Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Uncanny Valley No More.

Last week Disney announced that they were closing up shop on Robert Zemeckis' Imagemovers Digital.  ImageMovers was joint venture between Disney and Zemeckis that at the time Disney thought would lead to the "Future" of filmaking.

 Disney's comment on the closing was "Given today’s economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences."  In other words Christmas Carol tanked and James Cameron surpassed them.

Christmas Carol tanked because they opened it too early.  My guess is they were afraid of Avatar, rightly so, but instead of aiming for the more holiday friendly Thanksgiving weekend they opted to open on Halloween.  Sure the movie is about ghosts but it's a Christmas movie it belongs near Christmas.  In the end it did make $300M with only $130M in the US; it cost $150M to make, and Disney probably spent $100M on marketing.  So financially it was a stinker.

As for Cameron, it is true that his Mo-cap tech technically surpasses ImageMovies.  What Cameron brought to the table facial mapping which more accurately creates the facial movement of the characters, and thus narrowing the Uncanny Vally.  That said when it comes to pushing the medium forward Cameron and Zemeckis probably do belong in the same category.

Zemeckis is by no means done.  He made Mo-Cap movies before the Disney Deal in 2007 and he will continue.  Disney has already said they will still make his two Mo-Cap movies still in the pipeline, a remake of Yellow Submarine, and the children's book Mars Needs Moms.  Perhaps he should step away from Mo-Cap for a while and go back to doing some amazing live action.  Or go the Cameron route and make a hybrid movie.  Rodger Rabbit anyone?