It's a 'King Kong'-George Lucas smackdown!

1713__kk_lAs if Peter Jackson’s upcoming King Kong doesn’t look juicy enough, Josh Rottenberg’s feature in the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly (check PopWatch tomorrow night for a sneak peek of the cover) contains a little behind-the-scenes drama, too. Here’s my favorite excerpt from the story:

Skull Island, Kong’s jungly home, was created almost entirely in miniatures; there are twice as many miniatures shots in Kong as in all three Rings films combined. At one point during postproduction, [Star Wars director] George Lucas dropped by the set for a hush-hush visit. Alex Funke, supervising director of visual-effects photography, proudly showed off his miniatures department’s handiwork, which was meticulously crafted down to the tiniest piece of plastic jungle foliage. ”George said, ‘Of course, we could do all that digitally,”’ Funke says. ”We said, ‘Yes, of course you could. So?”’

Suh-nap! Okay, PopWatchers, are you awaiting King Kong with breathless anticipation? And (shameless plug alert) how ’bout EW’s Kong cover?

addCredit(“King Kong: Weta Digital Ltd.”)

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  • fat free milk

    Binks. Enough said.

  • eric

    You could do it digitally and then all of the actors could like they were walking around in a cartoon! I am a fairly big Star Wars fan but the digital world never looked as good as the miniatures, models, rubber suits and puppets of the originals.

  • brandonk

    I’m a big fan of digital images, but I also love miniatures. A combination of the two seems ideal. Alex Funke is great…he reminds me of my uncle. I guess that’s neither here nor there.

  • Ria

    I am so psyched to see this flick… George Lucas is superb! :)

  • Rowell

    Lucas is so stupid. As Jake said, it’s easy to spot digital work. Having actual sets, whether it be miniature or life-size, makes it more real and believable and makes the viewer believe in the world created and be into the movie instead of being distracted at things that look obviously computer generated.

  • chad

    George could create an all digital cast if he wanted….why bother hiring actors anymore?!?!?
    I think Lucas relies too much on digital special effects, and the heart and soul of the original trilogy was lost in episodes 1-3.
    The LOTR trilogy was SO much better on all levels. I thought the miniatures (or bigatures as Peter calls them) looked incredible and a hundred times more realistic than anything on Star Wars 1-3.
    I can’t wait to see Kong!

  • Baco Noir

    The minute Lucas started prattling on about Joseph Campbell’s theories back around the time of Empire Strikes Back (the only good Star Wars movie), trying desperately to add substance to a substance-free bunch of movies, he lost me. At least when Jackson used CGI in LOTR he knew how to integrate the imagery with the actors. Lucas never had a clue. As someone said below, if he could digitize actors he would. Let the hermit go back to his cave and play with his toys.

  • happylobster

    I think you’re being a little hard on George. I agree that Lucas couldn’t make a better Kong than Jackson. However, digital movies are his medium. It would be no different than Ralph Bakshi saying he could do it in rotoscope or Monet could do it in watercolors. I’m not sure I’d want to see the results, but any artist should be free and encouraged to put their spin on another’s work (yes, Lucas is an artist…look at how he inspired your responses!).

  • Tom Brazelton

    Not much professional courtesy on Lucas’ part. That’s like walking up to someone who just baked a cake from scratch and saying “Y’know, you could have bought that at a store.” You’d think he’d have greater respect for craftsmanship.
    Or maybe he was trying to line the pockets of ILM with more high-profile work.
    There’s a lot to be said for practicle effects. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • SARAH

    i am sooooo excited for king kong!! i think there is room for both digital and miniature work in hollywood…but the LOTR films are visually better than star wars 1-3. sometimes digital stuff looks cartoonish if one is not careful.

  • WW

    We weren’t there so I won’t comment but to say that if KK doesn’t perform at the BO, PJ will be crying over the extra budget created by making minatures. GL is not a tool but only a man who lacks the ability of character definition in his scripts. Otherwise, he is beyond being a genius. PJ and Funke are equally talented but GL certainly helped to define the genre they are in. However, on another note, I’m just not “feeling” this movie for some reason. The trailer did nothing for me. I love what PJ did with the LOTR trilogy but something is lacking here. There are very good actors attached but not necessarily ones who will make me come out to the theater. I know the talent attached to LOTR weren’t BO draws but the premise was oh so enticing. Seeing dinosaurs may have flattened my interest….

  • Heather

    Frankly, the biggest problem I’ve had with all three of the Star Wars prequels was the CGI. I’m sorry, but it’s so easy to tell it’s digital. Three dimensional puppets, no matter how bad the puppetry, still provide a sense of realism that digital can’t touch. That takes me out of the story. I applaud anyone that is willing to do something that’s more expensive, just because it looks more realistic. For that, I’m definitely going to see King Kong.
    The problem with George Lucas, with Steven Spielberg, with all the “big time visionaries” of Hollywood, is that they go through perfecting their craft and become so used to hearing how good they are that they fail to try things that are new or recognize that what works for them doesn’t work for everyone. And in the end, if they are a mainstream visionary (let’s face it, to be visionary they must be mainstream for the masses to embrace), they have to have the audience in mind first, not themselves and their “art”.

  • Wayne

    Has anyone ever noticed that the two people who can’t shut up about all things digital and CGI(Lucas and Robert Rodriguez) are two filmmakers who have zero idea how to use that technology to craft anything resonant? Interesting.

  • EP Sato

    Funny that George Lucas thinks CGI can somehow make up for bad scripwriting or poor acting. And as old school as miniatures are, they are no where near as lame as those fake azzed looking CGI shots. Message to Lucas: The games on my playstation look more real than the backgrounds in your recent star wars movies (and except for ep III they sucked big time). If Lucas wants to talk smack about other peoples’ productions, he might make some products of quality. So long as he is still milking his 1977 cash cow without anything truly original to give us anymore, he should keep his mouth shut and go count his billions.

  • Valance

    Geez is it runting season already?
    Lucas gotta be worreid about the new kids on the block (WETA) to be smacking a colleague like that. When ever you get a new kid on the block there is always an older dude tryin to mess with him. Lucas has talent no doubt, and he has some great ideas, but man, there is enough room on the playing field other talented people.
    I wonder how much CGI he will use in Indiana Jones iv.
    Star Wars is old…and dead….Kong is waiting in the wings..
    Long Live the King….

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