VFX News – 07/27/15

Tom Cruise: ‘I’ll do Top Gun 2 if there’s ‘no CGI on the jets’

(theguardian.com)             The actor is keen to reprise his role of Maverick in a sequel to the 1986 hit but only if the film relies on practical effects

‘If I can figure it out, if all of us can figure it out, it’d be fun to do’ … Tom Cruise on reprising his role as Maverick in Top Gun 2. Photograph: Splash News/Corbis

While promoting Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the 53-year-old star spoke about his desire to play the role of Maverick again, if all falls into place.

“If I can figure it out, if all of us can figure it out, it’d be fun to do, I’d like to fly those jets again, but we got to do all the jets practical, no CGI on the jets,” he said to Extra. “I’m saying right now no CGI on the jets. If we can figure all that out, and the Department of Defense will allow us to do it, that would be fun.”

It’s already been revealed that the film will revolve around the clash between traditional aviation and unmanned drones. Producer David Ellison also added that it will be in 3D and shot for Imax.

The script is currently being written by Justin Marks, who was responsible for Streetfighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a film which has a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was originally being developed by the late Tony Scott.

Reports also suggest that Cruise would like Prince Harry to cameo in the film because of his “real experience and knowledge of flying in combat”.

After the release of the fifth Mission: Impossible film, which the Guardian’s Henry Barnes called “slick with silliness”, Cruise will next be seen in Mena, as a pilot who works for the CIA and as a drug runner.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Predicted to Make Worldwide Box-Office Haul of $2 Billion

(c/star)                 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is expected to be a major box-office hit as it is predicted to earn $2 billion in sales once it is released to worldwide theaters on December 18.

Predictions are overly optimistic for the latest installment of the epic space opera franchise as it could eventually end up just behind “Avatar” and “Titanic” in the list of highest-grossing movies of all time, Deadline reported. Analyst Benjamin Swinburne is optimistic about the overseas sales of the movie so he raised his forecast of profit to nearly 22 percent.

After considering all the revenues and costs of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” it was predicted that the movie will be very profitable to Disney, the company that acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.

Disney is expected to gain more than $1 billion in revenues. Swinburne predicted that the domestic sales will reach $650 million with overseas sales expected to reach $1.3 billion. The ratio of overseas sales doubling local sales is expected to be higher than the last three “Star Wars” films.

Swinburne also added that Disney is poised to take a larger than average slice from the theatrical sales pie. For the “Star Wars” movie, Disney is expected to take 55-60 percent of domestic receipts and 40-45 percent of international sales. Prediction of global merchandise sales is also high with an expected income of $3 billion a year on licensed toys, clothing, and other related “Star Wars” stuff. About $215 million of the sales will go back to Disney.

Further predictions said that due to the “Star Wars” wide reach, Disney might gain $350 million in home video revenues, $100 million from video games, and $75 million for global pay TV. Swinburne figured that the revenues will trump the expected overall expense of Disney to produce “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which cost the company $423 million.

‘Ant-Man’ Wins Box Office for Second Straight Week

(foxnews.com)          LOS ANGELES –  “Ant-Man” crept past new opener “Pixels” to claim the top spot at the box office this weekend by an ant-sized margin. The Disney and Marvel superhero pic brought in $24.8 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $106.1 million according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

“Pixels,” meanwhile, just barely missed first place with a $24 million debut. While studios always hope for the bragging rights of a No. 1 debut, the real issue here is whether or not the Adam Sandler end of the world comedy will make up its $88 million production budget.

Jurassic World 2 Will Go Head-to-head with Godzilla 2 in June of 2018

(scified.com)                Hold on to your butts! Not a day after Jurassic World was crowned third most successful film of all time has Universal announced plans to release the sequel, Jurassic World 2 in just under 3 years from today! Eyeing a June 22nd, 2018 release date, Jurassic World will see the return of lead actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. BD Wong is also likely to return, though his return has yet to be confirmed.

Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly will once again team up to pen the screenplay for Jurassic World 2, which Steven Spielberg will once again executive produce.

What makes this release date so interesting is it means Jurassic World 2 (a Legendary / Universal Pictures production) will directly compete with Legendary and Warner Brothers’ own Godzilla 2, which is currently slated for a June 8th, 2018 release date. Whether or not Godzilla 2’s release date will be pushed or accelerated has yet to be determined, but as it stands, both films will compete for top place at the box office throughout the month of June in 2018.

Which film do you think will take home the biggest box office earnings? Which sequel are you most excited to see? What are your hopes for Jurassic World 2? Let us know in the comments section!

Thanks to Evan123 in the Jurassic World forum for the news (via Variety)

Jurassic World is a sci-fi terror adventure film set 22 years after the events of the first Jurassic Park movie. When a terrifying new hybrid Dinosaur breaks free from its compound, the park is sprung into chaos and visitors must fight for their survival, or face extinction.

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World.  Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure from a screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly.  Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley join the team as producers.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, written by Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jake Johnson, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jason Schwartzman, Omar SY, Irrfan Khan, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Katie McGrath, Lauren Lapkus, Jurassic World hit theaters June 12th, 2015.

$150M Gambit Feature to Begin Production in October, Casting Call Revealed

(comingsoon.net)        Though a logo for the character’s upcoming solo film was shown at San Diego Comic-Con, very little has been announced about the forthcoming Gambit movie, starring Channing Tatum and currently set for a release on October 7, 2016.

Now, a new document from LouisianaEntertainment.gov reveals new details on the film, including that it will have a budget just north of $150 million and production is slated to last from October of this year until February of 2016.

In other, Gambit news, Showbiz411 has found a casting call for the film with brief descriptions of some of the characters set to appear in the film, though the names have all likely been changed. They read as follows:

Louis– Male, any ethnicity, 40s-50s. Elegant and intelligent. An appealing entrepreneur with an unexpected
dark side.
Vera– Female, any ethnicity, mid 20s – early 30s. Beautiful, smart, tough, fiery and unpredictable.
Wes– Male, any ethnicity, mid 20s – mid 30s. Aspirational but weak minded. Soulful and sensitive.
Fritz– Male, any ethnicity, 40s – 50s. A professional thief. Charismatic con-artist. Warm hearted but untrustworthy.
Nash– Male, any ethnicity, mid 20s – early 30s. A potent threat. Heir to his mother’s business. Malevolent.
Willhelm– Male, any ethnicity, 30s. Dangerous street criminal. Protective and loyal to his family. Intensely loyal and violent.
Gary– Male, any ethnicity, mid 20s – early 30s. A little simple; dim-witted and passive.
Nonna—Female, any ethnicity, mid 20s – 30 years old. Uptight, corporate, vicious, sexual.
Joe– Male, any ethnicity, 30s. He’s a gun for hire. He is the black sheep of his family. Not from good breeding but from a working class family.
Ben–Male, any ethnicity, 20s. Just reaching adulthood. A street kid, a disaffected outsider, an orphan.
Boris–Male, Hispanic, 20s. Charming, handsome, and dangerous..
Clarissa– Female, mixed race, 10 – 12 years old. Ethereal and other worldly. Very expressive.
Wolfgang– Male, authentic French, 40s. A French criminal. Must speak fluent French.
Howard– Male, Caucasian. 50s. A refined European mobster who speaks fluent French.

Set to be directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and featuring a screenplay by Josh Zetumer (RoboCop), Gambit will be produced by Tatum and his creative partner Reid Carolin, along with “X-Men” franchise stewards Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner.

How ‘Pixels’ Brought 2D Video Games to a 3D Motion Picture

(hollywoodreporter.com)               In Sony’s Pixels, directed by Chris Columbus and opening this weekend, aliens attack the Earth with ’80s video games as models for their assaults — meaning the human saviors must fight off the likes of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede and Space Invaders.

Bringing classic video game characters to a 3D live-action motion picture proved challenging — as well as fun — for the VFX team. Led by overall VFX supervisor Matthew Butler, the work was shared primarily by Digital Domain and Sony Picture Imageworks, and parts were also tackled at an additional nine facilities. Here, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Imageworks’ VFX supervisor Dan Kramer.

Did you play these video games in the ‘80s?

Kramer: I did; I’m the perfect age for this. When I was a kid I spent many hours in the arcade playing most of the games that were featured in the movie. I had a lot of fond memories of those characters, like lots of people do. I was exciting when we got the project. … A lot of that had to do with the Pixels short by Patrick Jean, which inspired the movie. I though it was charming and paid homage to the video games in a really clever way.

What did it take to bring 2D video game characters into a 3D live action world?

Kramer: 2D video games are sprite sheets, which are little images that you flip between to make it look like you’re animating, and these are put on a CRT screen. So we tried to find out what the analogous of that would be in 3D. A pixel is a dot of light on a screen, and the equivalent in 3D is called a voxel (volume pixel). We use them a lot in CG … but we’ve never used them to render something directly to represent a character — at least not that I’m aware of. We ended up modeling simple characters, and we put them through an effects pipeline to “voxelate” them. Basically there was a 3D grid in space and wherever that character moved, we’d, like, up those voxels. So as the characters moves around, the voxels turned on and off.

There’s a sequence during which Frogger jumps between live action cars. How did that come together?

Kramer: We had to coordinate with the stunt coordinator, drivers. They set up a scene so the cars were all moving at the same speed and there was a nice gap between the cars that Frogger could jump in between. We had to choreograph this scene and imagine how Frogger would make his way across the street. We did similar things with Tetris; we built a 3D building and had giant Tetris blocks coming down and destroying sections of it. Anything that would tell the story of the video game was fun to do. That’s something that [Jean’s] short did really well.

Full article with pics:     http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/pixels-vfx-bring-video-games-810568

Did Pixar Kill Hand-Drawn Animation in the US?

(rotoscopers.com)       By my personal admission, the topic of hand-drawn animation and its current state in the animation industry is a subject that I always keep coming back to. Just when you think that you’ve squeezed the subject for all of its worth, something comes along that unveils a new layer to the conversation and injects it with new vibrancy and life. Alas, it was this ‘something’ that prompted me to go back and ask a hard question. One that will definitely cause a divide among readers on both sides of the equation.

I never, ever go into these types of articles with the intention of asking questions that are easy to answer in one go. But if I’m being honest, I had to think really hard about this article. How could I write this in a way that was satisfying? How could I give an explanation that was worthy of my time devoted to this article and to answering the question at hand. Now, in hindsight, I’m glad I wrote this. You might not be happy with it (not that I expect you to be), but I’m happy with it, simply for the fact that it might challenge you in the same way that it challenged me.

With all of that out the way, let’s go to the question. Here we go.

The Question at Hand (Introduction)

Did Pixar kill hand-drawn animation in the US?

As of current, Pixar is enjoying an ascendant comeback. Thanks to a little film called Inside Out, Pixar is once again in the good graces of critics and audiences every, and judging by the recently-released trailer for The Good Dinosaur, their comeback phase looks to continue unabated. But I guess on some level, that was to be expected. There was no way that Pixar, the studio that forever shifted the course of the animation industry, would not recover from a three-film tumble that started with Cars 2.

Now, you might be asking yourself: what do you mean when the animation industry was “forever shifted” by the course of one company?

A Trip Through Times Past

Let’s rewind the clocks to November 22 of 1995, when the first Toy Story bowed in theaters. During this time, hand-drawn animation was still prevalent in US theaters everywhere and was arguably still in its ultimate prime, while CG animation was still in its infancy and not yet the industry standard (as is the case today). Back then, the idea of a fully CG-animated feature film (let alone it becoming industry standard) was almost unheard of.

Of course, that would all change when Toy Story hit the scene. Oh boy, did Toy Story turn heads. Not only did it mark the beginning of an iconic franchise (now set to receive a fourth installment), but it was a watershed moment for the animation industry. CG-animation was the way of the future, and what other way to prove that than the success story that was Toy Story.

Throughout the remainder of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s, hand-drawn animation was still in vogue, even as a number of flops started popping up occasionally (Quest for Camelot, The Iron Giant, Titan A.E., etc). Running concurrent to this was the rise in the number of animated studios that were either switching over to CG-animation or were doing CG-animation from the onset. Regardless, Disney was holding firm on hand-drawn animation, made confidant by their successes with films like Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Tarzan as they eventually start to command an near-automatic monopoly over these films.

But as history would have it, even Disney’s iron grasp on hand-drawn animation would begin to slowly fade away, as the early 2000’s saw more of their hand-drawn feature films come up short in the box office. Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range. As the medium of hand-drawn animation began to fall out of favor with each passing year, so did Disney’s interest in soldiering on with a medium that was starting to hand them diminishing returns. The feature animation unit of Disney-MGM Studios (now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in Orlando was shut down in March of 2004. Home of the Range was also released that same year, and as with the others, it underperformed at the box office.

Now, let’s time-jump five years to 2009. CG-animation is now the industry standard and rule of the land, and Disney had realized this fact after Home on the Range and shifted course accordingly. That said, there was a certain sector of the company that thought that hand-drawn animation still deserved a fair shot. So along came Princess and the Frog, their first 2D-animated film in some time. While not a box-office flop or even an underperformer, any hopes that the movie would be a course-correction for theatrically-released hand-drawn animated films were squandered by missteps in the marketing and an error of judgment that saw Princess and the Frog stomped on by the release of Avatar five days later.

Two years afterwards, 2011 would see Disney take a final dip in the waters of hand-drawn animation with Winnie the Pooh. Despite shining reviews and a modest, easily-achievable budget, it too was trampled on by the release of another big film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2) and likewise went utterly flaccid at the box office with $44 million.

This was (arguably) the last breath drawn by Disney’s hand-drawn division, two years before it was dismantled entirely in the summer of 2013. Jumping forth into the here and now, hand-drawn animated feature films on the big screens of US theaters are a rare occurrence. Even more rare are hand-drawn animated feature films made and produced in the US. It’s been four years since the release of the last hand-drawn animated feature film to ever come from a major studio, and the argument over the current state of hand-drawn animation is still debated with hard passion and even harder opinions.

Full article:    http://www.rotoscopers.com/2015/07/27/did-pixar-kill-hand-drawn-animation-in-the-us/

Terminator: Genisys Passes $300 Million at the Box Office

(flickeringmyth.com)                  It has been destroyed by critics (read our reviews here and here)and was called the Worst Blockbuster of All-Time by our own Anghus Houvouras – but Terminator: Genisys passed a milestone this weekend.

Terminator: Genisys added another $2.5 million to its domestic total and has now made $305 million worldwide, the majority of which has come from overseas. In the US, the movie has made just $85 million, but its worldwide take of $219 million (taken mostly in South Korea, United Kingdom and Russia) has helped push the movie past the $300 million marker.

However, the movie cost a whopping $155 million – and that doesn’t include marketing costs – so there is still some way for it to go before it becomes “profitable”. Terminator: Genisys is currently the 14th biggest movie of the year, and is being outperformed by The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Taken 3 and Mad Max: Fury Road.

The ‘Minecraft’ Movie Finds an ‘Always Sunny’ Director

(screencrush.com)        Today in “extremely unlikely actors making their unlikely directorial debuts with unlikely projects,” we have It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia co-creator and star Rob McElhenney landing the Minecraft movie. If you are familiar with every element of that sentence then you know just how weird this news is.

The news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter, who had no additional details on the project, including whether or not anything that was developed by Shawn Levy (who departed the project in December) is still in play.

McElhenney is best known for playing Mac on 12 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Minecraft is best known as the video game that all of the kids are playing, where gamers can build complex worlds from scratch and then navigate them at their own peril. McElhenney, who has only a few credits to his name, seems like an odd choice for what is surely going to be a large and expensive tentpole movie…but it makes a weird kind of sense when you stop and think about it.

If the Minecraft movie is working off the template established by The LEGO Movie (and it is surely going off that template), then putting someone with a little bit of an edge to their work in the director’s seat is the right move. Much like how Phil Lord and Chris Miller brought their off-kilter sensibilities to what should have been a lame kids’ movie, McElhenney can enhance Minecraft with his own subversive tendencies.

Minecraft has no characters and no storyline, so the movie is going to build its narrative from scratch. In other words, the guy who plays Mac is going to hand-build his own fantasy story about a world where everything is hand-built. This should be interesting, at the very least