Tuesday, June 17, 2008

News - 06/17/08...

Stan Winston: 1946 - 2008

Visual effects master earned four Academy Awards

Stan Winston, one of the industry's most noted special effects and makeup artists and the father of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, of The Terminator, of Pumpkinhead and Predator and the monsters in Monster Squad and, of course, Aliens, has passed on, on Sunday. He was 62.

Winston died peacefully and surrounded by family at his home Sunday evening, after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, a Stan Winston Studio spokesperson said.

Winston was a collaborator with such leading filmmakers as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, and he worked on some of his generation's most memorable films.

He won four Oscars, for the VFX in "Titanic," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Aliens"; and for the makeup on "T2." His earned additional Oscar nominations for his work on "AI: Artificial Intelligence," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Batman Returns," "Edward Scissorhands," "Predator" and "Heartbeeps."

The man is a legend and created legends. He himself a God in his own right, sculpting Icons that will be remembered as long as people with imagination deem it prudent to tell stories to an audience.

He was a leader in practical effects work, having given opportunity to all top effects leaders today. Winston idolized the people that came before him in the field, like Ray Harryhausen, and sought to make his own iconography, inspiring yet more to follow in his lead.

The picture below is of Ray Harryhausen getting his star on the Hollywood walk of fame, something that Winston was instrumental in making happen. Also pictured is another effects legend, Rick Baker, and director Frank Darabont.

And he wasn't done yet. His practical work on Iron Man is a huge part of what made the film a success and he was working on the new Terminator movie.

"The entertainment industry has lost a genius, and I lost one of my best friends," said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom Winston helped make an iconic killing machine of in The Terminator and its two sequels.

His handiwork can be seen in the current summer hits Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, You Don't Mess With the Zohan and Iron Man, for which Winston's namesake studio built the hero's high-tech armored suits.

Stan Winston Studio is also set to work on the upcoming Terminator 4, the big-screen, live-action G.I. Joe and James Cameron's Avatar.

Although Winston tended to work on films that were heavy on special effects, he maintained his life's work was about building characters, not gadgets.

"I don't do special effects. I create characters, and I use the tools of special effects necessary to do it," Winston told the BBC in 2003.

Winston's career began in 1969 when, according to his company's website, the aspiring actor took a would-be day job as an apprentice to a Disney makeup artist. Just a few years later, he scored his first major award—an Emmy for his makeup work on the 1972 TV movie Gargoyles.

Throughout the 1970s, Winston created makeup looks for everything from low-budget horror films to a Diana Ross TV special. In the 1981, he earned his first Oscar nomination for using makeup to make a robot of Andy Kaufman in the 1981 comedy, Heartbeeps.

In 1984, he began a storied association with Cameron and the T-series cyborgs of The Terminator movies.
Moving beyond makeup, Winston was responsible for creating the futuristic effects for the relatively low-budget sci-fi thriller. While he didn't rate an Oscar nomination for the film, he established himself as a special-effects specialist. He and Cameron would later go on to help found Digital Domain, the special-effects house.

After Terminator, Winston seemingly had a creative hand in every popcorn movie to pop out of Hollywood, including: Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park movies, for which he created the large-as-life dinosaurs; Cameron's Aliens; Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: A.I.; Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands; Predator; Interview With a Vampire, even Tank Girl.

In 2003, Winston told the Los Angeles Times that he'd become so associated with creating creatures that the calendar date Oct. 31 drove him underground.

"There’s no way I could do anything on Halloween that would live up to what anyone would expect of me. If I were going to a costume party, what would I do? It would just be disappointing," Winston said with apparent humor. "Halloween has become the tragic day of the year for Stan."

We can only hope that his memory is done justice by Stan Winston Studios and they keep creating icons for generations to come.

Winston is survived by his wife, Karen; a son, daughter, brother and four grandchildren.

My thoughts are with Mr. Winston’s friends, family and fans.

Directors Lament Over the Passing of Stan Winston

Directors James Cameron, Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman, Frank Darabont and Joe Dante share their thoughts with aintitcool.com about Stan Winston

James Cameron:


Thanks for doing what you're doing. You're right, the mainstream media won't get it. They don't understand the important stuff. They're too busy chasing young idiot celebrities around the rehab circuit.

Stan was a great man. I'm proud to have been his friend, and his collaborator on what for both of us, was some of our best work. We met in pre-production on
Terminator in 1983, and quickly sized each other up as the kind of crazy son of a bitch that you wanted for a friend. We've stayed friends for over a quarter of a century, and would have been for much longer if he had not been cut down.

We've lost a great artist, a man who made a contribution to the cinema of the fantastic that will resound for a long long time. I don't need to list the indelible characters he and his team of artists brought to the screen. Readers of your site know them.

We all know Stan's work, the genius of his designs. But not even the fans necessarily know how great he was as a man. I mean a real man --- a man who knows that even though your artistic passion can rule your life, you still make time for your family and your friends. He was a good father, and he raised two great kids. His wife of 37 years, Karen, was with him in the beginning, helping him make plaster molds in their garage for low budget gigs on TV movies, and she was with him at the end.

He was a man of incredible humor. When I think of him I see him smiling, usually a goofy grin as he twists his glasses askew on his nose doing a Jerry Lewis impression. Never afraid to play the clown, because he knew his colleagues respected him. He lived life full throttle, in work and play. Like me he loved fast cars, and whenever one of us would get a new toy, the other had to drive it (a practice which was strained for few years after I skidded his brand new Porsche turbo, just off the boat from Stuttgart, into his garage and stopped a half inch from the back wall). We even went to formula racing school together. For the last ten years or so we rode motorcycles on Sundays with Arnold Schwarzenegger and some other friends, not every week but as many Sundays as we could. There was a comradeship that comes from starting out together, and never betraying the respect and trust of that friendship over the years, but always being there for each other, that the three of us have shared.

Stan and I founded
Digital Domain together, and our friendship was never strained by being business partners. He always demonstrated incredible wisdom in business, because he knew people, and especially creative people. He inspired artists to pull together and work as a team, which is like herding cats, but it was perhaps his greatest talent. To lead by inspiration. His own team at Stan Winston Studios is the most stable in the business. His core guys have been with him literally since Terminator, 25 years. That's because they respected him so much, and because he made the work fun, even though it was hard. They would stay up all night busting their ass for him. They knew they would always be doing something cutting edge and challenging, and that he respected them enough to let them run with it. Though he could draw and sculpt as well as any of them, he never let his own talent eclipse theirs, because he knew that team building was the most important aspect of leadership. And that's what allowed them to create success after success for over two decades, and win 4 Oscars, among over 30 awards. A walk through Stan's studio gallery is a trip through the last two decades of fantasy cinema. Predators, Terminators, raptors, T-rexes, Edward Scissorhands himself and a hundred more. It hits you how great an impact he's had.

I spoke with Stan by phone Saturday morning, and apparently it was one of the last conversations he had. Incredibly, in retrospect, he was full of life, you'd never have known he was at death's door. We talked for a long time about all the fun times, and all the dragons we'd slain together. He said that once you've shown something is possible, everybody can do it. What was important was being first. Breaking new ground.

Well that's just what he did his whole career, and today's creature and character effects business uses the techniques he developed every single day. He inspired a generation of fantasy effects geeks, and his legacy will be found in their dreams up on the screens of the future, not just in the films he worked on directly.

I'm going to miss him, like I'd miss a brother. It's hard, almost unfathomable, to talk about him in the past tense. He was just one of those larger than life people that was so alive that you can't imagine them gone. But he is gone. I ask the fans to remember not just the work but the man.

Thanks for listening.

Jim out

Jon Favreau:

He was a giant. I was blessed to have known him. I worked with him on both Zathura and Iron Man. He was experienced and helped guide me while never losing his childlike enthusiasm. He was the king of integrating practical effects with CGI, never losing his relevance in an ever changing industry. I am proud to have worked with him and we were looking forward to future collaborations. I knew that he was struggling, but I had no idea that he would be gone so soon. Hollywood has lost a shining star.

Jonathan Liebesman, director of Darkness Falls:

I guess I would just say that on my first film when I was a 25 year old first time director, Stan Winston would call me "boss". That nod of support fuelled me through any tough times on the movie. Whenever I'd go to his shop to visit the guys working on my film, Stan would always walk up to me and shake my hand to greet me with a "you like what you see, boss?". His attitude was so empowering to me. I was amazed that even if you weren't Cameron or Spielberg, a legend like Stan would treat you with the same respect he'd give those guys. They say to be careful when you meet someone you idolize because your idol always disappoint you. Not this time. Stan supported me and I will always be grateful to him and wish I could've worked with him one last time.


Frank Darabont:

I'm still reeling from the news. Losing Stan is a real blow for me, as I'm sure it is for a lot of people who loved his work. He was clearly a genius in his field. He and I talked about working together for years, but we never found the project to make it happen.

Stan was one of those people it was impossible not to like. I met him around the time of Eraser. Back then Schwarzenegger was always throwing these dinners at his restaurant in Santa Monica—lots of food, wine, and cigars. And because Stan and I were fans of each other’s work, we’d often wind up sitting together. We’d trade stories, talk movies, and laugh our asses off. Stan was a fantastic dinner companion, a real raconteur, and one of the most affable guys you'd ever meet. He was brimming with enthusiasm that was genuine. As revered an industry figure as he was, he was still basically the kid who loved movies and broke into the business for the magic of it, and he never let go of that attitude. Though the business itself can grind you down, it never jaded him or diminished his joy for the creative side of what we do. He simply loved movies too much to allow that. That impressed me enormously about him.

One of the blessings of being in movies is when you meet icons whose work you deeply admire and they turn out to be fantastic people. They’re the ones you’re honored to encounter along the way, the people who are kind and gracious and inspiring in addition to being superbly talented. They exhibit genuine humanity and touch your heart in various ways, and you foolishly figure they’ll always be around to get to know better as the years go on. But then they are taken far too soon, and you’re left with the deep and lasting regret of not having gotten to know them nearly as well as you’d wanted or expected to. I’ve met and lost a number of extraordinary people who fall into this category, among them Roddy McDowell, John Frankenheimer, Sidney Pollack, Dave Stevens, and John Alvin. Stan Winston now sadly joins my list.

The best way to sum up Stan is to share my best memory of him. I’ll never forget how excited and honored we both felt the day we participated in presenting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to our mutual childhood hero, Ray Harryhausen. Stan and I spent the afternoon on a “pinch-me-because-I-must-be-dreaming” high. We kept pulling each other aside and muttering things like: “Wow, can you believe we’re here? Can you believe we get to do this? Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?” In short, we spent the day geeking out like a couple of giddy kids. Whenever I think of Stan, I’ll think of his joy and his childlike enthusiasm that day.

Joe Dante:

Although Stan was prematurely gray, he always exuded so much youthful enthusiasm that he never seemed much older than 20, making today's sad news all the harder to accept.

Like many of us who began as monster kids, he was eternally excited to be part of the movie business, even after becoming one of the major names in his field.

I met Stan at Amblin when he was doing
Goonies, where he was providing a giant octopus that eventually got cut from the movie, and I admired his direction of Pumpkinhead, but we didn't really get the chance to work together until Small Soldiers, for which his studio provided most of the designs for the various living toys. The level of detail that went into the creation of these figures and their on-set animation was prodigious, and subject to lots of trial and error. How much was to be accomplished on-set and how much would be ceded to ILM's CGI artists was in constant flux. In the end the scale tilted more toward ILM than any of us had expected, but Stan and his guys were totally on board with whatever was best for the picture.

But that was Stan's ethos.

Whatever worked and made everybody look good.

One less artist and a major loss for all of us.

Rest in peace, Stan, with the knowledge you made a difference in the world you loved best.

Joe Dante

Robert Downey Jr. in Talks for Cowboys & Aliens

Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations to star in DreamWorks/Universal's Cowboys & Aliens, a pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres that could serve as a potential 2010 tentpole, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing. Platinum Studios chairman and CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg also will produce, along with DreamWorks mainstays Steven Spielberg, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Ervin Rustemagic and Rich Marincic will co-produce.

Cowboys & Aliens derives from a graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley from an original idea by Rosenberg. The story centers on an Old West battle between the Apache and Western settlers, including a former Union Army gunslinger named Zeke Jackson (Downey), that is interrupted by a spaceship crashing into the prairie near Silver City, Ariz.

The story draws a parallel between the American imperialist drive to conquer the "savage" Indians with its advanced technology and the aliens' assault on Earthlings, who must join together to survive the invaders' attack.

The latest draft of the script was done by Iron Man and Children of Men writers Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus.

Wall-E set to clean up at the El Capitan

From June 27 to August 27 the Disney/Pixar sure-to-be-hit Wall-E will be screening at Disney’s own El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. An all new live stage show “Flights of Fantasy” featuring Disney characters past and present (most who have the ability to fly in one way or another) will precede each screening of the film. The opening day, June 27th, will also have a midnight showing with live DJ and giveaways.

The Dark Knight: The Set Visit!

ComingSoon.net and Superhero Hype!'s Scott Chitwood takes a retrospective look at his visit to the set of The Dark Knight.

On June 29th, 2007, I got the chance to visit the set of The Dark Knight (TDK) in Chicago for ComingSoon.net and Superhero Hype!. Being a lifelong Batman fan, this was an absolute dream come true for me. After taking the morning to walk around Chicago's beautiful downtown skyscrapers, I met up with the rest of the visiting press and headed by bus to the set. The production was shooting at Chicago's old Post Office. TDK actually took over the entire old building and was shooting many scenes in and around the location. They began filming on April 13, 2007 and would continue shooting through November. The production then moved to London and Hong Kong.

As we arrived at the Post Office, it didn't take long to realize we were on the set of the Batman film. As soon as we drove in the gate, I saw a large sign on the building that read "Gotham Police Department" (View Set Pics).

Security was tight on the set and as soon as we got off the bus we were issued badges. The letters "RFK" were on them which stood for "Rory's First Kiss," the cover name for the production. (Not much of a cover considering all the "Gotham" signs all over the place!) Our group was then led through the old Post Office building. We immediately encountered extras dressed as SWAT team members. I joked, "Boy, they really are strict about security!" As we made our way through the maze-like building, we saw signs that read "To Set – Vault". This would make more sense as we arrived at a tent at the back of the building.

As we entered the press tent, several things were immediately apparent. Around the walls were large images of the Batpod, Heath Ledger as the Joker, some new Bat costume production art, and the TDK bat logo. Also in the room was the new Batman suit hanging in a corner. And oddly enough, it took a while to notice one of the most significant items in the room – the new Joker costume. We were able to inspect all of these in great detail.

I first went up to the Batman costume. As you've no doubt seen in the photos, it's a bit different than the previous Batman costume. There's a mesh undersuit with many, many armor pieces glued to it. I looked very closely at the pieces glued to the suit and discovered that some were solid black and some were a bit translucent. You could see the mesh through it. Also notable was the neck. Rather than being big and bulky like the "Begins" costume, it was very thin and made of several pieces. As the costumer would later tell us, they actually had to scale down the Bat mask so it wouldn't look so huge on the smaller neck. Also noteworthy was the bat logo being significantly smaller and split in two pieces. When I asked the costumer about it later, he said there was actually some debate for a time whether to even have the logo or not. Fortunately, they kept it. I also noticed that the Batman cape was significantly darker than the rest of the costume. When I touched it (I couldn't resist), it actually felt like velvet. I then decided to touch Batman's prongs on his gauntlet. They were flexible foam pieces, but they were very tough. We all wondered how Batman got his mask on and off. Later in the day when they dismantled the costume in front of us, I saw them take his cowl off first. The line is basically along his jaw, under his chin, and back around the back of his head. The mesh goes up to the top of his neck, then there's a hood that goes over the top of his head. He's essentially wearing a hoodie under the cowl. (The costume was actually mounted on a casting of Bale's body.) I also got to see what was under the cape. It was laced up in the back and there was no bat butt. (I knew you were wondering.) All in all, the costume looked great, and very functional, in person.

I then moved to the Joker costume. At the time we visited the set, very little had been revealed about the Joker. So I was a bit stunned to see how much the TDK Joker costume looked like a traditional Joker costume. It had a dark purple trench coat and purple pants with stripes. Inside were a dark blue coat and a dark green vest. Underneath that was a blue tie and a blue shirt with hexagons all over it. On the pants was a silver chain, but no pocket watch (possibly part of a weapon?). Also included were dark purple gloves and black shoes. It wasn't over the top, but it was definitively "Joker," too.

In the middle of the room was a video monitor where we got to watch filming that was going on in the main building. Throughout the day and during the interviews we got to see take after take of a scene involving Jim Gordon and Batman. The scene would be shot from one side, then another, then in close up, etc. etc etc. We saw bits and pieces filmed out of order, but I'll piece together the entire scene for you from what we saw. (The dialogue varied slightly in every take and some dialogue couldn't be heard over the TV, so it could be different in the film.)

The scene begins inside a vault at the Gotham National Bank. Obviously, the Joker and his gang have just struck. Detectives are taking photos of a dead Joker goon outside an open vault door. You can see a clown mask lying on the ground next to him. Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Gordon walks in the vault along with Monique Curnen who plays Detective Ramirez. Gordon holds an envelope and a security photo of the Joker. Gordon says, "What's he hiding underneath that makeup?" Suddenly, Batman walks into the vault. Detective Ramirez turns around, surprised. She looks at Gordon then says to the other cops, "Can we get a minute people, please?" She then leaves along with the other cops. Gordon says something and Batman replies, "Him again? Where are the others?"

Gordon: "Just another bunch of small timers."

Batman walks up to a cart with some cash on it. He pulls a small device from his belt and it pops open. It has a blue light and a radiation symbol. Batman waves it over the cash, "Some of the marked bills I gave you." Batman takes the cash bundle and throws it to Gordon who catches it. Gordon replies, "We found the bulk of the dirty cash. My detectives have been making drug buys with it for weeks. This bank was another drop for the mob. This makes five."

Batman: "Time to move in."
Gordon: "We would have to hit all banks simultaneously. SWAT teams, backup…"
Batman says something, and Gordon asks, "What about this Joker guy?"
Batman: "One man or the entire mob? He can wait."
Gordon: "When the new DA gets wind of this, he'll want in."
Batman: "Do you trust him?"
Gordon: "It will be hard to keep him out. He's as stubborn as you."

Gordon looks up from putting evidence in an envelope and sees Batman has disappeared again. He shakes his head and the scene ends.

We were told this scene happens early in the film. It was also worth noting that Christian Bale was wearing the old Batman Begins costume in the scene. This obviously takes place before his big wardrobe change.

As filming continued taking place, we first spoke with Aaron Eckhart. This was his day off, but he graciously came in to work to talk to us. We knew he played Harvey Dent, but he did reveal one big secret to us – he actually turns into Two-Face in The Dark Knight. (This was a major secret at the time we visited the set.) Throughout the day we continued talking with cast and crew as shooting continued on the monitor next to us. As the interviews continued, I would sneak glances at what was happening on the set. What I saw ended up being almost as interesting as some of the stuff said in the interviews.

Between takes people would fiddle with Batman's costume. One time a guy that looked like he was from ZZ Top picked at it, another time it was director Christopher Nolan. Occasionally I'd see Christian Bale cracking up at something that happened on set. It was weird seeing Batman actually smiling. Then, as the scene would start, he'd go completely stone faced again. At another point, he took the radiation device off his belt during a close up… and it broke. Turns out a magnet holding it to the belt needed to be glued back on.

But one of the funniest bloopers we saw unfolding before us involved Batman throwing the stack of money to Gordon. In one take, he'd throw it and Oldman would miss catching it. And it happened again. And again. And again. And again. The only time Oldman caught it was during a close-up when a guy o- set tossed it to him from short range. (Bale later joked it proved he was a bad tosser and Oldman wasn't a bad catcher. Oldman later said Nolan joked that he only caught it in the closeup to ensure that was the only usable take for the scene. A good acting trick, eh?) There were so many misses that both Oldman and Bale started cracking up after each miss. When Oldman finally did catch the money properly in a long shot, he only got about one line in the scene before Bale and Oldman started dying laughing again. Oldman literally laid down laughing on the table. So imagine Batman cracking up and Gordon lying on his side on a cart. That was the surreal scene before me and I was loving it. I hope that makes it on the DVD as a blooper.

After interviewing director Chris Nolan, the cast and crew all went to lunch. This was our opportunity to actually walk through the bank set. We walked through one part of the building and there was an actual vault door. I thought it might be fake, but when I knocked on it, it was definitely steel. It seemed to be part of the original Post Office. We then walked farther into the lobby of the original Post Office which they had converted into the Gotham National Bank (GNB). The set was incredibly detailed. There were deposit slips everywhere that said "Gotham National Bank." I can't tell you how badly I wanted to swipe one for a souvenir. (But I didn't!) There were also GNB signs, loan applications, and even ATM's. At one end of the lobby a fake wall had been destroyed. We were told this was where the Joker's truck had been driven through a wall. There was also some glass at some desks that had been shattered. But a small office in the middle of the lobby showed the most damage. Glass from a window was shattered and was all over the floor, surrounded by Gotham Police crime scene tape.

We walked further into the lobby and found the bank vault set where the earlier scene had taken place. It turns out that some old PO Boxes were doubling for safe deposit boxes in the vault. A fake door and bars had been added to the hallway to make it look like a vault. A drill, Joker goon mask, and crime scene kit set outside the fake vault door. It certainly looked a lot bigger on the monitor we were watching.

After touring the vault set in person, we went to lunch where we joined extras dressed like SWAT team members, police, and civilians. We even saw Gary Oldman's stand-in. After lunch we returned to the press tent for more interviews and to watch more scenes. (Exhaust from nearby trucks made me start wondering if WB was trying to gas us. Maybe my editor had ticked someone off and I was paying the price?) We watched the earlier scene being shot from new angles.

Finally, a new scene was shot. It chronologically took place immediately before Batman's scene with Gordon, but was shot later in the day. In the scene, Gordon enters the bank lobby and surveys the damage done by the Joker and his gang. Police are everywhere taking photos and collecting evidence. As Gordon walks in, Detective Ramirez hands him the security camera photo of Joker. Ramirez says, "He can't resist showing us his face." Gordon replies, "We should put up a big top in City Hall and sell tickets." They then walk off screen towards the vault.

Later, we saw another scene being filmed. In it, Gordon and four SWAT team members tear down a hallway and into an empty bank vault (different from the vault they were shooting in earlier, presumably at a different Gotham bank). Gordon walks in and yells, "Anarchy! It's empty!!" (In other takes he just yelled, "It's empty!!") Gordon looks down on the floor of the vault and sees stacks of money. (To me, they looked like they were laid in a specific pattern – 2 stacks, 3 stacks, 2 stacks, and 3 stacks. We'll see if there's really any significance later.) In frustration, Gordon kicks the stack of money and walks out of the vault.

After watching this scene, we got our chance to talk with Gary Oldman. Oddly enough, he walked in with a huge Dunkin Donuts coffee cup. I don't know why my fellow press and I thought it was odd. Maybe such an accomplished actor is expected to walk around with a more refined coffee? Now if you ever go to a movie set, you realize that much of the time is spent just waiting around. I always wondered who the heck everyone was waiting on. Well, this time it was us. Our WB rep literally stalked Oldman, then pulled him off the set for 10 minutes to talk to us. He went from one scene, into the press tent, then back out again to shoot another scene.

After our final interview of the day, we went outside the Post Office building to watch one more scene being filmed. This time it was out on the open street where fans and passersby could watch. As we walked up, a couple dozen people were on the sidewalk looking across the street at filming. The Post Office had a large sign on it that said "Gotham National Bank." Out front of it were cabs marked "Gotham Cabs," GPD police cars with their lights on, and news vans marked "G11 News" and "GCN." Camera crews and reporters lined the street next to one of the gray unmarked police cars. As police lights flashed, the scene began. Gordon steps out of a car and the press mob him asking questions. "Who killed him?" "Who saved him?" "Lieutenant Gordon!" As cameras flash and microphones are pushed in his face, he makes his way through police tape and through a revolving door into the building. And thus he walks into the scene we saw filming earlier.

As all this went on, fans were taking pictures with their cameras, shooting movies while PA's chided them, and generally geeking out. While the scene shot, real traffic drove by it. One woman, thinking there was a police emergency, rolled down her window and asked the gawkers, "What happened??" It was fun to see.

You can read our on-set interviews using the links below!

Writer/Director Christopher Nolan

Christian Bale - Bruce Wayne/Batman

Aaron Eckhart - Harvey Dent/Two-Face

Crowley, Henning & Oldman - Production Designer, Costume Designer and Commissioner Gordon

The Dark Knight opens in conventional theaters and IMAX on July 18.

Now That We're Getting ALand of the Lost Movie, What Other Krofft Madness Is Headed To Theaters??

By now, most of us are aware that a Will Ferrell movie based on the 70s kid show Land of the Lost is in the works. You can find pictures of the project's Sleestaks here.

Now comes word (via this article at IESB) that Land of the Lost creators Sid and Marty Krofft are close to bringing two of their more psychedelic properties top the big screen; a deal to do so should be closed within days.

The titles are:

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters...

and H.R. Pufnstuf...

"Pufnstuf"..."Can't do a little cause he can't do enough"...no double meaning, there.

The Kroffts have frequently asserted that drugs were not involved with the making of these shows. Which means...these series illustrate what they were thinking when they weren't stoned?

We're in need of intelligent, hard SF right about now; I'd much prefer to see them motion pictureize The Lost Saucer:

Who could sing that theme song?

"Spectacular Spider-Man" to Rerun Over Summer; "The Batman" Returns for Summer

The CW4Kids network issued another press release in advance of the airing of "Nature vs. Nurture," the season finale of The Spectacular Spider-Man. The press release has comments by Spider-Man's voice actor Josh Keaton, who said, "even though I'm about 13 episodes ahead of everyone else – I already know what's going to happen – I still love waking up and watching because it's so much fun to see how it all comes together."

Starting this Saturday, June 21, 2008, CW4Kids will re-air the entire first season in order, with two episodes per week for seven weeks starting at the usual time of 9:30 AM (Eastern/Pacific). There will also be a schedule shuffle that will add Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fast Forward, Chaotic, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, and The Batman to the programming block for the summer.

Nicktoons Premieres New Action-Adventure Comedy "Three Delivery" on June 27, 2008

Nickelodeon has issued a press release to promote the debut of Three Delivery, the new action-adventure comedy series that will debut on the Nicktoons Network on June 27, 2008, at 7:30 PM (Eastern), and air weekly on Friday nights afterwards at the same time. The series focuses on three kids from Chinatown who work at Wu's Garden Chinese Restaurant while defending Chinatown from the evil sorcerer Kong Li. The newly premiered Three Delivery website at www.threedelivery.com now offers a free MP3 download of the show's theme song and will soon include 11 two-minute "mobisodes."

"La maison etc," "Sita," "Idiots & Angels" Take Home Annecy 2008 Awards

The Annecy 2008 animation festival has announced the winners of this year's Annecy awards. The Japanese short film "La maison en petits cubes" by Kunio Kato took home the Annecy Cristal award and the Junior Jury Award for a short film. Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues won the Cristal award for best feature, with Bill Plympton's Idiots & Angels claiming a Special Distinction award.

For a full list of this year's winners, visit the Annecy 2008 website.

Reviews leak and amazing buzz starts on Wall•E

Harry Knowles describes the new Pixar film as “arguably the best film Walt Disney has ever had its name on,” “one of the absolute best hard science fiction films made in my adult life,” “an incredible work of speculative future mythology the likes of which, I’ve never seen… whilst also being wildly entertaining and thought-provoking to literally all ages. I wouldn’t say PIXAR has done it again, because honestly… They’ve never ever made a film this great before. This was gasp inducing. ” And other AICN reviewers agree: “Masterpiece. That’s it. That’s truth in one word,” says ‘Nordling’; “This film is gorgeous. The scenes in the trailer don’t even approach how amazingly beautiful the film is. I teared up three times during the movie,” adds T’he Abstruse One’ with ‘John Gholson’ concluding: “Visionary. Emotional. Fantastic. A Must-See. A Thrill Ride. Romantic. Eye-Popping. Incredible. Instant Classic. The best Pixar film ever made.”

Very first images of Disney’s Bolt

/Film finally offers us a first look at Disney’s CG follow-up to Meet the Robinsons, which has had a rocky production and the Mouse House kept under wraps until today. Miley Cyrus voices Penny, Bolt’s acting partner, in this anticipated 3D November release. Except a teaser trailer to be attached to Wall•E later this month.

Space Chimps backed up by out of this world promotional campaign

MediaPost offers a rundown of the various promotions in the works for Twentieth Century Fox’s July animated film Space Chimps, from partners like Dole to malls and theaters ads, video games, an online campaign and a chimp language translator found on the film’s official site that allows kids create messages in chimp-an-eez and send them to cell phones.

Fly Me To The Moon’s success encouraging for the future of 3D

European exhibitor Kinepolis in Belgium, France and Spain have been keen to take on alternative 3-D films. They not only want to test the market but also ensure a steady 3-D product stream once they start promoting the format, says Variety. Fly Me to the Moon, a family animation conceived in 3-D by Belgium toon shop nWave, found a willing public in its home country with 87,946 admissions in its first two months. “It was a real success,” says Maud Van de Velde, content director at Kinepolis, “and it is still playing now.” Ben Stassen, nWave topper and director of Fly Me to the Moon, also had to educate European exhibitors about 3-D. “There is an appetite for it but more of a wait-and-see attitude,” he says. Once the Hollywood wave breaks, he thinks small genre films will have a hard time. “You can’t start doing niche marketing in a place where there are not enough screens for the major films.”

Nicolas Cage, Nathan Lane join Astro Boy

Imagi announced today that Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy and Eugene Levy would be joining Freddie Highmore for the 2009 feature adaptation of Astro Boy, being directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away). Summit Entertainment will distribute the film worldwide except for Imagi’s reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China. Astro Boy was created by the “god of manga”, Japan’s Osamu Tezuka, in the early 1950s. The iconic character has since found wide popularity around the world as the hero of three acclaimed animated television series spanning the past four decades, besides being one of the top licensed properties for merchandising. Set in futuristic Metro City, Imagi Studios’ Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist to replace the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving father’s expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the man who had rejected him.

Ready to Start Buying Your Dark Knight Tickets?

Superhero Hype! has learned that advance ticketing for The Dark Knight begins this Friday, June 20th. At the time of this posting, the earliest show so far will be Friday morning (12:01am) on July 18th. The Batman Begins follow-up will be released in both conventional theaters and IMAX theaters.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

Score One For The Lower 48!! Bob & Doug MacKenzie Cartoon Takes Off For Fox Network, Eh??

It looks like the Bob & Doug MacKenzie cartoon being produced for Canada’s Global TV network has found a U.S. home in the animation-friendly Fox Network.

The 13-episode series, based on the beer-swilling Great White North characters created for “SCTV,” will reunite the voices of Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. The pair earlier spun the characters off into a (hilarious) 1983 big-screen comedy titled “Strange Brew.”

Read all of The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the matter here.

"Boar Attack" wins at Worldwide Short Film Fest

The comedy "Boar Attack," about a man who fears the worst while waiting his dad's return from the woods, won the award for best animated film at the Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto.

Directed by Yukon-based Jay White of Sly Cedar Visual Arts, the four-minute film is now eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

When his ballet dancer father goes missing on his walk home, a son must confront his fears and, of course, his baggage.

The festival, which ended Sunday, named Can You Wave Bye-Bye the best Canadian short film. A film about a young mother struggling with depression, it will now be eligible for a Genie Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar.

Sarah Galea-Davis won a $10,000 award for the film, which, jury members said, handled the subject of postpartum depression with sensitivity.

Manon on the Asphalt, by directors Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont of France, won the award for best live-action short. Like Boar Attack, it's now eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The audience choice award went to Out of Spajald, by Thomas Glud and Lars Wass of Denmark.

Other winners in this year's Worldwide Short Film Festival:

Best Canadian emerging filmmaker: Audrey Cummings for Burgeon and Fade.
Best experimental short: Roastbeef by François Bégin and Miryam Bouchard of Canada.
Best cinematography in a Canadian short: The Answer Key, cinematographer Brendan Steacy.
Best documentary: Zietek by Bartosz Blaschke of Poland.
Best performance in a live-action short: Death of Shula by Yusef Corman-Korman of Israel.
Special jury prize for comedy: Aquarium by Rob Meyer of the U.S.A.

Boar Attack, by Yukon-based Jay White.

New stills for Pixar’s Presto

Check out this .Mac page for four beautiful images from the new Pixar short Presto which will play later this month before the already critically acclaimed Wall•E. Here’s the official synopsis for the Doug Sweetland-directed short: “Dignity. Poise. Mystery. We expect nothing less from the great, turn-of-the-century magician, Presto. But, when Presto forgets to feed his rabbit one too many times, well, there’s really no telling what to expect! This latest comical short film from Pixar Animation Studios follows the escalating high jinx of the amazing Presto, his rabbit Alec, and what happens onstage when a star magician’s ego provokes some clever revenge from his neglected costar.”

Meet the man behind Big Bird

AP offers an interesting profile 74-year-old Caroll Spinney who has been playing both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in Sesame Street for nearly four decades now.

Fifth Annual Nicktoons Festival

Nicktoons Network is seeking entries for the fifth annual Nicktoons Network Animation Festival. Animators from around the world can submit their work to the first and only multiplatform animation festival from Sunday, June 15, through Friday, August 1. For the first time, Nicktoons Network has partnered with AddictingGames and the LEGO Group on two new contests and with mtvU for this year's Student Award. Entry forms can be downloaded on www.nicktoonsnetwork.com/nnaf.

"In the past five years, the Animation Festival has grown greatly in scope and size," said Keith Dawkins, Nicktoons Network General Manager, Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Programming Partnerships. "Every year we're pleased to see the number of entries increase, as well as the number of global submissions. This has inspired us to expand our creative partnerships and offer animators a variety of platforms to showcase their work."

The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival is on the hunt for a selection of original short films created in any style of animation that do not exceed 10 minutes in length. Submitted shorts will be chosen by a pre-selection jury and will be showcased on-air, online and during the network's exclusive live event in October. Prizes will be allotted for five awards: Grand Jury Award; Student Award; Producer's Choice, Viewer's Choice Award; and the festival's Grand Prize, the Nick Development Award.

The winner of the Nick Development Award will receive $30,000 towards the development of a show bible, pilot script and storyboard along with the guidance of the Nick development team. Additionally, Nicktoons Network has partnered with mtvU, MTV's college network reaching over 750 campuses nationwide, to tap into their acclaimed Best Film On Campus student filmmaker community. The festival will be featured on Bestfilmoncampus.com throughout the summer, and the winner of the Student Award will also have the opportunity to see their work featured nationally as the "mtvU Film of the Week."

Nicktoons Network introduces two new contests to this year's festival. In partnership with AddictingGames, the "I Got Game" contest invites game enthusiasts to submit a drawing or animation of an original character. The winning entry will be made into a free online game for AddictingGames.com, the largest youth-targeted free online game site in the US. The second contest, in partnership with the LEGO Group, asks participants to create a one-of-a-kind, stop-motion animated clip using LEGO(r) bricks and minifigures. And for the second year, kids in three categories (ages 6-9, 10-13 and 14-17) can submit ideas for new animated series and characters to the "Greater Creator" contest where the grand prize is a trip to the Nickelodeon Animation Studio and a Nicktoons Network Animation Academy at the winner's school.

The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival is the largest of its kind in North America, and last year's festival received over 3,000 entries from around the globe, including Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Latvia, Taiwan, Australia, Canada and of course the United States.

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