|THE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERROTTEN TOMATOESSKYWALKERAUDIENCES|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
The verdict is in on the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which is arguably one of the most interesting blockbusters hitting theaters this year, given everything surrounding the project. It's had a long, complicated road to make it to this point but the beloved Sega icon is finally headlining a live-action adventure on the big screen. So, how is it? According to critics who have weighed in so far, pretty good!
Rotten Tomatoes has tallied the numbers from critics who have weighed in up to this point and, as of this writing, the movie has a very solid 70 percent approval rating, with 61 reviews counted. Currently, The Angry Birds Movie 2 is the highest-rated video game movie ever, sitting at 73 percent. Video game movies have, for most of their history, not been great and we've only very recently started to get to a point where studios are figuring out a way to make these adaptations work. With that in mind, Sonic the Hedgehog sitting at 70 percent, especially considering everything this movie had to go through to get to this point, feels like a minor miracle.
Paramount Pictures, ultimately, got the movie made. Sony had been developing the project with Deadpool director Tim Miller for some time. However, they eventually walked away from it and Paramount came in to scoop it up in October 2017, bringing the same creative team with them, with Miller producing and Jeff Fowler making his feature directorial debut. James Marsden was brought in as the human lead, with Ben Schwartz doing the voice of Sonic and Jim Carrey playing the evil Dr. Robotnik. Things went smoothly, it would seem, throughout filming. But then that fateful day came when the first trailer arrived online and the world got a look at the Sonic design. The collective internet lost it.Sonic had teeth, bizarrely long legs and, overall, took some serious liberties with the character fans know and love. The studio then decided to delay the release and completely redesign Sonic throughout the entire movie. The results paid off, as people responded far more kind to the redesign. It would be a shame if the look of the character were enough to kill what, on first glance based on these early critical reactions, seems to be a perfectly fine movie. Now the question is, will audiences agree, and will they show up at the box office this weekend? The early indication is, yes.
Sonic the Hedgehog is easily projected to win the weekend with a debut in the $40 million range. It also is right in line with Detective Pikachu, critically speaking, as the Pokemon live-action flick sits at a 69 percent on Rotten Tomatoes currently. Given that Detective Pikachu went on to earn $433 million globally after a $53 million opening weekend, that bodes well for Paramount possibly starting a franchise here. This news comes to us via Rotten Tomatoes.
The first reviews are in for #SonicMovie - currently it's #Fresh at 70% on the #Tomatometer, with 56 reviews:...
Week three of no theatrical releases. That will technically change soon — Universal’s premium VOD-opening “Trolls World Tour” has a handful of still-open drive-ins to play don’t expect any grosses reported. But it was a week full of important stories, with particular interest in a series of release date adjustments. However, no date can be realized if theaters aren’t open, and nobody knows when that will be.
• Exhibitor trade organization NATO held a webinar Friday. President John Fifthian raised hope that some theaters might be open by late May or early June. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron, who oversees the most screens in North America reiterated his hopes for mid-June.
• With the COVID-19 still in its early stages of national spread, uncertainty about the curve flattening, and signs that in China, which had the earliest outbreaks three months ago, that viral decline doesn’t equal viral defeat, the reality is it could be weeks before anyone can make a reasonable assessment on reopening.
• Countering industry optimism that after weeks indoors, people will flock to theaters is a survey by Performance Research about public attitudes on return to public events. It saw 49 percent of respondents saying feeling safe about returning to theaters ranged from in a few months to never, with 28 percent saying if they do return, it will be less often. That said: This is a snapshot taken nearly two weeks ago, and shouldn’t be considered predictive. It showed similar or worse results for sporting events, concerts, and theme parks.
• Sports league executives spoke with President Trump, who urged resumption as soon as possible. However, Dr. Alan Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, cautioned it is premature to believe that football can return this fall. Governors in some states that aren’t fully shut down, like Nebraska, encouraged voluntary compliance — with the threat that if the virus isn’t contained, their ardent fans might not have a season. Sports, of course, demand close player and spectator contact, and are more vulnerable even than theaters to the ongoing threat of contagion. But the idea that it is conceivable the country could have a year with no more sports is even more shocking than disruption to theaters.
• The key takeaway from multiple studio release schedule changes is, in re-dating titles, they don’t expect theaters to be fully operational until July at the earliest. Though key June and July titles like Pixar’s “Soul” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” remain in those months, “Mulan” on July 24 is the earliest rescheduled date for any major title. Other date changes act as a diversion while theaters are closed, but the reality is everything is written in pencil, not pen.