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Friday, January 29, 2016

THE FORCE AWAKENS - And Yours Truly - Among Winners At This Weeks Advanced Imagining Society Creative Arts Awards!

Yes, this year's Advanced Imaging Society's Creative Arts Awards was an exciting event for many, many reasons including our own 40 BELOW AND FALLING which I had the pleasure of helping produce along with a truly exceptional team. We won the 3D Feature Jury Prize and are deeply honored with the Lumiere.

Here's the official press release:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Advanced Imaging Society bestowed 20 honors for “distinguished achievement” at the Creative Arts Awards on Wednesday night, at Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Disney/Lucasfilm) was honored with two Lumiere statuettes, for Best 3D Live Action Feature and Best 2D to 3D Conversion (StereoD). “The Martian” (20th Century Fox) was also honored with two awards, for Best Live Action Stereography and Best Use of Native 3D. “The Walk” (Sony/Legend3D) won 3D Scene of the Year for its Act 3 high wire walk by actor Joseph Gordon Levitt. Pixar was honored with 3 Lumieres, including: Best 3D Animated Feature and Best Animated Stereography for “Inside Out” (Disney/Pixar) and Best 3D Short for “Lava” (Disney/Pixar).

“Conquest of the Skies” (Colossus Productions), hosted by Sir David Attenborough, won Best 3D Documentary. The Russian cinema commercial, “Schvabe” (StereoTec) won for Best 3D Advertising. The 3D short “Hard Reset” (Buk Films) won for Best Live Action Short. “Emma” (Pannon Entertainment) was awarded for Best use of High Dynamic Range. “Great Barrier Reef,” (Atlantic Productions) also hosted by Sir David Attenborough, won in the Best Ultra HD content category. The Best Virtual Reality Experience was awarded to “The Walk: Virtual Reality Experience” (Sony/Create Design LA).

Marvel’s Victoria Alonso, who heads the Studio’s Physical Production Unit and serves as Executive Producer on many of the Studio's blockbuster hits, was presented with the Harold Lloyd Award for filmmaking.

BBC and BBC Earth were awarded the annual Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for excellence in natural history documentaries.

“With movies like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘The Martian,’ and ‘Inside Out’ competing for our top honors, we had an extraordinary awards process this year. 3D has never had a better year at the box office, or a better year in terms of brilliant creative work,” said Society President Jim Chabin. “With the addition of Virtual Reality, High Dynamic Range, and Ultra HD entries, our members are clearly working at the very cutting edge of our industry’s future,” he added.

Several Jury Prizes were presented for special achievement. Director Raman Hui was awarded a Lumiere for 2015’s “Monster Hunt,” (Edko Films Limited) the biggest box office hit in Chinese history. The romantic comedy “40 Below And Falling” (Avatar Media), the 3D Short “Coda” (National Film Board of Canada), and the Japanese animated children’s film “Gamba” (Shirogumi) were also honored with jury prizes.

“Our honorees this year came from all over the globe, from China to the UK, to Europe, Canada, and of course Hollywood, 3D has truly come of age,” said Society Awards Chairman Buzz Hays. “Both the high level of quality and the quantity of 3D, HDR, and VR production is impressive,” he added.

Here are the night's winners in detail:

HAROLD LLOYD AWARD
VICTORIA ALONSO
MARVEL

SIR CHARLES WHEATSTONE
BBC EARTH

3D LIVE ACTION FEATURE
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
DISNEY/LUCASFILM

3D ANIMATED FEATURE
INSIDE OUT
PIXAR

STEREOGRAPHY LIVE ACTION
THE MARTIAN
20TH CENTURY FOX

STEREOGRAPHY ANIMATED
INSIDE OUT
PIXAR

3D SHORT ANIMATED
LAVA
PIXAR

3D SHORT LIVE ACTION
HARD RESET
BUK FILMS

3D DOCUMENTARY
CONQUEST OF THE SKIES
COLOSSUS PRODUCTIONS

UHD
GREAT BARRIER REEF
ATLANTIC PRODUCTIONS

BEST USE OF NATIVE 3D
THE MARTIAN
20TH CENTURY FOX

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
EMMA
PANNON ENTERTAINMENT

BEST USE OF 2D TO 3D CONVERSION
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
DISNEY/LUCASFILM

3D SCENE OF THE YEAR
THE WALK
(SCENE: TIGHT ROPE WALK BETWEEN WTC TWIN TOWERS)
SONY/LEGEND 3D

VR
THE WALK: VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE
SONY/CREATE DESIGN LA

3D ADVERTISEMENT
SCHVABE
STEREOTEC

3D FEATURE JURY PRIZE
40 BELOW AND FALLING
AVATAR MEDIA
CANADA

3D SHORT ANIMATED JURY PRIZE
CODA
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA
CANADA

3D FEATURE JURY PRIZE
MONSTER HUNT
EDKO FILMS LTD
CHINA

3D ANIMATED FEATURE JURY PRIZE
GAMBA
SHIROGUMI
JAPAN

On behalf of our director Dylan Pearce, producer Andy Scholotiuk and everyone else involved with 40 BELOW AND FALLING, I'd like to thank everyone involved with the Advanced Imaging Society for the honor, and the continuing passion for our industry. It was a tremendous year again for 3D highlighted with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS dominating the box office and setting records and the top 4 movies of the year being in 3D.

2016 looks to be another amazing year!!

More Trade Coverage: Variety | THR

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

World Box Office: THE FORCE AWAKENS vs. AVATAR? Forget it... Look At All That Cheddar.

As I've been postulating for weeks now (other than the fact I knew there was no way AVATAR 2 would hit its latest release date), there is no way STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS challenges James Cameron's AVATAR in worldwide box office. Let's face it, worldwide box office is the number that matters most and while the domestic record is an awesome achievement, it's only a third of what really matters or in SWTFA's case, half. Yes, TITANIC may sink, but AVATAR is quite safe.

Was there really any doubt about this? Not to me. There's the old description of a four quadrant movie that sort of fits both movies: Males under 25, Males over 25, Females under 25 and Females over 25. I think SWTFA delivers admirably on this, but not in the league of AVATAR. But of course there is much more to the story than just four quadrants.

Many will argue that shiny new 3D technology helped push AVATAR to dizzying heights and while that is true to some degree, SWTFA has nostalgia and an extremely well established fanbase and, count 'em, SIX previous feature releases. SWTFA also has 3D revenue in MORE theaters. AVATAR was an original work. That more than balances the scales.

Here's why AVATAR will remain king of the world in my opinion:
1. James Cameron. The world loves him. They love his movies and love his environmental stance. That's a huge reason why AVATAR commanded the box office it did. SWTFA must measure up to this standard of relevance or fail in my opinion. Cameron is AVATAR's scientist to SWTFA's fantasy magic. It's a very interesting comparison to contrast AVATAR's environmental message to THE FORCE AWAKENS' well... force, and while I'm sure I'll hear from more Star Wars fans on this (I am one!), AVATAR much better aligns with true Science Fiction. Star Wars embraces the supernatural, albeit in a passionate, space opera setting. Don't underestimate the power of "James Cameron Presents". Just his name alone will bring in masses of people. Abrams is good and is getting better, but he doesn't command Cameron's respect yet in the theater - and very probably never will. Cameron IS Captain SciFi. I feel the pure SciFi play is a better option for box office when we're dealing with four quadrant movies.

2. Everyone can relate to AVATAR's story. Indigenous people's oppression. The environment. Corporate greed. Romance. The world responded to it. It had legs. With SWTFA however, the story continually evolves around the soap opera of grandparents, parents, siblings and children with unexpected gasps from audiences as lineages are revealed. There needs to be more at stake and more that relates to our world directly to connect as AVATAR has. THE FORCE AWAKENS needs more meat to move to the next level. Perhaps EP. VIII or the spin offs will.

3. The AVATAR sequels will punch up cinematic technology once again and potentially set the bar even higher in the coming years. You didn't think he was done with just 3D did you? You can bet Cameron will be marketing some new technology very, very hard for the sequels. AVATAR broke amazing ground with 3D, crossing the uncanny valley with photo realism, performance capture and virtual real-time cameras. You can expect more of the same for the sequels only with technology 10 years better. Imagine what he could and will do.

So if not SWTFA, then what will overtake AVATAR? AVATAR 2? Maybe. I suspect the movies will be BETTER than the original (as Cameron always shines in sequels) and will do massive box office, but AVATAR was a must see event for the world. It will be hard to replicate that again and re-energize that urgency. That being said, if there is one person in the world that can beat James Cameron, it's James Cameron. He's already proven that. And there's plenty of causes that are of urgent priority on this planet. Mine that cheddar.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Movie Review - STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - 9.4 Stars! Spoiler Free!!

Click to enlarge
OK it's time! I've only seen STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (SWTFA) once, but it was in IMAX 3D so it was a premium theater and the brightness of the projection was ample and the sound was magnificent.

First off, if you haven't seen the original three movies (Ep. IV, V and VI) I think you should do so before seeing VII. Secondly if you haven't already seen those movies - what are you thinking? :-) SWTFA can certainly stand on it's own, but much of the past 'soap opera' fill in the blanks are missing.

So let me tell you right from the get-go, JJ Abrams knocked this thing out of the park. I was truly worried he wouldn't capture the spirit of the original movies - the 'je ne c'est quoi' - that makes the original trilogy what it is to millions of fans. But he did it. There are elements in the movie that are certainly "Abrams'esque", and you'll know when you see them, but nothing pulled me out of the movie to think about it.

In many ways, it's the best Star Wars film to date. I don't take those words lightly. It's not a perfect movie by any means, but given what Abrams was able to deliver within the scope of this universe - BRAVO!

I won't talk about specifics because the movie just opened and many haven't been able to see it yet obviously, but I will say this: 

1. The 3D was great. Not perfect (it's a conversion) but I could tell effort was made to produce this movie for 3D from the beginning and that was refreshing. There was only one shot that was jarring and I'll bet it was a Disney executive's call to do it. I don't think a creative would have. Anyway, it was a brief shot and we can discuss in the comments (where spoilers can and do exist!).

2. The score and sound effects were absolutely stellar. Go see it for the audio alone!! Just breathtaking.

Click to enlarge
3. JJ Abrams directing has seemingly jumped to the next level here. Truly, an awesome display of blockbuster showmanship and I didn't know he could rise to this level. He certainly has. We're talking close to the caliber of Spielberg, Cameron, Lucas here for SciFi. Yes, he's that good now. And I've had plenty of reservations about him before (STAR TREK in particular).

By the way, there was NO STAR TREK TRAILER pre-rolling last night. I was very disappointed. (Cineplex IMAX in Canada)

4. GO NOW. Go while the truest Star Wars fans are there watching. Nothing, NOTHING beats being the middle of fans like this. The impromptu clapping, laughter, gasps and pointing. It's experiences like this that will keep movie theaters alive in this era.

I'll talk about more in the comments. Again - THE COMMENTS WILL HAVE SPOILERS!! Don't read them unless you want to be clued in on aspects of the movie. You've been warned! Let me know your thoughts on the movie guys!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

China's 3D Influence: James Cameron's TERMINATOR 2 Getting 3D Treatment!

James Cameron has partnered with DMG Entertainment and Studiocanal to relaunch TERMINATOR 2 into worldwide theaters with a digitally remastered 3D version. This is amazing news as I really enjoyed the TITANIC re-release in 3D and I'm expecting the same level of mastery performed here. 

Stereo D will handle the conversion duties and I'm confident in their abilities when they're given the proper time and resources (Marvel conversions for example). Cameron will personally oversee the work, so yes, it'll be awesome.

They're aiming for 2016 and China is the main catalyst for the move. China absolutely is in love with 3D and as the second largest market (and will eventually become the largest) they command and deserve Hollywood's attention.

Says Cameron: "Next year marks the 25th anniversary of Terminator 2 and that seemed like the perfect time to bring it back but this time in an all-new 3D version. If you’ve never seen it, this will be the version you want to see and remember."

Can't wait for this. If there's anything from Tinseltown that's sublime, it's a Cameron 3D movie. 

Source: THR

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Check The First Trailer For Emmerich's INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

As if 2016 didn't have enough awesome movies coming our way, here comes INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE - Roland Emmerich's sequel to his 1996 hit - 20 years later. I wasn't expecting too much as with all that time passing and Will Smith not involved. Now, after seeing the trailer I'm thinking Smith has made a mistake not being in it! It's looking very interesting indeed.

I won't spoil the trailer for you, but do yourself a favor and check it out. Emmerich is known for end of the world scenarios and obviously this fits the bill. Speaking of bills, Bill Pullman is back as President Whitmore (obviously still not sitting in office) and his voice rings throughout the trailer.

My friend Dean Devlin produces once again, along with Emmerich and Harald Kloser.

Here's the boilerplate for the movie:
We always knew they were coming back. After INDEPENDENCE DAY redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward

Connect with Independence Day Online:
Visit Independence Day on our WEBSITE: http://fox.co/IndependenceDaySite
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Follow Independence Day on TWITTER: http://fox.co/IndependenceDayTW
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INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE opens on June 24, 2016 in Real D 3D and IMAX 3.

Friday, December 11, 2015

MUST WATCH: First Trailer For X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

Usually I'm restrained in my early comments about X-men movies as I've been let down, but also thrilled with past releases. This time though with X-MEN: APOCALYSE - wow. Director Bryan Singer has seemingly stepped up his game here and improved upon what was already a great movie in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

Note the character development especially in the trailer. I love the correlations they assert and while I'm growing very tired of superhero movies that present the end of the world, this looks like a very entertaining shot at it.

APOCALYSE stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Lana Condor and Ben Hardy.

Here's the synopsis for the movie:
Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is slated for release on May 18, 2016. More when I get it - and I'm really looking forward to see what's next for marketing.



Monday, December 07, 2015

What Can You Expect Before And After STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS At The Theater?

Well you should arrive early as word has it the first trailer for STAR TREK BEYOND is attached to pre-roll in front of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS :-) I'm very happy to hear that and hopefully it includes some shots of the movie too and not just an I'm coming soon text laden visual.

As far as after SWTFA, I'm a firm believer in watching all the end credits of a movie I truly enjoy and I fully expect to do so with this movie - but there won't be any mid or end credit scenes to wait for according to director JJ Abrams himself.

But... do stay to honor all those that worked on the movie if you enjoyed it. You can be sometimes very surprised who you see up there to begin with and it's the ethical thing to do :-) Credit where credit is due.

So join me opening weekend for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in 3D! Can't wait. I'll be seeing it in multiple formats and the first will be IMAX followed closely by REALD (UltraAVX). Stay tuned for my review!

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opens on December 18. STAR TREK BEYOND is slated for release on July 22, 2016.
 

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