Wednesday, 30 November 2011

In what the show’s creators claim will be a technological first, Liam Neeson’s full body hologram will interact with the live performers.
He will play journalist George Herbert, a role previously voiced by Richard Burton.
The musical is based on the 1978 album by Jeff Wayne, which was in turn inspired by HG Wells’s classic science-fiction novel about a Martian invasion of England.
Burton, who died in 1984, supplied the narration for the album and his voice was used for a holographic head in the musical production that began touring in 2006.
After a hiatus, the show will return in December 2012 with Neeson at the helm and new special effects, including a 100ft wide “CGI animation wall” and a Martian fighting machine that fires real flames at the audience.
Neeson said he had been a fan of the album for many years and was thrilled to be involved in the new production.
“I remember buying the tape, as it was then, in 1979 in Ireland, and I loved the music. I loved Richard Burton’s voice especially, and was very flattered that Jeff wanted me to do this,” he told a press conference in London.
He tried to banish Burton’s voice from his mind when he was doing the narration. “I had to get rid of it and just focus on the text. That would have been suicide, to just keep thinking of Richard.”
As for the technology: “I’m not a computer nerd at all so I knew nothing about this technological stuff, but it did sound very interesting. We shot it over three days in April.
“It was all done on ‘green screen’ which I’m very used to after Star Wars and Clash of the Titans and various films like that. It wasn’t terribly different from shooting a movie.”
The actor pointed out that he did not believe in aliens.
Wayne said that Neeson was his first choice for the role. He explained: “I had a list of one name of my ideal George Herbert, and it was him.
“To me, this is a living work and now we’ve made the decision to move on to what we call the ‘new generation’.
“Richard’s performance was 74 sequences, Liam’s is 90. Before, we had one holographic head that hovered over the stage; Liam is that but also a full body performing with the other live characters and appearing on a giant animation wall.
“This has given us some wonderful opportunities to open up storylines.”
Neeson recalled his one encounter with Burton, when the two men were filming a 1984 mini-series called Ellis Island.
He said: “I remember coming out of the make-up trailer one morning and he was standing, listening to this lady who was talking to him, with his arms behind his back and he looked incredibly fit. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s Richard Burton’.
“He had this kind of a halo around him. I didn’t want to go over, I wish I had. And two weeks after that he passed away.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Today, Gilbert posted a couple of pieces of concept art to his blog, Grumpy Gamer, which is the first hint we've had of what the game will look like. The first one is a lady in a lab coat with outsized glasses straight out of The Far Side (she's called "The Scientist"), and a rough-looking gentleman in a double-breasted suit known as "The Mobster."
This is an idea that has been in my head for a long long long time. It predates Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. It's a game that needed to be made.
These are two of the playable characters. That's all I can say right now, but more will follow later.
PARIS — A Paris auction of items related to Herge's comic book reporter Tintin, whose adventures have been adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg, fetched more than 1.8 million euros Saturday.
Auctioneers Arcturial said the sale, including costs, had brought in 1,873,396 euros ($2,480,095) -- far more than the one million euros expected.
The 856 lots up for grabs were equally divided between recent objects and older material, including some very rare items, said Arcturial. In all, 85 percent of the items sold in a packed hall.
One of the most sought-after objects was an original gouache and watercolour drawing of a battle scene from "The Secret of the Unicorn"; estimated at between 35,000 and 40,000 euros, it finally sold for 168,900 euros.
Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," saw its worldwide premiere in Belgium in October and later in other parts of Europe to generally positive reviews and strong business. It opens in North America in December.
An original drawing for another Tintin adventure, "Flight 714 to Sydney," fetched 90,100 euros, about three times the initial estimate of between 25,000 and 35,000 euros.
And a special edition of the adventure "Explorers on the Moon", signed not just by Herge but by six astronauts to have made the journey to the Moon, fetched 100,000 euros -- around 10 times more than originally expected.
Even a handmade greeting card by Herge, featuring a drawing of Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy perched on the famous red-and-white rocket from the moon adventures, fetched 40,000 euros. It had been estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000 euros.
The Tintin adventures were written and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983 by Georges Prosper Remi, whose pen name Herge is the French pronunciation of his initials reversed: RG.
Herge memorabilia are among the most sought-after comic book items. A Paris auction of Tintin drawings and sculptures last year brought in just over a million euros.
And a single illustration fetched 764,200 euros at another Paris auction in 2008, a world record in the field of comic books.
The auction catalogue can be viewed at

Monday, 28 November 2011

Indiana Jones Adventure World Video Game - H 2011
Courtesy of Zynga

The whip-carrying hero will be weaved into the story of the Facebook game, which will be renamed Indiana Jones Adventure World, and featured in a new chapter.

Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones is coming to social gaming giant Zynga's Adventure World in a big way on Tuesday in what is Indy's first venture into the social game space. 

As part of a collaboration between the companies that has been in the works for a while, the Facebook game will be renamed Indiana Jones Adventure World, and the whip-carrying hero will be weaved into the game's story, according to Zynga. 

Plus, the company will on Tuesday launch a new chapter of the game called Indiana Jones: And the Calendar of the Sun, in which players team up with Indy in search of a lost treasure. While they do not control the hero played on the big screen by Harrison Ford, he shows up regularly, gives players advice and helps them collect points.

Zynga, which has a filed for an IPO that is expected by year's end, has previously worked with film studios, such as Paramount and DreamWorks Animation, and music stars, such as Lady Gaga and Enrique Iglesias, to offer short-term integrations that promoted new film or album releases and the like. But the Indy partnership is Zynga’s first long-term arrangement with an entertainment partner.
Zynga had in September said that Indy would come to Adventure World, but hadn't shared detailed plans.

"Our Adventure World players have seen Indy in messages before, but this is the first time they can interact with him," Toby Ragaini, executive producer of the game, told The Hollywood Reporter. "And we worked hard with Lucasfilm to get the character right. For example, he is afraid of snakes - just like in the films."

The companies didn't disclose financial details of the licensing agreement and partnership. Adventure World has 1.5 million daily and 9.2 million monthly active players, according to AppData. Zynga executives wouldn't say how many incremental players the addition of Indiana Jones could draw to the game.

"It felt like a good marriage," Nabeel Hyatt, general manager, Zynga Boston, told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is not a short-term, but long-term relationship, which is new for Zynga. We talked very early on, but it took this long to get it right in partnership with Lucasfilm."

Indiana Jones: And the Calendar of the Sun sees Indy join players on their adventure as they trek across the jungle to find the Calendar of the Sun, while a competing group has a head start. 

The story takes place prior to the Indiana Jones films, around 1934, and includes Forrestal, a rival adventurer mentioned in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as some items from the films.

In future releases of the game, players will also get access to some of Indiana Jones gear and gadgets, including snake bait, a bear trap and outfits.

Why do players not get to play Indy himself? "We take additions to a game very seriously," said Ragaini. "Players wanted to play alongside Indy rather than becoming him, because each player has their own character that is created. Our goal was to allow them to interact with Indiana Jones like in a social experience."
Star Trek XII Release Date Set For May 2013... And It Will Be In 3D

Since we're getting closer to the filming of Star Trek XII, more news is starting roll out about the sequel in the J.J-verse. Yesterday we learned that Michael Giacchino will be returning as composer on XII and today Paramount has set the release date for May 17th, 2013. That's right folks almost a full year off from the original June 29th, 2012 release date. Let's hope the Mayans & George Lucas aren't right, because I really want to see this.
In the same news release on (yeah, I thought it was weird too) we also learn that J.J's sequel will be shot in 3D. I have to say that I'm not really sold on the "gimmick", because I've yet to see a new 3D movie that was remotely impressive. It always seems that a character randomly points to an object at the screen to sell the extra dimension. Honestly, it just takes me out of the film. 3D should be used like a good surround mix, meaning it should seem natural to the viewer. Anyway, here's to hoping for a few epic space battle's with Khan in the third dimension.
For Star Wars, the first days were the hardest. Any fan familiar with the film's history knows the difficult battle George Lucas fought to get the world made. 

Every great movie has a history of struggle before it reaches the big screen, and Star Wars had an especially difficult road to the theaters. Lucas couldn't explain the vision in his head, it made no sense on paper, and hardly anyone knew what they had until they actually saw the finished product.
The first days of Star WarsAs George Lucas recalled in the book Blockbuster, "It took me two years to get that thing off the ground and the only reason it got off the ground was that [former Fox president] Alan Ladd Jr. liked American Graffiti and said, 'I don't understand this movie, I don't get it at all, but I think you're a talented guy and I want you to make this movie.'"

What's taken for granted today is that opening day a movie plays on thousands of theaters at once. Star Wars opened to a grand total of 32 screens, and 20th Century Fox was lucky to get them.
As Ladd explained in Blockbuster, Star Wars got into the theaters because of a now illegal practice called "block booking," where a studio holds a big movie hostage in exchange for theaters playing one of their smaller films.

Fox told theater owners if they wanted The Other Side of Midnight, a potboiler based on the Sidney Sheldon best-seller, they had to show this little movie Star Wars too.
"Most people only booked Star Wars because they had to," Ladd said. "We didn't give them a choice. As illegal as it was, that's the way the distribution game was played." (Note: Universal did the same thing the following summer with Robert Zemeckis' first film, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which theaters had to book if they wanted Jaws 2).

On the website In70mm, writer Michael Coate did an excellent job tracking the release pattern of Star Wars, and how quickly it grew. Star Wars was released on May 25, Memorial Day, now a sacred date for blockbuster releases but in those days the deadliest day of the year to release a film. By the week of June 3 it was added to two more theaters, three more the next week, then it made the big jump to 109 by June 17.

"I realized Star Wars was a hit opening night on a Wednesday," says Ladd. "We broke all the house records of the theaters we opened up in. George was still working on the movie, he was still in the cutting room, when I called him and told him he broke all those records. He was just finishing up the movie, we sent wet prints to the theaters. George's reaction was kind of pessimistic, like, 'Maybe this is just the opening. Science fiction opens well, it has legs for a while, then it crashes.' It never crashed."

Star Wars was in over 500 theaters by July 8, and by August 5 it was playing on over a thousand screens. As Coate reports, the opening of Star Wars was low "even by 1977 standards." Consider a handful of films that were expected to be big hits that summer: The Deep opened at over 800 theaters, Exorcist II over 700, Smokey and the Bandit over 300, and The Spy Who Loved Me opened at over 200.

"A big, major release in the mid '70's was 800 prints," says former Fox executive Gareth Wigan. "Star Wars opened on 40 screens because nobody else wanted to book it. Once there was a gigantic demand for Star Wars, there was also a huge demand for having it in Dolby sound. Of the 40 prints it opened with, only three were Dolby. The story at the time was that the Dolby switchboard burnt out on the Monday after Star Wars opened because so many people were calling and asking, 'How quickly can you put Dolby into my theater?'"

Star Wars was in release for 67 weeks. It was finally pulled from release in September 1978, except for one theater that was still playing it in Portland, Orgeon. The Astor Plaza in New York played the movie for 61 weeks where it grossed close to $4 million in that theater alone.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

It began as an extraordinary children's book about the brutality of the First World War, seen not through the eyes of a combatant but of a horse.
A quarter of a century later, it was adapted for the stage in a production that took puppetry to a new level, and is still playing to packed houses in London and – since earlier this year – on Broadway, where it won several Tony awards.
Now it looks as if War Horse, originally a novel by Michael Morpurgo, has successfully made the final transformation – to the big screen.
An eagerly anticipated film version, directed by Steven Spielberg, is galloping towards its release in America on Christmas Day and in Britain on Jan 13. Its makers have begun showing it to select audiences in the US – including some film critics – and praise from members of the public is pouring in.
"When the credits rolled, everyone began to clap," Janet Till, a 51-year-old schoolteacher who attended a recent screening in Florida, told The Sunday Telegraph. "It is a tremendous film, extremely moving, and great cinematography

"I had virtually no idea what it was about before I went. I had not heard of the book or the play and I was very surprised how good it was. The war scenes were so powerful that they were hard to watch."
If it is as big a success for the film as Spielberg hopes, it will be a triumph for the story of the extraordinary odyssey of a horse named Joey from the rolling countryside of Devon to the carnage of the battlefields of France.
For months the project was enveloped in the secrecy typical of a Spielberg epic, as his DreamWorks studio skipped the usual film festival circuit and kept the drama – which features a predominantly British cast led by an unknown stage actor, 21-year-old Jeremy Irvine – under wraps.
As part of a plan to promote it through word of mouth endorsement, it has been unveiled to a tiny handful of cinema audiences in the US – its most challenging market – with more to come on Sunday. And the first signs are that Spielberg's gamble is likely to pay off.
Shot in Devon, the Cotswolds and Surrey, where unflinching French battlefield scenes of cavalry charges and No Man's land were recreated, War Horse is already being tipped to gather several Oscar nominations.
Although the plot is little-known in the US away from New York theatre-going circles, the reaction has been largely glowing.
Chris Stuckmann, a film enthusiast who reviews movies for the YouTube video-sharing site, said after a viewing in Ohio: "This is one of Spielberg's best and that is saying something. He is a genius at portraying war sequences and this is classic Spielberg."
On Sunday the director will field questions from cinema-goers invited to select screenings in 10 American cities as the publicity offensive opens in earnest over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
It is also being shown in Los Angeles and New York to critics and members of the Academy film industry guild who vote for the Oscars. Preview screenings will be held in London early next month.
The stage productions in London and New York met with huge acclaim for their deployment of life-size horse puppets, manipulated by handlers so unobtrusive that they somehow faded from view.
But the film used real horses – 13 of them just to portray the main equine character, Joey, who serves both the British and German armies before ending up alone in No Man's Land.
The cast includes British actors David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston, Peter Mullan and Irvine, a young theatre actor with no film experience who was selected to play the role of the farmer's son, Albert Narracott.
The book was adapted in collaboration with Mr Morpurgo by British writers Richard Curtis, whose previous films include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary and Notting Hill, and Lee Hall, best known for the Billy Elliot screenplay.
Watson has described the story's appeal to British audiences. "The Michael Morpurgo book is 'Black Beauty goes to war'," she said in an interview. "So if you're English, two of the most emotive subjects you could touch on are Black Beauty and the First World War. The crew were constantly in tears, as there were war memorials and everybody had a story in their family... for English people, everyone is touched by that war."
But the 1914-18 war is less familiar territory in the US and it is Spielberg's first foray into that conflict. He won Oscars for his Second World War films Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List and there is growing buzz that he could land another for what is, apart from his involvement a very British film – just a year after The King's Speech won the Best Picture category.
Some have criticised the film as too sappy and sentimental. Others complained about the slow-paced start on a Devon farm, where Albert forms a powerful bond with the animal bought by his father at auction before the British Army conscripts the horse when hostilities break out.
"War Horse is wonderful, beautiful and very touching... if you're Joe Popcorn," wrote Jeffrey Wells on the Hollywood Elsewhere website after attending a critic's viewing. "Or if you feel a nostalgic affinity for 'less edgy, more traditional' films and can just roll with what War Horse is serving. I think it's so shameless [as Oscar bait], it's almost a hoot."
But on the influential Deadline Hollywood website, Pete Hammond made the case for the film.
"What Spielberg has wrought is a stunning looking and highly emotional epic that is Hollywood moviemaking at its best, and seems likely to be the filmmaker's most Academy-friendly work since Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan," he said.
"Is it old-fashioned? You bet, but in this fast-moving techno culture that may be a welcome thing."


Super 8 was J. J. Abrams’ mash note to the early work of Steven Spielberg, and, on that front, it hits all the right notes: Aliens, child-like wonder, the small-town experience, directorial economy, ominous caravans of military vehicles, etc., etc. But Abrams also managed to make the movie his own, and, in anticipation of Tuesday’s release of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray, we asked the director about the difficulties in reconciling the two styles, as well as his uncanny knack for keeping a lid on spoilers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Looking back, what was it like working on Super 8 with Spielberg?
J.J. ABRAMS: To work with Steven, which was something I always wanted to do, and have it be as educational and rewarding and fun as it was, I feel like I just dodged the biggest bullet in my life. Working with your hero, if it ends badly, it’s a scar for life. So the fact that it ended well was a real relief.
So you two are still on speaking terms?
We’re actually still friends.
How did you approach the task of alloying your own personal vision with an homage to him?
What I thought the movie needed to be was an Amblin movie, a movie that would fit in the library of the movies that Steven produced over the years like The Goonies and Poltergeist and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. There were so many movies that were of a certain genre and it felt like I hadn’t seen a movie like that in so long. It wasn’t like I was trying to steal specific moments or storylines or shots. In fact, Steven was always much more aware of the things to look out for and he was incredibly encouraging about using conventions of the genre to our advantage, and not being afraid of the notion of government or conspiracy when it comes to an alien landing. I was very careful. I didn’t want to rip anything off. I wanted it to feel like a movie that was embracing the spirit of those films.
It might be because so many of their protagonists are young, but I feel like those films tend to have been important to a lot of folks during the formative years of their childhood. For example, I still hold onto my worn-out VHS copy of E.T. with the green tapeguard.
The fact that the characters are young probably has something to do with it. There was something so exhilarating about working with these kids. They were so funny and there was none of that jaded self-awareness. They didn’t have any kind of agenda other than being good and authentic in the movie. There was a real sort of inherent and true sweetness to them that didn’t feel posed or manufactured and that was a great thing to see on the set and watch on dailies.
I have a question about your own childhood. When you were a kid, were you good at keeping secrets? Because you strike me as someone who would have been.
I’m not sure I ever had any good secrets to keep.
You definitely do now.
I feel like as a kid what I really loved was going to the movies and seeing a trailer for something that I had never heard of and being excited about what the trailers would be because it told me what movies were coming. I also loved going to movies and being surprised by what the movie itself was. I feel like in a lot of ways, given the Internet and the immediate access to information, we’ve almost lost the ability to be surprised and to not know about what’s coming. So that feeling I had as a kid is what I try to fight for now, which is to allow people to have that sense of discovery when they go to the movies, because that was part of the fun of it. It seems to be increasingly hard to maintain.
But by being so mysterious about your projects, like Super 8, you make people even that more eager to figure out what it is ahead of time.
I think a fun aspect of not knowing is wanting to know. I think we’re so accustomed to getting what we want instantly that it’s nice to have to wait it out. It’s never meant to be a trick to get people excited and freaked out. The fact that that ends up being a result of not getting all the information and knowing answers to what’s going on in a show or in a movie, it says that there’s a kind of value in it. There’s fun to be had in anticipation, there’s nothing wrong with living with that and being a little bit hungry for the answers. It will make the answers, if satisfying, that much more rewarding. Getting the answer instantly deflates the importance of the moment because the instant you had that itch, it was scratched. I think there’s something great about protracting that itch a bit so that when you finally get there and see the movie and get the answers and understand what the story is, you’ve lived with and you’ve engaged with it and it’s more meaningful because of it.
Coming on the heels of that, this question is going to be both ironic and quite likely hypocritical: How is Star Trek 2 coming?
[Laughs] Good, good. It’s coming along great.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Thebeardedtrio has been beta testing The Old Republic this weekend.  Since the ban on posting photos and videos has been lifted this weekend here are some screenshots and video.  I've been playing on an Alienware M11 notepad with 4gb memory.  Initially I was playing at 1024x768 but switch to the native resolution of 1368x768 and surprisingly the frame rate went up and performance improved.  I had to turn down some texture and shadows but the game still looks nice and playability is great.  Only issue I found is the text is on the small side with no option I could see to enlarge it but maybe Bioware will add this option in later patches.  Frame rate was staying around the 20-30 fps sometimes going higher but when I got to the Jedi Temple frame rate dropped to around 15 fps because there was so much going on with other players and characters running around.  The sound is amazing with great ambiance and of course a superb score with snippets of John Williams classic soundtracks peeping through now and again.  One last thing, the introduction to The Old Republic is some of the best Star Wars I have ever seen.  If they could just make a movie with this kind of animation and quality.  I am drooling at the thought.

Here's the spec
Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3GHz/800Mhz FSB/3MB cache)
4gb ram
1024 (MB) NVIDIA GT335M GeForce
11.6 inch display (1366x768)

Video showing The Old Republic playing on an Alienware M11 Notepad

As ""The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn"" open to theatres across India, we got talking with Steven Spielberg's right-hand man, or shall we say - his right hand-woman, ""Tintin""'s executive producer, Kathleen Kennedy.
She calls herself Spielberg's translator. ""It is my job to translate Steven's vision to the hundreds of people who work for him, she says. Although, Steven adds, ""She's a bit more than that."" And that she is. Kennedy's the second-most successful film producer of all time and she has been by Spielberg's side through all of his biggest hits, including Indiana Jones, ET and Jurassic Park. In Brussels to promote Tintin, she provided us with an insightful interview on the making of Tintin and what the movie means to India.

Spielberg was my film-school: Kathleen Kennedy

How did you start working with Steven Spielberg?
I started working with Steven Spielberg when I was 26-year-old and I interviewed for a job that was actually with John Miller. I got the job. Steven and John worked in the building together, I got to know Steven while we were making 1941, and he just increasingly was asking me to do projects and what not, and then he asked me to come and work directly for him. Things were quite different back then because, he didn't really have anyone else working for him so it was quite a different opportunity. He was sort of a film school.

How does it feel to be the woman behind Steven Spielberg?
I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I think Steven works very well with women, I think he feels comfortable with women. I think women handle ego very differently, you know. I certainly like to have my opinions, I have my point of view but I am not in competition with him. That seems to be the male dynamic and I think that's why Steven feels comfortable having women in his life. The many times I go into his office, and between his wife and his two assistants, and me and Stacy from the company - there will be 6 women standing around him at any given point (laughs) and he is fine with it.

While making Tintin, did you target the India market in particular?
Yes, we did. When we had looked at the research and realised that Tintin was so popular in India, we were surprised - we had no idea and so when we sat down in front of the film's distributors, it was very very important market for Tintin. It's just too bad that we don't have the time to get on to an airplane and go. I have done that in the early days with my husband. It's one of my fondest memories. Back then we were scouting locations for"Raider's" and we went to Jaipur, Udaipur area. While I've had the opportunity to go around the world for publicity, Steven hasn't had the chance to do that for a long time because he is always making a movie while we are selling the new one.

The American and European audience have very different sensibilities, especially when it comes to humour, did you have to keep that in mind while making Tintin?
We did keep that in mind, but I think that is a very difficult thing to change. If you start moving away from what you intuition is, being creative, and start guessing what you think people might want or be interested in - I don't think you will do a very good job, I think all you can do is rely on your own instincts and then hope those are shared by as many other people as possible, when you are making a movie. So if you're trying to make a movie at is populist entertainment, I think that is what Steven does exeptionally well. He has really good instincts for that. It's keeping the audience in mind, but he's never forgetting what he thinks. And I think that's a great part of the process.
I think this is going to be an interesting experiment actually to see the movie coming out in Europe so far in advance of United States, whether it ends up making a difference or not. I hope it does. There are many many movies that get released in the United States and everywhere else where the audience doesn't know anything about it. There's not a book, there's no awareness. I would certainly hope, that with Steven having directed, I hope the audience will know that they will get a really really fun movie.

The book is not so famous in America, and in places like Europe it is the older age group that has been reading the books rather than the younger lot, what kind of an audience were you targeting while making the movie?
We always said we wanted to make a PG- 13 movie. What's fun is that there is whole new generation that can be introduced to Tintin and can read the books and see the movies. And I know when I gave my kids Tintin, they loved them. Otherwise, had I not been making the movie, I wouldn't have known anything about Tintin. So, I think that will be nice for the audience that don't know much about it.

Friday, 25 November 2011

In movies, titles like Heaven’s Gate and Plan 9 From Outer Space are synonymous with disaster, with cars it’s the Edsel, and in gaming, it’s the video game adaptation of E.T.

Some may argue the title hastened the demise of Atari, and in fact, the company did go swiftly downhill not long after the E.T. game flopped.
E.T. - the biggest disaster in video game history?

Yet, E.T. was the biggest box office hit of all time way back when, so how could a video game based on it fail? The title not only seemed like the sure-fire licensing deal a studio would kill for today, but it also came at the peak of gaming in the eighties. 

Atari was owned by Warner Brothers, and the late Steve Ross, who was the architect of the Time Warner merger, wanted Steven Spielberg to make movies at the studio, even though the director had strong ties to Universal.

As Connie Bruck, Ross’s biographer reports in the book Master of the Game, Spielberg and Ross became friends in the summer of ’82, when E.T. was a box office juggernaut. Both Spielberg and Ross were big gamers, and Spielberg promised Ross he’d get first crack at the game rights to E.T. Atari first offered Universal $1 million and a 7% royalty, which the studio turned down, but before anyone knew it, Ross closed a $23 million deal with Spielberg.

Ross then announced the game had to be ready by Christmas. The usual development period Atari needed for games was six months lead time to make delivery. Now they had four or five weeks to get things moving.

One Atari exec also realized E.T. wasn’t suited to be turned into a video game, recalling it was a "lovely sweet movie," but kids playing video games "like to kill things." Still, Atari pressed on. Four million games were going to roll off production lines, but then focus group reports came in predicting Atari would only sell a third of that.

E.T. the game hit stores in time for Thanksgiving, but out of the four million copies shipped, 3.5 million were returned back to the company. No one could have predicted that Atari could have gone down so drastically and quickly after the company had its biggest year, but Atari now had stiff competition with Coleco rolling out Donkey Kong, and Parker Brothers’ throwing its hat in the video game ring with Frogger.

By the summer of 1983, the video game industry had officially crashed. As former Atari executive Charles Paul recalled to Connie Bruck, he believed the E.T. game was "a terrible mistake. I knew it hadn’t caused the downfall of Atari but it did throw gasoline on the fire."

Still, Paul admired the gamble Ross took, because it brought Steven Spielberg to Warner Brothers.
"He succeeded in breaking MCA’s hold on Spielberg. Steve’s viewpoint was, so what if I overpay by $22 million? How can you compare that to the value of a relationship with Spielberg? And I think he was dead right."

Today the E.T. game is an odd capstone to the end of the ‘80’s era of gaming. And as a report on Yahoo confirmed, many of the E.T. game cartridges wound up in a landfill in New Mexico, but if you’re curious to play it, there’s tons of E.T. game cartridges on EBay that survived, and they’re certainly not an expensive collector’s item.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fans of whip-cracking adventurer Indiana Jones, rejoice - Harrison Ford says he has a "strong ambition" to star in a fifth installment of the franchise.
The 69-year-old actor dished to Extra in a recent interview that he'd like to reprise his role as archeologist Jones in the long-mooted follow-up to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
"It'll happen when it happens," Ford told Extra's Terri Seymour. "I have strong ambition to do it while I'm still alive. I'm available, I'm not cheap, but I'm available!"
Catch his brief interview here.
Ford also told the LA Times back in September that he'd be "delighted" to star as Jones again.
"Maybe [I'll do] a fifth, but I ain't going to Mars. Next time we get a script for Indiana Jones, I'd be delighted to play the character.
"Each time we meet him, we wanted to advance the audience's understanding of the character, not just by putting him in adventures, but by learning something about him.
"That's what led to the meeting of his father [in The Last Crusade], played by Sean Connery, and his son [in Crystal Skull], played by Shia [LaBeouf], and bringing Marion (Karen Allen) back."
Director Steven Spielberg recently revealed that executive producer George Lucas is working on a possible fifth outing for Indiana Jones.
"[George] is working on Indy 5. We haven't gone to screenplay yet, but he's working on the story," he told Empire magazine. "I'll leave it to George to come up with a good story."
Spielberg also conceded that some of the alien-themed elements of 2008's critically-panned Crystal Skull didn't work.
"I'm very happy with [Indiana Jones 4]," he told Empire. "I always have been. I sympathise with people who didn't like the MacGuffin [plot device] because I never liked the MacGuffin. George and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin.
"I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in - even if I don't believe in it - I'm going to shoot the movie the way George envisaged it.
"I'll add my own touches, I'll bring my own cast in, I'll shoot the way I want to shoot it, but I will always defer to George as the storyteller of the Indy series. I will never fight him on that."
As for one of the movie's most derided scenes where Jones survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator, Spielberg admitted it was "silly".
"Blame me," Spielberg said. "Don't blame George. That was my silly idea. People stopped saying 'jump the shark'. They now say, 'nuked the fridge'. I'm proud of that. I'm glad I was able to bring that into popular culture."

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

ThinkGeek is proud to announce the release of four new additions to its exclusive STAR WARS product line. Building on its successful licensing relationship with Lucasfilm(TM), ThinkGeek is delighted to bring fans Star Wars Breakfast Beverages, Han Solo Chocolate Bar, Lightsaber Candlestick, and Death Star Attack T-Shirt this holiday season.
"Star Wars is a passion of ours," said Ty Liotta, head of ThinkGeek's GeekLabs custom products development group. "Because we're huge fans, we're very serious about delivering top quality designs that delight our customers. The latest products are a reflection of our commitment to quality and fun."


The Star Wars Breakfast Beverages - The perfect gift for every man, 

woman or Wookiee. Each beverage comes in a collectible metal 

lithographed tin featuring unique illustrations. The set of three 

includes Vader Dark Roast Coffee for a taste of the dark side, Hoth 

Cocoa for those cold nights, and Yoda Dagobah Green Tea to help find 

your true self. The set is available now for $29.99.

The Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Chocolate Bar - A tasty confection 

sure to satisfy the bounty hunter in your life, this delicious homage to 

The Empire Strikes Back is 4.5 ounces of premium Belgian dark chocolate. 

Available soon for $11.99.
The Star Wars Lightsaber Candlestick - Fine dining for a more civilized 

age, this precision replica of Darth Vader's lightsaber is cast in 

zinc-alloy and chrome plated and comes with three no-drip red taper 

 candles. The circular base unscrews to provide a more authentic look to 

the saber hilt for the true Star Wars collector. Available soon for 


The Star Wars Death Star Attack Shirt - Building on ThinkGeek's popular

line of interactive clothing, this t-shirt puts a firing Death Star 

right on your chest with both lights and sound. Once the fire button is 

pressed, a series of warm-up noises will play, followed by the Death 

Star lighting up and firing. Available soon for $29.99.

It wouldn't be too much of a shock or surprise if you told me you didn't know there was a sequel to American Graffiti. 

It opened to no business in August 1979, and for George Lucas the film was an embarrassment, but it's truly not a bad movie, and is a decent film in its own right. (You can now get both the original classic, and the sequel together on one DVD package.)

More American Graffiti wasn't even available on VHS for many years, and the trailer for the video version claimed it was "one of the most requested titles in the MCA / Universal library." 

The film takes place during three different years on New Year's Eve, and each segment of the film has a different look. Part of the film occurs during the Vietnam war, and it's shot in 16mm, which is why those scenes look boxed in when you watch it. (Doing segments of a film in different formats was also redone years later in Steven Soderberg's Traffic).

A major highlight of More American Graffiti is the camerawork, as it was shot by Caleb Deschanel, who was also the cinematographer of The Right Stuff, The Passion of the Christ, and the book end segments of Titanic with Gloria Stewart. (The rest of the film was shot by Russell Carpenter).

The look of the film is remarkable, especially the lighting in the concert segments, and the fact that Deschanel could make grainy 16mm look good next to his sharper, more vibrant work in 35mm.

More American Graffiti came seven years after the first film, and maybe it was too long between films to follow up. (As we reported previously on TG, the hilarious Star Wars Holiday Special was made to bridge the gap between Star Wars movies). 

There wasn't so much outrage that it didn't live up to the first film, just general audience apathy. Sequels were also fairly new then, which is why Universal often put ALL NEW on their ad campaigns, because they thought audiences would think it would be the original movie with newer scenes.

Lucas reportedly wanted to do a darker and more complicated sequel to American Graffiti, much like Coppola made a darker, more complicated sequel with the second Godfather, and he later regretted the film going back and forth between years, which is a film structure audiences are more used to today.

But right after the failure of More American Graffiti, Lucas struck one out of the park with The Empire Strikes Back the following summer, and soon sequel mania would be in full swing.

Unfortunately, More American Graffiti couldn't recapture the magic of the original, nor could it surpass the first like Empire did with Star Wars, but watching it today the movie is a respectable follow up, and a pretty decent film in its own right.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

After registering three domain names for the project, Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars: Identities is a new interactive museum exhibit at the Montreal Science Centre. Focusing on the character developments of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, the exhibit will utilize material from the Lucasfilm archives to explore a scientific approach to the concept of identity.

"The Star Wars saga continues to captivate audiences who find connection to its richly diverse cast of wonderful characters," said Lucasfilm's Exhibits Manager Kyra Bowling in a press release. "Star Wars provides a natural lens through which to explore the themes of personal identity and character. This innovative exhibition lets visitors of all ages investigate, in a fun and educational way, the factors and forces that help shape who we are as individuals."

Blastr notes that the exhibit will focus on three major themes of identity: "the origins of the characters, the influences that shape them, and the choices they make during their life." Lucasfilm's archive material combined with a comprehensive collection of scientific research will reportedly help fans understand what made Luke and Anakin tick throughout their adventures in the Star Wars saga.
This has to be one of the best videos I've seen this year on You Tube.  Ever wondered what would happen if Captain Picard and the crew of the Next Generation watch Star Wars on the view screen?  Well your curiosity has been answered.  Enjoy...

“AFI's Master Class” features movie composer John Williams (l.) and director Steven Spielberg discussing their nearly 40-year collaboration.

“AFI’s Master Class,” featuring Steven Spielberg and John Williams, will showcase their work on films like “Saving Private Ryan” (above), starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Ed Burns.
You won’t necessarily learn how to create a master blend of movies and music from listening to Steven Spielberg and John Williams talk about how they’ve done it with films like “E.T.,” “Indiana Jones” and “Jaws.”
But so what?
TCM’s “AFI Master Class,” which the network hopes will become a series, premieres Tuesday night at 8 with an hour-long chat between two men who have unquestionably earned the “master” title.
Their other work together includes “Temple of Doom,” “Schindler's List,” “Jurassic Park” and “Saving Private Ryan.”
It could also be argued persuasively that their work would be enshrined in movie history if they had only collaborated on the opening scene of “Jaws.”
You hear the music, you see the shark. Thirty-six years later, it only takes a half-dozen notes to tell you that Chrissy is about to become a midnight snack.
Interestingly, Spielberg says his collaboration with Williams on “Jaws” began with very little agreement.
Spielberg finished cutting the film and before he sent it to Williams he added music from an old Williams score, just because he thought that was the kind of thing that would be appropriate.
Williams saw the film, as Spielberg tells it here, "then called me to say ‘No, no, you have the music all wrong. This is a pirate movie.’”
Williams suggested the now-famous slow-motion musical intro. Spielberg confesses that when he heard Williams first play it, with all those long, ominous pauses, he still wasn't sure it would work.
Guess we know who was right about that.
But in fact, says Williams, one of the primary secrets of a successful collaboration is that no one can be afraid to throw a thought on the table. You have to be confident that even if your initial ideas are far apart, you will work things out.
The Spielberg-Williams collaboration goes back to Spielberg's first theatrical film, “Sugarland Express” in 1974. So they seem to have the hang of it.
They also talk in this session, which includes a Q-and-A with a live audience, about how music advances and enhances the action on the screen.
To illustrate that point they roll clips from several famous films, including “Vertigo,” “Spartacus” and “On the Waterfront.”
After the “Vertigo” scene, Spielberg remarks that he can envision the whole scene if he just hears the music, but that if there were no music, there would be no scene.
Spielberg’s specific praise for Williams is that “he's a chameleon.” In contrast to a Dmitri Tiomkin, whose scores Spielberg says have an instantly recognizable signature, Williams writes music that blends into a specific film.
To some significant extent, of course, the lesson here is that if you're John Williams and Steven Spielberg, you just respect each other's talent and you'll create “Indiana Jones.”
That's not a blueprint we all can follow. But it sure has given us some good nights at the movies.

Read more:

Monday, 21 November 2011

James Earl Jones has spent over fifty years lending his deep voice and impeccable on-screen gravitas to his roles and now the veteran actor will receive an honorary Oscar.

Jones told Variety magazine that he and his wife were "jumping up and down, and giggling" when they heard the news.
"What's wonderful about it is I didn't have to fight for it, I didn't have to campaign for it. They don't have to say 'James Earl Jones, winner!' I didn't win it, I earned it... At least, I hope I did."
Jones is set to receive the award on Saturday at the Governors Awards in Los Angeles, but said he will participate by video since he is currently in London for a Broadway production of "Driving Miss Daisy" opposite Vanessa Redgrave.
Jones is perhaps best known for his roles in "Field of Dreams," "The Sandlot," "Coming to America" and for voicing legendary characters like Darth Vader in "Star Wars" and Mufasa in "The Lion King."
When recalling how he landed his Darth Vader role, Jones said, "I was broke that summer, and I was offered a job to record some words that didn't have to be lip-synched. My agent said, 'Jimmy, you want a day's work?' and I said, 'Yeah, give it to me!'"
Director George Lucas was less casual about the decision, after passing on Orson Welles for the role, he said he knew he found it in Jones.
"Once I told him what I wanted, that it didn't need to be mechanical and that I wanted it to have some emotion, but not be overly emotional, he found that sweet spot," Lucas remembers. "He gave it depth and rounded the character out simply with the power of his voice and his acting abilities."
Jones told Variety that he realized early on that he needed to be open to film, radio, TV and commercials in order to support his family and though he has often portrayed noble characters, the actor said he prefers the everyday guy.
"I like what Shakespeare called 'the elemental men' -- the men who have no sophistication to hide anything they really are," Jones told Variety. "And if I play an admiral, I try to boil him down to his essence too, so he's also an elemental man, as best I can."
Jones' former co-stars harped on the actor's humility, kindness and gentleness.
"The idea of behaving like a star is a terrible waste of time and a terrible waste of feeling," Jones said.
The 80-year-old actor was nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in the 1970 film "The Great White Hope," which had been adapted from the stage and earned Jones a Tony Award. Jones was only the second black actor to be honored with an Oscar nomination at the time.
Jones won two Emmy Awards in 1991 for his roles in "Heat Wave" and "Gabriel's Fire." He was nominated for eight Emmys in total. He was also nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, taking one home in 1971 in the now-defunct Most Promising Newcomer category for his role in "The Great White Hope."
Jones is still busy, performing "Driving Miss Daisy" in London and recently wrapping "Gimme Shelter," which stars Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson. But despite his illustrious career, Jones is still waiting for his big role.
"Even at my age, I haven't done the film yet that I can say, 'This is my legacy on film.' I'm still looking for it."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The director behind the Harry Potter movies, David Yates, has said he’s embarking on turning long running science fiction drama Doctor Who into a film franchise. In an interview with Variety Yates announced he is joining with BBC Worldwide to turn the cult time travel production into a big screen movie, one of possibly many.
"We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right," he told Daily Variety, adding "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena." Words which will sound alarm bells with the die-hard Doctor Who fans.
David Yates, director of the last four Potter films, and Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide top executive, are working on plans for the venture which will see the series, which originally launched in 1963, return once more to cinema audiences.
Doctor Who first went ‘big screen’ with two feature films in the sixties, which were based on previous BBC television aired storylines. Peter Cushing played the title role in both 1965 and 1966 movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. A less successful film version was produced in 1996, imaginatively titled, Doctor Who: The Movie which starred Paul McGann as ‘the Doctor’.
The BBC television series ran originally until 1989, and was revived for a new generation in 2005. It has proved to have a steadfast loyal following, even through the years the series was off-air and is one of television’s most lucrative brands.
“The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time," Yates continued.
The recent BBC revival has been criticised for not traveling into space remaining largely ‘grounded’ in earthly settings. And while fans may be pleased to hear Yates’ keenness to move into other dimensions in time and space he added that the big screen Doctor Who would not be moulded in the form of the current BBC One series starring Matt Smith (pictured, right) in the title role.
"Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations… …we have to put that aside and start from scratch," Yates told Daily Variety. posted a video of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher in which she fires back at William Shatner who said that "Star Trek is better than Star Wars". Here is a trasncript, courtesy of

“They’re not in the same league. Fisher said. “I mean they have the word ‘Star’ in the title and there’s a space travel, right? Where did they go to Klingon?” she asked.
“Maybe it’s just their effects. They’re not called special effects.”
“I heard that [Dick] Cheney likes Star Trek.”
“My space buns were so much better than Nimoy’s ears” she said.
“George [Lucas] allowed Bill one day to be in the Darth Vader costume and do the breathing and everything. I’ve never seen anyone so excited. He couldn’t do it.”
Fisher closed by saying “If you see Bill Shatner, call him Han Solo.”


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Star Wars fan claims free plot of land - so Darth Vader can park his spacecraft

When Darth Vader stormed into a Ukrainian mayor's office demanding somewhere to park his spacecraft, the authorities needed a dramatic solution.
The Star Wars villain cited the country's new legislation that every citizen has the right to claim 1,000 square metres of land.
His invasion came after the city of Odessa agreed to grant attractive plots along the Black Sea coast to a group of people, prompting local concerns over corruption.
Striking back: Darth Vader states his claim for a free plot of land to bemused guards
Striking back: Darth Vader states his claim for a free plot of land to bemused guards
Phantom Menaces: The evil visitor heads to his destination accompanied by cameramen
Phantom Menaces: The evil visitor heads to his destination accompanied by cameramen
The mayor's office has since said the agreement was a mistake but has not yet cancelled it, according to local news website
The costumed city dweller told two guards through a voice distorter in his black helmet.
He said: 'I am Darth Vader, the right hand of Emperor Palpatine.'
He added: 'Knowing that many [local legislature] deputies and the mayor have switched to the dark side…
'I have come for a land plot… for my space cruiser.'
Action stations: The unmasked crusader is handed a form by an official in Odessa
Action stations: The unmasked crusader is handed a form by an official in Odessa

Mission accomplished: Darth Vader holds an old-fashioned piece of paperwork after registering for the scheme
Mission accomplished: Darth Vader holds an old-fashioned piece of paperwork after registering for the scheme
Dark arts: The masked intruder salutes his YouTube followers
Dark arts: The masked intruder salutes his YouTube followers
The amused officials accepted the man's application after he showed his passport and removed the helmet.
The video shows police leading him from the building to another location, where a woman hands over a form to the caped but unmasked anti-hero - although the film shows only the back of his head.
A video of his escapades on YouTube was accompanied by the Imperial March music, composed for the Star Wars films by composer John Williams.
'The application has been registered and will be considered,' said a spokeswoman for the mayor's office.
'We are not on the dark side, we are light-side people.'

Spielberg is in official talks with Warner Bros. to direct the spectacle film. Incidentally, Warner Bros. inked a deal with Mel Gibson earlier this year, to produce a biopic of Jewish warrior, Judah Maccabee.

"Gods and Kings", as the project is presently titled, will cover the entire breadth of Moses’ existence, from birth to death, including the Jewish emancipation from Egypt, the Burning Bush, and receiving the Ten Commandments.

The biopic was written by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine, and will be produced by Dan Lim and Matti Leshem.

After being out of the spotlight for a couple years, Spielberg has two high profile pictures slated to open next month, "The Adventures of Tintin," opening December 21, and "War Horse", opening December 25.

Presently, Mr. S is busy at work on the biopic of Abraham Lincoln, starring the venerable Daniel Day Lewis. "Lincoln" is scheduled for release in December 2012.
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Academy cadets and leaders will view a pre-screening of the soon-to-be-released movie "Red Tails" at 8:30 a.m. Monday at Hollywood Interquest 14 Theaters.

The film screening was offered by Lucasfilm, and the event is being funded by the Academy's Association of Graduates.

This opportunity allows cadets to gain perspective on the Academy's aviation heritage and interact with documented original Tuskegee Airmen.

'Red Tails' is scheduled for release Jan. 20, 2012 and showcases Tuskegee Airmen and their role in World War II. Two local DOTA's will be at Monday's event, including retired Lt. Cols. Marion Rodgers and James H. Harvey III.
There's open-world PvP, and then there's open-world PvP that puts hair on your chest and then rips it out with a vengeance. Tatooine has the latter.

At the recent fan site summit in Austin, TX, Star Wars: The Old Republic's Lead PvP Designer Gabe Amatangelo revealed nirvana for PvPers with Outlaw's Den. Outlaw's Den is a PvP free-for-all (FFA) area on Tatooine for players crazy enough to risk certain death to congregate, fight, and struggle for rewards.

Because there are no rules in the area, members from the same faction can harm -- and kill -- each other, and there are no restrictions on what goes on in that space. Apart from the excitement of "anything goes" PvP combat, Outlaw's Den sports several attractive elements that make it worth visiting, including top-tier crafting materials, vendors that sell rare mounts and social gear, an auction kiosk, and a pit reserved for to-the-death duels.

One of the most interesting aspects of Outlaw's Den is that even NPCs are susceptible to being killed, opening up the possibility for individuals and guilds to kill vendors in order to keep them out of others' hands. However, nobody can capture the zone, so the fighting will extend indefinitely.
Star Wars - The Exhibition
Lucas Films has commissioned some of the finest artists and illustrators to recreate those classic scenes and moments that made Star Wars such an internationally acclaimed success. Many of the pieces are hand signed by the artists and a special highlight is a collection of pieces from Ralph McQuarrie, famed artist and illustrator who designed many of the Star Wars characters including Darth Vader and Chewbacca.
In many ways Star Wars kicked off the Pop Culture Phenomenon. Due to its overwhelming success Hollywood adapted to this new ethos of movie making by writing more action packed, special effects movies. Without Star Wars you wouldn’t have Avatar.
Star Wars is the third highest grossing film series in history, behind only Harry Potter and the James Bond Films. As of 2008 it had earned $4.41 billion at the box office. From the first movie’s release on May 25, 1977 to the final film released in 2005, Silver K will have the all your favourite moments on display. With over 150 pieces in the exhibition including such celebrated characters as Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Darth Vader, C-3PO and many, many more it will be an exhibition not to miss.
The show will be an intergalactic journey through the creative world of Star Wars.
The Art of Star Wars opens November 26th.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The country's IT industry boomed by providing left-brained services like coding and call support. Now, it's getting ready to cash in on the creative needs of the world's entertainment industries.


India's IT industry emerged as a major global force over the last decade by providing all manner of left-brained services, from coding to call support. Now, as entertainment becomes more and more computational thanks to complex 3D special effects and animation, Indian firms are becoming crucial to the world's creative industries as well.
The global film industry is packing movies with ever costlier digital wizardry as it competes with new entertainment choices, from social networks to mobile phones. In 2009, nine out of the world's ten top-grossing films relied heavily on visual effects. These days, as much as a third of the budget for major Hollywood films is earmarked for special effects, according to a research report by accounting firm KPMG. The annual amount spent by filmmakers on special effects in the world's top five markets totals some $1.9 billion.
And yet, the domestic companies responsible for producing all those digital alien creatures and razzle-dazzle explosions have felt squeezed. They often struggle with razor-thin margins due to high labor and technology costs. That's where Indian firms have stepped in. Their cheaper wages result in costs for visual effects shots that are about 25% to 50% of what they would be in the U.S., according to a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. (Increasingly powerful high-speed networks that make zipping around massive data and video files easy haven't hurt either.)
Not surprisingly, Indian special effects, animation and video gaming firms have been growing. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts the industry will grow at a 21% annual clip, more than doubling in size to $1.84 billion by 2015.
That growth has already attracted major projects. This summer, James Cameron's Digital Domain opened studios in partnership with Reliance MediaWorks, an affiliate of India's Reliance ADA conglomerate. What's more, Reliance ADA provided about half the $825 million in financing for DreamWorks SKG (DWA) in 2009. Recent Digital Domain projects include Real Steel and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
In March, Lucasfilm said it would partner with India's Prime Focus for the 3D conversion of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which is due for theatrical re-release at the start of 2012. Indian companies like Crest Animation Studios and DQ Entertainment, meanwhile, have announced new projects with Lionsgate Entertainment (LGF) and France Television this year.
In partnering with production companies doing cutting edge work, some Indian players see an opportunity to take their industries to a new level. Aggressive deal making could set the stage for technology and skills transfers, much like it has in developing economies around the world in industries as diverse as mining and automobile manufacturing.
Naturally, RelianceMediaWorks's CEO, Anil Arjun, is bullish. He argues that the company's deal with Digital Domain will be "a game-changer due to the significant leap in available capacities and technology transfer" it will allow. The company currently has a roster of 600 3D and visual effects artists but plans to expand to 1,000 next year. That should allow it to take a bigger slice of a ballooning market.
The interest for Indian firms doesn't stop at making better pictures for Western audiences, either. Many are also eyeing the opportunity to repurpose advanced entertainment technology for the fast growing and content hungry domestic market. A boom in multiplex theaters and cable and satellite services is leading to massive demand for films. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts the number of multiplexes in India will double to about 500 by 2015 and that the television market will expand to $13.4 billion from $6.8 billion over that time.
The industry faces plenty of obstacles, though -- many similar to the ones traditional IT firms struggled with. Talent is in short supply and Indian companies have to invest heavily in training employees. But the scarcity results in poaching and controlling attrition is now a key challenge for executives, KPMG notes. What's more, other Asian countries are increasingly competitive. Singapore and Malaysia, for instance, are offering aggressive funding and subsidies to woo business.
Still, if the industry can overcome these hurdles and realize its bold ambitions, it could play a major role in what consumers see on the silver screen.

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