The Future of CGI/Animation Film Franchises: Part 1

2 Dec

By: Open Book

Could you imagine actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as CGI/Computer Generated Images? How about Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter?  What can we expect in the future from CGI/Animation franchises?

Franchise and sequels, have been around since the silent film era, if we consider the popular Tarzan of the Apes series. The Tarzan character first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1914. There were a total of twenty-five sequels written, not to mention countless film, comic strips and television series, which continued to be produced up into the late 1980’s.[1] The silent films produced during the teens and twenties include, Tarzan of the Apes in 1918, The Romance of Tarzan in 1918 and The Son of Tarzan in 1920.[2] Between 1918 and 1929 there were eight Tarzan films produced in all. That’s almost one Tarzan film a year, over the course of a decade.

What we know today?  Audience’s love affair with sequels is here to stay. Perhaps the infatuation stems from our familiarity with characters, or perhaps we are all curious and captivated by what comes next? Who knows? But one clue among movie studio executives, is the movie breaking records at the box office is based on a comic book hero, video game or a book series.  3-D technology continued advancement, has brought to life comic book heroes in a way like never before and the reason audiences can’t get enough. So much so, movie studios like Fox and Warner Bros. have invested a ton of money in producing 3-D superhero films like Avatar (not based on a comic book), Batman, and now Green Lantern where the entire Green Lantern costume is Computer Generated.  So what can we expect from CGI and Hollywood in the future?

The idea of replacing actors with CGI is still a long way off. However, in a world where franchises are being re-booted ten years later, CGI may be the answer to Hollywood preserving great actors performances for future generations to come.

Although 3-D technology still makes moviegoers apprehensive, movies like Avatar has shown Hollywood what is possible in the world of 3-D. Will actors in the future be replaced with avatars? Imagine if the immortal vampire character Edward Cullen played by actor Robert Pattison was captured stored and used two, three decades from now in a 1oth Twilight film. Would moviegoers notice the difference? It’s a scary thought but technology is quickly advancing and these ideas are within our reach.  In Part 2 of the series I will explore Pixar and Disney computer animation franchises and their popularity among adult audiences.

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14 Responses to “The Future of CGI/Animation Film Franchises: Part 1”

  1. lurkerm3 December 2, 2010 at 5:00 PM #

    Very interesting in the CGI really hit a new stride with the movie Avatar. It is a sign of things to come. However, even the animators are taking cues from the ‘real actors’ to give them personality. We’ve seen that from all the Pixar/Disney studios. I think as we movie toward more video games – comic books and movies of a sci-fi nature we will see much more CGI. Replacing actors to get longer legs of a franchise? Um, it would depend on the story line in my opinion.

    • Open Book December 2, 2010 at 5:31 PM #

      Yeah! I agree story line is key to selling CGI actors. Also, trying to mimic quick decisions or spontaneous expressions and feeling, without it looking contrived is hard in CGI today. I think for Hollywood where aging is so problematic for actors.
      Being able to extend your career through CGI and remain twenty one, for twenty years, would eliminate the need for botox and plastic surgery.

      • lurkerm3 December 2, 2010 at 5:52 PM #

        Interesting you mention that! I am anxious to see how they worked on Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy to see if it looks good! I read they worked on his face to make him look younger with CGI. So no botox!

  2. kneon65 December 2, 2010 at 6:15 PM #

    I don’t know, do you think that it may come a time when we won’t have actors or actresses (the real kind) because they will be replaced by CGI? That is something I would worry about for the future, just because there is no aging, no contracts, no perks, no tantrums, etc.?

    • Open Book December 2, 2010 at 7:57 PM #

      I think it’s hard to mimic spontaneous reactions, that’s what CGI is missing now without it looking fake. I think it’s more of a combination of live action mixed with CGI like in the movie Benjamin Button and Tron (the movie Lurker mentioned) is more of what we can expect in the near future with actors and Hollywood IMO. But yeah, Hollywood would love to do away with spending less on talent, that is always an attractive proposition.

      • kneon65 December 2, 2010 at 8:24 PM #

        Yeah but its really hard to get emotionally attached to a cgi character, in my opinion. Even though I did like wall-e.

        • lurkerm3 December 2, 2010 at 10:28 PM #

          I tend to agree – but WallE was completely animated machine – not the image of a human. So a bit different. The animation of the character in UP! was quite good but still not ‘human’. Where is George Jetson when you need him! Even he didn’t look like our image of humans, he was fictious too!

          • Open Book December 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM #

            How about “Finding Nemo.” I love that movie. I think it boils down to the story and the connection it makes to real situations. However, what actors bring is that imperfection humanistic quality that’s hard to duplicate in CGI.

            • lurkerm3 December 3, 2010 at 7:44 PM #

              I tend to agree here. The story and the characters have to connect with the audience. My niece loved loved Finding Nemo. They connected with Nemo trying to find his dad and Dad looking for Nemo (the concept of loss). At 4 yrs old that is saying something! She still loves the stuffed clownfish (Nemo) we bought for her. She made a connection! Which is similar to the concept of what we all did when we watched ET for the first time, right? The connection of finding Home?

  3. FilmFan2000 December 4, 2010 at 3:52 PM #

    I don’t think you can mimic human longing, faults and compassion in CGI. With CGI there is too much temptation to make everything perfect!

    • lurkerm3 December 5, 2010 at 10:36 AM #

      Wow, that is an interesting thought! How do we interpret that in the movies today? Eyes, facial expressions. Its likely more than those but its an interesting thought to consider!

  4. Jacob Black January 8, 2011 at 12:50 PM #

    Can’t wait for the next intallment at the movies – I love the wolf pack and can’t wait to see Breaking Dawn

  5. Jacob Black January 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM #

    I love Jacob Black – Taylor Lauter is so cute!

  6. slendertone flex January 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM #

    Interesting readm thanks for posting.

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