By CHRIS McGOWAN
In the summertime, VFX films will be diverse and push the envelope in all directions. The tapestry of superhero visual effects will broaden with Spider-Man: Far From Home and The New Mutants. The Lion King will no doubt take photorealistic computer animation to a new level, as it brings the African savanna to life. Abominable, Spies in Disguise and The Angry Birds Movie 2 all feature 3D computer animation. Artemis Fowl blends the earthly with the unearthly, as does Stranger Things: Season 3, with new visions from the Upside Down. An interesting mix of horror tales – Midsommar, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and It: Chapter Two – offer extraordinary VFX fulfilling an array of missions.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw will showcase turbo-powered visual effects in the action realm, and so should (to a lesser extent) the action-suspense dramas Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Angel Has Fallen and sci-fi edged Boss Level, as well as the comedies Stuber, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and The Kitchen. “Invisible effects” that are part of many such films should also be on subtle, but important display in the film adaptation of Downton Abbey, set in Yorkshire a hundred years ago.
VFX Voice has compiled a list of some of the top VFX-laden productions due this summer, from July through September, along with the visual effects supervisors and VFX houses involved, when possible. This is not intended to be a complete listing. Release dates are subject to change.
Stranger Things, Season 3 (Netflix)
Release date: U.K., July 4; U.S., July 4
Matt and Ross Duffer’s hit supernatural sci-fi series returns with Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbor and Finn Wolfhard. Paul Graff is Overall Visual Effects Supervisor, Christina Graff is Senior Visual Effects Producer, Chloe Lipp is a Visual Effects Coordinator and Ravindra Tamhankar is a Visual Effects Producer. Atomic Studios, now part of Deluxe Entertainment, worked on the visual effects last season with other VFX houses. Sister firm Method Studios is involved this time around. Crafty Apes is also on board for VFX.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (Photo © Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures)
Release date: U.K., July 2; U.S., July 2
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) wants to summer in Europe, but villain Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) threatens both his vacation plans and the fate of the world. Former Sony Pictures Imageworks Visual Effects Executive Producer Shauna Bryan oversaw the CGI, with the help of ILM (Visual Effects Supervisor Julian Foddy), Framestore (Visual Effects Supervisor Alexis Wajsbrot), Luma Pictures (Visual Effects Supervisor Brendan Seals), Scanline VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Julius Lechner) and Rising Sun Pictures.
Stuber (20th Century Fox)
Release date: U.K., July 12; U.S., July 12
Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) portrays Stu, a mild-mannered Uber driver who picks up a detective (Dave Bautista), who is chasing a sadistic terrorist. Stu must survive the ride and help his passenger, all while maintaining his Uber rating. Sean Thigpen is the Visual Effects Supervisor and Crafty Apes adds VFX to the action.
The Lion King (Photo © Walt Disney Pictures)
The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
Release date: U.K., July 19; U.S., July 19
Following his successful live-action/CGI adaptation of The Jungle Book, Jon Favreau takes on the photorealistic computer-animated Lion King remake with award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato. MPC (Visual Effects Supervisor Elliot Newman) conjured up the simulations of the lions, their animal peers and African landscapes.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Photo © Sony Pictures)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony Pictures)
Release date: U.K., August 14; U.S., July 26
Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this tale about struggling TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double/buddy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who are trying to reboot their careers in 1969 Hollywood. Unfortunately, it’s at the very time that the Manson Family are wreaking bloody havoc. Luma Pictures (Visual Effects Producer Michael Perdew) has the task of bringing authenticity to the period film.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Photo © Universal Pictures)
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., August 2; U.S., August 2
In David Leitch’s high-octane Fast and Furious spinoff, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) team up to combat the cyber-genetically-enhanced terrorist Brixton (Idris Elba). DNEG (Overall Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Glass and Visual Effects Supervisors Michael Brazelton and Stuart Lashley) and Framestore (VFX Supervisor Kyle McCulloch) turn the VFX up to maximum velocity.
Midsommar (Photo © A24)
Release date: U.K., August 9; U.S., August 9
A traveling couple discovers that Sweden is home to a strange pagan cult and its lethal midsummer festival in a rural village. Writer-director Ari Aster (Hereditary) has described this as an “apocalyptic breakup movie” and “Scandanavian folk horror.” Its cast boasts rising young stars such as Florence Pugh (Outlaw King) and Will Poulter (The Maze Runner). Gergely Takács is the Visual Effects Supervisor.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Photo © Lionsgate)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Lionsgate)
Release date: U.K., TBD; U.S., August 9
Guillermo del Toro produced and contributed the story for this André Øvredal horror film based on the Alvin Schwartz children’s book series. Matt Glover (Visual Effects Supervisor) and Greg Sigurdson (Visual Effects Producer) coordinated the VFX.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Photo© Annapurna Pictures)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Annapurna Pictures)
Release date: U.K., TBD; U.S., August 9
In this Richard Linklater comedy-drama, an unhappy mother (Cate Blanchett) suddenly disappears, and her 15-year-old daughter (Emma Nelson) must find out what happened to her. Raoul Bolognini is the Visual Effects Producer, Robert Grasmere is Visual Effects Supervisor and Joseph Payo the Visual Effects Coordinator. Savage Visual Effects and makevfx are both on the case.
Artemis Fowl (Photo © Walt Disney Pictures)
Artemis Fowl (Walt Disney Pictures)
Release date: U.K., August 9; U.S., August 9
In this fantasy-adventure directed by Kenneth Branagh, Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw) seeks to save his father and restore the family fortune by kidnapping a fairy for ransom. Charley Henley is Visual Effects Supervisor. Framestore (On-Set Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Duncan), MPC, Nvizage and Visual Skies are VFX studios charged with bringing the fairy reality to life.
Boss Level (Entertainment Studios)
Release date: U.K., TBD; U.S., August 16
In Joe Carnahan’s sci-fi thriller, Frank Grillo portrays an army special forces veteran trapped in a time loop that always ends in his death. Makana Sylva is the Visual Effects Supervisor, while Brian Reiss is the Visual Effects Producer for Encore VFX.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Photo © Sony Pictures)
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Sony Pictures)
Release date: U.K., October 4; U.S., August 16
This 3D computer-animated sequel features the voices of Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader, along with Nicki Minaj. R. Stirling Duguid is the Visual Effects Supervisor for Sony Imageworks.
Angel Has Fallen (Photo © Lionsgate)
Angel Has Fallen (Lionsgate)
Release date: U.K., August 23; U.S., August 23
A Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) has been framed for an assassination attempt on the president (Morgan Freeman) and must evade his colleagues while racing to uncover the real terrorist threat. Digital District and Worldwide FX are the chief VFX studios, and Marc Massicotte is the Visual Effects Supervisor.
It: Chapter 2 (Photo © Warner Bros. Pictures)
It: Chapter Two (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Release date: U.K., September 6; U.S., September 6
The Loser Club members, now adults, reconvene 27 years after the events depicted in the first It horror film, based on the Stephen King novel. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain lead the cast. Nicholas Brooks is the Visual Effects Supervisor for the sequel, as he was for the original It, and Method Studios (Visual Effects Supervisor Josh Simmonds) is onboard to help realize the scary elements.
Downton Abbey (Focus Features)
Release date: U.K., September 13; U.S., September 20
The hit epic U.K. series comes to the big screen, with many original cast members reprising their roles. Framestore Visual Effects Producer Ken Dailey faced the challenge of period visual effects.
Spies in Disguise (Photo © 20th Century Fox)
Spies in Disguise (20th Century Fox)
Release date: U.K., September 13; U.S., September 13
This 3D computer-animated spy comedy from 20th Century Fox Animation and Chernin Entertainment is directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, and includes Will Smith, Tom Holland and Rashida Jones in the voice talent. Brian Jason Tran is Effects Technical Director for Blue Sky Studios, which worked on the project, and Elvira Pinkhas is Effects Supervisor.
The Kitchen (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Release date: U.K., August 9; U.S., September 20
When three Irish mobsters are arrested by the FBI, their wives decide to run the family business themselves. The crime comedy-drama stars Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy. Method Studios (Senior Visual Effects Coordinator Ann-Marie Blommaert), Alkemy X (Visual Effects Supervisor Gabriel Regentin) and Shade VFX (Visual Effects Coordinator Nigel Cyril) are keeping the ’70s Hell’s Kitchen period piece real.
Abominable (Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., October 11; U.S., September 27
DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio produced this 3D computer-animated adventure. A mischievous group of friends encounter a young Yeti and set off on a long journey to the Himalayas to reunite the magical creature with his family. Max Bruce and Shaun Collaco are the CG Supervisors for DreamWorks Animation.