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Friday, January 29, 2016

THE FORCE AWAKENS - And Yours Truly - Among Winners At This Weeks Advanced Imagining Society Creative Arts Awards!

Yes, this year's Advanced Imaging Society's Creative Arts Awards was an exciting event for many, many reasons including our own 40 BELOW AND FALLING which I had the pleasure of helping produce along with a truly exceptional team. We won the 3D Feature Jury Prize and are deeply honored with the Lumiere.

Here's the official press release:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Advanced Imaging Society bestowed 20 honors for “distinguished achievement” at the Creative Arts Awards on Wednesday night, at Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Disney/Lucasfilm) was honored with two Lumiere statuettes, for Best 3D Live Action Feature and Best 2D to 3D Conversion (StereoD). “The Martian” (20th Century Fox) was also honored with two awards, for Best Live Action Stereography and Best Use of Native 3D. “The Walk” (Sony/Legend3D) won 3D Scene of the Year for its Act 3 high wire walk by actor Joseph Gordon Levitt. Pixar was honored with 3 Lumieres, including: Best 3D Animated Feature and Best Animated Stereography for “Inside Out” (Disney/Pixar) and Best 3D Short for “Lava” (Disney/Pixar).

“Conquest of the Skies” (Colossus Productions), hosted by Sir David Attenborough, won Best 3D Documentary. The Russian cinema commercial, “Schvabe” (StereoTec) won for Best 3D Advertising. The 3D short “Hard Reset” (Buk Films) won for Best Live Action Short. “Emma” (Pannon Entertainment) was awarded for Best use of High Dynamic Range. “Great Barrier Reef,” (Atlantic Productions) also hosted by Sir David Attenborough, won in the Best Ultra HD content category. The Best Virtual Reality Experience was awarded to “The Walk: Virtual Reality Experience” (Sony/Create Design LA).

Marvel’s Victoria Alonso, who heads the Studio’s Physical Production Unit and serves as Executive Producer on many of the Studio's blockbuster hits, was presented with the Harold Lloyd Award for filmmaking.

BBC and BBC Earth were awarded the annual Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for excellence in natural history documentaries.

“With movies like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘The Martian,’ and ‘Inside Out’ competing for our top honors, we had an extraordinary awards process this year. 3D has never had a better year at the box office, or a better year in terms of brilliant creative work,” said Society President Jim Chabin. “With the addition of Virtual Reality, High Dynamic Range, and Ultra HD entries, our members are clearly working at the very cutting edge of our industry’s future,” he added.

Several Jury Prizes were presented for special achievement. Director Raman Hui was awarded a Lumiere for 2015’s “Monster Hunt,” (Edko Films Limited) the biggest box office hit in Chinese history. The romantic comedy “40 Below And Falling” (Avatar Media), the 3D Short “Coda” (National Film Board of Canada), and the Japanese animated children’s film “Gamba” (Shirogumi) were also honored with jury prizes.

“Our honorees this year came from all over the globe, from China to the UK, to Europe, Canada, and of course Hollywood, 3D has truly come of age,” said Society Awards Chairman Buzz Hays. “Both the high level of quality and the quantity of 3D, HDR, and VR production is impressive,” he added.

Here are the night's winners in detail:

HAROLD LLOYD AWARD
VICTORIA ALONSO
MARVEL

SIR CHARLES WHEATSTONE
BBC EARTH

3D LIVE ACTION FEATURE
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
DISNEY/LUCASFILM

3D ANIMATED FEATURE
INSIDE OUT
PIXAR

STEREOGRAPHY LIVE ACTION
THE MARTIAN
20TH CENTURY FOX

STEREOGRAPHY ANIMATED
INSIDE OUT
PIXAR

3D SHORT ANIMATED
LAVA
PIXAR

3D SHORT LIVE ACTION
HARD RESET
BUK FILMS

3D DOCUMENTARY
CONQUEST OF THE SKIES
COLOSSUS PRODUCTIONS

UHD
GREAT BARRIER REEF
ATLANTIC PRODUCTIONS

BEST USE OF NATIVE 3D
THE MARTIAN
20TH CENTURY FOX

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
EMMA
PANNON ENTERTAINMENT

BEST USE OF 2D TO 3D CONVERSION
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
DISNEY/LUCASFILM

3D SCENE OF THE YEAR
THE WALK
(SCENE: TIGHT ROPE WALK BETWEEN WTC TWIN TOWERS)
SONY/LEGEND 3D

VR
THE WALK: VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE
SONY/CREATE DESIGN LA

3D ADVERTISEMENT
SCHVABE
STEREOTEC

3D FEATURE JURY PRIZE
40 BELOW AND FALLING
AVATAR MEDIA
CANADA

3D SHORT ANIMATED JURY PRIZE
CODA
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA
CANADA

3D FEATURE JURY PRIZE
MONSTER HUNT
EDKO FILMS LTD
CHINA

3D ANIMATED FEATURE JURY PRIZE
GAMBA
SHIROGUMI
JAPAN

On behalf of our director Dylan Pearce, producer Andy Scholotiuk and everyone else involved with 40 BELOW AND FALLING, I'd like to thank everyone involved with the Advanced Imaging Society for the honor, and the continuing passion for our industry. It was a tremendous year again for 3D highlighted with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS dominating the box office and setting records and the top 4 movies of the year being in 3D.

2016 looks to be another amazing year!!

More Trade Coverage: Variety | THR

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

World Box Office: THE FORCE AWAKENS vs. AVATAR? Forget it... Look At All That Cheddar.

As I've been postulating for weeks now (other than the fact I knew there was no way AVATAR 2 would hit its latest release date), there is no way STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS challenges James Cameron's AVATAR in worldwide box office. Let's face it, worldwide box office is the number that matters most and while the domestic record is an awesome achievement, it's only a third of what really matters or in SWTFA's case, half. Yes, TITANIC may sink, but AVATAR is quite safe.

Was there really any doubt about this? Not to me. There's the old description of a four quadrant movie that sort of fits both movies: Males under 25, Males over 25, Females under 25 and Females over 25. I think SWTFA delivers admirably on this, but not in the league of AVATAR. But of course there is much more to the story than just four quadrants.

Many will argue that shiny new 3D technology helped push AVATAR to dizzying heights and while that is true to some degree, SWTFA has nostalgia and an extremely well established fanbase and, count 'em, SIX previous feature releases. SWTFA also has 3D revenue in MORE theaters. AVATAR was an original work. That more than balances the scales.

Here's why AVATAR will remain king of the world in my opinion:
1. James Cameron. The world loves him. They love his movies and love his environmental stance. That's a huge reason why AVATAR commanded the box office it did. SWTFA must measure up to this standard of relevance or fail in my opinion. Cameron is AVATAR's scientist to SWTFA's fantasy magic. It's a very interesting comparison to contrast AVATAR's environmental message to THE FORCE AWAKENS' well... force, and while I'm sure I'll hear from more Star Wars fans on this (I am one!), AVATAR much better aligns with true Science Fiction. Star Wars embraces the supernatural, albeit in a passionate, space opera setting. Don't underestimate the power of "James Cameron Presents". Just his name alone will bring in masses of people. Abrams is good and is getting better, but he doesn't command Cameron's respect yet in the theater - and very probably never will. Cameron IS Captain SciFi. I feel the pure SciFi play is a better option for box office when we're dealing with four quadrant movies.

2. Everyone can relate to AVATAR's story. Indigenous people's oppression. The environment. Corporate greed. Romance. The world responded to it. It had legs. With SWTFA however, the story continually evolves around the soap opera of grandparents, parents, siblings and children with unexpected gasps from audiences as lineages are revealed. There needs to be more at stake and more that relates to our world directly to connect as AVATAR has. THE FORCE AWAKENS needs more meat to move to the next level. Perhaps EP. VIII or the spin offs will.

3. The AVATAR sequels will punch up cinematic technology once again and potentially set the bar even higher in the coming years. You didn't think he was done with just 3D did you? You can bet Cameron will be marketing some new technology very, very hard for the sequels. AVATAR broke amazing ground with 3D, crossing the uncanny valley with photo realism, performance capture and virtual real-time cameras. You can expect more of the same for the sequels only with technology 10 years better. Imagine what he could and will do.

So if not SWTFA, then what will overtake AVATAR? AVATAR 2? Maybe. I suspect the movies will be BETTER than the original (as Cameron always shines in sequels) and will do massive box office, but AVATAR was a must see event for the world. It will be hard to replicate that again and re-energize that urgency. That being said, if there is one person in the world that can beat James Cameron, it's James Cameron. He's already proven that. And there's plenty of causes that are of urgent priority on this planet. Mine that cheddar.


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