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June 2007 Issue

Vol. 5,
No. 6

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Hondo premieres in Digital 3-D in the Cannes Classics Program
John Wayne: American Hero, Icon, Legend as Paramount Home Entertainment and Batjac Productions Celebrate "The Duke’s" 100th Birthday at Cannes 2007

Hondo campaign book May 26, 2007 was the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birth. The 2007 annual Harris Poll of America’s favorite screen stars reveals that the Hollywood legend placed at number three. This ranking is exceptional, considering the fact that Wayne’s last film was released in 1976 and that he passed away in 1979.

To commemorate the centennial of Tinseltown’s quintessential action hero, this year’s Cannes Film Festival is, for the first time in more than half a century, screening the Duke’s only 3-D movie. (*see correction below). Gretchen Wayne’s Batjac Productions is also digitally restoring and releasing through Paramount Home Entertainment International a number of classics on DVD that John Wayne had starred in or produced.. In addition to Hondo, they include the great-granddaddy of disaster movies, The High and the Mighty, Island in the Sky and McLintock!

Warner Bros. took out a two-page spread in Variety in November 1953 to tell exhibitors: "It is our conviction that the presentation of Hondo gives your patrons the opportunity for the first time to fully evaluate 3-Dimension entertainment." Ad went on to tout the presentation of "dimensional vistas inexpressibly beautiful and never before possible."

The film has been restored more than once, with most of the restoration work done only on the left-eye negative, which was used for 2-D release. There were tears to be fixed and lots of dirt to be removed. Perforations in the film stock had to be masked. Additionally, parts of the original negative had mysteriously been destroyed and replaced with an internegative, which doesn't quite match the quality of the original.

Restoring the film for 3-D introduced more challenges. The two color negatives had shrunk and faded differently, making it more difficult to get the color identical and the images perfectly aligned. That exacerbated an inherent problem with the 3-D rigs of the 1950s: aach of the paired cameras had its own camera shake, so the two "eyes" would be just enough out of alignment to make 3-D viewing uncomfortable. It proved a big task for the restorers at Post Logic, who spent a lot of time and effort correcting for that camera shake to get the two eyes to line up precisely for 3-D.

Merle Sharp, Post Logic's chief technology officer, says that one headache they faced was "trying to find somebody who saw it originally so they could tell us if the 3-D effect was working as intended."

At the end of the process, Sharp says, "The 3-D is actually quite good, but there's almost too much. It's like ... the guys are sitting right in your face."

There is something highly appropriate that the digital 3-D Hondo is being premiered at Cannes, because of France’s long love affair with classic Hollywood movies. It also helps to recall that it was the French critics-turned-directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut who popularized the notion of the auteur, the idea that films, like novels, had authors. Although he is generally regarded solely as a movie star, the fact is that Wayne was a pioneer of independent filmmaking, who directed and produced, as well as acted in films. In 1952, he formed the independent company Wayne-Fellows Productions in order to make movies and earn the fruit of his labor. After Robert Fellows left the firm, Wayne renamed it Batjac Productions, after the fictional trading company Batjack in his hit 1948 South Seas drama The Wake of the Red Witch. A spelling error by Wayne’s secretary changing Batjack to Batjac was allowed to stand.

Wayne’s superstardom from 1948 to1969 coincided with and reflected unprecedented changes in post-World War II America, as the U.S.A. became a superpower. Far from the simplistic “Happy Days” image, America was engaged in Cold War politics centering around the atom bomb, communism, changing morals, rock ’n’ roll and the emerging civil rights movement. At the same time, Europe was in the midst of postwar reconstruction, the Marshall Plan and Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Immediately after the end of the war, American movies flooded European cinemas. In most of the Axis-occupied countries, Hollywood films had been banned, and many of these pictures made from 1939 through 1946 starred John Wayne. During the postwar period, Duke’s identity as a leading man and his screen image were solidified among European audiences. Sergio Leone, a young Italian director who had grown up under Mussolini and would later herald a new kind of cowboy movie with the 1960s’ Spaghetti Western, was influenced by Wayne’s work.

Wayne had nurtured his screen image over 10 years of working in mostly B-Westerns that were designed for and consumed primarily by the then largely rural Depression Era America of the 1930s. It was in the heartland of rural America, where Wild West dreams are spun, that Wayne was born as Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa on May 26, 1907.

John Wayne went on to make his mark as one of the leading screen and cultural icons of the art form of the 20th century, the cinema. Though he played a wide variety of roles in more than 172 films over a career that spanned six decades, the Duke solidified his rugged screen image in Western films and military dramas as an American cowboy and soldier. At six-foot four, with his distinctive walk, laconic dialogue, engaging personality and athletic abilities, Wayne established a screen persona as a man of action who could take care of himself and others. Whether in a Stetson and chaps, army helmet and fatigues, officer’s cap and navy whites or green beret and camouflage, onscreen Wayne patrolled the frontier, disposing of bandidos and Indians while conquering the Wild West or vanquishing the Nazis, the Imperial Japanese forces and Vietnamese guerrillas.

Hondo was the perfect symmetry of actor and role and was released at a time when, having achieved superstar status, Wayne was at a point in his career when he could parlay his box office clout into creative control. He enjoyed two decades of memorable roles and films that began in 1948 with his Captain Kirby York in John Ford’s Fort Apache and Tom Dunson in Howard Hawks’ Red River. During this productive period Wayne appeared in other Ford films, playing Captain Nathan Cutting Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man (1952) and Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956), and so on. This rather remarkable run was crowned with the Duke’s Oscar winning role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969). Somewhere along the way, the man, the screen image and public melded into world consciousness as the iconic American action hero.

Hondo
In 1953, actor John Wayne was enjoying the beginning of his superstardom when he took a major career risk, starting his own production company. The Duke also embraced the new technological film innovation of 3-D with his new Western Hondo, the first and only Wayne movie made in the three-dimensional cinematic process.

In his short story The Gift of Cochise, famed Western novelist Louis L’Amour described Hondo Lane as “a big man, wide shouldered, with the lean hard boned face of the desert rider. There was no softness in him. His toughness was ingrained and deep. Without cruelty, yet quick, hard and dangerous. Whatever wells of goodness might lie within him were guarded and deep.”

The title character is a hard-bitten half Native-American cavalry scout whose only companion is an ill-tempered dog. They encounter a lonely woman and her young son living on a frontier homestead amidst warring Apaches.

L’Amour later expanded the short story into a novel that sold over 3 million copies. Wayne must have recognized that the character of Hondo Lane best encapsulated his motion picture persona, which drove the actor to bring the story to the silver screen in 1953.

Hondo was adapted for the screen by James Edward Grant, who wrote the script for the 1940 hit film Boom Town, starring Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. Wayne and Grant became fast friends when he brought his original screenplay Angel and The Badman to Wayne in 1946, which Duke loved and agreed to produce, as well as star in. Grant was able to talk Wayne into letting him direct the film. Grant wrote the script for John Wayne’s Oscar nominated role as the tough marine Sgt. Stryker in Sands of Iwo Jima and his credits include The Comancheros, McLintock!, The Alamo and Donovan’s Reef. Wayne’s longtime screenwriter, friend and collaborator won an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay Adaptation for Hondo.

Hondo was the second film made under a starring and producing contract with Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner. Wayne retained the copyright and negatives to the films he produced under this arrangement as long as they made a profit for the studio.

The first picture made under this deal was 1952’s Big Jim McLain, starring Wayne as a two fisted federal agent ferreting out Reds in Hawaii, and was made entirely on location in the islands, where numerous Duke films were shot and set. It was a financial success for Wayne’s production company.

Hondo was filmed in Camargo, Mexico, located 400 miles south of El Paso, Texas in the state of Chihuahua. Camargo is located in rough, sage brush country with vast panoramic blue skies and desert landscapes, the perfect backdrop for this story of the Western frontier. The production was shot in the heat of summer, from June through August 1953. It was the first film that the Duke made in Mexico, though he had been traveling to Mexico for years and had friends and associates in the Mexican motion picture industry, which at the time was in the midst of its Golden Age. Mexico’s artists and technicians were as skilled as any in Hollywood, and included talents such as director Luis Bunuel. Mexico’s movie workers were industrious, good natured and versatile, meeting the needs of the Hondo production. This was the first of seven films Batjac would eventually produce in Mexico and the beginning of a professional love affair with the Mexico, its film industry and people.

Hondo director John Farrow was born in Australia; he was a novelist and playwright and he came to Hollywood in 1927 and began working at MGM. Farrow wrote and directed a diverse group of successful films beginning with Wake Island, Commandos Strike At Dawn, The Big Clock, Ride Vaquero, Two Years Before the Mast, John Paul Jones and 1955’s The Sea Chase, also starring Wayne. Farrow received an Academy Award® for co-writing the Oscar® winning film Around the World in 80 Days. Farrow co-directed 1936’s Tarzan Escapes and married its co-star, Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Jane; actress Mia Farrow is their daughter.

In Hondo, Wayne and Farrow cast young stage actress Geraldine Page in her first major movie role, as Mrs. Angie Lowe. In 1952, an unknown Page had scored a success in an off-Broadway revival of Tennessee William’s Summer and Smoke, the repressed lonely Southern spinster Alma Wimemiller. Surprisingly, Page, who was lovingly kidded by veteran screen performer Wayne as that “New York Stage actress,” was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Hondo. Over the course of her long career, Page was Academy Award-nominated eight times, finally winning the Best Actress golden statuette in 1986 for A Trip to Bountiful.

Character actor and longtime Wayne friend Ward Bond portrays Hondo's Buffalo Baker. Wayne and Bond had met while students and teammates at the University of Southern California. Both football players were discovered by John Ford in 1928, who gave them bit parts in many early silent and sound films. Bond went on to work in over 200 films, including such classics as The Grapes Of Wrath, It’s A Wonderful Life, Fort Apache and The Searchers. Late in his career, the rugged Bond starred from 1957 to1960 in his own television series as Major Seth Adams on Wagon Train.

Actor James Arness who plays Lennie, Hondo's scout, was under contract to Batjac and had appeared with Wayne in Big Jim McLain and Island in the Sky. Arness made his film debut as the creature in the 1951 science fiction film The Thing, directed by Howard Hawks. Arness found lasting fame starring as Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, America’s longest running network television series to date. The CBS program was introduced to American audiences by John Wayne on the series’ debut episode in 1955, with the big screen actor making one of his rare little screen appearances. Gunsmoke ran until 1975.

Michael Pate is an Australian actor who had recently arrived in Hollywood when he was cast against type as Hondo's Apache Chief Victorio. Between 1950 and 1968, Pate played assorted ethnic types in over 50 major feature films and 300 television guest appearances. He returned to Australia and produced and directed a number of films, and is most notable for discovering a young Mel Gibson in Tim.

Rudolph Acosta plays Hondo's Indian warrior Silva. An actor of renown in his native Mexico, Acosta went on to appear in countless American westerns of the ’50s and ’60s, including The Fugitive, Salon Mexico One Eyed Jacks, How The West Was Won, The Sons of Katie Elder, Return of The Seven and Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.

Lee Aaker portrays Hondo's young boy Johnny Lowe. As a child actor he appeared in such films as O’Henry’s Full House, The Atomic Kid,”Jeopardy and Mr. Scoutmaster. He is best known to 1950s American television audiences as Corporal Rusty of the Rin Tin Tin series.

Paul Fix plays Hondo's Major Sherry. A long time friend and acting coach of Wayne’s, Fix appeared in many of his films including Island In The Sky,The Sons of Katie Elder, Tycoonand Tall In The Saddle, for which he wrote the screenplay. Fix found popular recognition on TV as Marshal Micah Torrance on the Western series The Rifleman (1958-1963), starring Chuck Connors.

Leo Gordon is featured as Hondo's Ed Lowe. A screen heavy, in terms of size and strength, Gordon was a physical equivalent to Wayne, making him a believable antagonist. Gordon, who was also a screenwriter, appeared with Wayne in McLintock! again taking an onscreen punch from the Duke. Gordon’s feature credits include The Conqueror, Soldier of Fortune, Night of The Grizzly, and he wrote the original screenplay for and appeared in Tobruk, starring Rock Hudson and George Peppard.

Rounding out the classic cast, Lassie makes an appearance as Hondo’s mangy dog Sam. The canine star’s owner and trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, gave Lassie a makeover for the role with a hairpiece, false scar on the forehead and a shave to disguise the world famous collie. Lassie starred in seven feature films, beginning in 1943 with Lassie Come Home, starring Roddy Mc Dowell and a young Elizabeth Taylor, and was later featured in several TV series.

As indicated, Hondo forgoes the old Hollywood rule of never working with kids or dogs. Wayne has such a commanding screen presence that few actors, of the two- or four-legged variety, can steal the scene from him. The Duke also defies the old Tinseltown axiom to never have a dog (especially Lassie!) killed onscreen, as Sam is killed by Silva with a lance. In turn around fair play, Hondo lances Silva and kills him during the Indian attack.

Hugo Friedhoffer composed the lovely and upbeat Western score and theme music for Hondo. Friedhoffer had won an Academy Award for his original score for the 1947 Best Picture winner Best Years of our Lives, and he was Oscar-nominated eight times.

As Farrow had a previous film commitment, the final action sequences of Hondo were directed by John Ford and shot by legendary cameraman Archie Stout, although neither received screen credit. Ford had cut his teeth early in his career with similar sequences. Hondo's Indian raid on the wagons is reminiscent of the Indian attack in the film that made John Wayne a star, 1939’s Stagecoach. With its horse falls, wagons being chased across a dry riverbed against a wide expanse of desert, arrows whizzing through the air and cavalrymen and homesteaders being chased by hordes of advancing Apaches, Hondo's action scenes bore Ford’s imprint.

Hondo also displays a more sympathetic image of the Native American, a postwar trend that can be traced to Ford’s Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and was later celebrated in films such as The Devil’s Doorway and Broken Arrow. Chiricahua Apache Chief Vittorio and his warriors are presented as flesh and blood people who suffer hardships, yet they can laugh, as well as be worthy adversaries Hondo's unique perspective of having lived with the Apaches and being part-Indian himself gives him insight into their indigenous lifestyle. He professes his need for the Indian squaw he had been married to, until her untimely death. Vittorio is presented as a noble but fierce warrior who has lost many sons to the paleface, but can still interact with them. He is a caring human being, as demonstrated by Vittorio’s relationship with Angie Lowe and her boy. Johnny Lowe essentially has two foster fathers, Hondo and Vittorio, who teach him to be a man.

Buffalo Baker says “that will be the end of the Apache,” and Hondo responds: “Yeah, end of a way of life. Too bad, it’s a good way.”

Hondo was released the same year as George Steven’s masterpiece Shane, and has been referred to as Wayne’s Shane. The two films share similarities, but are very different, too. In both, a lone rider rides into a desolate outpost, rescuing a young woman, a father and an impressionable young boy. In Hondo, it’s an absentee father, a woman and a young boy. While Shane is a mythical white knight and avenging angel, Wayne’s Hondo Lane is a very real hardened Westerner who lived with the Indians. In Shane, the love affair is between the boy (Brandon De Wilde) and Shane (Alan Ladd). In Hondo, it’s between Mrs. Lowe (Page) and Hondo (Wayne). The backdrops also serve the stories differently. Shane’s bucolic verdant landscapes in the Grand Tetons contrasts sharply with the harsh dry burnt desert of Hondo. In Shane, ranchers are the threat; in Hondo, it’s the Indians, who are defending their way of life. Shane can never be part of the sodbusters’ community, and after disposing of the bad guys and restoring order, the gunman must return to the wilderness. On the other hand, Hondo, one assumes, marries Mrs. Lowe and becomes a part of the homesteaders’ community.

Hondo resonates with contemporary audiences with its underlying themes of a single mother abandoned by her husband who survives in a harsh environment. It also deals with miscegenation, war, loss of loved ones, bravery, multiculturalism and genocide. Yet very simply, at its heart, Hondo is a classic cowboys vs. Indians popcorn movie.

Hondo perfectly meshes many elements of Wayne’s career, his larger than life Western persona, his stock company made up of actor friends, his collaboration with mentor John Ford, his love of Mexico and its people and a deep, abiding respect for the Native American. In addition, the Hondo demonstrates how John Wayne, best known as an actor, but also a pioneer of independent filmmaking as a producer and director, was a motion picture innovator, who incorporated state of the art technology into the films he created.

Hondo in 3-D
The first three dimensional film, Jim the Penman, was publicly presented in 1915 by Edwin S. Porter, who, interestingly enough, made the first acknowledged popular Western, 1903’s The Great Train Robbery. Over the years there have been many different methods used to show 3-D films.

The jungle drama Bwana Devil opened at the Paramount Theater (the movie palace now known as the El Capitan Theatre) in Hollywood in 1952, ushering in a new era of 3-D filmmaking. Tinseltown jumped on the bandwagon and from 1953 to 1955, made 50 3-D features. Premiering in November 1953, Hondo is an important three dimensional film, although it was released late in the 3-D fad.

3-D was a response to the emergence of television in the early 1950s, which brought entertainment into millions of living rooms. Films suddenly experienced a decline in attendance, and Hollywood tried to compete with TV by giving audiences a new big screen experience that they could not get at home, in order to lure ticket buyers back to the theatres.

The format is often thought of as a filmmaking gimmick, but 3-D is not solely a function of “coming at you” scenes (when objects are thrown at the screen for dramatic effect). For the most part, 3-D used depth of field as an integral aspect of the dramatic narrative. Depth of field, the amount of distance between nearest and farthest objects that appear in sharp focus, tends to pull viewers inside of the action. Instead of flat and two dimensional, the screen looked more like real life, where people, nature and various things appear in three dimensions.

In Hondo the so-called gimmick scenes are the knife fight between the Apache warrior Silva and Hondo. In addition, Indians shoot arrows and the soldiers fire their rifles directly into the camera. But the 3-D technique is also used effectively in smaller more intimate scenes, such as the scene at the dinner table in the cabin with Wayne, Angie Lowe and Johnny, which made viewers feel as if they were breaking bread with the characters onscreen.

What is the 3-D Process?
The three dimensional movie is made with two oversized interlocking cameras that are set next to each other as they record the action on film. The 3-D process works when two interlocking projector, one on the left and one on the right, project separate images onscreen, image through polarized filters. A silver screen maintains the polarization and when the viewer wears special gray-less glasses, they see a spectacular depth of field. It can be said that IMAX and holograms grew out of the 3-D process.

Wayne wanted to shoot in Warnercolor and in the new 3-D process on never before seen Mexican locations. Jack L. Warner was at first so enthusiastic over the process that he had said he wanted to make every movie in 3-D. Warner Bros. produced and achieved success with such 3-D films as the horror movie House Of Wax, the Hitchcock mystery Dial M For Murder and the Western The Charge at Feather River.

Filming a movie in 3-D on a hot dusty remote desert location with the bulky cameras was a major learning experience for the production company. The cameras were hard to operate, especially on moving shots. They would frequently break down as they were susceptible to the intense heat, dust, wind and rain, causing delays in shooting. The required lights and cameras were large and heavy, and had to be hand carried to some of the remote mesas and outdoor locations by the Mexican crew

Hondo was initially released in 3-D and played in select major cities. However, Warner Bros. pulled the 3-D prints and general release prints were made in regular flat aspect ratio. Theater owners also found the projection process cumbersome, and the extra expense did not add appreciably to the box-office gross, so they preferred to show regular film prints.

By the time of Hondo's release audiences had tired of the 3-D craze and the new wide screen Cinemascope process was finding favor among audiences and theater owners well into the next decade.

Hondo Into the 21st Century
Hondo was first restored for its VHS release in 1995 by the actor’s oldest son Michael Wayne, then president of Batjac Productions. Michael spent much of his youth on his father’s sets, working in many different capacities. He earned his spurs and an associate producer credit on The Alamo. As president of Batjac, Michael produced many of his father’s later films.

After assuming the ownership of Batjac Productions, Gretchen Wayne was determined to pursue her husband’s dreams of bringing to market the company’s John Wayne movies. With the passage of time, digital technology enabled Gretchen to do what Michael always wanted. She vigorously and painstakingly restored Hondo, The High and The Mighty, McLintock! and Island in the Sky and all are now becoming available to DVD and television audiences worldwide in seven different languages. While this may sound easy, the difficulty of execution was exacerbated by a flood in the vaults of Batjac in the early 1990’s that damaged or destroyed many of the original elements. Using separation masters, beta digital technology programs and Gretchen Wayne’s tenacity, the films were thankfully restored for John Wayne fans worldwide.

Undertaking the restoration of the original negatives of the right and left eyes for a theatrical 3-D screening proved daunting. After careful analysis and consideration, it was determined that the original negatives weren’t good candidates for restoration, but that a digital restoration would serve Batjac’s purposes and John Wayne’s fans more fruitfully.

After hours of work and the deployment of multiple digital techniques for color correction and “dirt busting,” the film looks bright, clean and sharp on the big screen, 3-D and 2-D; this all in spite of damaged footage on the original negative that was replaced in the 1950’s with IN stock made from the original separation masters. Can the astute film buff identify those shots on the screen, especially in 3-D? Doubtful!

The restored 3-D film of Hondo looks magnificent. The audience feels like they are dining with John Wayne when he sits for a meal made by Geraldine Page or at risk when the Indian’s arrow comes darting at their face! Get ready for some fun and gripping drama backed by a love story intertwined with cowboys and Indians dynamics.

What’s even more interesting is that 3-D has come full circle. Many films were shot in 3-D in the 1950’s as a gimmick to draw audiences away from home television (the theater’s threat at the time) to the theaters. Today, 3-D has taken on resurgence in a similar effort to draw audiences to the theater away from HD capabilities in the home theater. At Cannes, the viewer will be using active white Polaroid glasses to see Hondo in 3-D.

This is an unprecedented event and the white glasses toting audience is in for a unique and one of a kind experience!

Of all the movie stars that ever graced the silver screen there are but a few who continue to shine in Hollywood’s firmament. Only a handful still stand out today and resonate with modern audiences; John Wayne is one of them. Few can fill the Duke’s boots, or his ten-gallon hat.

Superstar-turned-producer/director Wayne was a trailblazer for independent filmmaking, and paved the way for the man he himself once referred to in a magazine article as his successor, Clint Eastwood, who has enjoyed a career as an actor turned producer and as an Academy award winning director.

Wayne’s legacy persists on the screen, the best of his work standing the test of time. Duke’s bigger than life image of a self-reliant man of action is still mentioned and referenced in books, movies, television and military and police circles. 28 years after his death, John Wayne continues to inspires motion picture pilgrims around the world to “saddle up, and move ’em out, yo!!!”

* Editor's Note: Correction: According to the 3-D Film Preservation Fund Web site, Hondo's 3-D success was not limited to the United States. On Feb. 27, 1954, it opened to capacity crowds at London's 1,734-seat Warner Theater, where it would play for five weeks and bring in over $40,000. Nearly three months later, Hondo was still playing in 3-D in theaters throughout South London.

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Godzilla 3-D IMAX Update

Godzilla 3-D poster. Courtesy of Monster Zero.Way back in November 2004, 3-D Review Online Magazine told you about plans for a 3-D Godzilla IMAX movie. The latest word has it that a September 2007 release date is planned.

Is the movie still a reality? Internet speculation it that the movie is scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States on Sept. 12, 2007, with a Japanese theatrical release to follow on a to be announced 2008 date. However, as of Jan. 21, 2007, the film's developers hasn't actually received funding from Toho Company Ltd. yet and with production believed to have halted for the time being. A cast and musical composer have yet been announced as of Feb. 5, 2007. Aside from the 3-D IMAX format, the film is planned to be shot in 70 mm and is slated to be 40 minutes long.

In 1971, Toho released Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Gojira tai Hedorah, aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster). Director Yoshimitsu Banno focused on concerns about environmental pollution by depicting Godzilla's battle with Hedorah, a sludge-like alien that emerged from the dirty waters of Sagami Bay. Thirty-four years later the director is hard at work prepping a new Godzilla project that will revisit those themes. Entitled Godzilla: 3-D to the Max, the planned short feature will combine the talents of Toho Studios with cutting-edge Hollywood CG and 3-D effects, all on display on the eight- story tall IMAX movie screen.

Banno has dreamed of making a new Godzilla film for a long time. In January 2000, he established Advanced Audiovisual Productions Inc. to produce 70mm Large Format films and animation, and also manufacture and sell equipment for IMAX and other giant screen theaters. With Toho taking a break from kaiju films in the wake of Godzilla Final Wars, the director was able to secure permission to use the characters of Godzilla and Hedorah, and is currently meeting with investors in the United States to secure financing for the project. Advanced Audiovisual Productions prepared English language materials explaining the concept, characters, story and marketing potential for Godzilla: 3-D to the Max, which provide much more information about the film than has been previously revealed.

The AAP materials describe Banno's intentions for both Godzilla and the new version of Hedorah, which is named Deathla (not Desera or 'Deathorah.). While recent Godzilla films have depicted the monster as antagonistic towards mankind, Godzilla: 3-D to the Max returns Godzilla to his heroic "Save the Earth" persona of the 1970s. One of the director's top objectives for the film is that Godzilla appeal to young people and demonstrate the importance of adopting a more "Earth Friendly" way of living. In addition to a personality change, the King of the Monsters will also display a talent long unseen... that's right, Godzilla flies again!

Production Details
Godzilla: 3-D to the Max is planned as a 40 minute feature with an initial budget of $9 million (US). The latest reports are that the production budget has ballooned to $25 million. Banno believes Godzilla is the perfect character for large format theaters, and much of the film will be shown from Jim's point of view or thru Mischa's camera in order to create an effect of massive creatures towering over the audience. The movie will be produced by "The Godzilla 3D To The Max Production Committee", a partnership between Advanced Audiovisual Productions Inc. and Whitecat Productions.

The crew for the film features a mix of personnel from Japan and America, many of which have a long history with large format and 3-D films. In addition to directing the film, Yoshimitsu Banno is also the lead writer and general producer. Banno's longtime assistant Kenji Okuhira is associate producer. The co-producers are Roger Holden (president of Whitecat Productions and 21st Century Sound and Vision Inc.) and Brian Rogers (T2 3D: Battle Across Time). Acting as co-director is Keith Melton (Cirque Du Soleil, Journey of Man). Godzilla series veteran Eiichi Asada (Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, Godzilla FInal Wars) returns to direct the special effects, while Peter Anderson (Captain EO, T2 3D, Shrek 2 4D) is the director of photography and supervisor of visual effects.

The film's production is being done by Advanced Audiovisual Production, director Banno's own company stationed in Japan, and is being planned to target the American market along with an American cast. However, Toho, the creators of Godzilla, will act as technical advisors over the Godzilla character and will distribute the film in Japan.

To tap into this market and expand Godzilla's audience around the world, AAP and Toho are also discussing a wide variety of TV specials, DVDs, CDs, toys, books and other merchandising featuring Godzilla, Deathla and Godzilla: 3-D to the Max. If everything goes according to plans, Godzilla may soon literally be bigger than ever before.

The film has gone through several title changes including Godzilla 3-D, Godzilla: 3-D to the Max and Godzilla vs. Deathla.

Godzilla 3-D: The Story (Spoiler Alert)
The evil monster Deathla comes from the depths of space to devour the chlorophyll in Earth's rainforests and destroy all life on the planet. Designed by acclaimed concept artist Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens), Deathla is a shape-shifting sluglike monster with red-purple skin and vertical eyes. As with the original Hedorah, the new version has multiple forms. As "Locust-Deathla" the creature splits into a large swarm of insects that use their sharp fangs to quickly devastate crops and forests. The kaiju can also reassemble into its ultimate form, "Monster-Deathla", a huge humanoid beast with a skeletal head. Deathla's weapons include poisonous sludge, constricting tendrils, paralyzing fluids and a crimson energy beam.

The story for Godzilla: 3-D to the Max begins at dawn, as a flaming meteor from the Deathla Star crashes into the Sargasso Sea. The meteor releases a swarm of Locust-Deathlas which rises into the sky like a tornado.

On the border of Brazil and Argentina is Iguassu Falls, one of the largest waterfalls on Earth. On nights of the full moon, the Falls create a rainbow effect known as the "Spray of Iguassu". Mischa, a televison reporter doing a story on the night rainbow, has traveled to Iguassu with her younger brother Jim. The two are still recovering from the loss of their father, a firefighter who was killed during the September 11 attacks in New York, with Jim having a particularly rough time. He constantly carries around a harmonica left to him by his dad, and his only friend is a German Shepard called Little Beard.

Iguassu Falls is the stunning site for the first war of the monsters. Mischa and Jim encounter the Locust-Deathlas in the rainforest. The alien swarm tears thru the jungle devouring all plant life it its path and accidentally uncover the hibernating body of Godzilla. As the King of the Monsters rises from the jungle floor with a roar of anger, the Locust-Deathlas transform into Monster-Deathla. After a brief battle, Deathla reverts to the swarm and flies north, with Godzilla and the kids in pursuit.

A freak summer snowfall heralds the arrival of the monsters to New York City. Monster-Deathla grows larger and larger as it absorbs garbage at a city dump. The alien buries Godzilla in sludge at the Central Park reservoir, then oozes down Broadway in the direction of the 9/11 Monument. Revived by the prayers of children, Godzilla blocks Monster-Deathla's path then leaps into the air. Godzilla attacks with the Ultra Spin Tail Punch, slicing Deathla into pieces with a series of tail strikes. The victorious monster then flies back to its jungle home.

Godzilla arrives at Iguassu as the full moon rises over the waterfall. As Godzilla disappears into the Falls, the beast's tail strikes the rushing water and causes a huge spray that casts a rainbow over Jim and Mischa in glorious 3-D.

Editor's Note: The film script as described above has gone through changes. Apparently, the storyline involving 9/11 has been scrapped. Instead of ending in New York the film now has the final monster battle played out in Las Vegas. Speculation is that interest or investment for the film might be coming from the Las Vegas industry. The city includes 3-D attractions such as Star Trek 4D: Borg Invasion and debuted the 3-D shows Wild Safari 3-D and NASCAR 3-D.

Godzilla and all related characters are a registered trademark of Toho Co. Ltd.

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U2 3D Preview at Cannes

New York based editorial powerhouse Bluerock announced the 2007 Cannes Film Festival presentation of the film, U2 3D, billed as the first live-action concert film shot entirely in 3-D and starring the renowned Grammy-winning band, U2. The 55-minute preview is intended to garner buzz for the upcoming full-length feature, and screened at midnight on May 19 at the Palais des Festivals. Bluerock's Olivier Wicki edited both the preview and the full-length versions of the film in 2-D and it was then put through the 3-D process. The film is the latest in a long-standing collaboration between Bluerock and U2's Bono.

Bluerock President Ethel Rubinstein praises the film, "Bono and the band set the bar for dynamic performance, and Olivier Wicki used his creative and technical genius to ensure the film portrayed every bit of their awesome talent. We were honored to be chosen as a creative partner."

U2 3D documents U2's wildly successful "Vertigo" World tour. Armed with 3-D glasses, viewers will now have the opportunity to see U2 in a concert atmosphere without enduring sweaty crowds and high ticket prices. The full-length version of U2 3D featuring 15 songs drawn from over 700 hours of footage, will debut in fall 2007. The film was directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington and produced by 3ality Digital, Los Angeles.

The entire band worked closely with Wicki on the editing of the concert film, frequenting the Bluerock offices throughout the post-production process. The team also worked together on an effects-driven VMA-nominated U2 music video, Original Of The Species, also edited by Wicki, and on the musician/activist's ONE.org projects, including the eye-opening public service announcement Snap (edited by Bluerock's David Mester).

Design and effects house Spontaneous, New York, a partner with Bluerock, is also closely involved with U2 3D. Creative director John Leamy designed the film's opening title sequence, logo and movie poster. Leamy, who was CD for U2's "Original of the Species" music video, edited the U2 3D trailer. Spontaneous is also enhancing the 2-D tour visuals that were originally designed for "Vertigo," for use in the film's 3-D environment.

U2 3D Film Credits

  • U2 3D :55 preview, 1:20 feature film
  • Where Shot: South America
  • Release Date (for full-length): Fall 2007
  • Editorial Company: Bluerock, New York, NY
  • Editor: Olivier Wicki
  • Editorial Producer: Caryn MacLean
  • Bluerock Technical Support: Farhad Dhabhar
  • Bluerock President: Ethel Rubinstein
  • Bluerock CEO: John Palestrini
  • Design Company: Spontaneous, New York, NY
  • Spontaneous Creative Director: John Leamy
  • Production Company: 3ality Digital, Los Angeles, CA
  • Directors: Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington
  • DP: Tom Krueger
  • 3D-DP: Peter Anderson
  • Music Producer: Carl Glanville

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Night at the Museum 3-D Lenticular DVD Cover

Night at the Museum cover artThe two-disc DVD edition of Night at the Museum features a very cool 3-D lenticular cover.

The first image on the lenticular features Ben Stiller standing in the hallway of a darkened museum. When you turn the image, the lights go up and several characters from the film peer from behind him down the hallway.

The characters include the bones of a Tyranasaurus Rex, Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, a monkey, lion, indian maiden, egyptian and a mongol.

The 3-D lenticular is particularly well done. Each image is sharp and clear with little to no ghosting.

Actors: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams
Format: Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)

Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
Number of discs: 2
Rating: PG-13
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007
Run Time: 105 minutes

Collector sees the World in 3-D
by Brook Griffin - Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer

John Johanek Photo by Erik Petersen  Courtesy of The Bozeman Daily ChronicleThis article is about 3-D, particularly three-dimensional collector and enthusiast John Johanek, who lives in Bozeman, Montana.

For the better part of his life, Johanek has been fascinated with seeing things with a warped depth perception.

“I remember as a kid having a View-Master® set and a Bugs Bunny reel and I remember looking at it over and over again. I don't want to date myself but at the time this was a year before we got our first television,” he said.

Simply put, 3-D creates the illusion of depth. It works by giving the eyes two, slightly different versions of the same image. The human mind then blends the images together to create depth where it really isn't. That's why a View-aster reel (those circular cards with tiny photos in them) has two images, one for each eye. It's also why glasses for a 3-D movie have different-color lenses, one for each eye, to separate the two images included in the film.

So with the right equipment, a monster from the hoary depths of a black lagoon seems to emerge from the screen. Or a wolf in Yellowstone National Park appears so close a viewer can reach into the picture and touch it.

Johanek's collection includes a poster from one of the 1950's films presented with 3-D technology, Dial M for Murder.

While 3-D technology has been a film novelty again in recent years (Jaws 3-D for instance), Johanek said the technology is on the verge of erupting.

“They rarely got past the quality of the 1950s movies, but in the last few years the technology has gotten better,” he said.

A host of new films are on the horizon that will blend computer-generated imaging with 3-D to create a new theater experience, or so Johanek hopes.

His hopes are backed up by John Dennis, president of the National Stereoscopic Association. Dennis said at least 2,000 theaters are promising to have new 3-D digital projectors in place by 2009.

“It looks very promising,” Dennis said. Still the attraction of the older 3-D technology lives on. “It's iconic. As long as humans have two eyes, it will be there.”

Johanek's collection is a staggering display of 3-D popularity. One whole room of his northside home has been turned into a three-dimensional shrine. There are boxes of cereal with holographic pictures of dinosaurs, 3-D album covers from the Rolling Stones, and dozens of View-Masters like the one Johanek used to see an image of Bugs Bunny when he was a kid. Every square inch of the room is filled with 3-D elements, and some of the most fascinating are also the oldest.

Several turn-of-the-century-era stereoscopes - wooden, hand-held viewers similar to a View-Master but simpler in form - fill one corner. Stereoscope home viewing was a popular pastime in the 3-D heyday, Johanek said, and hundreds of thousands of pictures were circulated around the world. The stereoscopes paved the way for View-Masters, which served as the introduction of the medium to the masses after the 1950s.

The View-Master® reels were used for everything from car company promotions to military training, and Johanek has examples of them all. He also has stacks of magazines and images that make use of the iconic red and green 3-D glasses.

The collection also includes a box of Fruit Rollups with 3-D glasses inside, and tattered copies of 3-D Monster Magazine with the tag line: “We dare you to use the magic glasses and see the monsters come alive!”

The attraction now is finding the old stuff and keeping the collection going.

Johanek travels extensively and often ducks into antique stores in search of items for his collection, but he is running out of new elements to add.

“There is no holy grail,” he said. “When I started 30 years ago you could find things at flea markets and even yard sales.”

As his collection grows, Johanek is faced with another dilemma more challenging than where he finds his next treasure. It's where to put everything?

“At some point I have to ask myself ‘what are you going to do with this stuff?'” he said. “I don't know.”

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Stereo World features Swimsuit Encore 2007

Stereo World magazine cover May/June 2007Stereo World magazine, a publication of the National Stereoscopic Association, features some behind the scenes 3-D images from the 2000 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit photo shoots. The May/June 2007 issue, Vol. 32, No. 6, starts things off with a full color cover featuring model Veronika Varekova trying on some 3-D glasses in Maui. The front and back cover are printed so that the image can be seen in 3-D using the cross-eyed method.

Ron Labbe's behind the scenes story of shooting 3-D for the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue includes 3-D photos of model Yamila Diaz, too.

Other articles in the May/June 2007 issue include

G.A.F. Tissues by Robert A Schreiber and Tex Treadwell

An Introduction to Carl B. Balcomb - Stereographer Extraordinaire, The first in a series by his son, Robert B. Balcomb

A Stereo Time Paradox - Meet the Robinsons Advances 3-D Cinema by Ray Zone

Pop! Goes the Phantogram - A review by John Dennis

Think "Outside the Window" by Michael Beech

Rebuilding the Z-Axis - Stereo Conversion of Motion Pictures by Ray Zone

Stereo World magazine is published bi-monthly by the National Stereoscopic Association. Annual membership dues are $32 (third class U.S.) or $44 (first class U.S.) and $44 for all international memberships. Annual memberships include six issues Stereo World, a plastic lorgnette viewer and a membership directory. For more information, write to the National Stereoscopic Assocation Inc., P.O. Box 86708, Portland, OR 97286 or visit their Web site at www.stereoview.org.

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3-D Auction Results
Here are a few 3-D auction results from the past month

Babe Ruth stereocard

A stereoview of baseball legend Babe Ruth sold for $500 with one bid. The Keystone view, #32598, shows Ruth looking straight at the camera. The image was taken during spring training.

Barnum Circus Parade stereocard

A stereoview showing a Barnum Circus Parade sold for $405 with four bids. An overview of the procession with three camels in the foreground with costumed riders and a man guiding them. There are seven costumed riders on horses in front and behind the camels. Behind the horses are two of Phineas T. Barnum elephants, a small one and a very large one with a rider's tent shelter on top. In front of the elephants is a marcher holding up a sign which has painted elephants on it. Circa mid- to late-1880s on an oversized cabinet card. This view was taken from an unusual second story perspective. At the left side of the view in the foreground, one can see a man sitting right on the edge of an open window. The stencil lettering on the glass reads The Daily Tribune, a newspaper. The street is lined with spectators.

Stanndard Funeral stereoview set

A set of seven stereoviews of the funeral of Major General George J. Stannard sold for $400 with two bids. Major General George J. Stannard was Vermont's most famous Civil War hero! This series was made by E. O. Wormell in Vermont. According to the seller, "I don't know much about him and in fact have never seen any other stereoviews or photos by him. The more recent collector's book doesn't list him as a stereoview maker. The few people I have ever shown these to also found them unique and uncommon." The first card has a blank back where the others have the printed back. The set originally had eight cards according to the listing printed on the back of the cards. The cards are about 7" x 4" in size.

Coin-op stereoviewer

A coin-op stereoviewer sold for $350 with 22 bids. This stereoview is made by Whitings Sculptoscope of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was manufactured by American Novelty Co also of Cincinnati, Ohio in May 1913. According to the seller, this stereoviewer works when the trigger is pulled, but it does not stop at each ad. It continuously goes, but works as it should. The glass on the side is the original, but the piece of plexiglass was put in. There are 69 stereoview cards in the machine, as well as a few loose ones that were included in the sale.

 

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