Tentpole taps lead visual effects house

HOLLYWOOD — Warner Bros. has yet to cast its Man of Steel, but the studio has already begun hiring the technical team that will help Superman fly again.

Studio has tapped ESC Entertainment to serve as the lead visual effects house for the film, being targeted for a summer 2006 release.

“Superman” is expected to be an effects-heavy tentpole, but because the pic has yet to be greenlit, it is unclear just how many shots ESC will be creating. Kim Libreri will oversee the company’s work on the film as visual effects supervisor.

Either way, the job signals that ESC will keep its doors open through at least 2006, despite rumors that the shop would soon shutter — talk that hasn’t subsided since the company completed its work on “The Matrix” sequels for which the facility was created.

While ESC is best known for its “Matrix” work, shop has landed Warner Bros.’ “Catwoman” and “Constantine” since then and produced effects sequences for Disney’s “The Ladykillers.”

Warner Bros. has also brought on board effects vet Stan Winston to design a prototype of Superman’s suit. Winston currently serves as a consultant on the project.

Winston and his company most recently created animatronic and special makeup effects for “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “Jurassic Park III,” as well as effects sequences for “Big Fish.” Van Nuys-based company is also currently working on “Constantine.”

Studio is hoping to begin production on “Superman” sometime before the end of the year, with McG directing from a script by J.J. Abrams.

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