31 August 2010

A journey that begins where everything ends

The upcoming TRON sequel, TRON: Legacy has whipped up a frenzy for long time and novice fans of the original film. This passion for vintage Disney science-fiction could not be contained by the digital world the of Encom, however, as interest has once again been piqued in the epic story of The Black Hole. Currently, the TRON: Legacy director and producer team of Joseph Kosinski and Sean Bailey are slated to remake the space odyssey, and they even found a way to drop in references to The Black Hole into their TRON sequel.

The original film featured the talents of actors Anthony Perkins and Maximilian Schell, director Gary Nelson, and designs by two Disney giants Peter Ellenshaw and George McGinnis. The visual undertaking was so dramatic, that it would go on to garner Visual Effects and Cinematography Academy Award nominations, as well as a Hugo nomination for Dramatic Presentation. The film featured a band of space explorers who stumble upon a derelict craft that which had been missing for the past two decades. Their investigation aboard the ship, the USS Cygnus, which is perilously close to a black hole has alarming ramifications.

The Black Hole was given a premiere spot in Disney’s 1978 annual report, which touted the gutsy and immense nature of the film. Perhaps it is time to venture back across the event horizon to see what Disney had to say about the film:
On October 11, 1978, we began production of the most ambitious motion picture in the history of the Disney studio, “The Black Hole.” Nearly everything about this mammoth undertaking sets it apart from our efforts of the past.

“The Black Hole” has the largest budget we have ever committed to a film project, more than 17 million dollars.

All but one of the principal cast are newcomers to the Disney family, including Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms and Ernest Borgnine. Yvette Mimieux, who joins this excellent team of actors, has appeared for us only once before.

Director Gary Nelson, nominated for an Emmy for ABC-TV’s “Washington: Behind Closed Doors,” will oversee the longest production schedule in the history of Disney live-action filming. Nearly 14 months of simultaneous and post-production filming and processing will be required.

The entire studio creative team plus a group of “Imagineers” at WE Enterprises and four Academy Award winners (Peter Ellenshaw, Production Design; Eustace Lycett and Art Cruickshank, Special Photographic Effects; and Danny Lee, Special Visual Effects) are working together to create one of the most exciting films ever made. To accomplish this, an all-new computer camera system known as ACES (Automated Camera Effects System) has been developed and, in some scenes, as many as 12 different photo processes will be on the screen at once.

Black holes are the universe’s ultimate phenomena. Neither the science nor imagination of man has provided answers to the questions they pose. Some say that time stops as one enters the mouth of these dragons of space. Other suggest that they are doorways to another universe. Most simply refuse to speculate. And that is where our story begins: at the edge or event horizon of a black hole.

With the release of “The Black Hole,” scheduled tentatively for Christmas 1979, we anticipate a major new addition to the Disney library of classic films.
As a child, science fiction and pulp stories were the films that kidnapped my imagination and gave it lots of candy before returning it home. I lived in the worlds that had been cleverly crafted for me, often times expanding the tales into full day epics in which I was the hero or sole survivor. While Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Alien films were staples of this period, so to were the classic trio of Disney science fiction: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, TRON, and The Black Hole. As an adult it is truly exciting to see these films being discovered by a new generations and give new stories that treat the originals with the respect they deserve.

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