Wars: Episodes VII and IX, he did laud all of the non-computer generated effects work that is currently going into the making of the next chapter of the sci-fi saga. Describing the work being done by Abrams and his crew as being "awesome," the filmmaker talked about how there is now actually a certain quality to practical effects work that really has a special draw for audiences, especially because of how many CGI-driven blockbusters are out in theaters nowadays. Said Johnson,

"I think people are coming back around to [practical effects]. It feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back toward it. I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick."

This is particularly true for older members of the audience who can look at practical effects and conjure memories of the movies that they grew up with - but this fact isn't lost on Rian Johnson either. Thinking about the material kids are growing up on today, the director admitted that aspect of filmmaking may end up just being a "generational thing." But what better place than Star Wars for the two worlds to collide? Even with a good amount of emphasis put on practical effects, the new trilogy is guaranteed to also feature a good amount of CGI, and there's nothing wrong with that - provided that the artists are given enough time to do their best work.

J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII is still in production and likely will be for at least a few more weeks, the film still aiming for its announced December 18, 2015 release date. Rian Johnson, meanwhile is already working on the script for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will be out some time in 2017.

Live-action/toon Hybrid Goosebumps Sequel Feature Release Date Set On August 2015

(                     Sony originally had set the Jack Black starrer Goosebumps for March 23, 2016, and in March it targeted the untitled Smurfs reboot for August 2015. Now Sony says the director Rob Letterman's adaptation of the popular R.L. Stine book series will be released first on August 7, 2015, and the little blue guys will return to theaters for Round 3 on August 5, 2016.

Compared to its predecessor, the live-action/toon hybrid sequel The Smurfs 2 pretty much bombed when it debuted on the same weekend last year - August 2, to be exact. So for the third go-round, Sony brass tapped Gnomeo & Juliet and Shrek 2 helmer Kelly Asbury to direct an all-animated film with new designs and environments that will focus on the creatures origins and hew more closely to the original artwork.

The move puts Goosebumps up against Fox's Assassin's Creed. So as it's set now, Original Film's Goosebumps will counterprogram Fox's vidgame adaptation Assassin's Creed, and Untilted Smurfs Movie has no competitors on its weekend yet.

"Goosebumps" stars Jack Black as Stine, who in the movie protects the world from monsters by keeping them locked up in books. Dylan Minnette plays a new kid in town who accidentally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts, forcing him, Stine's daughter (Odeya Rush) and the author himself to put them back where they belong.

Rob Letterman, who worked with Black in "Gulliver's Travels," will direct. It's produced by Neal H. Moritz through his Original Film banner and Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment.

Meanwhile, the third Smurfs film, which is being touted as a reimagining of the franchise, is directed by Kelly Asbury and produced by Jordan Kerner, with Mary Ellen Bauder co-producing.

The third film is not a sequel or a prequel to the first two live-action/CG hybrid films, which grossed a combined $910 million worldwide.

WETA WORKSHOP - Celebrating 20 years of Creativity

(              When Matt Aitken returned home to Wellington for his first film job, he found himself in an old two- storey house sandwiched between a museum and a cricket ground.

Crammed into the upstairs dining room was a film scanner, a single high-end computer, and a film recorder for turning digitally altered frames back into film.

"There was a whole digital effects facility in one room," Aitken recalls.

It was the early 90s, and young Wellington director Peter Jackson was just finishing work on Heavenly Creatures, which would propel him from talented splatter merchant to serious director.

All of the digital special effects in that film - about 14 frames - were painstakingly put together in that room in Tasman St by one man, George Port, using that very expensive computer.

Aitken arrived to help Port out with digital special effects, becoming the second employee of what would eventually become Weta Digital.

Twenty years later, Aitken, now Weta Digital's visual effects supervisor, sits in the plush "reading room" in Park Road Post Production's complex in Miramar, marvelling at what two men and a single computer have transformed into.

"To think that we've become one of the top three or four companies in the field and broken ground in the history of film was beyond my wildest imaginations, although it was probably in the back of Peter's mind."

Weta Digital now employs about 1250 people and has worked on some of the biggest films over the past two decades, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar.

It is part of a collective of Weta companies, including Weta Workshop and Park Road Post Production, that have branched out to work with many of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Last year, "Wellywood" earned $700 million from film production alone, with four out of every five Kiwi film dollars generated in the capital. In full production - as is now the case on the final Hobbit film - they are among the biggest employers in Wellington.

Marking the 20th anniversary, the companies have released twin books charting the rise of Weta Workshop and Digital. What becomes obvious in the books is just how improbable and precarious the rise of Weta, and the whole Jackson film industry, was in a little wind-bitten city a world away from Hollywood.

Full article:

Two ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Films Underway

(          It looks like Disney’s upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast movie will have a YA spin. According to Entertainment Weekly, the studio has enlisted Stephen Chbosky, author of the favored teen novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, to draft a new script for the much-discussed project.

Per EW, the writer will help adapt the classic 1991 animated film into a modern, live-action take. But this isn’t the first time the script has changed hands. Originally, it was reported that Trance scribe Joe Ahearne would be the one to reimagine the beloved fairy tale for Disney. Later, an initial draft was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules, Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure). Now, it seems the script is undergoing a rewrite with Chbosky at the forefront–although Disney has yet to publicly confirm the news.

If he is taking on the project, the author wouldn’t be the only figure associated with the project that’s familiar with YA. The news comes only a few months after the studio announced that Bill Condon, who recently directed the last two installments of Twilight, would helm their updated version of Beauty and the Beast. Though it’s still unclear exactly how close Disney’s live-action version will be to their original Oscar-winning film, the new take will reportedly include music from both the iconic animated flick and the Broadway musical adaptation. Both Condon and Chbosky have prior experience working with musicals, as the director scripted both Chicago and Dreamgirls and the author previously penned the film adaptation of Rent.

But while both of their involvement certainly sets the project off to a promising start, the movie won’t be without competition. As most know, Warner Bros. is also in the process of developing its own Beauty and the Beast retelling.

Director Guillermo del Toro was originally set to direct the Warner Bros. Beauty project, but he abruptly pulled out of the project back in June. Though the studio said it would still move ahead with the movie at the time, the project seems to have stalled following the director’s departure, with no apparent progress being made in recent months. Prior to del Toro’s exit, Emma Watson was set to star in the feature as the studious, literature-loving Belle. Now, with no current movement on the film and Chbosky’a addition to the Disney version, Entertainment Weekly is suggesting the actress could jump—or, more accurately, switch—ship.

As the report points out, the prospect of leaving one Beauty and the Beast film for another may seem ridiculous, but the move wouldn’t be entirely surprising, especially given Chobsky and Watson’s history together. Watson starred in the film adaptation of the author’s Perks of Being a Wallflower back in 2012. The two were also set to team up on Fox’s adaptation of Adena Halpern’s novel While We’re Young, but the studio decided not to move forward with the project. If the Warner Bros. Beauty adaptation doesn’t pick up speed or ends up falling apart altogether, it seems fair to assume that Watson might be interested in starring in Chobsky’s version. Meanwhile, Disney would probably be thrilled to have her, especially given the largely positive reaction the public had to the news of her casting.

Regardless of how the projects end up shaking out, moviegoers should prepare themselves for plenty more live-action fairy tale flicks headed their way as the craze shows no signs of dying down. On the heels of Disney’s largely successful Maleficent earlier this summer, it seems every studio is looking to create their own version. In addition to their currently stalled Beauty and the Beast film, Warner Bros. also has a Peter Pan origin film from Joe Wright scheduled for 2015. Universal is also in on the trend, with two fairy tale-related movies in the works: a live-action version of Little Mermaid directed by Sofia Coppola and the Snow White and the Huntsman prequel, The Huntsman, due out in 2016.

Is Ultra-real 3D the Future of Cinema?

(              On a grey September morning in Amsterdam, around a thousand people are sitting in a darkened concert hall, staring at an enormous head. It’s a human one, male, around 25 feet in height, with eyes the size of paddling pools and lips as thick as rolled-up Persian rugs.

The bristles on its cheeks are like corn stubble, the pores big enough to press your thumb into. It blinks wetly, hugely, and looks out into the crowd. The crowd, unable to break its gaze, looks back.

The head isn’t real, or at least not really big: its owner, Ryan Winkles, is a normal-sized actor, and a tight shot of his face, filmed in a studio in rural Massachusetts, is being projected on to a cinema screen in 3D. But it doesn’t look like film as we know it.

The visual purr that tells us what we’re watching is cinema – that on-off, on-off play of light and dark our eyes have attuned to over the last century or so – has fallen eerily silent. The image is as sharp as sunlight, with a strange, fleshy presence, while the screen itself seems to vanish.

The shot comes from a 10-minute experimental film called UFOTOG – pronounced “you-photog” – and its director, Douglas Trumbull, is well-practised in the craft of astonishment. He was the visual effects supervisor on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner; a dream engineer and a technician of light.

Silent Running, his 1972 directorial debut, delivered Star Wars spectacle on an American Graffiti budget. For 10 years, Hollywood followed wherever he led. If, during a visit to the cinema, your jaw has ever fallen into your lap, it was probably Trumbull who loosened the screws.

But then came three decades of self-imposed exile, spurred by frustration and tragedy. In the late Seventies, Trumbull started work on Brainstorm, a dark science-fiction thriller which would showcase his latest and greatest innovation. This was a technique called Showscan, in which sequences shot on 70mm film – the same luxurious format used in Lawrence of Arabia and West Side Story – could be projected at 60 frames per second, giving the image a slippery, hyperreal quality.

But MGM refused to support the technology, and after three years of research and development, Trumbull was forced to make Brainstorm by conventional means. Then, towards the end of shooting, his lead actress Natalie Wood drowned: her death was a scandal and the studio shut down production.

The film was later completed and was released in 1983, but by then the illusion man was disillusioned, and he retreated eastwards to his farm in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. He built a studio in a barn, equipped it with green-screen and water tanks, and started to experiment. Thirty-one years later, he has resurfaced clutching UFOTOG, and pointing, again, to the future.

UFOTOG looks different because it’s projected at a speed of 120 frames per second: very simply, that means your eyes receive five times as much visual information as they do during ordinary films, which are projected at 24 frames per second.

On a traditional cinema projector, a film’s frames are punctuated by a split second of blackness as the shutter opens and closes: it’s more obvious on older, silent movies, which were shot at an even lower frame rate, and have that distinctive, magic-lantern flicker that led to people calling them “the flicks”.

Full article:

Will Marvel Ever Shoot A Film In IMAX?

(              Many of Hollywood’s biggest franchises — like “The Hunger Games,” “Transformers” and “Star Wars,” to name a few — have followed the example set by Christopher Nolan in “The Dark Knight” and filmed sequences in IMAX.

So why hasn’t Marvel Studios?

The home of Captain America and Iron Man has never shot with IMAX cameras, which would allow the film to fill the entire screen, despite just signing a formal partnership to present each of its movies in the large format through conversion. The partnership has, however, created other opportunities for both companies.

IMAX president Greg Foster explained over the phone that this agreement has completely changed the way the two companies work together.

“Instead of doing Marvel movies on a one-off basis, we’re now a part of that universe if you will,” he said. “It means that when we have meetings with Marvel, we’re not simply looking for the next movie. There’s a long-term point of view. This was the first movie that had that.”

The first fruit of the agreement is a closer working relationship with James Gunn on “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Though Gunn didn’t film the latest Marvel movie in IMAX, he consulted with the company to optimize the space epic for later conversion. Foster, when he speaks about the projects that use the company’s camera, emphasizes that IMAX’s first priority is relationships with the filmmakers. This explains why the movies that do shoot in the format are directed by a handful of people, usually J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and Christopher Nolan.

What Foster suggested was that consulting with IMAX on a movie that would eventually be converted was the first step in building that kind of relationship.

“This is the first movie that we’ve done with James Gunn, so to have someone who we really haven’t known to embrace our format the way he has is terrific on lots of different levels,” he said. “I like to think it means that we’re doing something right, especially for the audience that this movie is tailored for, but it’s a process. What we tend to do when we work with someone, the first movie is where we get our sea legs, both parties.”

With a partnership down on paper and a working relationship with the filmmakers established, it seems like a Marvel Studios movie filmed in IMAX couldn’t be that far away from becoming a reality, and as it turns out, that’s exactly what the companies are discussing right now.

“It does feel that that’s an opportunity. It’s something we are discussing with Marvel,” Foster said. “We would love a Marvel to shoot with IMAX cameras. It was difficult to do on a title-by-title basis, or less likely. Now that we have this long-term partnership, it’s fantastic because we have the ability — which is what we’re already doing with them — to discuss what those possibilities would be, in terms of increasing the IMAX DNA.”

So while the geeky daydream of a Marvel movie filmed in IMAX still may be years away, a strong relationship between the film format company and filmmakers like James Gunn is bringing us closer than ever.

Athena Studios Names Vince De Quattro Executive in Charge of Production

  Emeryville, CA, October 6, 2014 - Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based company specializing in animation for film and multimedia clients, has named Vince De Quattro as the company's new Executive in Charge of Production. The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, Founder of Athena Studios.

In his new post, De Quattro will focus on putting together a production development package for Athena Studios, leveraging his success with collaborative projects he helped steer at Academy of Art University and 32TEN Studios.

Said Peters, "Vince is a terrific addition to our team here at Athena Studios. He is brimming with exciting new ideas of how to grow, not only the studio, but also the whole Bay Area film-making community. His previous experiences at Industrial Light and Magic and Warner Brothers add greatly to our talent pool. In addition, his past experience as a Director of Animation at Academy of Art is perhaps most appealing, as we now actively seek to grow local talent and expand our studio's activities into new arenas."

Adds De Quattro, "Athena's capacity for quality independent production, their close relationship with exceptional local talent, and Jon Peters' sustained market vision offered me the chance to join the next rising star in Bay Area filmmaking.  Our proximity to other leading boutique production facilities offers us an exciting opportunity to build a collaborative and supportive film community, much like those relationships found between academic schools on a university campus.  The synchronicity of the film community will help us weather the prevailing industry off-shoring, and will hopefully attract intellectual property and talent to the region."

Movie Animation Firm's Big Data Challenges Present Lessons to Learn

(            The IT staff at a computer graphics animation firm have come up with smart ways to address archiving and backup challenges with its 3D data model files.
 Image: Rainmaker Entertainment

In the US, movie box office revenues for animated films totaled $1.1 billion and increased by 89.5% between 2001 and 2011. Revenues from animated films have continued to climb since then -- and this doesn't even account for the widespread animation that is taking place in other venues, such as video gaming.

This makes movie animation and rendering a major business enterprise for computer graphics animation firms like Rainmaker Entertainment, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is internationally recognized for its work on brands like Spider-Man and Popeye, and its original video for ReBoot, Escape from Planet Earth, and The Nutty Professor.

Rainmaker generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual video sales. It employs several hundred employees who do everything from 3D modeling and lighting to feature films, animation, and IT. However, movie animation and rendering firms like Rainmaker can't accomplish any of this work without a well-developed strategy for managing chunks of big data that come in the form of 3D data model files that include various video modeling instructions in areas such as lighting, texture, viewpoint, and shading. Computer programs render these models into video images in a resource-intensive process. Images must then be received and stored continuously into production, and archived weekly into storage repositories.

All of this places unique big data management requirements on the IT staff, because big data is at the core of the film animation business.

First, they need to meet a rapidly expanding production schedule, which requires managing terabytes of big data in real time. When several hundred video animation engineers and artists are simultaneously working on shows, each individual requires real-time access to multiple renderings of the project he is working on. The object-based files in movie animation and rendering systems can be as much as 256 terabytes of storage, and in a daily movie production environment about 100 terabytes of big data is "in play" at any one time during the day.

To meet these big data production needs, the IT department at movie rendering and animation shops rely on storage automation that is capable of provisioning big data storage resources in real time in a way that is entirely transparent to the users who work on it.

IT also needs a robust data archiving methodology for big data.

The main concern with big data backups parallels what IT has had to manage for years with its transactional data: the backup must be accomplished in a batch time window that will end before the next day's real-time production begins. This backup task can be next to impossible in big data "real time" shops because of the sheer size of the data that must be backed up and back online when production is scheduled to start again.

In Rainmaker's case, there was a specific problem with the month-end backup of movie and animation object files to archives because the full monthly backups were consuming so much time that they were threatening to extend into production time. The solution for archiving was to divide a total 100 terabyte big data load into four weekly backup units of about 24 terabytes each -- with the company keeping a schedule and tracking where it left off in backups. The backup process was performed incrementally so that there was a full production data backup at the end of each month.

The best practices for big data management in real-time and in batch archiving are still formative for companies in many other industry verticals; this is why the lessons learned from movie animation firms and other companies that have already had to get into the active management of big data can provide value for future planning. These are the lessons learned:

Storage automation that can act upon business rules pre-defined by IT for the real-time provisioning and scaling of big data resources can enable IT to deliver these resources to end users seamlessly and painlessly;
IT should define a workable big data archiving and backup strategy that does not interfere with when systems must be online for production, even if it means incrementally backing up data; and
Part of the data delivery strategy to end users also involves the deployment of an effective communications infrastructure with enough bandwidth to transport big data's heavier payloads.

UK Games Industry Worth Double Government Estimates

(            The video games industry could be worth as much as £1.72 billion to the UK economy – double the estimates for 2011 and 2012 released by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The number of new games companies has exploded in recent years, with a 22 percent annual growth in the number of active companies between 2011 and 2013, according to new research by the UK's innovation foundation Nesta, in partnership with the Association for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment (Ukie).

There are 1,902 games businesses in the UK with 18 industry clusters responsible for the majority of games production activity, due to them having more advanced broadband infrastructure and universities supplying games talent.

This group is led by 12 games hubs with a particularly strong games presence: Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Guildford and Aldershot, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Around half of the UK's games businesses specialise in iOS games, according to the report. Many of these companies are not captured by official SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes, meaning they have not been included in previous estimates of the worth of the industry.

However, Nesta and Ukie have adopted a new approach to measuring the games industry, using ‘big data’ to get a real-time snapshot of the UK games sector, based on what companies do instead of what standard industrial classification they select when they get started.

"As many people have suspected there is a big discrepancy between the official government statistics and the actual size and shape of the UK games sector," saied Juan Mateos-Garcia, lead author of the research for Nesta.

"This report should help address this data gap, allowing industry, policymakers, educators and investors to track the geography and evolution of the sector, and put in place smart actions to support it."

Ian Livingstone CBE, Ukie Vice Chair and BIS Creative Industries Champion added: "With this report we have a powerful, real-time tool to help existing and new investors identify potential investment opportunities in the sector."

The news coincides with a new report from TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video game industry, which shows the Scottish video game development sector is blooming, with studio headcounts, wider games industry employment, tax revenues and investment all on the up.

Employment in the Scottish video game industry has returned to levels last seen in 2008, with a rise of seven per cent in 2013 representing a five-year high. Scotland’s games development sector also now contributes more than £99 million to the UK’s GDP.

Scotland now represents 11.4 per cent of the UK’s total games companies, up from 8.8 per cent in 2012, and 9.7 per cent of the UK’s total developer headcount, up from 9 per cent in 2012.

Winter VFX / Anim Tentpole Season Revs Up

(            It’s hard to believe we’re already less than three months away from the end of the year, which means there’s a big movie season coming up for the holidays. We checked the list of big, up and coming films, and here’s what we’re sure most geeks and genre fans will be going to see…

The Hunger Games is wrapping up with the first installment of Mockingjay on November 21. The third book in the Hunger Games series has been split into two parts, and this chapter will include the final performance of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Another movie that’s generated a lot of buzz is the superhero satire Birdman, which is coming on October 17. The Hollywood Reporter tells us the story of Michael Keaton playing a washed up superhero got a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, and it was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams).

On the same day comes a CGI animated movie, Book of Life, presented by Guillermo del Toro and Jorge Gutierrez, where a CG protagonist is trying ot make his way through the land of the dead in Latin America. (Think Tim Burton’s animated movies like The Corpse Bride.)

Of course, the big sci-fi genre film this season will be Interstellar, where Matthew McConaughey goes out into space to try and save us on earth. Considering it’s Christopher Nolan writing and directing, this will be a much more interesting trip than Armageddon.

While we’re still waiting for a Steve Job biopic, we’re getting the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything on the same say as Interstellar, November 7. (Interesting that we get a sci-fi epic, and a Hawking movie on the same day.) This film has also gotten rave advance notice, especially for Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Hawking.

-H                    - Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006) received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes Film Festival.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Worth a mention - 10/06/14

‘Star Trek 3’ To Be Digital Film By ‘Life Of Pi’ Cinematographer

.(                 Roberto Orci’s Star Trek 3 has added Claudio Miranda, the Oscar-winning digital cinematographer of Life of Pi. The blend of real and digital film will be the first in the current Star Trek movie franchise. Daniel Mindel was the cinematographer for the previous two Star Trek films, using much of the same crew. Much of that former crew has moved onto work in the making of Star Wars Episode VII, leaving the creative doors open for Miranda and his new crew to make something special out of the upcoming Star Trek movie.

Planning to shoot digitally marks a change for Star Trek. Miranda notably won an Oscar for the cinematography in Life of Pi. His work also brought great imagination to Tron Legacy and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Star Trek fans have not seen a movie since the 2013 release of Star Trek: Into The Darkness. With changes in cinematography and crew, Star Trek 3, as it is currently being called, promises new film achievements.

Orci seeks to film portions of the new Star Trek 3 movie in Vancouver and Seoul, South Korea. Production for the film is set for February 2015, with a 2016 movie release date. Seoul’s Mayor, Park Won-Soon, visited Los Angeles to make arrangements with Star Trek producer Jeffrey Chernov. Ace Show Biz reports that Seoul has an “attractive” 25 percent rebate on production costs for Hollywood movies.

Inquisitr recently reported on the 48th anniversary of the first Star Trek episode on NBC in 1966. It’s clear that the original episodes with Captain Kirk and Spock left their mark, making Star Trek fans, or “Trekkies,” excited about the new films.

As for Claudio Miranda, his career highlight, winning the Oscar, came after the breathtaking images in Life of Pi. The Chilean-born cinematographer has worked as director of photography on other movies, too. He’s had other Oscar nominations and BAFTA wins.

A First Look at “INTERSTELLAR” Through An Immersive Oculus Rift Experience

(BUSINESS WIRE)   Paramount Pictures has partnered with IMAX® on a first-of-its-kind Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) experience for Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated “INTERSTELLAR.” The Oculus Rift DK2 traveling exhibit gives fans a virtual first look at the new film through an immersive experience at select AMC Theatre locations featuring IMAX screens.

The tour kicks off in New York, with stops in Houston and Los Angeles, before landing at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. Users in these cities will sit down, strap in, and travel in the film’s Endurance spacecraft in zero gravity with a custom Oculus Rift DK2.

The exhibit will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. local time at the following locations:

New York

AMC Lincoln Square 13

October 6 – 8


AMC Gulf Pointe 30

October 17 – 19
Los Angeles

AMC City Walk

October 25 – 27
Chantilly, VA

Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center

November 5 –19

Guests of participating AMC Theatres can experience the exhibit free of charge on a first come-first served basis.

“INTERSTELLAR” opens with advance screenings in IMAX® 70mm film, 70mm film and 35mm film formats on Wednesday, November 5th, two days ahead of its nationwide release. The advance showings will play in select theaters in more than 240 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Tickets for the advance showings on November 5th are available at and at participating theater box offices. Tickets are also available for the nationwide release on Friday, November 7th, 2014.

Destination D to Feature Presentation on Tomorrowland Film

(               Slashfilm is reporting, and D23 has confirmed, that Destination D: Attraction Rewind will feature a look at Brad Bird’s upcoming film Tomorrowland. The film’s supervising art director Ramsey Avery will dive into the making of the film, specifically talking about how they reconstructed parts of the 1964 World’s Fair including the “It’s A Small World” ride.

Tickets to Destination D: Attraction Rewind are now available at The event will be held at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort November 22-23.

Tomorrowland will be released May 22, 2015.

J.K. Rowling Close To Finishing The Fantastic Beasts Screenplay

(             With over two years between now and the arrival of the anticipated Harry Potter spinoff trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, there's still plenty of time for updates on the project. Last we heard, Fantastic Beasts was circling David Yates to direct the first film in the expected trilogy, which is expected to be set some seventy years before Harry Potter set foot at Hogwarts. But how's the screenplay coming along? Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is writing that herself, and from what she says, she's still "tweaking" it. Check out the tweet the author posted earlier today:

Though she doesn't outright say that the screenplay she's working on is Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, it's probably safe to assume that's the project she's tweaking. If we're interpreting use of the word "tweaking" correctly, it sounds like she might be finalizing the script, adding updates, tightening up the story and/or working in whatever magic Rowling has access to that makes her stories so great. We can only hope! Just the thought that Rowling has been expanding her universe for the sake of a new movie is exciting enough. But it's great to hear an update on the status of the project.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is set to center on Newt Scamander, the fictional author of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, a book penned by Rowling in 2001, which catalogs various magical beasts in the Harry Potter universe. The planned films will be set decades ahead of Harry Potter's era and are expected to elaborate on Newt's story and adventures. With the screenplay still being written and the book offering very little in terms of characters and the story for this movie, fans are left to wait for updates on the project.

Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Heading to U.K.'s Pinewood Studios

(              The U.K.’s Pinewood Shepperton is set to strengthen its growing superhero credentials following reports that Marvel’s upcoming project Doctor Strange will be shooting at its U.K. facilities.

While no official announcement has been made yet, a source told The Hollywood Reporter that an agreement was in the works. Pinewood Shepperton declined to comment, and Marvel’s parent company Disney has yet to respond to THR’s request for comment.

Telling the story of a neurosurgeon who becomes Earth-protector Sorcerer Supreme following a terrible accident, Doctor Strange first appeared in the Marvel Universe more than 50 years ago but has yet to make it to the big screen, despite several attempts. His cinematic debut will be directed by Scott Derrickson from a script by Jon Spaihts. It is due to join the untitled third Captain America to complete Marvel’s slate for 2016, with Joaquin Phoenix in talks to star.

The addition of Doctor Strange to Pinewood’s roster would further bolster its ties with Marvel and parent company Disney. The studios recently welcomed Avengers: Age of Ultron, which wrapped last month, while fellow Marvel titles Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger all filmed there. Fellow Disney titles Alice in Wonderland 2 and — arguably its most high-profile project — Star Wars: Episode VII currently are shooting.

The 24th installment of Pinewood’s most famous franchise, James Bond, is reportedly due to start production in the studios later this year, although nothing yet has been announced.

Kung Fu Panda 3 Looks For December 2015 Premiere

(              The Kung Fu Panda 3 release date is expected to arrive to premiere in theaters at the end of 2015, and fans of Po and his kung fu fighting buddies will be excited at the third installment of the hit cartoon series.

The first two movies in the series were smash hits at the box office and the spin off TV series has also done well among Kun Fu Panda fans.

There will still be more than a year until fans are able to see the third installment though as the new film will not likely be out until December 23, 2015 in theaters across the United States.

There have been tons of rumors and plot spoilers doing the rounds about the new Kung Fu Panda film, and among the most widely circulated spoilers are ones regarding an attack on the "Spirit of Kung Fu" or possibly Po's Homeland.

However, officially there has been no information about the plot of the movie released by those behind the film, but it is generally accepted that the third film will look to continue on the storyline from Kung Fu Panda 2.

Disney Has Reportedly Earned $272 Million in UK Production Tax Credits

(           Thor: The Dark World made up a third of Disney's $50.1 million rebate in the U.K. in 2013

The studio has spent $2.3 billion on productions in Britain since a rebate scheme was introduced

Disney has earned $272 million in production incentives from the U.K. government, which offers tax breaks for films shot in Britain, according to an analysis of accounts published by The Guardian.

The past few years have seen the company ramp up its productions in the country, specifically at Pinewood Studios, which has welcomed the likes of Star Wars: Episode VII, Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, Cinderella, Avengers: Age of Ultron and several other major titles from Disney's Marvel.

Introduced in 2007, the Creative Sector Tax Relief scheme allows film projects with a budget greater than $32 million to claim back up to 20 percent of their production costs. Qualifying films must spend 25 percent of their budget in the U.K., with 70 percent of their labor costs going to European workers.

Read more UK's Pinewood Shepperton Gets Approval for $340 Million Expansion

According to the report, Disney has spent a total of $2.3 billion on filmmaking in the U.K. since the incentives scheme was launched, with a high of $531 million last year, around 18 percent of its overall international spend. Last year, it claimed back $81 million, believed to be the largest ever to a single studio, a third of which was accounted to Thor: The Dark World, another Marvel title shot in Pinewood. Disney has already spent more than $180 million on Star Wars: Episode VII and Avengers: Age of Ultron alone, according to the accounts.

Sony Picks Up Female-Centric Sci-Fi Action Script 'Eden Project'

(                Just as the week is coming to a close, Sony Pictures has given the sleepy spec market a jolt with an acquisition.

The studio has picked up The Eden Project, a sci-fi spec from Black List writer Christina Hodson. Tobey Maguire will produce via his Material production banner as well as Maguire's Material mate Matthew Plouffe.

Sony is keeping the plot details for Eden guarded by a serpent, but it is a sci-fi action film centered around two female characters. The script also is intended to be the first of a conceived trilogy.

Sources say the deal for the spec was in the $750,000 range.

Columbia Pictures president Hannah Minghella orchestrated the deal for the studio in a competitive situation and will oversee the project.

Read more Rep Sheet Roundup: Gersh Signs D.L. Hughley, Paradigm Gets Mark Valley

Eden reteams the studio with the production company with which it is in preproduction on YA adaptation The 5th Wave. The movie is due to start shooting in October and will star Chloe Moretz and Liev Schreiber.

Autodesk Plans to Go Subscription-Only Over Next One to Two Years

(              A little more than a year after first revealing its desktop subscription plans, Autodesk says it's preparing to stop selling perpetual licenses of its software entirely. The switch won't be flipped overnight, but will be implemented a little bit at a time over the next one to two years, the company said.

The roll-out of desktop subscriptions "is going incredibly well," said Autodesk Senior Vice President of Industry Strategy and Marketing Andrew Anagnost yesterday, speaking during a presentation as part of Autodesk's Investor Day 2014. He said 35 percent of its subscription customers are completely new to Autodesk products. Still, he cited Autodesk figures showing that 2.9 million users of its products are still on perpetual licenses as the impetus for putting a firmer push behind the pay-as-you-go subscription model for software.

"The number of customers that are one to five releases back on our software stays relatively consistent year after year after year," he said. "They are real customers …. They just happen to purchase from us perpetual licenses on an infrequent basis because they can. This isn't really good for our ecosystem [because] we would like to see everybody on our most current release. We think that's good for customers."

Perpetual software licenses will be discontinued in stages over the next 12 to 24 months, according to Anagnost. "This isn't going to be an event," he said. "This is going to be a transition where we work on products and regions as we remove new perpetual licenses from the offering mix."

The guinea pig for the process will be AutoCAD LT, Anagnost said, while suggesting that other LT products (including Maya LT) may follow. He discussed some of the economics behind the decision, revealing that the "average annual value" to Autodesk of a user of one of its LT products — lower-cost, entry-level versions of its most popular tools — is $240 per year, based on their sporadic purchases of upgrades and maintenance subscriptions. By contrast, a user who has a desktop subscription to one of the LT products is worth, on average, $310 per year. "That is a 30 percent increase in value back to Autodesk, with an offering that provides access to the customer at prices they've never seen before," Anagnost said.

To date, most subscription sales, 51 percent, have come from Autodesk's own e-store, Anagnost said, acknowledging that the company has to make subscriptions more attractive to its reseller channel. Steve Blum, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Services, said that in the company's fourth fiscal quarter, which begins in November, it will start adjusting the margins for its resellers, making sales of desktop subscriptions of the LT products as profitable as sales of perpetual licenses have been.

Wall Street seems pretty happy with the news—the company's stock traded briefly earlier today at an all-time high of $58.75.

Focus Features and LAIKA to Continue Partnership for Three More Features

(Focus Features, LAIKA)                  LAIKA and Focus Features, the two companies behind the hit animated feature The Boxtrolls, will continue their partnership on LAIKA's next three projects. Focus CEO Peter Schlessel and LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight made the announcement today.

Focus opened The Boxtrolls nationwide last weekend to a $17.3 million gross, marking it the biggest debut yet for a LAIKA movie. The Boxtrolls follows the successful and acclaimed Focus and LAIKA animated films Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012), each of which grossed over $100 million worldwide. Coraline earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI) with an AFI Award. ParaNorman was cited as best animated feature film by more critics' groups than any other 2012 animated feature; and earned BAFTA, Critics' Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film.

The Boxtrolls has also been released in 16 international territories to date, including the United Kingdom, where it was #1 at the box office for two weeks in a row; and Australia, where after just over two weeks it has already grossed more than either Coraline or ParaNorman did during their entire runs.

Angry Birds Staff Gutted In Layoffs

(               The death knell of Rovio is ringing louder. Just a month after the CEO of the Angry Birds developer resigned amidst sagging profits, the company announced 16 percent of its staff is being flung out the door.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Finnish games company, which shot to fame with the online and mobile game featuring colored, flying birds, said it would cut 130 staff, or about 16% of its workforce, amid flattening revenue and difficulties finding fresh growth opportunities. The company said it had bulked up its staff in anticipation of stronger growth.

"We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized," the company said in a statement.

Fad games rarely turn into successful companies, as Zynga and Candy Crush maker King Digital have already learned. Rovio tried to escape its ill fate and released a few games that didn't carry the tired Angry Birds brand. But those games weren't successful enough to prop up the struggling company, and now the downward spiral into the startup sewer begins.

Candy Crush Is Turning Into The Next Stock Market Disaster

Zynga learned the hard way that relying on one hit game would kill a company if the farm ever went…

Alcatraz Reimagined via CGI  

(               Behold the island of Alcatraz as re-imagined by film director and concept designer Bastiaan Kooch for his near-future thriller Follow the Camera. Instead of a prison, it's now the luxurious fortress-home of Steven, a powerful tech mogul. Given San Francisco's current situation, this is totally believable.

Bastiaan sent us these renders after wrapping up the sound of the film at Skywalker Sound, along with this question:

How would we feel if Steve Jobs had done this or if Mark Zuckerberg does it now? This residence would be an actual metaphor of the service/product he created.

The film takes place in San Francisco, 2066 where domestic droids are commonplace. Patent lawyer Elisabeth Adelman must face her sister's husband Steven Forcyth in the tech-case of the century. Steven, the chief architect of Fortune 500 company Immutech Robotics, plans to save his company by releasing a new, autonomous product to market.

[...] only someone extremely grandiose, powerful, narcissistic, and future-thinking could take over a major historical icon like Alcatraz and turn it into a showy private residence. Everyone in San Francisco is reminded of his presence every day because the island is in the center of the Bay. But because he is so visible and central, it's like he is the one watching everyone in San Francisco from a safe vantage point and the "common people" in their city apartments can feel it, and they are curious... and afraid... and that ties in with what Immutech is making too!

Source with pics:

The Technology of Big Hero 6

(              Disney’s Big Hero 6 is set in an alternate reality that differs from our world in two major ways: the culture is a melding of American and Japanese influences, and the technological development is slightly more advanced than ours. Let’s take a look at some of that technology.

“BIG HERO 6” – The production team took a research trip to Carnegie Mellon University where they learned about soft robotics, the cutting-edge technology that helped inspire Baymax’s inflatable, vinyl, truly huggable design. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The most obvious example is Baymax, the medical robot designed by Tadashi Hamada, older brother of the lead character, Hiro. Baymax is based on research at Carnegie Mellon. “We had some really great conversations about robots in pop culture,” says director Don Hall. “And I learned that they were actually researching soft robotics, including this vinyl arm that was inflatable and non-threatening. It could do simple things like brush somebody’s teeth, but the possibilities were endless.”

Hiro follows in his brother’s footsteps, creating robots of his own. One of his inventions, the mentally controlled nanobots, earns him admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where Tadashi is a student. Hiro’s anobots are tiny devices that can link together in myriad ways to create versatile machines with a variety of abilities. During the time that Big Hero 6 was in development, there have been advances in the area of cybernetics, including an interface to allow mental control of a prosthetic arm. Miniature micro-bots are being developed for a wide variety of applications including exploration of other planets.

After Hiro’s brother is killed, he joins up with a group of other students to investigate what appears to be the theft of his nanobots. Each of them adopts technological weapons; Hiro equips Baymax with an armored exoskeleton and jet-boots that allow him to fly, and creates an armored battle-suit for himself that magnetically connects to Baymax.

Go-Go Tamago’s gear uses magnetic-levitation (“maglev”) discs; linked to her wrists and ankles, the discs serve as roller skates, shields and throwing weapons. The friction-free rotation of the wheels allows her to move at tremendous speeds. Maglev technology is currently being used in high-speed railways; the trains float on a cushion of magnetic force, which is what gives them a smooth ride at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour.

Neat freak martial artist Wasabi’s weapons are wrist-mounted plasma blades, which are based on developments growing out of plasma metal-cutting devices, first developed in the 1960s. One current application is in the medical field, where plasma scalpels are used for precise and bloodless surgery.

Fred, the laid-back sign-spinning slacker, adopts the super-identity of a fire-breathing kaiju, which means “strange beast” or “giant beast” in Japanese. Kaiju is a popular term for the Japanese giant monster movie genre. Fred pilots “Fredzilla” from a control center located behind one of the monster’s eyes. Believe it or not, some people are actually creating real-life giant pilot-controlled robots, called “Mechas.”

Honey Lemon kicks her chemistry knowledge into high gear by means of a clever handbag; it features a keypad on the outside arranged in the layout of the Periodic Table; she can punch in any combination, and the bag will produce spheres containing the formula she entered. These can be thrown like grenades to produce whatever effect is necessary, from a cloud of smoke to an explosion or any other chemical concoction.

The skyline of San Fransokyo is dotted with what at first glance appear to be balloons. These high-flying objects are in fact tethered blimps containing wind turbines to generate electricity for the city. Aside from being a rather brilliant way to harvest the stronger winds found at high altitudes, the blimps are evocative of the fish kites seen in some Miyazaki films. They are also real.

When Hiro creates the armor for Baymax, he uses a variety of fabrication machines including laser cutters and 3D printers, technologies currently in use in a great many diverse industries.

All told, the bleeding-edge technology in Big Hero 6 serves to simultaneously set the movie in the immediate future while also paradoxically grounding it in reality. There is no magic in the Big Hero 6 world, no fantastic super-powers to be seen; all of the fantastic action is based on real-world scientific advancements that are actually being developed right now, which makes the film seem very realistic even when giant mecha-monsters and nanobots are fighting it out in the middle of a city that doesn’t exist anywhere on our world.

Disney Investors Rejoice: "Guardians of the Galaxy" is Set to Get a Huge Push at the Box Office

(              Without a doubt, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is already smashing success. When it launched in the U.S. on August 1, Guardians quickly set a new record for the biggest-ever August opening weekend at $94.3 million. As it stands, Guardians has grossed a whopping $645.2 million globally, including more than $320 million from U.S. audiences alone.

Curiously, however, while that makes Guardians the United States' biggest box office hit of 2014 so far, it's still only the seventh highest-grossing film worldwide. Thanks to lower international sales, Guardians of the Galaxy trails behind the likes of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA  ) Paramount's $1.08 billion blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction, $756.7 million from Disney's Maleficent, $746 million from Twenty-First Century Fox's (NASDAQ: FOXA  )  X-Men Days of Future Past, and even $714 million from fellow Marvelite Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Guardians of the Galaxy isn't done yet
But remember, Guardians' total doesn't include any proceeds from China, where it's set to launch next Friday, October 10, 2014. And make no mistake: We shouldn't underestimate the impact of China's burgeoning box office.

For reference, in April Captain America: The Winter Soldier enjoyed a $38.8 million weekend debut in the Middle Kingdom, where it ultimately went on to reach $115.6 million. The following month, X-Men: Days of Future Past opened in China to $39.4 million en route to a $116.5 million total. Even more impressive, Transformers: Age of Extinction added an almost absurd $301 million from Chinese audiences, including its $92 million June weekend debut.

I suspect Guardians of the Galaxy's performance in China will be closer to (if not slightly higher) than that of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If that turns out to be the case -- and keeping in mind Guardians is still tacking on several million dollars per week elsewhere -- it would easily be enough to propel Guardians of the Galaxy to near the $800 million mark when all is said and done.

Why Disney investors are rejoicing

That would not only make it the second-highest grossing movie of 2014 so far, but also the third-largest film in Disney's Marvel cinematic universe to date behind only the $1.519 billion and $1.215 billion from Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3, respectively. Not too shabby considering many industry watchers -- myself included -- had worried whether the quirky team and humor behind Guardians of the Galaxy would appeal to audiences on a broader scale.

We knew Disney was set to book a tidy profit from Guardians of the Galaxy as it stands, even despite the enormous $230 million it spent producing, marketing, and distributing the film. But if Guardians manages to perform in China as I've speculated above, it will have capped an epic box office run for what was arguably Disney's riskiest Marvel film to date. This not only bodes well for Guardians' individual profitability, but also demonstrates the ability of Disney to profitably bring to life many of the lesser-known names from Marvel's stable of more than 9,000 distinct characters.

All things considered, it seems safe to say Disney and Marvel are only just getting started.

Interstellar Pushes 'An Unnecessary 'Step Back' in Technological Advancements"

(               Excited for Interstellar? A lot of people are - except a growing contingent of Theatre owners angry about Christopher Nolan's decision to have the awesome-looking sci-fi movie début early in Cinemas that can show it through analog projectors.

As revealed at the end of last week's trailer, Cinemas capable of showing the movie in 70mm, 70mm IMAX or 35mm film formats will get access to the movie two days ahead of the November 7th release date. Nolan himself has been a long proponent of shooting on film over digital formats: a growing rarity in modern cinema as Film projectors are phased out for digital alternatives, and movie studios are slowly but surely phasing out sending film reels to Cinemas (ironically, Interstellar's distributors Paramount were the first Studio to completely stop distributing film reels as of earlier this year). Most American cinemas have undergone the expensive process of being refitted with digital projectors by now - hence why certain Cinema owners are getting concerned over preferential treatment being given to Film-capable franchises.

As covered by The Hollywood Reporter, some Cinema owners are criticising the move as an unnecessary 'step back' in technological advancements - especially as the transition to digital formats was an increasingly expensive endeavour. But Nolan and Paramount themselves see the move as preserving the traditions of the moviegoing experience in the face of the digital expansion of the industry - and the debate is happening at an especially interesting time, as multiple Cinema chains across the world (including the US's largest, Regal) recently announced a boycott on next year's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel due to it premièring on Netflix on the same day it releases in Theatres as a defence of the moviegoing experience as well.

No matter where you stand on the digital or analog format debate though, it's interesting to see a film about ensuring Humanity's future is also making an eloquent, real-life case for preserving the traditions of the past.

-H          The Vfx studio "Rhythm & Hues" won an Academy Award for "The Life of Pi" two weeks after they declared bankruptcy.