Imageworks Takes on Heroic Projects

With its work on the big-budget superhero satire Hancock set to splash onto screens this weekend, Sony Pictures Imageworks has released a rundown of all the projects currently in its pipeline. In addition to the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation production Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the toon sequel Open Season 2, the award-winning digital production company is at work on five major motion pictures. Included in the mix are the partially animated Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney’s family adventure G-Force, Warner Bros.’ comic-book adaptation Watchmen and a recently announced DreamWorks’ action thriller titled Eagle Eye.

Directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), Hancock stars Will Smith as a conflicted, sarcastic and misunderstood superhero whose well-intentioned heroics always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. As the people of Los Angeles decide they have finally had enough of his antics, Hancock saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), and decides to turn over a new leaf. Leading the vfx crew is effects designer John Dykstra, who has won Academy Awards for Star Wars and Spider-Man 2. Ken Kee-Suk Hahn, the digital effects supervisor for Imageworks, most recently served as the digital effects supervisor on Spider-Man 3.

G-Force is being directed by Hoyt Yeatman, who received an Academy Award for his visual effects work on the remake of Mighty Joe Young. Combining live actors with CG-animated animal characters, the family feature follows an elite team of highly trained covert agents employing unique tactics and nanotechnology to avert a looming global disaster. The Imageworks team is led by Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk. Stokdyk has worked on all three Spider-Man movies, sharing in the 2005 Oscar win for Spider-Man 2. The G-Force crew also includes digital effects supervisor Seth Maury and animation supervisor Troy Saliba. Imageworks will also be delivering the stereoscopic 3-D version of the film, led by senior stereographer and digital effects supervisor Rob Engle

Based on the bestselling, Hugo Award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is a complex, multi-layered mystery adventure set in an alternate 1985 America. In a time when real-life costumed heroes have been outlawed, one former masked avenger investigates the murder of one of his own and uncovers a conspiracy to drag the world closer to Armageddon. Imageworks’ Pete Travers is the film’s visual effects supervisor, with Dan Kramer serving as digital effects supervisor and Kenn McDonald (Beowulf) as animation supervisor. Directed by Zack Snyder (300) and produced by Lawrence Gordon (Die Hard), Lloyd Levin (United 93) and Deborah Snyder (300), the pic is slated to hit theaters on March 6, 2009.

Open Season 2 will be released directly to DVD, continuing the adventures of animal odd couple Boog and Elliot. After falling head over hooves in love with Giselle, Elliot’s road to the altar takes a slight detour when Mr. Weenie is kidnapped by a group of pampered pets determined to return him to his owners. McSquizzy, Buddy and the rest of the woodland creatures join Boog and Eliot in launching a full-scale rescue mission and soon find themselves in the enemy camp. Led by a toy poodle named Fifi, the pets have no intention of letting Mr. Weenie go without a fight.

Eagle Eye stars Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Mackie and Billy Bob Thornton is in a race-against-time thriller about two unsuspecting Americans who are separately drawn into an assassination plot by a mysterious woman they have never met, but who seems to know their every move. Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Patrick Crowley, the film has Academy Award nominee Jim Berney wroking as visual effects supervisor with David Smith as digital effects supervisor and Bob Pietzman as CG supervisor.

Also in the works at the studio is United Artists’ Valkyrie, a WWII suspense thriller starring Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard and Terrance Stamp. Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) is directing and Academy Award nominee Richard R. Hoover will serve as senior visual effects supervisor. CG supervisors for Imageworks are Daniel Eaton, Theo Bialek and Patrick Cohen. Peter Notz is digital effects supervisor. In addition, Imageworks artists are working on an untitled Ridley Scott film based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’ 2007 novel about a CIA operative played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who devises a plan to infiltrate a major terrorist network. Sheena Duggal will serve as the film’s visual effects supervisor, and John Monos as CG supervisor.