(3news.co.nz) Movie buffs will have to hold out for Sir Peter Jackson's remake of The Dam Busters, with the film "still waiting in the wings".
Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the World War II Dambusters Raid, with a flypast over the dam on Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire celebrating the occasion.
But the highly anticipated remake of the 1955 film The Dam Busters, which depicts the dangerous and deadly bouncing bomb attacks on German dam walls, is on hold for the time being with its creator busy with The Hobbit trilogy.
Jackson owns the rights to The Dam Busters, and was hoping to get the remake off the ground by now, but due to his unexpected involvement in The Hobbit he's had to shelve the project.
"The Dam Busters is still waiting in the wings," Jackson's spokesman Matt Dravitzki told NZ Newswire.
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"Wingnut Films retains the rights to remake the film."
Sole surviving pilot and New Zealand veteran Les Munro flew to Derbyshire to take part in 70th anniversary celebrations.
The 94-year-old has also been enlisted as the technical adviser on Jackson's remake of The Dam Busters.
The Dambuster was a bombing raid on the Ruhr Valley dams carried out during WWII on May 17, 1943 using bouncing bombs developed by Barnes Wallis.
About 1600 Germans died, while 56 of the 133 Royal Air Force crew did not return home.
'The Lone Ranger' Disney's Next Huge Franchise?
(.fool.com) Disney (NYSE: DIS ) is no stranger to creating blockbuster movie franchises.
The three Toy Story movies from Pixar, for instance, raked in a combined total of more than $1.9 billion worldwide, including more than $1.06 billion from Toy Story 3 alone.
Then there's Marvel Entertainment's Iron Man franchise, which has taken in a combined total of nearly $2.2 billion to date -- and that includes more than $980 million in worldwide ticket sales from Iron Man 3 since its theatrical release less than two weeks ago. Also from Marvel, there's The Avengers, which itself took in more than $1.5 billion worldwide and has a sequel in the works.
Of course, it seems a foregone conclusion that Marvel's products will continue to deliver, and Jedi fans are looking forward to the fruits of Disney's recent acquisition of Lucasfilm with the 2015 release of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Perhaps most impressive so far, however, is the performance of the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which managed a combined box office gross of almost $3.73 billion.
The next big thing
With that in mind, Disney CEO Robert Iger also took the time during his company's latest earnings call to remind investors that Johnny Depp will star as Tonto in The Lone Ranger this July.
In case you're wondering, Depp's involvement is no coincidence; both Pirates director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer worked on The Lone Ranger, and Bruckheimer apparently first mentioned the role to Depp way back in 2008 while working on the set of one of the earlier Pirates films.
Believe it or not, I think The Lone Ranger has what it takes to become Disney's next huge franchise.
Before you go rolling your eyes, check out the trailer and tell me it doesn't look entertaining:
That's not to say The Lone Ranger will be able to outperform The Avengers or Pirates of the Caribbean, but if it can manage to achieve even a fraction of the success of Disney's earlier films, you can be fairly sure the House of Mouse won't hesitate to deem it worthy of multiple sequels.
In fact, it looks like Disney may already be expecting that success, considering the movie's budget was rumored to have run up to nearly $250 million, including the construction of several historically authentic trains and a five-mile circular railway built exclusively for the film in the middle of the desert.
Then again, Disney doesn't always succeed in its efforts; last year's John Carter only brought $283 million in worldwide ticket sales, failing to recoup its estimated $350 million budget for production and marketing.
In the end, one would hope the folks at Disney have learned some lessons from that debacle, but only time will tell which way The Lone Ranger rides.
Visual Effects Category Eliminated From AACTA Awards
(if.com.au) The Australian Academy of Cinema Television Arts has announced a number of changes to their annual awards, including the creation of six television craft awards.
Numerous factors prompted AACTA to conduct a review of the Awards earlier this year. Namely, AACTA sought to restructure the awards in light of their current financial situation (AACTA is still looking for a new naming rights sponsor) as well as feedback from AACTA’s guild partnerships and an industry appeal for additional rewards.
The 3rd AACTA Awards will feature a total of 40 AACTA awards – just one less than last year – however with the creation of six new awards; others have been placed on hold indefinitely.
These include Best Direction in a Documentary, Best Cinematography in a Documentary, Best Sound in a Documentary, Best Editing in a Documentary, Best Visual Effects, Best Young Actor, Best Screenplay in a short film and the discretional Outstanding Achievement in a Short Film Screen Craft Award.
The AACTA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Length Documentary Screen Craft will now be a discretionary award, as will the Best Performance in a Television Comedy.
Overall, AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said he was pleased with the restructuring given the organisation’s financial position and the growing need to better recognise television crafts.
“We did our own survey later last year and found a unanimous response to the fact there was a lack of recognition in Australia for screen professionals. In particular television was a huge gap,” he says. “The problem is we can’t then just go and introduce [a bunch of new awards], we only have a limited number and we already have 40.
“But a recognition of television crafts is a priority for the industry at this time. There is agreement across the guilds on this. Australian television has continued to go from strength to strength and this has led us to a historic position, in that we are able to recognise television as well as film.
“It’s about finding the right mix; the most relevant mix for industry at this time.”
Trewhella said he was saddened by the temporary loss of the VFX Award, which ultimately was decided too expensive an Award to run at this time.
“The VFX award – it’s a really important category and we are very disappointed not to be running that,” he says. “But it’s a labour intensive category. It covers short films, documentaries, TV shows… it’s very cost intensive to run and doesn’t have the revenue stream associated with it.
“Maybe a campaign from VFX artists coordinated with industry may possibly see us squeeze something else in [in the future] – there’s a lot of jostling.”
The changes appear to have been welcomed by a number of guilds, with the APDG, AGSC, ASSG, ADG and ASE all issuing statements of support.
George Lucas Wants To Make Movies... Lots Of Them
(boston.com) Are there other stories you want to tell -- ones set on earth?
GL: Lots of them. I'm working on another "Indiana Jones," then I've got another film about African-American fighter pilots in World War II that I've been working on, but I'm producing that, not directing it.
And then a bunch of TV series, and then I'm going to go off and make my own feature films, which are more about exploring the aesthetics and conventions of cinema.
They'll be about something, but they'll be different than what I've done. That kind of moviemaking I haven't done since I was in college, so I'm looking forward to getting back to the basics of cinema.
VFX Work on 'Gravity' Required a Huge Hardware Upgrade to Finish
(The Register) Thanks to a mesmerizing first trailer, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is one of our most anticipated movies coming later this year. It was filmed in early 2011, and has been in post-production ever since, with a release delay pushing it from November 2012 to October 2013. I heard from a friend a few weeks ago that Cauron said he "could work on the visual effects [in Gravity] forever", alluding to how it looks better the more time they spend on it. But obviously they have to finish it and get it released once and for all, and Framestore, the UK-based VFX company working on the sci-fi movie, had to upgrade their hardware to make it happen.
I stumbled across this very technical, but nonetheless somewhat fascinating article in The Register (via @Framestore), outlining the exact computing upgrades they've needed at Framestore to pull of the VFX in Gravity. The UK studio had to upgrade their processing systems to include "a central file pool based on 1.2PB of a 6-node clustered HDS (BlueArc) filer system using SAS and SATA drives." If that doesn't make any sense to you, that doesn't really matter, as here's the most poignant Gravity quote in the entire article:
Framestore's Chief Technical Officer is Steve MacPherson. He says Gravity is "the most computationally demanding film Framestore has ever done ... Framestore had an unprecedented level of CG imagery being created and a huge number of people working on this material simultaneously.”
The firm began working on Gravity more than two years ago and saw that it would need more than 15,000 processor cores working at the peak rendering load. Framestore's IT setup has a central storage resource providing file access both to the render nodes and also to artists' workstations.
As the rendering workload builds up it can suck up all the system's storage bandwidth leaving nothing behind for the artists. This isn't acceptable; they were working on things like Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and Lincoln which couldn't simply stop. But nor is it OK to buy a whole new storage setup just for the rendering.
They go on to explain the exact technical arrangement needed to achieve this, highlighting a certain type of Avere 4500 Edge Filers, in order to achieve the "production efficiency" to finalize the work on Gravity. The rest of the article contains technical details and nothing new about the movie itself, but there is something particularly exciting about hearing that Gravity is pushing the VFX industry forward as much as I'm hoping it pushes the entire science fiction genre forward. While I've heard from friends who went to test screenings that it's great but not that groundbreaking, maybe the CGI VFX, once finished, will push it over that edge.
Another great quote from the article that it ends with: "So MacPherson ended up turbo-charging his turbo-charged filer and we all get to enjoy perfectly rendered International Space Station fragments blasting across the screen while Gorgeous George and Sexy Sandra gyrate between the flying bits." Sounds good to me. Warner Bros currently has Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi Gravity scheduled for release October 4th this fall.
5 Movie Mistakes Caused By CGI
Computer Effects have always been a staple of cinema. In the 60s, several independent films gave a shot at producing realistic monsters and effects. When Star Wars came about in the 70s people were spellbound by the Lasers and Lightsabers and all the other goodies George Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic brought us. Since then CGI has taken cinema to new worlds and shown us new events that we could only dream of.
Perhaps the greatest advancement in the world of film in recent years has been the improvements made to Computer Generated Images. Michael Bay has stood atop the box office with a money net almost entirely on the basis that he can bring an extravaganza of special effects to his films. James Cameron gave grace and nightmarish detail to the sinking of the Titanic and lush and spellbinding beauty to the world of Pandora in Avatar. George Lucas himself crafted hectic space dogfights and battles within ruined cities when he returned to the Star Wars universe. The last ten years have hosted some of the greatest CGI achievements imaginable, and the world of film would be a lot worse off without it.
However, despite all of this, there are moments where CGI has left us dumbstruck by how unconvincing it is, or how it recklessly ignores physics or biology in an attempt to include something massively above budget or belief. There are a few trends emerging with CGI that need to be put to rest. Admittedly some of these are down to technology not being up to the speed demanded by the filmmakers, but in these cases surely an alternate method could be employed? Perhaps replace the jerky 2D monster with a good old fashioned prop?
When CGI is high quality and believable, it is remarkable; when it isn’t, it drags you right out of the movie you are watching. Perhaps future big budget endeavours will learn from these lessons.
5. The Human Body Is As Flexible As Cooked Spaghetti
Culprits – Catwoman, the Matrix Reloaded, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
This is a very common error of judgement. Filmmakers can pour hours of time and piles of production cash into their epic climactic fight scene, but Rule #1 should always be to make your subject physically plausible.
Take the most glaring example: The Matrix Reloaded. Fans of the first film flooded cinemas to see the epic second part to one of the greatest action films of the last two decades. Not only was the overall result quite lacking, but the climactic ‘Burly Brawl’ was ruined by the horrific CGI Smiths. Watching their almost shapeless masses being repelled by a pole, wielded by a Keanu Reeves action figure, was a disturbing, disappointing event. Catwoman birthed similar monstrosities, as the titular cat burglar leapt from wall to wall like a rectangle only to morph back into a terrible Halle Berry render. Coupled with Berry’s terrible performance in the shots where she wasn’t a human noodle, the film was simply dire.
When you are filming a fight scene there should only be one guideline: Don’t get in over your head. Otherwise you’ll find yourself spawning in more enemies than a video game (with similar graphics, coincidentally) or trying to pull off unfeasible moves that only a dose of expensive CGI can make truly realistic. X2’s fantastic opening scene with Nightcrawler storming the White House showed how this sort of thing should have been handled – with as little computer modelling as possible.
Put simply – humans have bones. There is a limit to how far these bones will move and flex. If you overstep this limit, you’ll break something. Computer models should be no exception.
4. Flying Incurs Zero Physics
Culprits: Iron Man, The Avengers, Spiderman
The act of flight is rather tricky. There are a thousand million variables to consider, and a thousand things that could go wrong. Jumping onto an inflight vehicle is not advisable; the forces at play will almost definitely rip your arms out their sockets.
This is a rule that Marvel especially loves to ignore. Spider-Man leaps from building to building and smashes headfirst into trains and skyscrapers. He may have the abilities of a spider, but if you’ve ever seen a spider collide with concrete at terminal velocity you’ll learn which comes off worst. Ten years onwards and they haven’t learnt, because The Avengers treated us to a spectacular display of incoming alien invaders, which, while truly wonderful to watch, somehow defied all laws of physics imaginable. The most obvious example in the aforementioned idea of grabbing a speeding vehicle. Yet Black Widow doesn’t get turned into a Michonne walker, rather she leaps marvellously onto the ship and proceeds to traverse and pilot it, while shrugging off the intense G-forces an open top vehicle must have been surging through her body. The Avengers is packed full of great effects but they lose their magic when they get applied to impossible situations
If we suddenly found ourselves invaded by the creatures of The Avengers, then, after actually coping with our new overlords of course, somebody needs to attach a ‘don’t try this at home’ message to the film, because if anyone was to try and pull any of those stunts they’d find themselves losing a limb or four.
3. Destroying Buildings Will Kill Nobody
Culprits: Transformers, The Avengers, most Big Budget Action films
In movie worlds, it would appear that certain materials aren’t nearly as deadly as we think they are. But in the real world, they are. Raining glass will shred your skin, falling blocks of concrete, thick wood or metal will certainly break limbs and shrapnel works as frag grenades intend them to – very fatally.
Shia LaBeouf’s character in Michael Bay’s SFX-fest Transformers really should have died in any one of the battle scenes that made up the runtime’s majority. But that is just because he was really, really annoying. Apply some real world logic, however, and he physically shouldn’t have survived. Bay’s love of explosions gets way too danger-close for any of the human characters to have realistically survived without major injury, and even the Transformers themselves probably went through several explosions that were too extreme, even for them.
So next time you find yourself in a city overwhelmed by giant robots or aliens, make sure to find suitable cover from practicably everything, including your cover. Because chances are, it will all get blown up and, unlike the movies, shred you in an instant.
2. Provoked Animals Move Like A Video Game Glitch
Culprits – The Ring, Lake Placid (and other monster films), Life of Pi, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
We’ve all seen a deer get scared of the mere presence of a person and scarper. I have never seen a deer get scared and turn into a shapeless, 2D glitch. Animals, even when startled, do seem to remain ordinary in terms of Physics.
This isn’t the case with movies, it seems. As soon as scene calls for an animal to do something wild, unnatural or just plain ridiculous, producers will quite rightly turn to CGI to avoid mowing down that actual herd of deer. But could they please do it better, or not at all? Ring 2 featured a scene that so drastically ruined the suspension of disbelief for the film through its terrible CGI animals that most people I talk to about the film agree it is one of the worst applications of CGI in recent history.
Lake Placid, Life of Pi, SyFy’s countless killer animal films and many other creature features suffer the same fate, replacing the convincing models, machines and puppetry that made the likes of Jaws and Jurassic Park successful with bland, rendered failures. Take a look at the picture above to see how it can hit rock bottom.
Number one: http://whatculture.com/film/
How Michael Crichton’s “Westworld” Pioneered Modern Special Effects
(newyorker.com) Nearly every studio film at the multiplexes this summer will have been created, at least partly, by a computer. The digital origins of some effects will be easy enough to guess: starships and rocket-suited men in flight, giant fighting robots, ancient naval battles. Vastly more of them will be subtle enough to pass by the average moviegoer—casual, dialogue-driven scenes shot in front of green screens and placed into digital streetscapes, or wires and buildings digitally removed.
These bread-and-butter effects are everywhere. Even “Amour,” last year’s Palme d’Or-winning drama set within a Paris apartment, relied on green-screen work.
The rise of the pixel in cinema may feel like a recent development, but this year actually marks its fortieth anniversary. It began in 1973, with the release of a low-budget science-fiction film, Michael Crichton’s “Westworld.” The movie’s use of a digital effect for a total of two minutes—a now-routine process called pixelization, commonly deployed on Gordon Ramsay cooking shows to obscure a contestant’s cursing mouth—was the unlikely launching point of this revolution.
Crichton both wrote the script and directed the film. Inspired by the Disney theme parks, he imagined an adult vacation spot called Delos, made up of three resorts: Medieval World, which offered a fantasy version of life in thirteenth-century Europe; Roman World, which promised the “decadent” morality of the Roman Empire at its peak; and Westworld, which re-created the lawless frontier of 1880. For a thousand dollars a day, visitors lived their fantasies, interacting with characters of the period—in reality, robots programmed only to serve. As the film begins, two professional men in their mid-thirties, played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, are heading to Westworld for a bachelors’ adventure. A recorded female voice assures the new arrivals that the technology of Delos is “highly reliable.” Of course, it isn’t. Partway through the visit, the robots turn on the guests; the staff in the control room tries to halt the mayhem, but is rendered helpless by a power shutdown. A robot gunslinger, played by Yul Brynner, kills one of the men and coolly, relentlessly stalks the other to a final showdown. (If the plot sounds clichéd, it is only because its ideas were later excavated by the “Terminator” films and Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.”)
Crichton was concerned from the outset with how to give a distinct look to the gunslinger’s point of view when the audience saw events through its eyes. Five years earlier, Stanley Kubrick had used a wide-angle lens to show the perceptions of HAL 9000, the troubled computer of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Crichton, however, wanted his villain’s perspective to look like that of an electronic machine. His script described it as “a bizarre, computerized image of the world” with “flashed-up calculated figures” and “shifting green tones which apparently represent shifts in the Gunslinger’s concentration.”
The question was how to make it work. “There were no effects houses around that knew what to do,” said Paul Lazarus, the film’s producer. “It wasn’t like giving it to Industrial Light & Magic and having it come back.”
Full article: http://www.newyorker.com/
Star Wars Director George Lucas Named A Finalist To Create New Museum In San Francisco
(forbes.com) Billionaire film director George Lucas is one step closer to his vision for a museum displaying his art collection in San Francisco. On Sunday, Lucas was chosen as one of three finalists in a competition for a cultural facility to be created at San Francisco’s Presidio, a former military base that has become a national park.
Lucas, who agreed to sell Lucasfilm to Disney in October 2012 for $4.05 billion, wants to build a museum highlighting “the art of storytelling from the beginning and into the future,” said spokesman David Perry. Lucas’ fascination with illustration began at an early age, and has guided his art collecting, leading him to amass one of the best collections of Norman Rockwell in the country, according to Perry.
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“I was drawn by Norman Rockwell’s ability to tell a complete story in a single image,” Lucas says in an essay on a website with his plan for the museum.“I want to create a gathering place where children, parents and grandparents can experience everything from great illustrators such as Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, to comic art and children’s book illustrations along with exhibitions of fashion, cinematic art and digital art.”
Spokesman Perry said that Lucas plans to donate $300 million to construct the proposed museum – on the site of the old military commissary, now occupied by a Sports Basement store in the Presidio– and an additional $400 million for the upkeep of the museum. He also plans to donate his collection, which is worth anywhere from “$300 million to priceless,” Perry says. Lucas envisions his collection as forming just the beginning of what the museum would contain.
Forbes estimates the Star Wars director’s net worth at $3.9 billion. Lucas announced he would donate the most of the proceeds from the sale of Lucasfilm to charity, saying “it is gratifying that I have the opportunity to devote more time and resources to philanthropy.”
The two other finalists, narrowed down from an initial 16 proposals submitted in early March, are:
*A Presidio Exchange that would host a changing variety of exhibits and performances. It was proposed by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and is supported by Chez Panisse founder and chef Alice Waters, San Francisco Giants President Larry Baer and Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West.
* Chora Group of Washington D.C. plans an institute focused on sustainability and the Presidio’s cultural and environmental context.
Perry said there will be a public meeting probably in June to discuss the three proposals, adding that “We’ve made it to the evening gown competition.” Final decisions are likely in the fall.
Queensland Shoot Of 20,000 Leagues Off
(theaustralian.com.au) BRAD Pitt and Angelina Jolie may well have flown to Australia recently to inspect homes, as was reported elsewhere, but it won't be for the filming of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
At least not this year anyway. The federal government has gained great traction from its announcement of funding for the big Walt Disney Company movie but the film is in no danger of coming here this year. In fact any location permits that have been filed are dated 2014 and many in the industry doubt whether it will happen. Certainly word out of the Gold Coast is that Queensland has lost the shoot. And the presumed director of the film, David Fincher, is circling other films, including the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Reel Time won't declare 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea gone but it's fair to bet the Gillard government will not be in a position to welcome the movie to Australia if, or when, it comes.
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Simon Cowell to Star in his Own Animated Feature-length Film
(gigwise.com) Simon Cowell has revealed that he will love out a lifelong ambition by starring in his very own animated feature-length film.
The music mogul has recently sold the film idea, but has had the concept for over ten years and as a huge cartoon fan, he hopes to cast himself for the movie.
He told the Daily Star: "I have an animation movie I have just sold. It’s my concept. It’s an idea I had ten years ago and the first studio I’ve gone to wants it.
"Making an animation is something I’ve always, always, wanted to do because I love cartoons.
"We only did the deal a few weeks ago so I’m not allowed to say any more."
Although too early to talk about casting, Cowell hopes to employ some of the biggest names in Hollywood to voice the film's characters which he hopes could be out by Christmas 2014. Of course, the Britain's Got Talent judge feels there will be a place for his own character in the movie as well.
A source added: "He wants to feature in some way. He also wants the biggest Hollywood A-listers to do the voiceovers. Don’t be surprised if one or two familiar faces from his reality shows appear, too."
It looks as though Cowell has got the movie-making bug after working on the upcoming Paul Potts and One Direction features.
Cowell added: "I am definitely looking to make more movies. We’ve already started with the Paul Potts film and One Direction movie but expect more."
Aarman Preps 'Shaun of the Sheep' For 2015 Release
(animationmagazine.net) Following in the footsteps of Wallace and Gromit, another popular Aardman character is getting ready for its big movie adventure. The Bristol-based animation studio announced today that its teaming up with StudioCanal to launch a new Shaun the Sheep feature for spring of 2015. The stop-motion animated feature (yay…it’s not CG!) will be written and directed by Mark Burton (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and Richard Starzak. StudioCanal is financing and will distribute the film in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
In the movie, Shaun’s mischief inadvertently forces the Farmer to leave the farm, so Shaun, Bitzer and the rest of the flock will have to plan a trip to the big city to rescue him.
“Shaun and his friends have a massive global following,” exec chair and co-founder of Aardman David Sproxton told the BBC. “We are very excited about being able to put them into a bigger adventure for the big screen.”
The wooly star first made his debut in Nick Park’s Oscar-winning short A Close Shave. Shaun was then given his own preschool animated series on the CBBC in 2007, and the show has been a huge hit in 170 countries since then. A spin-off of the show, Timmy Time, has also been hugely popular since its debut in 2009.
Aardman’s previous theatrical expeditions were: Chicken Run (2000), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Flushed Away (2006), Arthur Christmas (2011) and last year’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
‘My Little Pony’ Animated CGI Feature Will Not Be About Ponies
(deseretnews.com) Next month, the toymaker Hasbro will launch a feature-length animated movie based on its My Little Pony brand. The animators and writers will remain the same as the popular TV cartoon “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” The main characters, however, will have a new look.
Instead of ponies, they’ll be teenage girls.
“Hasbro created Equestria Girls, a parallel world in which the My Little Pony characters were reconceived as teenage girls in high school,” Gregory Schmidt wrote in Monday’s New York Times. “To maintain continuity, Hasbro retained the same creative talent, animation style and message of friendship. … The new property will get the red-carpet treatment when it premieres as a full-length animated feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie, created by Hasbro Studios, the company’s production division, will then be released in more than 200 theaters nationwide; its trailer will start appearing in theaters on Wednesday.”
The new movie’s title is “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.” The film’s official trailer on YouTube includes this plot synopsis: “When a crown is stolen from the Crystal Empire, Twilight Sparkle pursues the thief into an alternate world where she transforms into a teenage girl who must survive her biggest challenge yet — high school. With help from her new friends who remind her of Ponyville's Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, she embarks upon a quest to find the crown and change the destiny of these two parallel worlds.”
The Common Sense Media review of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” gives the TV show four stars out of five: “Parents need to know that this series celebrates friendship’s development from first impressions to true connections … but the show is part of an extensive product line of toys, games, and accessories, so young fans might be drawn to the brand name after taking an interest in the characters.”
Are Big FX Films Slowly Killing Hollywood?
(flickeringmyth.com) Hollywood seems to be getting greedier and greedier with each year. There appears to be an endless amount of 3D animated movies, 3D re-releases, unnecessary remakes, and feature length commercials (feature length commercials are movies that are lacking in story or character development, but make up for it in product placement, like Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship, or any Adam Sandler movie).
What movie buffs realize that Hollywood doesn't - or maybe does, hence all the remakes - is that the way Hollywood is running is unsustainable. In the year 2012 there were eight movies that had a reported budget of over $170m. That's four times as many as the year 2010. Granted 2012 had many more event films than 2010, which was a relatively quiet year. The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises both came out to name a few, but there were also many others.
However, even with all these event films coming out - and inflation - 2012 only beat 2010 by less than $30m at the United States box office. That may not seem like a lot, but it means that if one more movie had come out in 2010, it would more than likely have been been a better year than 2012. To add insult to injury, 2012 had 144 more movies than the year 2010, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
The reason I keep using 2010 as a point of reference is that even at the time it was considered a very slow year. The summer of 2010's only real mega hit was Inception and that was far from what you'd think as a sure fire hit. Where 2010 prospered was in the area of smaller budgets ($10-$50m). Black Swan and The King's Speech, two major Oscar winners, both made over $300m on budgets of $9m and $15m respectively. This was before the Oscars were announced, and they made only slightly less than Tron: Legacy, which had a significantly higher budget. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the major flop of the year, made its meek production budget of $45m back, and only posted a loss because of the marketing expenditure.
Another reason Hollywood is slowly inching towards doom is that even if you make a billion dollars the studios are not even seeing half of that money. Take Iron Man 3, which while I'm writing this article is on its way to a billion. At present, it has an "A" on CinemaScore.com and 78 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so it's a triple threat success with critics, audiences, and the box office. Marvel Studios spent $200m to make it, not including marketing which could've been anywhere from $100m to $200m (on YouTube.com I went to watch a trailer for Iron Man 3, but before I could watch it I had to sit through another trailer for Iron Man 3, so it's probably closer to the latter). With the exhibitor split, which is probably around 45-55% of the revenue generated by ticket sales, along with back end deals (over $50 million, in Robert Downey Jr.'s case).. that's over half of the intake that the studio won't even see.
Now Iron Man 3 isn't done at the box office by any stretch and it also has tie-ins and merchandising, and even some subtle and not so subtle moments of product placement, but another movie such as Battleship or especially John Carter is not going to make a significant amount of money back outside of the cinema. And what's happening more and more is that movies perform poorly in the U.S., but are being saved by international gross. Battleship made its budget back overseas and then got destroyed at the domestic box office, effectively making the international market a safety net.
Studios need to stop putting all their chips in one basket. Spread them out on smaller, smarter movies so that if the big risk doesn't pay off it's not the end of the world. I'd go one step further and say that studios everywhere should really evaluate the number of movies they put out, and their entire business model. Focus on making really good, well-made movies with mass appeal. Start with something new and then eventually build up to a $150m dollar budget. Jaws, arguably the quintessential blockbuster, only cost $8m dollars to make (around $35m in today's money), and launched an entire franchise.
But Hollywood doesn't need to look at its past successes. Take Marvel, for example. It's on it's way to having the highest grossing movie franchise in the world and that's because it focuses on the fans, making its movies appeal to mass audiences, with good filmmaking. Studios need to stop looking for massive lucrative short term investments and really think about the long term, or they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
Oscar Winning FX Company Pushes Back Against Big Studios
Imagine yourself working a job where your talent and skill help to make original creations that will be seen by millions. Your co-workers are kindred spirits who, like you, grew up filling sketchpads with exotic creatures inspired by comic books, movies, and fertile imaginations. It’s a dream job and a nice living: you make monsters for movies. And whether it’s a crude blood-and-guts cheapie or a sublime Sci-Fi blockbuster, you give it everything because that’s how you roll.
And then a few lazy people at the top ruin it because they want to try something “easier”.
This is pretty much the current state of Hollywood’s incredible shrinking creature FX industry. Many successful FX studios are being relegated to prop houses largely because movie producers choose to spend money on computer-generated images (CGI) instead of tangible, physical “practical” effects.
They have their reasons, of course. The CGI “pipeline” mirrors a corporate structure of product created from rows of antiseptic cubicles. Animatronics and Special Makeup FX require a messy workshop of eccentric, hands-on artists. And then there’s the convenience of postponing design decisions because CGI lets you fix it later. But it’s much more expensive, it doesn’t make a better movie, and audiences know it.
Alec Gillis is fighting back. He and Tom Woodruff Jr. run Oscar-winning Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. (ADI), a major player in Hollywood’s creature FX world and veterans of countless big-ticket FX movies. The duo met while working under Creature legend Stan Winston in 1985. Handling much of the heavy lifting on such films as Aliens, Predator, and Terminator prepared them for running their own Creature Shop which they formed ADI in 1988 — www.studioadi.com. Gillis got so tired of pitching practical creatures to CGI-leaning producers he decided to pitch directly to fans via Kickstarter.
“Harbinger Down” is Alec Gillis’ proposed creature-on-the-loose story utilizing the classic low-budget thriller elements of small cast, limited locations, and maximum suspense. To paraphrase horror film icon George Romero, nothing’s scarier than things going bump in the night. And with mutating meanies taking over a frozen fishing trawler, things will get quite bumpy indeed.
But “Harbinger Down” is more than just an exciting film to Gillis; it’s a cause. Alec’s passionate Kickstarter video plea has a distinct “David versus Goliath” feel to it, and he’s asking for a few pebbles in his slingshot–$350K-–for the chance to vindicate practical FX.
To reach this goal Gillis will need the support of the loyal classic monster buffs that rallied around Gillis and ADI after their work was digitized in the most recent iteration of The Thing, as well as the contributions of any film fan who yearns for a return to the days when the monsters we saw on movie screens were tangible, visceral, real-life manifestations of our worst nightmares.
Check out Harbinger Down on Kickstarter at:
-H "For Episode II Sony built the cameras and Panavision built those lenses. Both companies really went out on a limb. Nobody knew if it was going to work." -George Lucas