By CHRIS McGOWAN
The award-winning definitive authority on all things visual effects in the world of film, TV, gaming, virtual reality, commercials, theme parks, and other new media.
Winner of three prestigious Folio Awards for excellence in publishing.
By CHRIS McGOWAN
This fall, VFX enliven a broad range of films and series, from much anticipated sequels and spinoffs to original fantasy, sci-fi, suspense and historical fare. In terms of familiar territory, visual effects will heighten Gotham City’s reality in Joker, conjure up the magical realm of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and power fantastic adventures in the latest Jumanji installment.
Meanwhile, The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker expand their joint universe. Terminator: Dark Fate continues that franchise’s history of groundbreaking VFX. And digital effects amp up the action in a Charlie’s Angels reboot and enhance the supernatural in two sequels, Zombieland: Double Tap and Doctor Sleep. The Addams Family, Frozen II, and the stop-motion A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon build on previous titles and expand the animation palette, as does Spies in Disguise.
VFX build a musical fantasy world in Cats, create a younger Will Smith in Gemini Man, heighten suspense in The Hunt and rev up Ford v Ferrari. Visual effects also take us back in time in the period films Jojo Rabbit, 1917, Harriet, The Current War, The Aeronauts and Midway.
VFX producers, VFX and SFX supervisors and VFX houses are included when possible. This is not intended to be a complete listing. Release dates are subject to change.
Joker (Warner Bros.)
Release date: U.K., October 4; U.S., October 4
Failure and humiliation drive stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) to re-invent himself as the psychopathic, homicidal Joker in an origin story for Batman’s future nemesis. Todd Phillips directs. Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz are in the cast. Edwin Rivera is Visual Effects Supervisor and worked with Scanline VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Mathew Giampa) and Shade VFX (Visual Effects Producer Molly Pabian).
The Current War (101 Studios U.S., Lantern Entertainment, U.K.)
Release date: U.K., July 26; U.S., October 4
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed this film about the epic battle between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to power the U.S. with electricity. Caimin Bourne is Special Effects Supervisor, while Justin Ball is Visual Effects Supervisor, lighting up the era with BlueBolt (Visual Effects Supervisor Stuart Bullen), Nvizible (Visual Effects Supervisors Jason Evans and Jamie Wood), One of Us (Visual Effects Supervisor Oliver Cubbage) and Boundary Visual Effects.
Gemini Man (Paramount Pictures )
Release date: U.K., October 11; U.S., October 4
David Benioff (Game of Thrones) co-scripted this Ang Lee-directed tale of an elite assassin (Will Smith) confronted by a younger clone of himself. Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are in the cast. Mark Hawker is Special Effects Supervisor. Weta Digital (Visual Effects Supervisor Sheldon Stopsack) is adding visual effects, aided by Scanline VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Bryan Hirota) and Clear Angle Studios.
The Addams Family (United Artists Releasing/Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., October 25; U.S., October 11
Ghoulish yet adorable, the Addams clan returns to the big screen in animated form, with voices supplied by Oscar Isaac (Gomez), Charlize Theron (Morticia), Bette Midler (Grandmama) and Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester), among others. Cinesite teamed with MGM to create the Addams universe.
Zombieland: Double Tap (Columbia Pictures)
Release date: U.K., October 18; U.S., October 11
Four veterans of an undead invasion face off against evolved zombies and fellow survivors. Ruben Fleischer directs the horrorcomedy, starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd. J.D. Schwalm is Special Effects Supervisor and Christine Choi is Visual Effects Coordinator.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Walt Disney Studios)
Release date: U.K., October 18; U.S., October 18
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) face new threats to their magic realm. Hayley J. Williams is Special Effects Supervisor and Gary Brozenich is Visual Effects Supervisor, backed by MPC (Visual Effects Supervisors Ferran Domenech, Bryan Litson, Jessica Norman and Damien Stumpf), Mill Film (Visual Effects Supervisor Laurent Gillet), Clear Angle Studios, Trace VFX and Gentle Giant Studios.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Lionsgate U.S., StudioCanal, U.K.)
Release date: U.K., October 18; U.S., December 13
This Aardman Animations stop-motion tale concerns a sheep who must bring a lost alien home before a sinister organization catches up with her. Axis VFX added otherworldly visual effects.
The Hunt (Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., September 27; U.S., September 27
Director Craig Zobel and writers Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse all worked on The Leftovers (Lindelof was co-creator), and have now turned their talents to this action thriller with Matt Kutcher as Special Effects Supervisor and John Gibson as Visual Effects Supervisor.
Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Release date: U.K., January 3; U.S., October 18
Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) directs a dark satire set in Nazi Germany about a young boy who discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young girl in the attic; his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, helps him cope with it. Sam Rockwell plays a Nazi captain/Hitler Youth instructor. Jason Chen is Visual Effects Supervisor and Luma Pictures crafts the period VFX.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount Pictures)
Release date: U.K., October 23; U.S., November 1
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are back to deal with Skynet. Tim Miller (Deadpool) directs and Neil Corbould is Special Effects Supervisor. ILM (Visual Effects Supervisors Eric Barba, Alex Wang, Jeff White and Georg Kaltenbrunner), Scanline VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Arek Komorowski), Method Studios (Visual Effects Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst), Digital Domain (Digital Effects Supervisor Greg Teegarden), and Rebellion Visual Effects (Visual Effects Supervisor Jake Maymudes) supply the VFX.
Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros.)
Release date: U.K., October 31; U.S., November 8
A sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep is based on a Stephen King novel about a now-grownup Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), whose struggle with alcoholism reawakens his psychic powers. Ken Gorrell is Special Effects Coordinator. Marc Kolbe is Visual Effects Supervisor, linking with Peerless (Visual Effects Supervisor Marc Hutchings), Secret Lab (Visual Effects Supervisor Olcun Tan), Method Studios and Shade VFX.
Harriet (Focus Features)
Release date: U.K., TBD; U.S., November 1
Kasi Lemmons helms the biographical film about Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo), who escaped from slavery and helped others do the same through the Underground Railroad. Gary Pilkinton is Special Effects Coordinator. Brainstorm Digital (Visual Effects Supervisor Eran Dinur) and Powerhouse VFX add historical authenticity.
The Aeronauts (Amazon Studios)
Release date: U.K., November 8; U.S., November 1
A wealthy young widow (Felicity Jones) and an ambitious scientist (Eddie Redmayne) attempt to fly a hot-air balloon higher than anyone in history. Louis Morin is Visual Effects Supervisor and Annie Godin is Visual Effects Producer. Michael Dawson is Special Effects Supervisor. Framestore (Visual Effects Supervisor Christian Kaestner) and Rodeo FX (Visual Effects Supervisor Ara Khanikian) provide VFX that take us to the edge of the atmosphere.
Release date: U.K., November 8; U.S., November 8
Roland Emmerich directs the story of U.S. sailors and aviators in the historic Battle of Midway. Woody Harrelson (as Admiral Nimitz), Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Aaron Eckhart, Dennis Quaid lead the cast. Eric Rylander is the Special Effects Coordinator. Peter G. Travers is Visual Effects Supervisor, bringing World War II to life with Pixomondo (Visual Effects Supervisor Derek Spears) and Scanline VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Laurent Taillefer).
The Mandalorian (Disney+ series)
Release date: U.K., TBD; U.S., November 12
Set in the Star Wars universe, the Jon Favreau-created series concerns the adventures of a lone masked gunfighter (Pedro Pascal) in the far reaches of the galaxy. Giancarlo Esposito, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte are part of the eclectic cast. Lindsay MacGowan, Shane Mahan, John Rosengrant and Alan Scott are Supervisors for Legacy Effects. Visual Effects Supervisors Richard Bluff and Jason Porter craft the VFX with ILM, Gentle Giant Studio (Visual Effects Supervisor Yoshi DeHerrera) and Image Engine.
Charlie’s Angels (Sony Pictures)
Release date: U.K., November 29; U.S., November 15
Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska are the three leading angels in a global spy operation. Uli Nefzer was Special Effects Supervisor. Karen Heston (Sony Visual Effects Supervisor) teams with Gentle Giant Studios (Visual Effects Supervisor Yoshi DeHerrera), and Scanline VFX.
Ford v Ferrari (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
Release date: U.K., November 15; U.S., November 15
A team of American engineers seek to build a new Ford car (the GT40) to dethrone perennial champion Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966. Christian Bale portrays British driver Ken Miles and Matt Damon is automotive designer Carroll Shelby. Mark R. Byers and Charles-Axel Vollard are Special Effects Supervisors. Olivier Dumont is the Visual Effects Supervisor, guiding Method Studios (Visual Effects Supervisor Dave Morley), The Yard VFX (Visual Effects Supervisor Laurens Ehrmann) and Rising Sun Pictures (Visual Effects Supervisor Malte Sarnes).
Frozen II (Walt Disney Pictures)
Release date: U.K., November 22; U.S., November 22
Walt Disney Animation Studios has created this sequel to the hit 2013 computer animated musical fantasy, continuing the adventures of sisters Anna (Kristen Bell’s voice) and Elsa (Idina Menzel).
Jumanji: The Next Level (Columbia/Sony Pictures)
Release date: U.K.,TBD; U.S., December 13
Jake Kasdan directs this sequel, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. J.D. Schwalm is Special Effects Supervisor. Mark Breakspear is the Visual Effects Supervisor, leading Sony Imageworks, and Weta Digital also contributes VFX.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Walt Disney Studios)
Release date: U.K., December 19; U.S., December 20
Rey’s journey continues as the Resistance faces the First Order in the final Skywalker chapter. J.J. Abrams directs Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Richard E. Grant, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams. Dominic Tuohy is Special Effects Supervisor and Creature FX helps with the practical effects. Roger Guyett is Visual Effects Supervisor, and ILM (Visual Effects Supervisor Daniele Bigi) taps into the VFX Force, with assistance from Gentle Giant Studios.
Cats (Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., December 20; U.S., December 20
Tom Hooper directs a film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The cast includes Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Paul Dimmer is Special Effects Supervisor. Harpreet Bahia is Senior Visual Effects Supervisor and MPC, Mill Film and Clear Angle Studios turn fantasy into reality.
Spies in Disguise (20th Century Fox)
Release date: U.K., December 26; U.S., December 25
In this computer animated film from Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, the world’s coolest spy (Will Smith) gets turned into a pigeon and must rely on a nerdy scientist (Tom Holland) to help him save the world.
1917 (Universal Pictures)
Release date: U.K., January 10; U.S., December 25
The Sam Mendes film follows two young actors on a single day in World War I. George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and Mark Strong are in the cast. Dominic Tuohy is Special Effects Supervisor, and Clear Angle Studios works on the period VFX.
Goliath (Amazon Studios)
Release date: U.K., October TBA; U.S., October TBA
In the season 3 opener, Billy Bob Thornton stars as a disgraced lawyer who battles ranchers in the Central Valley over water control in drought-stricken California. Dennis Quaid and Amy Brenneman co-star. Visual Effects Producers are Celine Zoleta (Pixomondo) and Aaron Greenberg (Amazon Studio). Overall VFX Supervisor is Michael Shelton working with VFX Supervisor Bojan Zoric (Pixomondo). Pixomondo is the primary effects house.