$9 Million Added To Budget, More VFX Houses Hired To Finish 'Green Lantern' In Time For Release Date

by Kevin Jagernauth
April 26, 2011 3:47 AM
9 Comments
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It seems completely against common sense, but as studios continue to turn toward making expensive tentpoles their bread and butter, they also seem to be shrinking the production timelines for these films with one year or less now becoming the norm. "X-Men: First Class" will be coming in under the wire to make it's June release date; "Hunger Games" is still casting and it's now eleven months until it's scheduled to hit theaters and "The Avengers" just started filming this week for a release date that will arrive almost exactly a year later. And with special effects usually dominating these films, filmmakers and effect houses are feeling the crunch and some hard lessons are being learned as a result.

Variety reports that Warner Bros. has opened their wallets adding another $9 million to the budget of this summer's "Green Lantern" and have hired additional visual effects houses to help get the film finished in time. So, a troubled production or just the reality of the current framework of making movies? Seems like a little bit of both.

From the studio side, all things are running as they should be. "There is no problem on 'Green Lantern,'" Chris de Faria, Warner's exec VP of digital production, animation and visual effects told the trade. "We try to add things to make the movie better until the 11th hour. That doesn't mean we're risking the movie up to the 11th hour." That being said, other suits at Warner Bros. more or less admitted last month that early trailers and footage from the film failed to impress as it wasn't quite ready on time. But what will it take for studios to give these lucrative franchises more breathing room?

"I think the day (the system) breaks is the day everyone will revise their thinking," said Marvel exec VP of visual effects Victoria Alonso. "Until that day comes, filmmakers are going to push it to the limit. I think it's sad that we will have to watch one of us fail to learn our lesson." She adds that with release dates often announced before shooting begins, productions are always behind the curve. "So you are always chasing your tail. You work backwards from that release date, then you add production not being ready to shoot or location complications and you shave the weeks you push from post."

As for "Green Lantern" it appears that reactions at test screenings have caused some scenes to be put back into the movie -- including on pre-credit CG sequence -- in addition to 3D which it hadn't been budgeted for originally. And this is not the first time Warner Bros. has been burned by tight deadlines. As you might recall, plans to release "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1" in 3D were scrapped when the post-production conversion couldn't be completed in time (Part 2 will arrive in 3D). So what have the studios learned in all this? Nothing apparently. Until a film misses a release date or completely tanks only then will the thinking change.

Presuming all the final polish is finished in time, "Green Lantern" hits theaters on June 17th.

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9 Comments

  • Michael | April 28, 2011 6:11 AMReply

    Listen, who cares. really. Warner Bros. is just as stupid as the rest. Do they make a better movie than other studios? No. It is all about the marketing, and whether morons turn out to see it. special effects are boring.

  • zulu | April 27, 2011 12:20 PMReply

    yeah nolan IS better of, at least in terms of vfx post-production. why? simply because he uses much less cgi and vfx. batman begins had about 600 effect shots, inception even less. you can expect that green lantern will have 1500 to 2000 effect shots. so nolan has only about 1/3 of the amout effect shots to finished. huge difference.

  • Mr Anonymous | April 27, 2011 12:14 PMReply

    But take a look at The Amazing-Spiderman for example. That will have a tonne full of SFX and guess what? That wraps filming in mid-May, in just a couple of weeks!

    Guess when it's out? July 3, 2012.

    So from mid May 2011 when all filming is wrapped to July 2012 that gives it 14 months to be ready in time. 14 whole months to get EVERYTHING as perfect as possible! Now that is impressive!

    Not 12 months including the shooting/filming schedule which is absurd!

    This is how movies should me made! Marc Webb, i salute you!

  • Kevin Jagernauth | April 26, 2011 7:28 AMReply

    "The Dark Knight Rises" is being delivered in just over a year. Nolan isn't that much better off.

  • Mr Anonymous | April 26, 2011 7:27 AMReply

    I honestly don't understand these stupid movie studios.

    It should be at least a year and a half - 18 months - for a film to shoot and be ready in time for a release date.

    To give all these movies - Green Lantern, X-Men, The Avengers - simply 12 months is ridiculous! The Avengers just started shooting and that's meant to be MASSIVE in terms of production and that's expected to be ready in 1 year for release?

    Madness!

    Thank god for Christopher Nolan, even he isn't that stupid!

  • EvilNik | April 26, 2011 5:53 AMReply

    this little known movie called Avatar was moved from an initial summer slot to the xmas holiday spot, cos one mr.cameron wasnt happy with the effects and was tinkereing it till the first week of dec. and it made some money i think so. around 2 billion. i think the combined gdp of some third countries.

  • LearnToRead | April 26, 2011 4:32 AMReply

    Nothing in the Variety story indicates that the need to "fix" the effects. Rather, they simply allocated more money to put some final finishing touches on the movie. This does not indicate a problem. Rather, it demonstrates that the studio knows it has a hit on its hands, and is willing to invest more money to perfect the final product.

    All you Chicken Littles out there can calm down. The sky isn't falling.

  • Daniel | April 26, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    There are a number of forces that are pushing effects houses to the limit. Ticket and concession prices are high because they studios and theaters need to recoup the what they put in from a dwindling audience share.

    But audiences are no longer interested in shucking out 30-40 bucks a person with tix and treats, unless it's an obviously must-see-it-in-the-theater spectacular show, so the demand on effects houses is high.

    Simultaneously, the costs need to be rock bottom, so studios will go with the lowest bidder. As other countries have ramped up their effects capacity -- no longer are joints in India or Mexico just mass roto-houses, they are producing competitive looking product -- so outsourcing is a major threat to American VFX, and drives the prices yet lower.

    This causes effects houses to take any job they can just to stay in the game, and the only way to really compete is by saying that they can do it faster, so the turnaround times get shorter and shorter.

    The VFX industry really can't take that for very much longer; I expect outsourcing to become the norm -- Canada, Mexico, India and England all have outfits that can easily meet audience standards.

  • Ryan | April 26, 2011 4:17 AMReply

    It makes me mad that Variety reported this. "Studio spends extra money to get effects done for release." Doesn't that happen with a lot of movies?

    If they were to move the release to December, then I think that would be suspicious as most every film that gets moved ("The Green Hornet", "Your Highness") gets shit on by critics.

    That would be a cool list: movies whose release date got moved and were actually very good.

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