'Spider-Man' Reboot Shoots RED Epic

RED_epic-2In a post at Reduser.net, John Schwartzman (ARMAGEDON ), Director of Photography on Columbia Pictures still-untitled Spider-Man film, revealed the film began shooting on Monday, December 6th, using RED Epics; new digital cameras configured to capture the images in High Definition 3-D.

Today was Epic, Monday December 6 marks the first day the Red Epic camera was used to shoot a major studio motion picture. I can say for certainty the camera does exist, and boy is it ready for primetime, as a matter of fact it’s a true game changer. We shot in 3D with 4 Epics mounted on 2 3ality TS-5 rigs today, we did 22 set ups, including running high speed and the images look stunning! …For the first time in digital cinematography, small size doesn’t come with a resolution penalty, as a matter of fact there isn’t a higher resolution camera available other than IMAX, and this one weighs 5lbs with an ultra prime on it, suddenly 3D isn’t a 100 lb beast! We had the cameras on dollies and a libra head today and we flew the 3D rig like it was an Arri 435. You guys told me you could do it in September and here we are today, Congratulations.
I am lighting by eye except that I’ve had to re-train myself to work at lower light levels because the camera is so sensitive. The images we made today were stunning, rich beautiful color and the resolution of a vistavision camera all in a package the size of a Hasselblad 501.
…. I can tell you without these cameras it would be impossible to move a 3D rig in the ways that THIS story demands, if Jim (ED. Note: Jim Jannard, head of RED Cameras) and the crew hadn’t made these cameras available to us I don’t think we could have shot this movie the way our director envisioned it in 3D. Guys, you’ve trusted me to take these out on their maiden voyage and I can tell you that after today I won’t let you down.”

Looks as though Marc Webb’s Spider-Man production will be the first feature to use the cameras, which only debuted in April of this year, and faced some technical and manufacturing hurdles.
Peter Jackson, an early proponent of RED’s other HD cameras, has ordered 30 RED Epics to shoot a real epic; his 3-D, two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s THE HOBBIT.
Via SuperheroHype

'Hobbit' To Stay in NZ – By Gov. Action


Rankin-Bass Cartoon version
Rankin-Bass Cartoon version

Not only will Peter Jackson two film adaption of THE HOBBIT stay in New Zealand, the trouble over the production has lead to the government passing a new law to ensure that the situation does not arrise again.

 According to Variety,  the month-long fight and boycott by several actors’ unions against the film has led New Zealand’s parliament to pass what the press is calling the “Hobbit Law”.  This ammendment to an existing Employment Relations Bill makes it law that “actors and other film production personnel hired as independent contractors can not subsequently claim to be employees.”  This would prevent them to claiming additional rights and entitlements granted to regular employees.
The unions had called for an actors’ boycott of THE HOBBIT, beginning September 24th, against the already troubled production in order to pressure them into making a deal with NZ Equity that would have substantially changed arrangements. This lead to Jackson and Warner Brothers making serious plans to move the $500 Million project to another country.
Realizing the studio was in earnest, the boycott was lifted last week, amid counter protests by other film trade workers, but it seemed the damage had been done. It apparently took the intervention and assurances by New Zealand’s Prime Minster to convince Warner Brothers (now financing the project begun by New Line and the bankrupt MGM) to keep the production in the country.

'Hobbit' Casting – Mix of Familiar and New Faces

Freeman_hitchhikerHere’s a look at the announced cast for Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT.
According to Time.Com, Martin Freeman (THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE) will play the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.
The site quotes Peter Jackson as saying of Freeman:  “He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo,  and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”
Richard Armitage, who played Guy of Gisbourne in the BBC’s ROBIN HOOD, will portray Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves.
Rounding out the fellowship, Aidan Turner (BEING HUMAN) will play Kili, Rob Kazinsky (EASTENDERS) Fili, Graham McTavish is set as Dwalin.
John Callen has the part of Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, Mark Hadlow (MEET THE FEEBLES) cast in the role of Dori, and Peter Hambleton as Gloin.
sylvester_mccoyUPDATE: Sylvester McCoy (DOCTOR WHO) is due to sign as Radagast the Brown Wizard (via Bleeding Cool).
It’s assumed that Sir Ian McKellen is still signed to reprise his role of Gandalf the Grey from THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the new, two film J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation.
Negotiations between Warner Brothers (now financing  THE HOBBIT) were to take place in New Zealand this week, to determine if the project will stay in the country or depart for another location after trouble with the actors union, NZ Equity regarding extras and related issues.

Hobbit to Leave NZ or Not?

Rankin-Bass Cartoon version
Rankin-Bass Cartoon version

Will THE HOBBIT leave New Zealand for greener pastures in Europe? Tensions continue to grow, although the government believes there’s still hope.
According to New Zealand site Stuff.co.nz, director Peter Jackson told the Dominion Post that he had nothing to do with organizing a protest by aproximately 1500 NZ  film technicians against NZ Equity’s blockage of THE HOBBIT being filmed with some extras and performers not necessarily a part of the union or their new parent, the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
Council of Trade Unions’ President Helen Kelly is said to have made statements that apparently implied that the march was cooked up by Jackson and Warner Brothers.

Peter Jackson said:
”I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I really got very angry. I watched the march on TV. I wasn’t there, and unlike what Helen Kelly’s been saying, I didn’t have anything to do with organising it.
Suddenly I see Helen Kelly and she starts slagging off the production… I’m thinking ‘this is a legitimate march by 1000 people who are basically wondering how they are going to live for the next two years.’

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key thinks the two HOBBIT movies can be saved, and hopes to convince  Warner Brothers executives due to arrive next week.

“My concern is that if Warner Brothers deems New Zealand is not a good place to make movies, then there is a real risk other major film production companies will also believe that to be the case.
…This is a very successful growth area for New Zealand and to have the film industry destroyed on the back of the actions of the unions is, I think, reprehensible.”

The PM said he believed Warner Brothers’ main concern was industrial uncertainty, and not New Zealand’s 15% tax incentive.
England, Ireland, and Eastern European countries are reportedly very interested in attracting the $500 million productions.

Ray Harryhausen Receives Accolades from BAFTA on his 90th Birthday!

Ray Harryhausen with the Medusa model from the 1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS
Ray Harryhausen with the Medusa model from the 1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS

Watch the Video of the BFI and BAFTA special achievement award presented to RAY HARRYHAUSEN on the occasion of the master animator’s 90th birthday:
This fabulous 42 minute minute video includes comments from:

  • James Cameron
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Guillermo Del Toro
  • Nick Park
  • Frank Darabont
  • John Landis (Host)

With guest speakers:

  • Sir Christopher Frayling
  • The Tortoise and the Hare Animators
  • Randy Cook
  • Colin Arthur (mask-maker)
  • Gary Raymond and John Cairney
  • Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren & Ken Ralston
  • Tony Dalton & Vanessa Harryhausen
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Peter Jackson

(Jackson shows his rare amateur film inspired by Harryhausen and presents a special BAFTA Award to Ray.)

LAWRENCE FRENCH: In your earlier films, although you didn’t have star names, you always had excellent British character actors, such as Douglas Wilmer, Laurence Naismith and Patrick Troughton. In fact, all those actors appeared in Sir Laurence Olivier’s film version of Richard III. Did you see Richard III when in came out in 1955?
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Oh yes, although that was many years ago. And as you say, we always had very talented actors, even if they were not what today you would call stars. But they were all very competent actors: Douglas Wilmer was brilliant as King Pelias in Jason and later we used him in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad as the Grand Vizier. Laurence Naismith was also in Jason, and we used him again in The Valley of Gwangi.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: What led you to stop making movies after Clash of the Titans?
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: I had enough of spending my time in a dark room after everybody else went home. I spent most of my life in a dark room, painted black, which can be depressing if you are aware of it, although I was never aware of it. I also felt that tastes had changed. After Clash of the Titans, we were going to do a follow-up and I helped Charles develop a script with Beverly Cross called Force of the Trojans, although a lot of the effects work would have been farmed out to someone else. But even though Clash had made a lot of money for MGM, they didn’t want to back it. They felt costume pictures weren’t suitable and the pictures the studios wanted you to make all had to have explosions in them every five minutes. So I’m grateful that I got in on the tail end of the great days of Hollywood.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: So once MGM passed on making Force of the Trojans, you finally decided to retire?
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Yes, pretty much. I was able to spend most of my time doing the things I had always wanted to do for a long time. I began making bronze figures of some of the characters used in my films, and doing many other things, including getting re-acquainted with my family. Unfortunately, when you devote too much time to a film, you have very little time to see your family.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Now that all your fairy tales and early films are out on DVD, are there any animation scenes that got cut which might be included on future DVD releases—such as the Ghoul fight from Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger?
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: There’s not a great deal and once I finish a picture it’s out of my hands. I don’t recall the Ghoul sequence having been cut that much. It couldn’t have been that important, because I’ve looked at the picture on DVD and it didn’t bother me. I did have a sequence we cut from Jason and the Argonauts during the skeleton fight. After Jason cuts off one of the skeletons heads, the skeleton got down on his hands and knees to look for his head, but it slowed the whole pace of the scene down, so we decided to cut it out. Unfortunately, I never kept that footage. I should have saved it, but once you finish a film, you are so glad to be done, you don’t think about those kinds of things.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: What are you thoughts about the current state of the movie business compared to Hollywood in the forties when you were first starting out?
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Well, today everyone is saturated with all sorts of entertainments, where in the good old days you looked forward to going to the movies on Saturday night and it was a big event in your life. The people who made pictures in the forties, the big studios and producers had great imagination. When you look back at some of those pictures, you see that they knew how to make the average person see things bigger than life for two hours. It was a relief or an escape that we all loved. But today, you are bombarded with so many different things: DVD’s, Television, the Internet, and everything else, so I think people become rather jaded. That means you have to go over the top, in the sense of showing more, to make it bloodier and more ghastly in order to top all previous productions. Where that will eventually lead, I have no idea. At the rate some of today’s horror films are going, only people who work in the slaughterhouse would care to see them. I think also, that today, the fantastic image is so overdone it no longer amazes you and they tend to do overly violent things. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes—you have to disguise the fact that there’s nothing really there in the story with smoke, loud noises, 8-frame cuts and zoom-in and zoom-outs—all the techniques that cover up the fact that there’s no story. In some of today’s movies, you don’t even know what you’re watching. I saw The Matrix and I didn’t know what the picture was all about. When I see a picture I want to know what I’m looking at. When characters are introduced I want to know who they are and what relation they have to the hero. But today there are no more heroes. There are only anti-heroes. So it’s a different world. Everything is so negative I don’t even feel like I’m part of the film business anymore.

Peter Jackson will direct Hobbit films

Mike Fleming of Deadline New York reports that, despite initial denials, Peter Jackson will in fact direct the two films based on THE HOBBIT, J.R.R. Tolkien’s predecessor to THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Every since Guillermo Del Toro left the director’s chair, speculation among the fan community – and Hollywood in general – has been rife with rumored replacements, including Sam Raimi, David Yates, and Neil Blomkamp (whose DISTRICT 9 Jackson produced).
Jackson was not initially scheduled to direct. He was perhaps burnt out after the years spent working on the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy; there was also bad blood between him and New Line exec Robert Shaye, over accounting of the profits of those blockbuster hits. Del Toro was brought on but recently bowed out when the financial problems of MGM seemed likely to delay the start date. Fans hoped that Jackson would take over, but that initially did not seem a likely possibility.
In his article, Fleming points out that, although several directors angled for the job, no offers were made. Fleming theorizes this indicates that Jackson was hoping to take the gig all along but first had to extricate himself from other commitments. Fleming’s article quotes no one directly, citing only “trusted sources.”
Needless to say, the fan community is ecstatic. I’m not so sure. Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy started off strong with LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, but it wore down over the course of LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS and LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING. I lost count of the number of times our heroes battled impossible odds against certain death, only to emerge victorious, and the decision to film two HOBBIT prequels sounds less like an artistic decision than an accounting one, designed to milk every last penny from the franchise. There is a good movie to be made from Tolkien’s book, and Jackson may even be the one to do it; I just hope he’s had enough time away from Middle Earth to recharge his batteries.

CYBERSURFING: WANTED – 1 Director For “The Hobbit”, Will Pay Handsomely

guillermo del toroThe blogosphere, twitter feeds and various interwebs exploded this week with the news that Guillermo Del Toro, who was set to direct THE HOBBIT (the prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS films), would be stepping down due to scheduling conflicts brought on by studio delays. Yet the madness didn’t stop there. As fans of any major franchise tend to do, speculation began to run rampant as to who would take his place. Lists and charts popped up here and there, ranking various directors by number, popularity, sexiness (ok, that one was made up…probably…).
However, while lists can be a fun distraction for film fans, for others they tend to be a deceptive beast. They are made to start conversation and compare ideas but end up creating a “false hope” in some fans and, in the end, whatever director is chosen will ultimately fall short of the expectations of those die-hard few who were 100% sure that would get the job. It is fun to speculate and wish, just as long its understood that these lists are exactly that…wish lists.
Here are a few pointers on surviving the speculation madness:
• While Del Toro is an excellent director and a great choice, it is not a written rule that to direct a good movie about hobbits, one needs to look like them.
“Peter Jackson is the PERFECT choice to direct this movie!” – Well, ok…duh. However, the man has said many times he doesn’t want to. Anyone who spends a decade making what truly amounts to a 9-hour smash hit deserves a LONG vacation. If he decides to, he will. Until then, keep your pants on…someone good will be found.
• Most lists feature big-name directors in the top spots, those who have a track record of making epic movies. Fans tend to think that only the current best in the business directors should be able to get their hands on THE HOBBIT. Should I remind people that, prior to the release of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Peter Jackson was relegated to cult-status. Sure, he had paid his dues and had an ever-increasing list of successes, but the number of naysayers prior to the 1st film’s release was too many to count. The director may well be an unknown, but this is no reason to fret – Neil Blomkamp was a virtual unknown until the Jackson-produced DISTICT 9 hit theaters.
• Finally, to take a line from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE: Don’t Panic. Though the delay in production is disappointing, this movie WILL be made. You don’t shelve a film with a built-in fan base somewhere in the hundreds of millions.
Links to various lists can be found below. Read them and enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if most of those wishes don’t come true!
Cinemablend: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Who-Will-Direct-The-Hobbit-Our-Readers-Advise-Peter-Jackson-18796.html
Cinematical: http://www.cinematical.com/2010/05/31/who-should-direct-the-hobbit
Television Without Pity: http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/mwop/moviefile/2010/06/non-geek-directors-who-should.php
Io9: http://io9.com/5552022/who-should-direct-the-hobbit

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The Hobbit Scripts Finished

Director Peter Jackson
Director Peter Jackson

Moviefone have been talking with Peter Jackson (THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE LOVELY BONES), who is producing the two HOBBIT movies, and he’s cleared up a lot of the rumours surrounding the delay in production. Jackson says that scripts for both parts of THE HOBBIT have now been handed to the studio and that he believes shooting will start at the end of the year.

Jackson states that,

“We’ve just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays — the first draft. So the studio’s got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we’d just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished…And we’re now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we’ll get to a budget the studio are happy with, and they’ll greenlight the movies and we’ll announce the shooting dates. I’d be pretty optimistic that we’ll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we’d be shooting by”.

He goes on to add,

“Well, it’s not really been delayed, because we’ve never announced the date,” Jackson told the site. “I mean it’s sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never greenlit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a ‘go’ project, nor have we ever announced a date…But I would imagine that if we get a green light within the next month or two, we would be hopefully making some casting announcements by, I guess, the middle of the year”.

So it seems, unsurprisingly given the LOTR films’ popularity,  that the fans and media have jumped the gun somewhat on this one. However everything Jackson says here is extremely encouraging and it’s good to hear news straight from the horses mouth for once. Here’s hoping that MGM’s financial troubles won’t get in the way of THE HOBBIT’s green light and Jackson’s projected shooting date will go ahead as planned.

The Lovely Bones: Peter Jackson comments & Critical Reaction

Cinematical’s Todd Gilchrist interviews Peter Jackson about adapting THE LOVELY BONES to the big screen. Jackson relates that the thinks Alice Sebold’s novel tells the story in its purest form, and no film adaptation will ever compete with that, so the film had to be something different:

The Lovely Bones is a wonderful puzzle, it’s a terrific book that affects you emotionally, but the book doesn’t have a structure that immediately makes a film obvious in your mind. The book affects you on an emotional level, not a story level as such, and you delve into it and as a filmmaker you figure out a way in which you can tell the story on film as I said at the very beginning, not necessarily the perfect way, and not the way that other people would do it. You take 20 different filmmakers and give them a book like this – any book, really, but especially Lovely Bones – and you’ll have 20 completely different films, which is interesting. So the idea of certainly doing something that was a challenging new topic was absolutely of great interest to us.

Early reviews indicate that many critics feel Jackson and his collaborators on the screenplay were unsuccessful in capturing the heart and soul of the book, offering empty special effects spectacle instead. Over at the New Zealand Herald, Alistair Gray offers up a sampling of reactions, including this from Associated Press reviewer David Germain:

“The spectacle Jackson creates is showmanship, not storytelling, distracting from the mortal drama of regret and heartache he’s trying to tell.”