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Thompson on Hollywood

Mid-Year Oscar Watch: Top Five Visual Effects Contenders

Mid-Year Oscar Watch: Top Five Visual Effects Contenders
It's a good thing that the Academy is guaranteeing five VFX slots this year, as there's a plethora of candidates vying for them, reports Bill Desowitz in his weekly TOH column covering Hollywood below-the-line crafts, animation, and VFX . In fact, he's already got five frontrunners. After last week's monkey love for Andy Serkis and Rise of the Planet of the Apes , taking us into the dog days of summer, it's time for a mid-year VFX report card. Obviously 2011 has been dominated by a fatigue-inducing deluge of superhero movies (especially from Marvel, from X-Men: First Class to Thor and Captain America), yielding a wide field of CG performances and pyrotechnics.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 12, 2011 5:39 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Who Gets Credit for Rise of the Planet of the Apes?

Who Gets Credit for Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
Now that word-of-mouth has caught up with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is well on its way to being a huge global hit, folks will be lining up to take credit for the picture. Who deserves the credit for how well this turned out?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 8, 2011 5:41 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Good Word Propels Rise of the Planet of the Apes to $54 Million, Change-Up Soft

Weekend Box Office: Good Word Propels Rise of the Planet of the Apes to $54 Million, Change-Up Soft
Truth is, Fox did not know what a powerful box office contender it had in prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, waiting to screen the film until the last minute when the film's astonishing VFX were final. Then the good word exploded, and the movie scored a rousing $54 million opening weekend. Anthony D'Alessandro digs into the numbers. Fox executives had every reason to beat their chests this morning as Rise of the Planet of the Apes greatly exceeded expectations with $54 million. Meanwhile Universal suits saw yet another summer entry disappoint, as R-rated guy comedy The Change-Up followed last weekend's Cowboys & Aliens with a dispiriting $13.5 million opening.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • August 7, 2011 4:35 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Oscar Watch: How Weta Gives Rise to the Planet of the Apes; Andy Serkis as Lon Chaney

One of the debates on Twitter Friday morning was which movie will be the one to the beat for this year's VFX Oscar? Michael Bay's 3-D Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which set out to challenge James Cameron's 3-D Avatar, or Terrence Malick's spacey The Tree of Life? Now a new summer movie has entered the Oscar fray: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Bill Desowitz reports:Hail Caesar!
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 5, 2011 5:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments

ILM Talks Cowboys & Aliens Visual Effects

Jon Favreau has long been a practical effects-oriented director, but with Cowboys & Aliens, he had to embrace the digital side, with the help of George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic. Bill Desowitz talks to the famed VFX house about how they created those pesky aliens. There's nothing more daunting, it seems, than designing a great alien, especially in this ubiquitous post- 9/11 climate for invader movies. You can apply all the latest photoreal tech advancements you like, but if your creature isn't cool and captivating, forget it.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 3, 2011 8:24 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Spielberg and Jackson Tout More Tintin at Weta

A select group of film writers flew to New Zealand last week for an early look at the filmmaking process behind Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's The Adventures of Tintin. Our own Bill Desowitz was one of them. Building on their Comic-Con momentum, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson previewed more exclusive Tintin footage for select online journos last week at Jackson's Weta studio in New Zealand. And after viewing the thrilling and slapstick seaplane chase (culminating with the drunken Captain Haddock crawling out the plane in a storm and burping fumes into the empty engine), there's certainly less concern about the quality of the performance-captured animation and the movie's domestic commercial appeal.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 1, 2011 5:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Trailer Watch: George Lucas's World War II Aerial Ballet Red Tails Debuts January 20

We've been waiting a while for producer George Lucas's take on the World War II Tuskegee airmen, now set for release by Twentieth Century Fox on January 20, 2012. Anthony Hemingway (Treme, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica) directs a script by John Ridley (Three Kings) and a sprawling ensemble led by Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Andre Royo (The Wire). Produced by Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson, the film boasts a score by frequent Spike Lee composer Terence Blanchard.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 30, 2011 8:29 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Winding Down Harry Potter's Visual Effects

Winding Down Harry Potter's Visual Effects
One of the mysteries of the Harry Potter series is how much Hollywood--and the Academy--have underappreciated the high-level craftsmanship on display throughout. Immersed in Movies' Bill Desowitz looks at the impact the end of the series will have on its visual effects artists.There's more at stake than the most successful film franchise in history coming to a halt with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. There's also a cottage visual effects industry in London that now has to get weaned off the wizard of Hogwarts.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • July 18, 2011 2:07 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Oh The (Female) Horror! Viscera Film Festival Launches in LA

Oh The (Female) Horror! Viscera Film Festival Launches in LA
The Viscera Film Festival, featuring horror shorts made by femme directors, launches this weekend in Los Angeles. Running the gamut from hard-to-watch gross-out gore to slowly suspenseful, this festival proves that “women can be just as twisted, emotionally grinding, terror-inducing and splatter spewing as men," states the Viscera Fest.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • July 13, 2011 7:47 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Holiday Weekend Box Office Gets Off to Record-Setting Start with 3-D Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Holiday Weekend Box Office Gets Off to Record-Setting Start with 3-D Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The buzz has grown to a crescendo on Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Whatever you do, see the movie in IMAX 3-D, because Bay and ILM VFX supervisor Scott Farrar have taken on the challenge of outdoing the 3-D standard set by James Cameron's Avatar and by Jove they've done it. (I saw it at IMAX's own screening room; here's perfectionist Bay's letter to theater projectionists.)
  • By Anne Thompson and Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • June 30, 2011 6:19 AM
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  • 3 Comments

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