VFX News – 07/24/15

‘Jurassic World’ Sequel to Hit Theaters in 2018

(variety.com)             After the smash success of “Jurassic World,” Universal has dated a sequel for June 22, 2018.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will return to star in the film, which Steven Spielberg will exec produce through his Amblin Entertainment banner.

Colin Trevorrow, who directed “Jurassic World,” will co-write the screenplay with Derek Connolly.

On Wednesday, “Jurassic World” became the No. 3 top-grossing film of all-time, surpassing “The Avengers” with a monster $1.52 billion in ticket sales.

It has one remaining territory left to open — Japan, where it debuts on Aug. 5.

How Exactly Did Ant-Man Make Michael Douglas Look So Young?

(vulture.com)                  In Ant-Man’s opening scene, Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym strides into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to tender his resignation. Well, that’s not 100 percent right — it’s definitely Hank Pym, and it’s definitely S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, but it’s not quite Michael Douglas, at least as we know him in 2015. The scene takes place in 1989, and the Douglas that walks into the room is the spitting image of the actor during his Wall Street and Fatal Attraction days. How did the film undo 25 years of time’s cruel work? We were lucky enough to talk to Trent Claus of Lola VFX, the company that de-aged Douglas for Marvel, to learn the scene’s secrets.

In the world of visual effects, Lola specializes in “visual cosmetics,” which can range from secret touch-ups to complete physical transformations. As Claus puts it, the company can make anyone “older, younger, thinner [or] fatter.” Lola first got into de-aging in their work for X-Men: The Last Stand, but their breakout moment came on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, where they handled the aging and de-aging of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett’s characters. Since then, they’ve had a long relationship with Marvel — Lola created skinny Chris Evans for the first Captain America film — and they were brought on fairly early in the production process to handle the de-aging work in Ant-Man’s prologue.

The heads-up helped. “They asked for advice for what they could do when they were shooting that could aid us, which is very much appreciated,” said Claus. “We put our two cents in, and they did everything we needed right from the start.” Mostly that meant no anti-aging makeup on the 70-year-old Douglas (it messes with the way light works on the face) and a sprightly stand-in to give a reference point for the way young skin looked on the S.H.I.E.L.D. set.

From there, Lola got to work. Unlike on previous transformations, they had a plenty of reference material — multiple feature films’ worth — of exactly what a 45-year-old Michael Douglas would look like. To hear Claus tell it, this was both a blessing and a curse. “It helped us a lot to have that reference,” he said, “but it made us work harder, because the audience already knew what he looked like at that age. There wasn’t a whole lot of leeway.”

The only solution, they decided, was to view as much of Douglas’s late-’80s oeuvre as possible, as closely as possible. They found themselves watching Wall Street not only for its dramatic indictment of corporate greed, but also for its great shots of Douglas’s middle-aged wrinkles. “What’s really important is the way his face moves as he speaks, the way that the muscles in the face have changed over time, the way the skin reacts to those muscles. To sell the effect you have to look at the way [the face] looks in motion.”

De-aging an actor is essentially giving them a digital face-lift, and Lola’s team do the same work with digital composites a skilled plastic surgeon would do with a scalpel. The two professions turn out to have similar ways of talking. “The most obvious thing is that the skin along the jaw in most people tends to get lower and lower and sag a little bit as you get older. Particularly around the throat and the Adam’s Apple area, you’ll get a build-up of extra skin down there,” Claus told me. “One thing we’ll have to do to de-age someone is restore that elasticity and try to not only to remove the excess skin, but pull it back up to where it once was.”

Our cheeks thin out and sink as we get older, so Lola also added a little more fat to the middle of Douglas’s cheeks. And since human ears and noses never stop growing, they also had to shrink Douglas’s back to their 1980s’ sizes, as well as remove some of his ear wrinkles. Then it came time to restore what Claus called Douglas’s “youthful glow,” adding shine to his skin and hiding the blood vessels in his nose.

The result in the finished film is eerie in its accuracy; it’s as if Douglas stepped into the room straight off the cover of Time. There’s still a telltale digital sheen, but the de-aging effect has come a long way in the nine years since X3. I asked Claus if this was because technology had gotten better. “It really hasn’t changed,” he said. “The basic tools have been the same for decades. It’s more the experience of the artists that are actually doing the work.” In other words, their skills have grown over time — just like their ears.

How Hollywood Filmmakers Can Supply China’s VFX Demand

(hollywoodreporter.com)         Top experts from Hollywood and Asia are learning from South Korea to foray into the world’s fastest expanding film market.

In China, local comedies have recorded some of the biggest box office scores but VFX-heavy Hollywood films such as Furious 7 and Transformers are still dominating the world’s fastest growing film market. Naturally, everyone from DreamWorks to star VFX specialists such as John Dietz (Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games) have set up shop in the Asian country.

“In the past few years, the interest [in China among American producers] went from zero to 100 percent. China is the only market in the world that gets people in the film business in America very excited,” said Stu Levy, the international chair of the Producer’s Guild of America who is based in Tokyo and L.A. and now frequently travels to Beijing. Levy was among specialists who spoke during the NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films) forum on Tuesday during South Korea’s Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan).

According to Levy, box-office projections for China are expected to shoot up from the current $7 billion to about $20 billion in 2020, compared to the $1 billion jump from $10 billion to $11 billion during the same time frame for the U.S. There is higher demand for more films and for more diverse genres, which naturally feeds into the need for more VFX experts and other specialists.

“You have big productions, internally made Chinese ones. There is a whole lot of demand for sci-fi and other genre films that pose technical challenges and they’re trying to compete with Transformers and Avengers. Chinese audiences want to see these movies made by the Chinese,” said Dietz, who is currently working on his 13th Chinese/Chinese-language project.

Says Beijing-based Singaporean film producer KQ: “Chinese filmmakers are no longer disconnected from the international creative community. But there is a lack of locally trained crews that can work well with the shooting process, while producers don’t have experience understanding how costly and time consuming VFX projects are.”

Though many American filmmakers have tried to work with Chinese partners, many have failed because they simply do not understand the nature of the local market.

“Chinese films can’t compete with [films like Avengers] right now because of ability and skill… But [American filmmakers] can’t come to China just because you did Transformers,” said Dietz, emphasizing that non-Chinese filmmakers need to understand that there is no organized structure in China’s ever evolving market.

“Part of the chaos is that there is so much money floating around and there are many risks. What often happens is that you have inexperienced producers working with inexperienced financiers,” he said.

Americans, furthermore, can learn from the Korean example.

Having created the VFX for the ambitious 2013 Korea-China co-production Mr. Go, Korea’s Dexter Digital has been a key player for big-budget Chinese works such as Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon and The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Chinese giant Wanda Group also recently became a major stakeholder of the company.

“Korea has a great advantage because there is great proximity with China, both geographically and culturally,” said KQ.

“For many Korean companies, working on Chinese projects is very appealing because many will pay shot-based rather than a flat rate like it is in Korea. Also, the Korean government provides financial support when Korean companies work on foreign projects,” said Kim Wook, executive VGX supervisor and producer at Dexter.

In 2013, the Seoul-based studio opened a Beijing office, of which some 30 out of the 50 employees are Chinese. “You have to get involved after really understanding how business works in China. It’s all about building trust first,” said Kim.

Dietz agreed, saying that it took him a while to prove that he was there not to “just make a few films and leave” but to contribute to build the local VFX industry. “Sure, there are many risks in China. But with taking risks there comes innovation and different techniques actually have a shot at taking off. In the long term there is room for a lot of growth.”

‘Pixels’ Tilting Toward Soft $25 Million Debut at Box Office

Sony’s sci-fi action comedy directed by Christopher Columbus will be squeezed by “Minions” and “Ant-Man,” which also target family audiences

“Pixels,” the sci-fi comedy based on classic video games and starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, is heading for a box office opening in the mid-$20 millions.

That’s not the kind of number a studio would typically look for from a summer tentpole movie, particularly one with budget of at least $85 million and directed by Christopher Columbus (“Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”). And Sony currently ranks last among the major studios in market share.

This isn’t a typical summer. The box office has been white hot, with numerous films overperforming and three — “Furious 7,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Jurassic World” — grossing more than $1 billion worldwide.

The domestic box office is running roughly 7 percent ahead of 2013, which ranks as the biggest year ever with $10.9 billion in grosses. Analysts now project 2015 will be the highest-grossing in history.

Smaller VFX Shows To Qualify – New Zealand Merges Film Agencies

(hollywoodreporter.com)                Locations marketing agency Film NZ, will become port of the New Zealand Film Commission as international production balloons.

Kiwi locations marketing agency Film NZ will be absorbed by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), following a government review into the operation of incentive program, the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, which the agencies have jointly promoted since April last year.

The merger of the agencies will take place from August 1, with Film NZ staff moving to the NZFC premises as part of the NZFC’s expanded international and marketing teams.

“Our two agencies have worked very closely together for many years and particularly to ensure the success of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant since it was introduced last year,” Dame Patsy Reddy, New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) chair said.

She added: “This announcement builds on and formalizes that approach, by creating a one-stop shop for film makers and screen companies in New Zealand and overseas.”

NZ Arts Minister Steven Joyce said that it had been a record year for international production shooting in New Zealand following the establishment of the NZSPG, The grant boosted incentives, including allowing major productions to claim back up to 25 percent of their budget as rebates. Films made in the Kiwi territory have included  including Walt Disney Pictures’ Pete’s Dragon, Dreamworks’ Light Between Oceans, The Weinstein Company’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II, and Legendary Pictures’ Krampus.

Indeed the production grant has also been successful in securing a number of key TV series, including Ash v The Evil Dead, MTV’s Shannara and Saban’s Power Rangers, that have kept the sector busy after production  on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy finished.

At the same time the review of the NZSPG has recommended amendments to its operation including halving the qualifying threshold for the post digital and visual effects grant for international productions from $660,000 to $330,000 (NZ$1 million to NZ$500,000). That’s designed to encourage amore international post production and support smaller visual effects companies, Joyce said.

DreamWorks Animation’s Campus Sold Again For Major Profits

(deadline.com)    Property values are rising in Glendale: Griffin Capital just paid $215 million to Sun Trust Equity for DreamWorks Animation’s 14.7-acre campus there — five months after Sun Trust paid DWA $185 million for the site.

The studio sold the property as part of a restructuring, announced in February, designed to improve its liquidity after a string of its films resulted in write-downs.

DWA benefits from the transaction. It has a 50-50 profit sharing agreement with SunTrust.

You’d thought Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen would have picked somewhere closer than Glendale when building their studio

The studio’s employees can relax. DWA has a lease enabling it to stay for 20 years, with four renewal options each running five years. It pays $13.2 million a year, increasing 1.5% a year.

Griffin Capital’s Director of Acquisitions Louis Sohn calls the property a “one-of-a-kind asset, with a rich array of high-quality improvements that are not typically seen at an office campus.”

DWA built the site in 1997, and expanded it in 2010. It includes 460,000 square feet of office space, and has a cafeteria, training rooms and a Starbucks.

Seven Movies That Could Break the Video Game Movie Curse

It’s no secret that the majority of movies based on video games are not very good. We’re not talking about movies set in the world of gaming or featuring fictional and real video games like TRON, Wreck-It Ralph, and this week’s release of Pixels. We’re talking about movies based on an existing video game title being brought to the big screen.

The first video game movie was Super Mario Bros. in 1993, and while that movie should have been terrible enough to kill the entire subgenre (the recent Honest Trailer for the film illustrates that pretty well), there have been about 26 video game movies released theatrically since then, and not one of them deserves to be called great (many of them can’t even be called okay).

However, there might be a chance that the future has some genuinely good video game movies on the horizon, that is if the talent attached to some forthcoming projects is any indicator. Below, we look at seven forthcoming video game movies that could break the apparent curse that plagues the subgenre.

Check out some promising video game movies coming soon after the jump!

Seven Promising Video Game Movies on the Way

Assassin’s Creed

What’s it about? Assassin’s Creed is based on the Ubisoft game franchise of the same name about a bartender named Desmond Miles, who turns out to be descended from a long line of assassins. He’s captured by a secretive organization and sent back in time to access his ancestors’ memories and collect ancient artifacts.

Why does it sound good? Aside from the intriguing story, the talent attached to this game sounds better than any cast we’ve ever heard of for a video game flick. Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, 12 Years a Slave) is in the lead role with Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, Contagion) taking a key role along with Ariane Labed (Before Midnight, The Lobster). The film also reunites Fassbender and Cotillard with their Macbeth director Justin Kurzel. Watch the trailer for that Shakespearean adaptation and you’ll see why this roster of talent taking on Assassin’s Creed sounds awesome.

When can we see it? Assassin’s Creed is currently set for release on December 21st, 2016.


What’s it about? The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

Why does it sound good? This is a deep, rich fantasy taking us into a world the likes of which haven’t been seen since Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Hobbit trilogy jut isn’t on the same level). Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) is directing the film that will be brought to life with visual effects comparable to that of Avatar and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and it has the potential to be the biggest video game movie ever made.

The footage shown at Comic-Con was wholly impressive, though certainly a little confusing for a non-Warcraft fan, but it’s a massive epic with a huge scope and a diverse ensemble of characters from Orcs to humans to wizards and more. The cast doesn’t have many huge names (Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Clancy Brown, Dominic Cooper are the most notable names) but that means they put all the money into everything else in the film, and that’s a good start.

When can we see it? Warcraft arrives on June 10th, 2016. The first trailer arrives sometime this fall.

Source with more:     http://www.slashfilm.com/promising-video-game-movies/

‘Kong: Skull Island’ Production Moving Forward

EXCLUSIVE: Brie Larson is in talks to play the female lead in Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island. She will join Tom Hiddleston, who was set some time ago. Legendary is actively setting the two other male leads after the exit of both Michael Keaton and JK Simmons. One actor they are courting hard for one of those roles is Russell Crowe, but it won’t be clear whether or not that happens until the next script draft comes in.

Keaton and Simmons had scheduling conflicts, my colleague Ali Jaafar reported when he broke news of their exits.

Legendary has Jordan Vogt-Roberts directing a script by John Gatins and Max Borenstein, and they are eyeing a production start of late year or early 2016. The film will be released by Universal Pictures on March 10, 2017, with a Imax 3D a big part of the release plan. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni produce with Mary Parent, with Alex Garcia and Eric McLeod exec producing. Kong: Skull Island will fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the iconic ape as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island. Clearly it wasn’t lost on anyone that Peter Jackson’s King Kong had its best moments on Skull Island, depicted as a scary place. Wannasee has been high on this since Legendary revealed the project at San Diego Comic-Con awhile back.

‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5’ – CGI Technology to be Used on Javier Bardem

(vinereport.com)              The rumor mill continues to churn for the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie slated for 2017 showing in theaters globally. Filming has begun early in Queensland and transferred to the idyllic Hamilton Island this month.

Javier Bardem will play the formidable baddie who looked grey and sinister in a set of photos leaked by The Daily Mail . The face paint indicates that there will be a massive amount of CGI work to be done. Sightings in the leaked set photos also show the very memorable Captain Jack Sparrow, though it remains to be verified if it is Johnny Depp himself or a stunt double wearing the gear.

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film will follow the story of Captain Salazar, who is apparently on a homicidal rampage against other pirates. It will be Captain Jack Sparrow’s task to stop these attempts to obliterate all the other pirates.

While all of the snapped visuals in Queensland are making rounds on social media, there is also a rumor that Orlando Bloom will return to the franchise but it is yet unconfirmed.

“I’m not entirely sure that [I’ll be back] just yet, but there are talks. Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son,” said Bloom in a Perez Hilton post.

Bloom’s statement fueled other rumors that Brenton Thwaites’ inclusion in the cast may actually be indicative of that story arc. The love interest for Thwaites in the movie is still unconfirmed but there are a handful of names floating around since late last year. Some of the more popular crowd favorites in the running for this role are Alexandra Dowling, Kaya Scoledario, Gabriella Wilde, Jenna Thiam, and Lucy Boynton.

Jaeger Pilot Hopes Pacific Rim 2 Isn’t as Effects-driven as the First Film

(ew.com)           These days, the success of a film can be difficult to measure. It requires more than just a passing look at box office receipts. On paper, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 kaiju love letter Pacific Rim took in over $400 million at the global box office, with $100 million of that coming from the US alone. Those sums were enough to justify a sequel for Warner Bros. and Legendary, but the narrative around the release of the movie still had the ring of minor disappointment.

Charlie Hunnam, one of the film’s stars, looks back on Pacific Rim similarly, but for a much different reason. When EW spoke with the former Sons of Anarchy actor on the set of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, the conversation turned to working on an effects-heavy film and how that can be inhibiting as a performer. “When it becomes very technical, those technical aspects create a rigidity to the process,” he said. “Then all of the sudden, you have to find where your little place to fit into that process is, as opposed to the whole thing being about you.”

That rigidity is partially what led to his disappointment with Pacific Rim, which in the end favored the robots and their fights with monsters, over the Jaeger pilots inside their heads. “I think world creation and monster creation and all of that stuff is exciting as a secondary element of storytelling. When it becomes more important than storytelling, I get very nervous, and you sort of lose me a little bit,” Hunnam said. “Although we tried very hard on Pacific Rim to marry those two elements, I do feel like ultimately it got weighed heavier on the side of spectacle than storytelling.”

With Pacific Rim 2 scheduled to shoot this fall, that balance is something that Hunnam is excited to take another crack at.  “I hope that we are able to remedy that a little bit going into the second,” he said. “Not to say I wasn’t proud of the film. I really liked it, and I felt like it delivered exactly what it was supposed to. But I do feel like we could have maybe plumbed the depths of the character and the storytelling a little bit more.”