Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"9" Teaser Trailer Released

The teaser trailer for the upcoming computer-animated film 9 (based on the Academy Award-nominated short of the same name) has been released (view it in HD on Apple's website).

Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambatov (Nightwatch, Wanted) are producing the film, which will be directed by Shane Acker (who directed the original 2005 short).

The official plot synopsis included Elijah Wood as the character 9, Jennifer Connelly as the warrior 7, Martin Landau (who was in Burton's Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow) playing the role of the aged inventor 2, Crispin Glover playing the visionary artist 6 (who will be in Burton's Alice in Wonderland), Christopher Plummer as war veteran 1, and John C. Reilly as 5, the mechanic.

Danny Elfman will also be composing music for the film, according to the official synopsis on Apple's trailer website. Pamela Pettler (co-writer of Corpse Bride) co-wrote the screenplay.

The epic science-fiction action-adventure was originally intended to be released at the end of this year. Instead, Focus Features has pushed it back to September 9th, 2009 (9-9-09, get it?).

You can also watch a (slightly) lower quality version of the HD teaser trailer on YouTube:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Alice" to Feature Stop-Motion Animation

For those of you that were hoping that Tim Burton would use old-fashioned technology in his films, we have good news: Alan Rickman confirmed in an interview on MoviesOnline that Alice in Wonderland will feature stop-motion animation, along with live-action and computer-generated elements.

You can read the full interview here. Here's an excerpt:

MoviesOnline: What are you playing in Alice in Wonderland?

ALAN RICKMAN: The caterpillar.

MoviesOnline: A caterpillar? How do you get into something like that?

ALAN RICKMAN: Well, fortunately it’s animated.

MoviesOnline: Oh, okay.

ALAN RICKMAN: But it’s my face on an animated caterpillar. So, it’s a mixture. The movie is a mixture of live action, animation, and stop motion, so it’s very complicated and I don’t think all three have been put together ever before.

MoviesOnline: Oh, I don’t think so. No.

ALAN RICKMAN: So I’ll be with a live action Alice. I will be a construct.

MoviesOnline: Who is the Alice that you’re playing opposite?

ALAN RICKMAN: Mia [Wasikowska] is her name. I don’t know her surname. I met her yesterday because they’re shooting right here. If you make yourself into the invisible person, you can go in and have a look. She’s a young 19-year-old, apparently absolutely brilliant and certainly delightful person.

Monday, December 08, 2008

From Roger Rabbit to the March Hare

Ken Ralston, the visual effects supervisor on Alice in Wonderland, mentioned some technical aspects of the fantastical movie, during an interview commermorating the 20th anniversary of the multi-effects blockbuster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

BD: You're currently working on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which is a very ambitious hybrid of live action and CG. Are there some interesting parallels with Roger Rabbit?

Ken Ralston: Yes, Alice reminds me in a vague way of Roger. There's the March Hare: we have a two-scale rubber version of him for actor reference, not lighting reference because there are so many virtual environments. And we had to build Toonland from scratch, which is like Underland or Wonderland. Roger changed animation.

At the end of the interview, Ralston said how his experience with Roger prepared him for the daunting tasks demanded by such films as Alice.

BD: How has your Roger experience helped you on Alice?

KR: I couldn't have been on Alice without Roger. To be a part of Roger and how it touched people is cool. These tools are great, but, as I keep saying, it's how you use them. I can at least try to pre-empt issues that come up. It's a fast shoot, and I anticipate problems so they don't blow up in your face. The variables are endless -- technical and aesthetic.

Hathaway Talks About "Alice"

Anne Hathaway recently spoke about her contribution to Alice in Wonderland. Hathaway, who will be playing the role of the White Queen, stated that she will be wearing a practical costume, without computer-generated manipulation.

"I am actually an actor not affected by CGI in it," she said on December 5th. "I believe I'm one of the very few."

While character design is being kept hidden by the studio, Hathaway hinted at what she resembles. "If I was a bunny holding a knife, that's what my character would look like," she said. "I'm sorry, that's my impression."

Hathaway also spoke highly of director Tim Burton. "I don't know what it says about me but he always made absolute sense to me. I also think because I'm such a fan of Tim Burton's, I know his aesthetic so well, I kind of just have an idea for from years of being a fan about what he might want."

Hathaway compared Burton's style with other noteworthy collaborators. "I love working with directors," she said. "I think the director is the go-to person. It should be their vision that makes it up on screen, and so I love showing up and putting myself in someone else's hands. Jonathan [Demme] and I spoke in a shorthand as well, and I've worked with other directors before. Ang [Lee] gave me two directions on Brokeback [Mountain], which was 'she's a predator' and 'more subtle.' Obviously, I'm exaggerating. There was more than that, but I had worked with directors before who say meaningful things but don't say much. So there was just kind of a continuation of that."

Alice in Wonderland is scheduled to be released on March 5th, 2010.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rickman Talks "Alice"

Alan Rickman recently talked about his contribution to the upcoming Alice in Wonderland. Rickman also discusses his work in the new "Harry Potter" movies, which can be read in the full article here:

Alan Rickman, who plays Caterpillar in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, told a group of reporters that he has recorded his voice role and awaits the completed animation. The caterpillar will have the face of Rickman to go along with his voice.

"I don't know what it looks like," Rickman said in a group interview on Dec. 2 in Culver City, Calif., where he was promoting the film Nobel Son. "I've only done the first stage of it, which is them recording me saying these lines, quite badly. Then somewhere down the line, they'll have animated it, and I'll redo it. I'm a voice, but I have been filmed, because it's my face which will be on the end of something that will be the caterpillar."

While Caterpillar is an animated character, some actors are performing motion capture and others will appear in live action. The lines blur as even some live actors will have CGI additions. Rickman observed some of his costars when he was on stage.

"I saw Helena [Bonham Carter] and Crispin Glover yesterday," Rickman said. "They're a mixture of the two, actually, because there's Helena in a costume and in makeup, but her head is going to be made three times bigger than it actually is on top of the costume. I think they're all just blinded by the color green. It must be quite something to be surrounded by that much violent green all day long, but the costumes, one or two I saw, are incredible. I'm sure it'll be visual genius again."

Zanuck on "Ripley's"

Richard D. Zanuck recently spoke with and finally explained the history of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not debacle:

IESB: You were supposed to be doing Ripley's Believe it or Not with Jim [Carrey] and Tim [Burton]... that it kind of fell apart on the Tim side?

Zanuck: It fell apart on the studio side, we were ready to go and very close actually, 8 or 9 weeks away from starting and it was the studio that made that decision and it actually caught us off guard, all three of us - myself, Jim and Tim - we were rocked, we spent weeks in China selecting locations with art directors, getting permissions which is very, very tough in China to shoot. And so it was a studio decision.

IESB: Do you think it will move forward? You are still attached?

Zanuck: I'm not, no, we are no longer attached. I don't know how it was resolved with Jim whether he would be attached but definitely not Tim or myself.

So it appears that Tim Burton is no longer a producer on the film, either, if he ever was.

Sheen on "Wonderland"

Michael Sheen was recently interviewed Mr. Beaks on Ain't It Cool News. At the end of the talk, the actor discussed his working on Alice in Wonderland -- and stated that he will not be playing the role of the Chesire Cat, contrary to other reports. You can read the full interview here.

Beaks: Well, you're going to be a part of one of the most richly imagined fantasy worlds of all time in Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND. As The Cheshire Cat--

Sheen: I'm not The Cheshire Cat.

Beaks: Oh. Damn IMDb. Who are you?

Sheen: I can't say. But it's not The Cheshire Cat.

Beaks: Okay.

Sheen: IMDb needs to get its facts straight. It's funny. People have come along and said, "Oh, you're playing this" And I'm like, "Really? Who's told you? The studio hasn't said."

Beaks: Well, I won't go fishing.

Sheen: Go fishing. I just won't say. The studio releases these things. It's not up to me to say. But I am in the film. And it's great to be in a film that my daughter can watch.

Beaks: Is it a traditional take?

Sheen: No, it's not traditional. I've always loved those classic children's stories like PETER PAN and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. There's a darkness at the heart that I guess you can trace back to Grimms' Fairy Tales. They're for children, but there's a harsh reality about life that seems unfit for children, and yet it's incredibly compelling. They get at something that is much harder to get at, something essential about our experience. I get very excited about those things. So to be in a classic like ALICE IN WONDERLAND... even though it's not a straight-ahead retelling, I find that really exciting.

Beaks: Actors are so good at engaging that childlike sense of play. Is there something about those works that brings out the child more easily?

Sheen: Not really. Like I said, my process is always the same. I have to find a way to be totally engaged in everything I'm doing - and that's physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And it's only through having a childlike sense of play that you can do work - even if you're doing the most tragic of stories. I just did a film [UNTHINKABLE] in which I was tortured every day for three weeks. You have to find a sense of play in that so that it comes alive. Even if you're doing the most awful things, there has to be a joy in it. It's that sort of child aspect of yourself. Hell, I see it in my daughter. She's with her friends, they're playing, and she says, "I'm the woman who works in the village selling bread, you're that, and let's go!" It's this childlike sense of engagement where you just believe what you're doing and you don't censor yourself. That's essential for an actor. When you start thinking of acting as being "grown-up", no one will want to watch you. And anyone who does ought to be shot.

So who will Sheen be playing? Well, now some are saying that he has provided his voice to the role of the White Rabbit... But it may be safe to wait and see what the studio says...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Zanuck Talks "Alice," "Dark Shadows"

Producer Richard D. Zanuck has recently talked about Tim Burton's current film, Alice in Wonderland, as well as a possible future project for the director: a big-screen adaptation of the TV series Dark Shadows.

In one interview, Zanuck discussed Burton's decision to shoot Alice in 2D and eventually convert it to 3D in post-production. Director James Cameron, who is also involved with the new 3D movement in cinema, criticized this decision, saying "It doesn't make sense to shoot in 2-D and convert to 3D."

Zanuck: I'm making a very interesting film now, called Alice in Wonderland with Tim Burton. And we're shooting it in Culver City, and we're almost through with our part of it, which is shooting the live actors but they'll be animated. It's the first picture that will combine motion capture, with live actors and animation, all in the same frame. It'll be quite amazing.

What can you say about Tim Burton's vision for that?

Zanuck: It's everything you could imagine. You put Tim Burton in a world where his vision can run wild and you'll get the result that we're getting. I mean, when she goes into the rabbit hole. It's a dream actually. Her dream. And if it's anything that comes from her mind, and we're very faithful to the Lewis Carrol book. But it's Tim Burton being able to really crank up his wild imagination. In kind of a dark way too, as the original material was dark and scary.

James Cameron said that he didn't understand why you would shoot it in 2-D and convert to 3-D. Why not shoot it in 3-D?

The 3-D cameras are very clumsy quite frankly, compared to 2-D cameras. And it would have cost a lot more, we would have had more crew involved. I didn't see what Cameron said but, I was convinced, and so is Tim, seeing test after test of pictures that have been released in 3-D, shot in 2-D and you can't tell the difference. I would defy Jim Cameron to see the tests I saw and point out which was 2-D and which was 3-D.

In a second article, Zanuck talked about an upcoming project of his: Dark Shadows, which may be another Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration.

In a brief video interview (click this link to view it), Zanuck states that filming may begin as soon as next summer in London. He also discusses Depp's obsession with the soap opera when he was a schoolboy.