×

ILM’s very special effect

Biz booms as vfx house takes on production management

Visual effects giant Industrial Light & Magic has unveiled a packed slate of tentpoles extending well into 2012, including sequels to some of its recent blockbusters.

The Lucasfilm company has been able to sustain this busy schedule by taking on production management chores that used to be performed by studios’ own visual effects departments.

In this new role, ILM becomes the key vendor and assumes responsibility for shots but subcontracts many out to trusted vendors, explained company prexy Lynwen Brennan.

“We’re supervising a lot of work so that we’re able to work with our facility (in San Francisco) and our facility in Singapore as well as third-party partners that we have stable relationships with. The keyword there is stable.”

For clients, said Brennan, “The benefit is you know you’re getting the ILM supervision of your work.”

ILM has remained among the world’s top vfx studios for decades, despite the high labor costs of the Bay Area and the lack of tax incentives that drive work to other competitors.

Popular on Variety

Company has not been immune from those pressures, though. ILM has built up its Singapore branch and is constructing a purpose-built facility there. At the same time it has been strengthening relationships with overseas subcontractors, notably Pixomondo.

Projects on ILM’s books:

• “Super 8” (Paramount) — Kim Libreri (“The Matrix Revolutions,” “Speed Racer”) is vfx supervisor for helmer J.J. Abrams.

• “I Am Number Four” (DreamWorks-Disney) — Bill George(“Twilight,” “Evan Almighty”) is supervisor. Helmer is D.J. Caruso.

• “Cowboys and Aliens” (DreamWorks, Universal/Paramount) — Roger Guyett (“Star Trek,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”) is supervisor on director Jon Favreau’s genre mashup.

• “Transformers 3” (Paramount) — Scott Farrar, who was supervisor on the first two pics in Michael Bay’s blockbuster series, returns. Jeff White has been upped to associate vfx supervisor.

• “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (Disney) — Ben Snow (“Iron Man 2”) and Charlie Gibson (“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”). Taking over helming duties on Jerry Bruckheimer’s franchise is Rob Marshall, replacing Gore Verbinski.

• “Rango” (Paramount) — Verbinski’s surreal animated Western reunites the helmer with vfx supervisor John Knoll and animation supervisor Hal Hickel from his “Pirates 2.” Tim Alexander is vfx supervisor alongside Knoll.

• “Red Tails” — Lucasfilm’s feature on the Tuskegee Airmen has Russell Earl (“Star Trek”) as vfx supervisor and newly promoted artist Craig Hammack as associate vfx supervisor.

• “Battleship” (Universal) — Grady Cofer (“There Will Be Blood”) and Pablo Helman (“The Last Airbender”) share vfx supervisor duties on Peter Berg’s actioner.

Knoll also is overseeing 3D conversion of the “Star Wars” pics, starting with “Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” Work is being done by outside vendors with ILM supervision.

More Film

  • Alberto Martin, Alegre Cordelia, Alvaro Gago,

    'Bees,' ‘Happiness,' 'Quinquis' Selected by Madrid’s ECAM Incubator (EXCLUSIVE)

    BARCELONA – “20,000 Species of Bees,” “Something Like Happiness” and “Los quinquis” are among five feature projects that will be put through development at the ECAM Madrid Film School’s pioneering Incubator program. The Incubator forms part of The Screen, a program at the ECAM Madrid Film School, which is aimed at fostering links between on-the-rise Spain-based [...]

  • Onward Animated Film 2020

    ‘Onward’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Disney Pixar claims the top spot in spending with “Onward.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $4.99 million through Sunday for 784 national ad airings on 35 networks. [...]

  • Josef Mengele

    'Wasp Network' Producer Teams With Kirill Serebrennikov on 'Josef Mengele' Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, whose last film “Leto” competed at Cannes in 2018, is teaming with “Wasp Network” producer Charles Gillibert to adapt the best-selling French novel “The Disappearance of Josef Mengele.” Winner of the prestigious Renaudot Prize in 2017, Olivier Guez’s novel “The Disappearance of Josef Mengele” was published in more than 30 countries [...]

  • Sabrina Carpenter

    Film News Roundup: Sabrina Carpenter's 'Short History of the Long Road' Finds Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, Sabrina Carpenter’s “The Short History of the Long Road” gets a home, comedian Jo Koy’s life will become a movie, “True to the Game” is getting a sequel and APA promotes Chris Ridenhour. ACQUISITION FilmRise has acquired Sabrina Carpenter’s coming-of-age drama “The Short History of the Long Road” and is [...]

  • Stella Meghie

    Filmmaker Stella Meghie on Crafting 'The Photograph' and Being a 'Romance Film Nerd'

    Stella Meghie loves love. And she’s currently feeling a lot of it. As “Sonic the Hedgehog” soared to number one over Presidents’ Day weekend, “The Photograph” made a solid $13 million. Catching up with Meghie early Saturday morning after the film’s debut, the writer/director/executive producer admitted she’d been looking at the numbers. “I’m grateful people [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content