Thursday, 30 June 2011

The 3D market is expected to be 25 times the size it is now within four years but many think there is not enough content to warrant buying the equipment. Could "upscaling" 2D content to give it an extra dimension be the answer?
Since the release of Avatar - both the most expensive film ever made and the biggest grossing - to great fanfare, some critics are starting to conclude that the 3D cinema has gone a little bit flat.
The cost of going to watch a 3D movie in the cinema is considerably higher than a normal film and there is a significant lack of content in true 3D.
Only around 100 titles have been released so far, though a number are scheduled to appear in the coming months as the summer blockbuster season gets underway.
Avatar is still seen by most as the gold standard of 3D cinema
This means that companies are beginning to step in to fill that gap. But it can be an expensive and time-consuming process to get right.
Star Wars creator George Lucas has admitted that it has cost more money to turn Star Wars into a 3D production than the original film cost to make.
Star Wars 3D is due to be released next year after nine years in development.
Every frame of every scene is being manually broken up into its constituent parts, creating a depth map, a process that could work for a high prestige cinema release but might not be financial viable for low budget titles, especially those that go quickly to Blu-ray.
Novelty wearing off
Yet it is in the home where many manufacturers are hoping that 3D content will really take off.
US consumers spent around $30m (£19m) on buying 3D content in 2010 but that is expected to rise to $749m (£470m) by 2014, according to HIS Screen Digest - a 25-fold increase in four years.
"By the end of 2011 over 159.3 million Blu-ray discs will have been sold in Western Europe," Danny Kaye, executive VP, global research and technology strategy at Twentieth Century Fox told Techboat.
I've seen a few 2D to 3D conversions and they're generally pretty awful
Jim Hill, Wired UK
"On titles launched simultaneously on DVD and Blu-ray, such as Avatar and the A-Team, we are seeing around a third of our sales on Blu-ray."
While most Blu-rays are currently not 3D-enabled, the increase in sales increases the potential audience for 3D content. But as the technology becomes less of a novelty and becomes integrated in most TVs - a standard feature rather than a unique selling point - many are sceptical of the mainstream use of the technology.
As recently as last week, an Informa report stated "fewer than half of the 11 million 3DTV-ready homes in the UK in 2016 will be active and regular users of 3DTV content."
So a number of major manufacturers are trying to make sure everyone with a 3D TV will be using it.
James Cameron
Wearing glasses is seen by some as a barrier to 3D's mainstream success
A process has been developed which interprets the flat image in real-time and converts it into a 3D picture, with the use of the correct glasses of course. The marketing literature from the manufacturers promises results almost as good as the real thing.
It means that any DVD or Blu-ray, regardless of whether it was filmed in 3D originally, can be watched in three dimensions.
"We can get fairly close [to a film shot in native 3D]," says Chris Mosely, Samsung's AV product manager for UK and Ireland.
"It depends on the content obviously, but you can get pretty good results to the point where we've been approached by film studios about buying the technology so they can convert films to 3D cheaply."
But this is not something that the purists are very happy about. Avatar director James Cameron - largely responsible for the recent influx of 3D releases - believes that even the high-end conversions should only be used in very specific circumstances.
3D movies have a much higher chance of achieving a big box office than 2D movies: 52% for 3D versus 5% for a 2D movie
False Creek Productions
"My personal philosophy is that post conversion should be used for one thing and one thing only - which is to take library titles that are favourites that are proven, and convert them into 3D - whether it's Jaws or ET or Indiana Jones, Close Encounters... or Titanic," he said at the Blu-Con event in Beverly Hills last year.
"Unless you have a time machine to go back and shoot it in 3D, you have no other choice. The best alternative is if you want to release a movie in 3D - make it in 3D."
Up-sell gimmick?
Because of the way 3D technology tricks the eye, the way the image is cropped affects how well the 3D image will look. And this has left many experts unconvinced about how good the current technology is.
"We think 2D to 3D converters are a bit of a gimmick," says Michael Briggs, 3D TV expert at consumer rights organisation Which?
"They can turn any 2D picture into 3D, but for the best 3D experience you should watch material that has been shot, directed and produced with the 3D effect in mind."
And technology journalists who have tried the technology seem to agree.
Darth Vader
Nine years has been spent turning Star Wars into a 3D production
"I've seen a few 2D to 3D conversions and they're generally pretty awful," says Jim Hill, product editor of Wired UK.
"There's an obvious desire to up-sell or re-sell dull 2D content as thrilling 3D footage, but no easy way to do it. Manipulating the image to give a pseudo 3D effect generally makes it look less sharp and less realistic."
But with so little content available to those early-adopters of new TV sets, the manufacturers say they are just filling a massive gap between the amount of content the audience expects to be available and the amount of content - special events such as the Wimbledon final aside - that is made in three dimensions.
"[Upscaling] is a useful way to get people into the 3D world and to sample it because it fills that content gap," says Keiran Alger, editor of technology site
"One of the biggest problems of 3D is 'what am I going to watch?' but I think it's seen as more of a stop-gap than an end solution."
As more content gets filmed in 3D, it is believed that the price of actually producing it will go down. And 3D production company False Creek believes that filming in an extra dimension is not beyond the reaches of most film productions.
"For a $1 million (£625,000) budget indie film, the breakdown of the cost increase as it shifts to a 3D shoot… makes it an 18% increase in going from a 2D to 3D production," its report says.
And another incentive for film companies is that 3D films seem to always do well.
"3D movies have a much higher chance of achieving a big box office than 2D movies: 52% for 3D versus 5% for a 2D movie," says another False Creek report.
"3D movies are almost certain to make money, an unheard-of claim for 2D movies."

And that's not including raids, crafting or 'multiplayer'.

Star Wars MMO The Old Republic will feature over 200 hours play for each class, according to EA Games' Frank Gibeau.
In an interview with, the EA Games manager downplayed suggestions that the publisher had overspent on the game.
"I don't pay much attention to that talk, I get a lot of questions from analysts and press about it," he said. "What I try and concentrate on is, is it a good game and is it ready to go? You look at a game that has 200 hours of gameplay for each of the six classes, and that doesn't include the crafting, the raids, the multiplayer."
[We assume that by "multiplayer" Gibeau is referring to the Warzones - PVP arenas.]
"It's vast. It's a gigantic game. And that costs money. But when you get one of these launched they persist for a long period of time. Ultima is on its first decade and it still has tens of thousands of subscribers and is widely profitable for us. It's just the nature of the beast that you have to build this amount of content."
In short, Gibeau's line is that the huge development costs will pay off.
"Do I wish it wasn't this expensive? Absolutely, but I think everybody does. At the same time it doesn't really do us much good to comment on how much it costs. Ultimately what matters is whether it's a good service and do people really like the game?"
Rumours have suggested that EA may have invested as much as $300 million in The Old Republic, although the publisher has largely kept quiet on the matter. However, last year EA's chief financial officer Eric Brown described the game as "the largest R&D project EA has ever undertaken in terms of total dollars that we expect to spend bringing the title to market."

What is it about War Horse? How is it that a show that sounded technically impossible on paper – theatricalising a children’s novel (by Michael Morpurgo) that gives a horse’s-eye-view of the First World War – has done so phenomenally well? What is it that makes grown adults weep, and silences to awe the most unruly teenager? What has taken it from being a surprise British success to a stalwart that has raced to victory in that toughest of theatrical meets, New York?
First it caused a stampede at the National in October 2007, following almost universal critical approval. Then a well-deserved West End transfer followed that looks set to run and run, making millionaires of its core creative team – it reportedly played to record-breaking 97 per cent capacity in 2010 and has been seen by more than a million people, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Now six Tony Awards, entirely merited and wholly eclipsing its two Olivier awards, mean it is almost certain to become a thundering hit Stateside, too – and that is before even greater interest is ignited by the Steven Spielberg film, partly inspired by the production, that is scheduled for release at the end of this year.
So what is it that seems to be resonating with audiences? It’s not as simple as saying: here’s a perfect family show, dealing with some unpalatable truths about a terrible chapter in human history in a palatable way – using puppets.
Yes, the horses, made of bamboo skeletal frames and gauze, embellished with plywood and bicycle brake-cable, nylon cord and leather, controlled from inside and out, sometimes mounted and ridden, are extraordinary. Immense, yet vulnerable, manifestly man-operated yet exquisitely lifelike – graceful to the core – they are a key component of the production’s wow-factor, a joy for adult and child alike. And it is only right that Handspring Puppet Company, from South Africa, was given a Special Tony Award, joining the five others handed out for Best Play (author Nick Stafford), Best Sound Design (Christopher Shutt), Best Lighting Design (Paule Constable), Best Scenic Design (Rae Smith) and Best Direction (Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott). Sunday night’s triumph is a vindication for an artistic shift at the National Theatre under Nicholas Hytner towards the “total” theatre experience, in which every creative element is stitched seamlessly together.

It is a sign of just how much care and attention was devoted to the visual impact of the horses that if you do the backstage tour at the National, you’ll encounter the forlorn sight of the mother of Joey, the equine hero of the piece whose enforced separation from – and final tear-jerking reunion with – his young farmhand owner, Albert, amid the horror of the Great War trenches forms the heart of the story. Apparently, her presence was deemed to detract from the effect of seeing Joey grow from being a stiff-limbed foal to a fully rearing and endearing young stallion. So she was dropped from the production at the last minute and has never taken her bow.
Yet it is too easy to attribute the power of the show to its meticulous external trappings. Let’s not forget that when Morpurgo – who himself abandoned an attempt to adapt his 1982 book for the big screen – learnt that the National was keen to create a stage version, using puppets, he thought they were “mad”. Why? One assumes because that approach seemed to run against the grain of what he wanted to do with the book. Inspired by conversations with Great War veterans in his local Devon pub, one of whom, a former cavalryman, confided that he coped by sharing his hopes and fears with his horse, the novelist wanted to give voice to that unspoken-of intimacy, along with the gut-wrenching reality of seeing millions of loyal beasts being blasted to oblivion, in common with their masters.

Read the rest of the articl here

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

In an interview in PC Gamer UK issue 228, Bioware writing director Daniel Erickson gave some insight into the Bioware writing process and how it is at the forefront of their game design. “A BioWare writer is a game designer.” He said. “What I’ve learned though, and what the rest of the industry is still wrestling with, is: you can teach a writer to be a junior game designer. You cannot teach a junior game designer to be a writer. You need somebody who is a senior master level writer and then you teach them the basics of game design.”

Erickson also talked about the training process for new Bioware writers, saying: “When you come in as a writer at BioWare in general, and especially in the Austin studio, we have a three month training process where nothing that you ever touch will ever appear in game. Which is a fundamental difference – when I tell this to people at other studios they’re like “WHAT?” It’s a huge investment of resources, but it’s how we get the stories we do.”
The trainee writers apparently spend those months generating pitches and script material, culminating in full mod piece which is: ” that will be scripted by the scripters, reviewed, tested, shown to be a good piece and then thrown away.” When asked if particularly good practice peices were ever used he replied: “There have been – very, very rarely – there have been pieces that actually did get kept. Or at least inspired. The Mage Origin story from Dragon Age was a re-write, but was actually inspired by Jennifer Hepler, who is one of the writers on there, inspired by her training module.”
Read the full interview, with more on the Bioware writing process and the unique challenge of writing for an MMO in issue 228 of PC Gamer UK, which also contains features on Assassin’s Creed and Dwarf Fortress, previews of Deus Ex 3 and Mass Effect 3, and our Witcher 2 and Brink reviews. You can buy it online here. Suscribe here. Or buy it digitally here.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Star Wars director George Lucas, who splashed out around $20 million for a 1.7 acre estate with 170ft. of ocean frontage on Padaro Lane in Carpinteria earlier this year, is planning to totally demolish the 30-year- old six-bedroom property, which has walls of floor to ceiling glass.
A friend of the 67-year-old tycoon, who is number 97 on the Forbes list of richest Americans with an estimated fortune of $3.25 billion, tells Montecito Journal columnist Richard Mineards that Lucas loves the setting, but wants a tailor-made house with all the latest technology.
An architect has already drawn up the plans and application for the re- build will be made in due course.


Steven Spielberg’s epic dinosaur trilogy Jurassic Park is coming to Blu-Ray for the first time this October.
The three films, which generated nearly $2 billion worldwide at the box office, turned Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel into one of cinemas most spectacular film franchises of all time.
Although the trilogy boasted an impressive, all-star cast including Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Attenborough, the real stars will always remain the CGI dinosaurs brought to life by Industrial Light & Magic.
The Blu-Ray release allows fans to re-enjoy the films in full HD while the films’ visceral sound effects and the unforgettable music from legendary composer John Williams can now be heard in 7.1 surround sound.
This three-movie set features more than two hours of bonus features, including an all-new, six-part documentary. Also included are digital copies of all three films which can be viewed on portable devices such as the iPad.
The trilogy will also be released on DVD and as a Limited Edition Collector’s Gift Set.
Extras include
“Return to Jurassic Park” – this six-part documentary features all-new interviews with many of the cast members from all three films, the filmmakers and Steven Spielberg.
Dawn of a New Era
Making Pre-history
The Next Step in Evolution
Finding The Lost World
Something Survived
The Third Adventure
The Making of Jurassic Park
The Making of The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Making of Jurassic Park III
Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park
Early Pre-Production Meetings
The World of Jurassic Park
The Magic of Industrial Light & Magic
Location Scouting
Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors In The Kitchen
The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton
Industrial Light & Magic and Jurassic Park: Before and After The Visual Effects
Industrial Light & Magic and The Lost World: Jurassic Park Before & After
The Industrial Light & Magic Press Reel
A Visit to Industrial Light & Magic
Hurricane in Kauai Featurette
Dinosaur Turntables
The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III
Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs
Animatics: T-Rex Attack
The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III
The Sounds of Jurassic Park III
The Art of Jurassic Park III
Tour of Stan Winston Studio
Feature Commentary with Special Effects Team
Production Archives: Storyboards, Models, Photographs, Design Sketches and Conceptual Drawings
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailers

The petition has gathered more than 2,100 signatures in three days. It asks Sony to convert the game to a free-to-play game that is maintained through the sale of virtual goods. The petition also asks Sony to consolidate players onto a smaller number of servers and facilitate character transfer to reduce operational costs in order to keep the game running.
Other online games have had a lot of success converting from a subscription-based model to a free-to-play model. Revenue from Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online doubled and its player base increased by 400 percent when the game went free to play in October. Revenue for the company’s first experiment in going free-to-play, Dungeons and Dragons Online, jumped by about 500 percent after the shift.
Here’s how the free-to-play, or “freemium”, model works: players are able to play online games with persistent worlds like Lord of the Rings Online for free, but must pay for additional perks like armor or becoming more powerful at a quicker pace. The freemium model isn’t necessarily new. Many successful smaller online games — like Maple Story — that have a smaller player base and might not be viable with a subscription model have used the freemium model.
I argued that the death of Star Wars Galaxies was basically a tragedy because it came at the hands of the game’s own publisher rather than the popularity of another game. World of Warcraft, currently the top online role-playing game, played a role in reducing the game’s total subscribers. But Sony’s updates were what inevitably killed it and drove away players. Star Wars Galaxies, which once boasted a unique progression system, trading and crafting features, was basically converted to a watered down version of World of Warcraft through a number of updates.
Here’s one post from a Star Wars Galaxies fan who is trying to promote the petition. It’s just one example of the ridiculously devoted community the game has constructed during its eight-year run.
We are not your typical gamers.
We are not a commodity.
But if you look at the recent decision by Lucasarts to shut down Star Wars Galaxies, you might be inclined to think we are both of those things. Lucasarts thinks that we are a non-perishable commodity that can be shoved into a shipping crate and moved down the road to their next project. That is not the case. Not even close.
We are a vibrant community. We have seen our ups and downs, but we are only stronger because of it. We have endured all manner of broken promises and misleading “improvements” to this game, and throughout all of it, we have continued to build our community, and show support and loyalty to this great game. But we didn’t do it because of a game. We did it because of our community here.
No matter how hard you try, you can never apply any sort of label or definition to the players of Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, it seems like Lucasarts is doing just that by assuming we will simply shuffle over to their next product simply because it contains the words “Star Wars” in the title. But oh, that is so far from the truth. We are not your typical gamers, and we are not your typical Star Wars fans. In fact, both of those truths are the very things that make our community so strong.
The world is obsessed with trying to apply labels to groups of people, and will often do so on the basis of pure assumptions and hearsay. You can’t do that with Star Wars Galaxies players. We are not some geeky group of people who simply want to log into a video game and shoot battle droids and fly spaceships with laser guns.
Many of us are highly educated. Many of us have children and families. Many of us have great careers.
Just the other day I learned that a great player on my server of Starsider was once the mayor-elect of his city in Canada. And what’s more, he was 18 years old. I have known a concert violinist, a fireman, a surgeon, a newspaper editor, an EMT, a helicopter pilot, and on and on and on. And all of these people I met through Star Wars Galaxies.
On top of all that, many Star Wars Galaxies players are active service military personnel. I remember once talking to a member of my guild and having him tell me he was logged into Star Wars Galaxies from his base in Iraq. Without a moment’s hesitation, I got his unit’s mailing address and sent him and his comrades a care package. Star Wars Galaxies made that connection possible.
So much happens because of Star Wars Galaxies that goes unnoticed. This is much more than a game to the people who play it. It’s our community. And a community is not a commodity, so don’t be surprised when we want nothing to do with the people who are trying to force us to give up our community just so they can make a few extra bucks.

What makes Steven run?That's the question some folks are asking -- the "Steven" being Steven Spielberg who, on the cusp of his 65th birthday, has become omnipresent, if not omniscient, in the entertainment community.
Steven is everywhere, doing everything. As a director, he is in post-production on two films, "The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" and "War Horse," is prepping "Lincoln" and has his name on every movie around, from "Super 8" to the "Transformers" sequel to "Cowboys & Aliens" to "Real Steel." In TV, he is executive producer of three new primetime series and is involved overall with six shows. He seems to attend every function, from the premiere of "Super 8" to the DGA's 75th anniversary event.
Besides all this, he runs DreamWorks, working closely with his partner Stacey Snider, consults on theme parks (he receives a reported 2% of the gross from Universal's parks), presides over a family, sails his new boat (which he has rigged to run dailies) and clearly has little time to count his billions.
None of this is to suggest that Spielberg is a greedy power freak. Indeed, he is surely Hollywood's most admired director and arguably its most revered elder statesman.
"Steven is the nicest superstar I know, except I don't really know him and I'm not sure how many people do," observes one Hollywood CEO. "I can't believe anyone can consistently be as gracious and polite and still be so busy."
I first met Spielberg when he was a tortured young director shooting "Jaws" not far from my parents' house on Martha's Vineyard. He was coping with an absurdly lean budget and a uniquely unwieldy fake shark and should have behaved like a Hollywood brat, but even in those desperate moments he came across as a nice guy. He was busting his budget but I sensed he would come out OK. I never thought the picture would change the face of his industry, however.
So why is he driving himself so hard? Ask his associates and you get a range of answers. Several projects simply came together back-to-back, they explain. He is not one to duck previous commitments, especially when it comes to mentoring other filmmakers, like J.J. Abrams. Further, his sense of noblesse oblige prompts him to step up to his duties on industry boards and philanthropies.
And, despite his impeccable politeness, Spielberg is intensely competitive. Having worked so hard to raise the money to refinance DreamWorks, he seems determined to remain at the center of the action. Even in TV, "Steven will not put his name on things unless he is intimately involved with them," says Darryl Frank, the co-head of DreamWorks Television.
And then, again, Spielberg is about to be 65 and, friends say, is responding to intimations of mortality. Spielberg adamantly refutes the Tarantino theory that a director's best work always occurs in his young years and that the post-sixties period is usually disappointing.
Spielberg is not contemplating retirement, but I'm not sure he ever contemplated omniscience. So maybe the best explanation to what makes Steven run is simply that he never planned to slow down.
Why should you when you're Steven Spielberg?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Pixar Animation remains undefeated at the box-office races.
The Disney unit's animated sequel "Cars 2" cruised to a No. 1 finish with a $68 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That makes 12 wins in a row for Pixar since the company's first feature film, 1995's "Toy Story."
"It couldn't be any better than that. What an unbelievable track record these guys have," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney.
"Cars 2" added $42.9 million in 18 overseas markets, giving it a worldwide total of $110.9 million.
Domestically, "Cars 2" nearly matched the $68.1 million debut of Disney-Pixar's "Up" two years ago, though it was well below the company's record of $110.3 million for last year's "Toy Story 3."
The original "Cars" had a $60.1 million debut in 2006, but factoring in today's higher admission prices, it sold more tickets than "Cars 2."
Premiering in second-place was Cameron Diaz's classroom comedy "Bad Teacher" with $31 million. The Sony Pictures release added $12.9 million overseas in about 10 countries.
The previous weekend's No. 1 flick, Ryan Reynolds' "Green Lantern," fell to third-place with $18.4 million. That was off a steep 65 percent from its revenues over opening weekend, raising the domestic total for the Warner Bros. superhero tale to $89.3 million.
Both new wide releases came in ahead of industry projections, which had pegged "Cars 2" at an opening of around $60 million and "Bad Teacher" at about $25 million.
"Cars 2" features Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy reprising their voice roles for race car Lightning McQueen and tow truck Mater as the two are caught up in a spy adventure during an international racing tour.
The movie overcame unusually harsh reviews for Pixar, whose films include such critical darlings as "Ratatouille," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and "WALL-E."
Disney's Viane said audiences gave "Cars 2" top grades in exit surveys, a sign that the movie should have a long life at theaters like previous Pixar flicks.
"I'm always concerned when it comes to dollars and cents. What does the paying public think?" Viane said.
With global settings that include Japan, Italy, France and Great Britain, "Cars 2" also has strong prospects as it continues to roll out overseas.
The international haul for "Cars 2" included $9.3 million in Russia, $8.1 million in Mexico and $7.6 million in Brazil.
While the G-rated "Cars 2" cornered the family market, "Bad Teacher" was the weekend's grown-up choice, starring Diaz as a foul-mouthed, boozy, gold-digging educator.
"She just went with it with great abandonment. She totally just let it go," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony.
While women accounted for 63 percent of the audience for "Bad Teacher," Sony executives hope word-of-mouth over Diaz's brazen performance will draw more men to see it in the coming weeks.
Overall domestic revenues totaled $176 million, up 6.7 percent from the same period last year, when "Toy Story 3" remained No. 1 in its second weekend with $59.3 million, according to box-office tracker
For the year, revenues are down 7.6 percent compared to 2010's, though a strong summer has helped Hollywood erase most of a big downturn in business from the sluggish winter and spring.
The upcoming Fourth of July weekend looks huge as Paramount's sci-fi sequel "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" blows into IMAX theaters Tuesday night and general cinemas Wednesday.
That will be followed in mid-July by the Warner Bros. fantasy finale "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
"With `Cars 2' and the one-two punch of `Transformers' and `Harry Potter,' I think we have a shot at knocking that revenue deficit down to the break-even point or even pulling a little bit ahead of last year," said analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Cars 2," $68 million ($42.9 million international).
2. "Bad Teacher," $31 million ($12.9 million international).
3. "Green Lantern," $18.4 million.
4. "Super 8," $12.1 million ($10.5 million international).
5. "Mr. Popper's Penguins," $10.3 million.
6. "X-Men: First Class," $6.6 million.
7. "The Hangover Part II," $5.9 million.
8. "Bridesmaids," $5.4 million ($11.5 million international).
9. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," $4.7 million ($13.5 million international).
10. "Midnight in Paris," $4.5 million.
'Transformers' star Tyrese Gibson is pinning his hopes on legendary director Steven Spielberg taking over the reins of the 'robots series' if Michael Bay steps down. Having starred in all the three movies, Gibson is expecting that Spielberg, who has acted as a producer, will save the Transformers franchise and come up with the fourth installment.

 "(If) Michael Bay decides to not come back for Transformers 4, there is always Steven Spielberg. I am not saying that Steven Spielberg is for a fact going to direct Transformers 4. But it is a beautiful safety net to know that one of the biggest, most respected directors in the world happens to be an executive producer on Transformers. He is someone who knows this world. And he could easily step in and direct Transformers 4 if he decided to," the Daily Express quoted him as telling Movieweb.
 Rumours are doing the rounds that the series' leading man Shia LaBeouf has confirmed that he won't return for a fourth film after releasing 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'. (ANI)

Sunday, 26 June 2011











Television and film music composer Fred Steiner, creator of the bold and gritty theme for the “Perry Mason” TV series and one of the composers of the Oscar-nominated score for “The Color Purple,” has died. He was 88.
Steiner died of natural causes Thursday at his home in the town of Ajijic in the Mexican state of Jalisco, according to his daughter Wendy Waldman, a singer-songwriter.
One of the busiest composers working in Hollywood in the 1950s and ’60s, Steiner also crafted music for “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” “Rawhide,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and other TV series.
Steiner said he wanted to create music for Mason, writer Erle Stanley Gardner’s legal-eagle lawyer, that projected two key facets of his personality: suave sophistication and the underlying toughness that allowed him to go head to head with the criminals with whom he often came into contact. The piece he came up with, titled “Park Avenue Beat,” pulsed with the power of the big city and the swagger of a beefy hero played to perfection by actor Raymond Burr.
“In those days, jazz — or in those days, rhythm and blues was the big thing — represented the seamier side of life,” Steiner told National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg in 2002. “Don’t ask me why — that’s a sociological question.”
Frederick Steiner was born Feb. 24, 1923, in New York City, the son of violinist, composer and arranger George Steiner. He began playing the piano at 6 and took up the cello at 13.
He received a scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, where he studied with composer Normand Lockwood.
His early jobs included composing, arranging and conducting music for New York City-based radio shows in the 1940s, and he was appointed musical director for the ABC radio series “This Is Your FBI.”
After moving west in 1947, he soon found film and TV work in Hollywood. Among his early assignments for CBS-TV were “Man Against Crime,” “The Danny Thomas Show” and “Gunsmoke.”
Steiner and the other members of Hollywood’s thriving musical community got together often, Waldman recalled.
“I remember them all very well, remember them playing chamber music at our house, remember Bernard Herrmann pounding on the piano, Elmer (Bernstein), Jerry Goldsmith, Earle Hagen, Henry Mancini, Leonard Rosenman, Nathan Van Cleave, it goes on and on,” she said.
In 1958 Steiner moved the family to Mexico City for 2½ years after landing a job as director of an independent record company and was commissioned to create a library of music for Mexican television and government-produced documentaries.
Steiner returned to Southern California in 1960 and resumed his career in Hollywood.
The serious, classical music aspect of Steiner’s life was a counterweight to the lighthearted character of one of his more widely recognized compositions, the jaunty Broadway-style theme he wrote for “The Bullwinkle Show” — a later incarnation of “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle” — and the charged-up, forthright Dudley Do-Right theme used in the series.
Steiner contributed music to more than two dozen episodes of the original “Star Trek” TV series, music that resurfaced in 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and, most recently, for “Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II.” He also provided music, although uncredited, for “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” in 1983.
In addition to his daughters, Steiner is survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley; a sister, Kay Gellert; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
The Cars are all right. The Pixar sequel Cars 2 lit up the scoreboard with $25.7 million on Friday, according to early estimates, putting the G-rated movie on track for a big $70 million weekend. Critics gave the film the worst reviews in Pixar’s history, and industry insiders were predicting an opening closer to $50 million, so this result is a welcome surprise for Pixar and its owner Disney. Assuming Cars 2 reaches $70 million this weekend, that’ll be the best debut for an animated film since last June’s Toy Story 3, which unspooled to $110.3 million. It’ll also place Cars 2 right alongside Pixar’s The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, which opened to $70.5 million and $70.3 million, respectively. In 2006, the original Cars took in $60.1 million its first weekend, or about $72 million when adjusted for ticket-price inflation.
In second, the R-rated comedy Bad Teacher grossed $12.1 million and is headed for an opening of about $32 million. By comparison, Bridesmaids debuted to $26.2 million, although it’s highly unlikely that Bad Teacher will duplicate that film’s box-office stamina. Nevertheless, this is a huge win for star Cameron Diaz. The last movie to rest entirely on her shoulders was 2009′s The Box, which mustered only $15.1 million during its entire run. Also, Bad Teacher cost just $20 million to produce, and its solid opening is further confirmation (along with Bridesmaids) that audiences are willing to support female-driven raunchy comedies.
Losing quite a bit of green was Green Lantern, which plummeted 72 percent from last Friday for $6 million. The $200 million superhero film will have to settle for a $19 million weekend, pushing its two-week tally to a disappointing $90 million. In fourth place, the sci-fi adventure Super 8 continued to hold up well, dropping only 37 percent for $3.8 million. And Mr. Popper’s Penguins slipped 43 percent for $3.7 million on Friday.


For the last few years, as seemingly every third 1980s film has been put through the clanking gears of Hollywood's remake machine, many filmgoers have lamented the move away from original concepts. "Hollywood, tear down this retread wall," has been the cry of those irked by the movie industry's obsession with all things Reagan era.

This weekend, "Super 8" provided a rebuttal. It turns out you can get what many critics believe is a smart, sweet movie -- and a hit to boot -- by channeling that period.

Although it's set in 1979 and doesn't share a specific title with any movies from the "me decade," "Super 8" is a 1980s film to the core. It plumbs the depths of that pre-Internet, early-fanboy era as much as any film in recent memory. And it contains more references to "E.T," ""Stand by Me" and "The Goonies" -- for many who came of age in the 1980s, the holy trinity of popcorn cinema -- than a VH1 special.

Yet despite the film's determinedly backward glances, critics generally liked it (an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), with prominent reviewers saying things such as "If you're wondering what's missing from so many big-budget, effects-driven Hollywood movies, the answer lies in J.J. Abrams' 'Super 8.'"
Audiences, meanwhile, came out in sizable numbers. The movie's $37-million weekend is the biggest opening of any live-action movie not based on a preexisting brand this year -- a list that, while small, includes "Bridesmaids," "Just Go With It" and "Battle: Los Angeles." "Super 8" also had the best opening in nearly 20 years for any film Steven Spielberg has produced or directed that wasn't based on an existing brand, topping efforts such as "A.I." and "Saving Private Ryan."

That kind of success doesn't mean that an entire decade is ripe for the ransacking, of course. But it does prove that there's a purity to some of its storytelling that can translate today. And while in a brand-obsessed Hollywood remakes aren't exactly produced out of idealism, that doesn't mean they can't yield something interesting.

Later this summer we'll get more literal '80s visitations in the form of "Fright Night" and "Conan the Barbarian." Who knows how good these movies will be, and whether we'll greet them with an embrace or an eye-roll? But "Super 8" at least shows that with the right filmmakers holding the right intentions, a little nostalgia may not be a bad thing.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Star Wars Galaxies will be shutting down Dec. 15, bringing an end to the 8-year-old massively multiplayer online game. The news is both tragic and nostalgic, according to a producer’s letter sent to the community Friday.
The developer team will be finishing the Galactic Civil War 2 – Space update, but that will be the last piece of new content.
A world-ending event is in talks to give the game a proper send off.
The Galaxies online trading card game will also be shut down.
News around the web indicates BioWare’s upcoming Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic, may have had a hand in Galaxies’ demise. That information has yet to be confirmed by Sony Online Entertainment.
Editor’s Note: I suppose I had the privilege of playing Star Wars Galaxies prior to the New Game Enhancements and Combat Upgrade patches.
The game was daunting. As a 15-year-old gamer with a neophyte’s experience in MMO gaming, I had trouble grasping the game’s nuances and eventually gave up.
It’s odd, but somehow looking back with rose-tinted glasses has made those nuances somewhat endearing.
I couldn’t get my head around the game’s crafting and market systems, and I had an even worse time figuring out what those Entertainers and Doctors were for.
Despite the confusion, you couldn’t help but feel you really did step in a piece of the Star Wars universe. The Mos Eisley Cantina was packed with players chatting away, taking in buffs before heading out to hunt in the Tatooine desert.
Of course, taking off those rose-tinted glasses, the game nuances were serious problems. While many players will point to the major patches that ruined the game, I can’t help but wonder if Galaxies was doomed from the start.
But that’s a different discussion.
The combination of its goods, its bads and its quirks will soon become that ethereal stuff of memory when December comes knocking. It’s legacy firmly ingrained in the players who made Star Wars Galaxies.
And, really: that’s not such a bad way to go, is it?

The wait for Tales of Monkey Island HD episodes is over. In one of the craziest App Store maneuvers I’ve ever seen, Telltale Games pushed out the remaining four episodes of the five-episode arc in a single afternoon. Each title is available at an agreeable $6.99, which a few dollars shy of what they continue to cost on other downloadable services.
In the interest of drumming up interest, Telltale has also slashed the price of the first game to $0 for a limited time. It’s a good game at a great price, and like the rest of the titles in the series, it’s faithful to the vision of Monkey Island while also still exhibiting its own charm and takes on the universe.

.J. Abrams brought Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe to your TV screen, and transitioned to big-screen action franchises with Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek. Now he’s trying something a little different with the nostalgic action of Super 8, a tribute to the suburban adventure genre perfected by Steven Spielberg when Abrams was just a kid himself.
Here’s a little background on the man behind the camera.

1. He’s done terrible things to get where he is today.

Abrams hasn’t always been a nerd godhead. Back when he was going by Jeffrey Abrams, he made his bones as a writer of really terrible studio pictures in the early 1990s. The Jim Belushi-Charles Grodin cringer Taking Care Of Business was his first produced script, followed by the mawkish dramas Regarding Henry and Forever Young – you know, the one where Harrison Ford becomes a better person after he’s shot in the head, and the one where Mel Gibson freezes himself in the 1940s and wakes up in the 1990s. Abrams has come a very long way since then.

2. He’s a casting nerd.

Abrams frequently uses his position as a big-shot producer to introduce mass audiences to actors he thinks should be bigger. He brought Ricky Gervais to America, tailoring an entire episode of Alias to the British comic’s special set of skills. He transplanted The Wire’s Lance Reddick to network TV with a key role in Fringe. And Chris Hemsworth, who’s currently swinging Thor’s hammer, was an unknown Australian actor until Abrams cast him as the doomed father of James T. Kirk in Abrams’s Star Trek reboot.

3. He’s fiercely loyal ...

... although he expresses it in very strange ways. He gave Felicity star Keri Russell a chance to show her badass side in Mission: Impossible III – and killed her off in the first reel. And he uses Greg Grunberg as his lucky charm, casting the Heroes star in everything he directs; he was a regular in both Felicity and Alias, and played the smoke monster’s first victim in Lost. (Grunberg turns up in Super 8 as a voice on a TV sitcom.)

4. Lost wasn’t really his baby.

Oh, Abrams helped develop the pilot after ABC brass decided the script they commissioned from Jeffrey Leiber wasn’t quite right, but his greatest contribution to the show was giving it to two guys named Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, who ran the show for six years and came up with most of its mysteries, including the still-contentious finale. Go yell at them.

5. He sure does love him some Spielberg.

Crafted as a loving tribute to the movies Steven Spielberg made in the 1970s and 1980s, Super 8 contains subtle and overt references to the likes of Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – as well as nods to Spielberg productions like Poltergeist, Gremlins and The Goonies. I didn’t catch anything from 1941, but the movie does take place in 1979, the year that film was released. Maybe the nicest thing to do was leave it unmentioned


Friday, 24 June 2011

BioWare, the game development studio behind triple-A titles like Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, said hackers were able to crack into the forums for one of its old video games and might have stolen sensitive information about the site’s users on Friday.
This really is not a good quarter for video game developers, which have faced a lot of security issues. BioWare marks the fourth high-profile game developer that has had its site hacked and information compromised. BioWare said the forum hackers broke into was for an older and less-used game, but that information could be related to current existing Electronic Arts online accounts. The company is sending out emails to the forum’s users, saying the information stored on the site might have been compromised.
The information compromised in the attack on BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights forum did not include credit card information, the company said. But it did include names, dates of birth and email addresses that the hackers could use for spam purposes or to sell on secondary markets.
Hacker group Lulz Security, or “LulzSec,” said it recently broke into Bethesda Softworks’ secure network and could have compromised information regarding 200,000 of the company’s game players, but chose not to do so. The group previously broke into Sony’s Sony Pictures site and invited readers to “plunder those 3.5 million music coupons while they can.”
Sega’s online network was also hacked and around 1.3 million accounts might have been compromised, the company said. Again, names, dates of birth and email addresses might have been up for grabs in the attack. LulzSec broke character for a short while to say that it “loved the Dreamcast,” Sega’s last home gaming console, and would help the company hunt down its attackers.
Sony was also forced to bring down its online gaming network, the PlayStation Network (PSN), and beef up security as a result of an earlier attack by an as-yet unidentified hacker group. That cyber attack on Sony led to hackers stealing sensitive information from potentially more than 100 million PSN and users. Sony said credit card information could have been compromised in that attack.
Peter Falk, the American actor most famous for his role as TV's scruffy detective, Columbo, has died at the age of 83.
The actor died peacefully at home in Beverly Hills on Thursday night, his family said in a statement.
He had been suffering from dementia for a number of years.
Peter Falk won four Emmys for his cigar-chomping role as the deceptively bumbling Columbo, and was nominated for Oscars in 1960 and 1961.  Steven Spielberg directed an episode called Murder By The Book in 1971.
In the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride, he played a kindly old man regaling his sick grandson with a fairytale combination of swordplay, giants, a beautiful princess and fearsome rodents of unusual size.
But for most fans, even his best-supporting actor nominations in Murder Inc and Pocketful of Miracles were eclipsed by his incarnation as the sleuth in the shabby mac with no known first name and the killer catch-phrase: "One more thing..."
'Like a flood victim' Columbo was first aired by NBC in 1971, appearing every third week until it was cancelled in 1977. The part of its policeman hero was originally written for Bing Crosby, but Falk made the part his own and continued to make special episodes well into his seventies.
He reportedly turned down an offer to convert it into a weekly series, citing the heavy workload.
The actor bought Columbo's trademark raincoat himself, only for it to be replaced after it became too tattered through its near constant use in the series.
He told one interviewer his shabby detective looked "like a flood victim".
"You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he's seeing everything. Underneath his dishevellment, a good mind is at work."
Peter Michael Falk was born in 1927 in New York City, where his parents ran a clothes shop.
He had an eye removed at the age of three due to cancer. He said he learned to live with the ailment after it became "the joke of the neighbourhood".
"If the umpire ruled me out on a bad call, I'd take the fake eye out and hand it to him," Falk told the Associated Press in a 1963 interview.
As an aspiring actor, he was reportedly warned by one agent the false eye would preclude him from working in television. In fact, it became another endearing trait of his most famous character.
Peter Falk had been under 24-hour care for several years.
The actor is survived by his wife of three decades, Shera, and daughters from a previous marriage Catherine and Jackie.
In 2009, Catherine Falk applied to be put in charge of his estate, saying he was suffering from Alzheimer's and that she had been blocked from seeing him for six months.

“Fortune and Glory,” an exhibit of original props and costumes from the “Indiana Jones” movies, opens Friday at Hammondsport’s Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.

The exhibit celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of the first of the four films, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” All of the 50 memorabilia items in the show come from the private collection of Rick Leisenring, Curtiss Museum curator.

“I’ve been a fan since ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ came out in 1981,” Leisenring said. “I was in my 20s, I had just met my future wife Jo Anne, and we went out on a date to see the movie. I became enthralled, because I’d always been interested in history, and I’d wanted to be an archeologist since I was young.”

Leisenring says he has collected Indiana Jones memorabilia since the mid-1990’s, acquiring items from crew members who worked on the films or through reputable prop and costume dealers who deal directly with the movie industry.

Highlights of “Fortune and Glory” include Indiana Jones’ fedora from “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and a revolver used by a villain in “Temple of Doom,” among others. The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 5.

“Indiana Jones has never lost popularity,” Leisenring said. “He’s always got a new generation of fans coming along.”

While the museum focuses on aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, it also rotates a wide array of other exhibits. There are several exhibits currently on display to coincide with the Civil War’s 150th anniversary.

The museum, located on State Route 54 in Hammondsport, is open daily. Admission is $7.50 for adults. For details, go to or call 569-2160.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Everything that Steven Spielberg touches, turns gold! The two-hour premiere of TNT’s Falling Skies became cable’s #1 new series launch of the year after it drew more than 5.9 million viewers.
The epic saga about the aftermath of an all-out invasion by an alien military force which stars Noah Wyle and comes to TNT from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg.

Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) issued this statement, “The enormous success of Falling Skies demonstrates what can happen when you partner with the best people in the business and give them what they need to do their very best work. TNT’s Falling Skies is an exciting, fascinating and often moving story made possible through the magic of DreamWorks Television, an incredibly talented cast led by Noah Wyle and the vision of one of the greatest storytellers of our time, Steven Spielberg.”
Falling Skies also ranks as cable’s biggest scripted series debut since last year’s record-breaking launch of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles(7.6 million on July 12, 2010). Falling Skies outperformed such high-profile launches as USA’s Covert Affairs (4.9 million viewers – July 13, 2010) and AMC’s The Walking Dead (5.3 million – Oct. 31, 2010).
This Sunday, Falling Skies will move to its regular 10 p.m. (ET/PT) timeslot, following the season premiere of TNT’s popular caper seriesLeverage.


  • Martin Freeman | We'll all have to wait until Dec. 14, 2012, for the full fruits of director Peter Jackson's labors on his two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's…

Millennium Falcon

This weekend, it's "Star Wars" days at Legoland in California, as well as at the flagship park here in this western Denmark town, adjacent to Lego Systems' world headquarters.
At each of these parks, a new miniland has opened featuring scenes from many of the "Star Wars" films. All told, the models, which were done in 1:20 scale, took 1.5 million Lego bricks, and there are more than 2,000 total models from "Star Wars" locales like Tatooine, Hoth, Endor, Naboo, Geonosis, Kashyyk, Mustafar, and Christophsis. Each of the six films, plus "Clone Wars" is represented.
This is the Millennium Falcon from the Tatooine section, representing the original "Star Wars" film.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The new 3-D version of the Disney theme park ride "Star Tours" is a quantum leap above the original.
Riders will face the unexpected - thousands of different permutations in the story line.
The ride's repeat business should be superb.
The original 1987 "Star Tours" ride "was relatively simplistic," says "Star Wars" creator George Lucas. "It went through basically an asteroid field and then we got into a battle, sort of above the Death Star kind of thing but it was very simplistic."
Now "it's much cleverer, in the fact that we now have like 50 places to go. You never get the same ride twice." Lucas says there are a lot of secret cookies and other events as well. "You'd have to ride the ride for at least 100 times in order to get to see it all."
On the way to the ride's spaceship, the line winds through a spaceport complete with heat imaging panels and animated 'droids, including the films' C-3PO. The five minute ride starts when you're buckled into the Starspeeder 1000.
A Rebel spy is alleged to be on board, and the Imperial forces chase the ships through different worlds from the "Star Wars" saga - swampy Dagobah, icy Hoth, sophisticated Naboo, Kashyyyk, the Wookiee home world or the interior of the Death Star - as it attempts to deliver the spy to the Rebel Alliance.
Characters from all six movies might appear including the bounty hunter, Boba Fett, R2-D2, Yoda, Princess Leia and Jar Jar Binks, or a new set of stormtroopers created for "Star Tours" called Skytroopers.
Back in the real world, the 3-D glasses make the trip look stomach-twistingly realistic as the animatronics in your seat buck and weave in time with the digital film. Once you've landed, you exit via the gift shop complete with miniature Yoda dolls, diecast Racers cars and a make-your-own lightsaber booth.
"Now that we're digital, we can create, we can insert new story lines, new pieces and can have even more than 54," says an enthusiastic Tom Fitzgerald, senior creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering.
"Almost the whole thing is digital," says Bill George, visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). "There's a few segments that were shot with live action sequences, like the Wookiee that hits the window - that was a live action piece. The Darth Vader is all digital, the stormtroopers that are running are all digital."
"The "Star Wars" universe is something that's well established, the people really, really know the characters and the environments and so for both Glenn (McIntosh, ILM Animation Director) and I, who are so major Star Wars geeks, we wanted to make sure that everything we used was authentic. That may sound simple and straightforward but it's not."
When asked if he was going to continue to develop new worlds, Lucas says it's a wonderful idea.
Fitzgerald agrees: "Wherever "Star Wars" goes, we'll go."
"Star Tours: The Adventures Continue" is at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

ILM Visual Effects Master Dennis Muren talks about working with Spielberg, his VFX breakthroughs with Cameron and Spielberg, and working on JJ Abrams' Super 8.

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Disney’s next original Pixar pic will hit on November 27, 2013. They say original project, because it is not a sequel and it doesn’t have a title yet. And that’s all Disney is saying.
Pixar’s latest film is Cars 2 and it hits theaters this weekend. Pixar has earned twenty-six Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, and three Grammys, among many other awards and acknowledgments. Its films have made over $6.3 billion worldwide. Pixar began in 1979 as the Graphics Group, part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm before it was acquired by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1986. The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar in 2006 at a valuation of $7.4 billion; the transaction made Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney.
Pixar has produced eleven feature films, beginning with Toy Story in 1995. It was followed by A Bug’s Life in 1998, Toy Story 2 in 1999, Monsters, Inc. in 2001, Finding Nemo in 2003, The Incredibles in 2004, Cars in 2006, Ratatouille in 2007, WALL-E in 2008, Up in 2009 and Toy Story 3 (to date, the highest-grossing animated film of all-time, grossing over $1 billion worldwide), in 2010. All eleven films that Pixar has produced have been largely successful, both critically and commercially. The $602 million average gross of their films is by far the highest of any studio in the industry.
Brave will be the next film released by the studio in 2012 with a short called La Luna attached to it. Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus and Queen Elinor. An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin, the surly Lord Macintosh, and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall.
Steven Spielberg has revealed why he turned down directing Jaws 2 - because he'd had enough of the ocean.The filmmaker, who took the reins with the 1975 shark horror, didn't want to return after his experience and the job went to Frenchman Jeannot Szwarc.
"I was done with the ocean. I would have done the sequel if I hadn't had such a horrible time at sea on the first film," he told the Ain't It Cool website.
The film was shot in the Atlantic Ocean, but delays were inevitable.
"I was pretty naive about mother nature and the hubris of a filmmaker who thinks he can conquer the elements was foolhardy, but I was too young to know I was being foolhardy when I demanded we shoot the film in the Atlantic Ocean and not in a North Hollywood tank," he explained.
"But had I to do it all over again I would have gone back to the sea because it was the only way for the audience to feel that these three men were cast adrift with a great white shark hunting them."
Spielberg, whose next film is The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn, has had ideas for a sequel since then.
"I have a very, very good scene which I thought would have been good for a sequel someday. Every time I think of this scene, I think, 'Hmmm, could this be another Jaws movie?' And I have to immediately pull myself back down to earth."

Monday, 20 June 2011

HE'S one of the greatest heroes to grace the big screen and it's the best action adventure movie ever made.
And as Indiana Jones celebrates his 30th birthday this weekend, he is just as popular as ever.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark was first released on June 12, 1981. It set box office records and fired the imagination of film fans all over the world.
Few people won't have seen the original trilogy, which also included Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, or the fourth film, The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
But how well do you remember them all? Here are 30 things you didn't know about the Indiana Jones movies.
1 Although Sean Connery was offered a part in the fourth film - 2008's Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - so much time had passed that Harrison Ford was as old by then (66 years) as Connery's character was in The Last Crusade. Ford joked: "I'm old enough to play my own father."
2 Jock, the snake-owning pilot who helps Indy escape in the opening scene of Raiders, turned out to be a real-life hero for director Steven Spielberg in 1993. By then running his own small airline in Hawaii, pilot and part-time actor Fred Sorenson helped Spielberg's production team, including a lot of Raiders veterans, escape a hurricane while they filmed Jurassic Park.
3 In George Lucas's original screenplay, the main character was called Indiana Smith.
4 The character was called Indiana after Lucas's pet dog, an Alaskan Malamute. The running joke in The Last Crusade is that we find out his real name is Henry Jr, when his father (Connery) repeatedly calls him Junior. He reveals that his son took the name Indiana from the family dog.
5 Raiders Of The Lost Ark was set in 1936 but follow-up Temple Of Doom was set before the events of that film, in 1935. The Last Crusade was set in 1938. It references Raiders' timeline with the in-joke where Indy and Nazi girlfriend Elsa are in the Venetian catacombs and see a wall carving of the ark. He confirms to her, with a knowing smile, that he's "pretty sure" it's the ark.
6 Although it was the least well-received of the four films, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull made the most money, with a worldwide total of $786million. Raiders made $386million, Temple earned $333million and Crusade $474million. But adjusted for 30 years' inflation, Raiders is the clear winner, with $1.08billion.
7 Amy Debra also the part played In addition to Harrison Ford, five other actors have portrayed Indy in film and on TV. The most famous was River Phoenix, in the opening sequence of The Last Crusade. George Hall played a grumpy old man version in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. More youthful versions were played by Neil Boulane (baby Indy), Corey Carrier (tweeny Indy) and Sean Patrick Flannery (teenage Indy).
8 Indy's university, where he is seen being hounded by pretty female students, is called Marshall College, after producer Frank Marshall.
9 The famous hat is an Australian model fedora, which was supplied by Herbert Johnson Hatters of London. Indiana's pistol for Raiders was a .45 ACP Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector 2nd model revolver. The leather jacket was made by Leather Concessionaires of London and was based on a hybrid of the "Type 440" and the A-2 jacket flight jackets.
10 Indy's hat and jacket are currently on display in The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
11 Spielberg suggested Ford for the role but, after working so closely with the actor on the Star Wars films and American Graffiti, Lucas wanted a fresh face - Magnum star Tom Selleck. When Selleck couldn't get out of his Magnum deal, Ford became the main man.
12 Auf Wiedersehen Pet star Pat Roach gets killed twice in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. He is one of the murderous sherpas who attack Marion Ravenwood's bar in the Himalayas and also plays the shirtless Nazi fighter who gets chopped up by the propellor blades on the airstrip.
13 The story idea was developed by Spielberg and Lucas, based on a shared love of 30s adventure serial shows. The script was written by Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Lucas was very hands-on with the production but wanted Spielberg to direct as he was still traumatised by the efforts of making Star Wars.
14 Actresses Irving and Winger were considered for of Marion, by Karen Allan.
15 The scene in Raiders where Indy threatens to blow up the Ark with the bazooka was shot in Bouhlel, Tunisia - the same canyon where R2-D2 and C-3PO are captured by Jawas in Star Wars.
16 The Nazi submarine base scenes were filmed in a former German U-boat base in La Rochelle, France.
17 The iconic theme tune, by John Williams, is called The Raiders March. It lost out at the Oscars to Vangelis's music for Chariots Of Fire.
18 In The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Shia LaBoeuf played Indy's son Mutt, aka Henry Jones III. According to the chronology of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Indy also has a daughter. There were rumours that Natalie Portman may play this part in any upcoming sequels.
19 Scots stuntman Vic Armstrong doubled for Harrison Ford. Thanks to his uncanny resemblance to the star, he also performed a lot of non-stunt doubling work as Indy during the shoot for The Temple Of Doom after Ford hurt his back during the rope bridge scenes.
20 It has never been revealed where in Scotland Henry Jones Sr (Connery) was born. What is known is that he became a professor at Oxford before moving to Princeton, New Jersey, where Henry Jr was born in 1899.
21 In Raiders, the Paramount logo becomes a jungle mountain. In Temple, it's a carving on the nightclub gong, in The Last Crusade it's a rocky outcrop in Utah and in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull it's a gopher mound.
22 Some of the best moments in Raiders were unscripted. The classic moment when Indy shoots the swordsman warrior was originally penned as a lengthy duel. Ford also ad-libbed the famous line: "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."
23 Spielberg was one of the only crew members not to get sick during the Tunisia shoot. This has been attributed to him importing crates of spaghetti hoops.
24 The character of Indy is said to have been half James Bond and half Professor Robert Challenger, Arthur Conan Doyle's adventurer scientist in The Lost World.
25 When Belloq opens up the Ark, part of his Aramaic recitation comes from an everyday Jewish prayer.
26 Spielberg's favourite scenes in Raiders are reported to be the monkey doing the Nazi salute and the "where does it hurt" romantic scene on the freight ship.
27 Spielberg co-wrote the script for ET during breaks in the shoot of Raiders.
28 Ford and Connery shot the Zeppelin scenes with no trousers on, because the tiny studio set was too hot and they didn't want to sweat too much during filming.
29 Ford's chin scar, while explained in The Last Crusade as coming from his teenage encounter with a lion and a whip, really came from a car accident aged 20.
30 Lucasfilm in-jokes include the seaplane's ID number in Raiders (OB-CPO) after Star Wars' Obi Wan-Kenobi and C-3PO, while you can see tiny hieroglyphics of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the Ark's Well of Souls. In the Temple of Doom, Indy escapes from a nightclub called Club Obi Wan.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Noah Wyle’s career is coming full circle.
When he was 23, he landed the role of wide-eyed Dr. John Carter on “ER.” The iconic series was executive-produced by Steven Spielberg.
Now the California native, 40, stars in Spielberg’s new TV series “Falling Skies,” premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on TNT. He welcomed the chance to work with the director again.
“Any time I have the opportunity to sit at his lunch table, it’s like getting a crash course in film-school education,” Wyle told the Herald in a recent phone interview.
In the series, Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a Boston University history professor who has become the de facto leader of the civilian army fighting an extraterrestrial attack. “It’s a new genre for me,” he said. “A totally different kind of character and one that might make me look heroic to my 8-year-old son.”
Though “Falling Skies” is shot in Toronto, Wyle said it was important to set the series in Boston because of parallels between the alien invasion and the American Revolution. “The only thing Tom has to fall back on is his extensive knowledge of our Founding Fathers and the battles that were fought right there where they’re standing,” he said. “So that’s what he uses to instill a little espirit de corps in the ranks.”
Although “Falling Skies” is a science-fiction series, Wyle said at its heart the show is a character drama with similarities to the contemporary political climate. “You don’t to have to look past the morning paper to see evidence of a small, determined, indigenous group of people believing that they have the right to the land that they’re on and wanting to defend and repel an unwanted army,” he said.
The series boasts scary-looking aliens and even-more- terrifying alien robots. It’s the most Wyle has ever had to work with special effects. “It’s not hard,” he said of acting against all the computer-generated graphics, adding with a laugh: “What it is is, you feel like a jackass. You’re standing around 50 or 60 crew members who are all scratching their bellies and looking at you like you’re the biggest (expletive) on the planet, the way you’re leaping around in fear over a tennis ball at the end of a stick.”
In tonight’s premiere, Tom seems to have developed a special affection for Anne (Moon Bloodgood), a pediatrician who is now the army’s doctor. Will a romance develop between the pair? “We were trying to establish a sense of tension and a sense of ever-present threat. That made it very difficult to shoot scenes that had intimacy without feeling like we were dissipating that tension or trying to tack in something that didn’t really belong,” he said. “It plays out like two people who have an interest but are really busy.”


Enlarge   Harrison Fraud: Vic (left) with Harrison Ford on the set of an Indiana Jones film
Harrison Fraud: Vic (left) with Harrison Ford on the set of an Indiana Jones film
Peter Sellers told Kingsley Amis that the most exciting thing he’d ever seen in his entire life was a stuntman walking through a plate-glass window. Amis (who told me that story) didn’t quite get the point - which was that Sellers respected stuntmen, enjoyed their company, because they were a link with the circus or carnival element of show business, which were his origins.
By the time Vic Armstrong caught up with Sellers, the poor old goon had gone nuts, convinced he was in the thrall of demonic powers, causing people to be sacked and removed from the studio on no pretext. ‘He was totally paranoid,’ and needed a stunt double if Inspector Clouseau had to get out of a parked car.
But otherwise Sellers’s views hold - stuntmen are indeed a jolly, foolhardy bunch, who like to leap out of moving vehicles, bounce on their heads, roll along the road, get up and ask: ‘Was that all right? Do you want me to go again?’
As Vic Armstrong says, the stuntman’s job is to make ‘the wildly improbable seem totally credible’. For pulling off this trick - and living to tell the tale - he is the most respected stuntman in cinema history.
I read this book (as Stanley Kubrick would say) with my eyes wide shut. Day after day this crazy man has performed amazing feats, such as leaping from a galloping horse onto a speeding lorry or jumping from a helicopter onto a mountainside, ‘all without the aid of airbags or safety nets’.
Vic has regularly been wrapped in asbestos and set on fire. He has fallen under a tube train for Jon Voight in The Odessa File. He did all the flying for Christopher Reeve in Superman.
As Harrison Ford’s double for Indiana Jones, he dangled off a collapsing rope bridge above ‘a chasm of emptiness’, got chased by a giant rolling boulder, and endured the elaborate fight sequences without complaint. As Steven Spielberg has stated: ‘No CGI can match what Vic can accomplish.’
It’s not all glamour. Vic doubled for Windsor Davies driving into a brick wall and for Jim Dale tumbling off a parapet. In Up The Chastity Belt he was Frankie Howerd in a jousting scene. ‘Let me help you with those leggings, ooh!’ said Frankie lasciviously.

Action man: Vic Armstrong is Indiana Jones
Action man: Vic Armstrong is Indiana Jones
Vic grew up around horses, as his father was the farrier for the Olympic equestrian team. His original ambition was to be a steeplechase jockey. It was through horsemanship that he developed his phenomenal courage and coolness.
‘You force yourself to do things you’re frightened of, heights and falls,’ he explains. ‘It’s mind over matter’. There must be more to it than that - Vic is famous for his almost oriental calm, like a Zen master. As I myself am a massive sissy, I’m enormously impressed.
He got into movies through his father’s acquaintance with Richard Todd, who owned a stable. Vic was soon in demand for his riding skills, doubling Gregory Peck for £20 a day. He fell from the saddle for Michael York, Simon Ward and George C. Scott. He doubled for Mel Gibson when Mel bruised his testicles after failing to wear a jockstrap.
Vic trained the horses for Polanski’s Macbeth and bought the white stallions in Seville that became unicorns in Ridley Scott’s Legend. He takes months teaching horses how to fall without injury - and he looks back with horror at the old days in Hollywood, when horses were subjected to trip wires and generally tortured. In cowboy movies and Errol Flynn’s The Charge Of The Light Brigade, ‘you can actually see the horses’ necks breaking’.
Few Bond films have not had Vic Armstrong in them somewhere. He has often swung into shot on a rope, ‘hanging out over nothing’, firing a machine gun. He choreographed epic speedboat chases and punch-ups. Owing to the editing and reverse angles, often Vic is shooting at and fighting with himself.
Vic is a bit caustic, it has to be admitted, about Sean Connery, who doesn’t like to mix with lesser mortals. ‘In he’d come in his little cart and then whizz out again’. Sir Sean ‘doesn’t want to do much at all . . . Sean would much rather go and play golf’.
At the opposite extreme is Grace Jones, who never understood that ‘we’re not doing this for real here’. She never pulled her punches, so when the stuntmen wore extra padding she still broke their ribs. She smacked a weightlifter on the nose ‘and totally flattened it’.
Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise, meanwhile, are utterly professional and rehearse their own stunts to perfection - though alas, in this day and age, people assume their feats are just CGI and their courage is not properly appreciated.
Oliver Reed also thought he was macho, but he had to be tanked up on the booze first, which was a mistake. Vic saw Reed get boorish on many occasions, wanting to take everybody on and smash up restaurants. He was an idiot.
Richard Burton was another drunk, especially when Elizabeth Taylor arrived in the Rolls with a Harrods hamper full of champagne. Carefully devised schedules had to be abandoned.
Though I was intrigued to learn some of the tricks of the trade - to absorb falls, stuntmen land on a layer of polystyrene cups; to make sets look bigger, midgets are hired to walk about in the distance, to fool the perspective - what I mostly took away from this riveting book was a sense of life’s injustice.
Close-ups aside, most of what we see the stars do on the screen they are not doing. It is a total illusion, for which we must thank Vic Armstrong and his band of ‘real tearaways, fantastic characters’, the ex-military types, cab-drivers, ex-boxers and bouncers who become stunt doubles and dice with death for little reward and no recognition.
Studios even find stuntmen, if not dispensable, then easily replaceable. If people are killed, ‘everything shuts down, you re-group and basically the dollar speaks and the production starts up again’. When Vic smashed his shin in Marrakesh, he regained consciousness in a mortuary - that’s where he’d thoughtfully been dropped off!
Vic is philosophical about this. But I was reminded of what it was like when a film was made of one of my books, and I overheard a minion from HBO say of me with disdain: ‘Oh, he’s only the author.’ Yet without my writing there’d have been no movie - as without the stuntman the screen would similarly be blank half the time.
In my view, when it comes to lavish action pictures, Vic and his cohorts deserve as much applause (and riches) as your Harrison Fords or your Arnie Schwarzeneggers. Their names should be emblazoned above the title, not hidden away down the credit roll next to the people who do the catering.
This is the best and most original behind-the-scenes book I have read in years, gripping and revealing. Vic Armstrong is modest, humorous and wry - altogether brilliant company.
Roger Lewis’s new book, What Am I Still Doing Here?, illustrated by Ronald Searle, will be published by Hodder in the autumn.

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