New Mechanical Threat for Spidey

In 20th Century Fox’s summer thrill ride, I, Robot, androids rise up against the very people they were made to serve, but will they successfully overthrow Spider-Man at the Box office this weekend? The much-hyped Will Smith vehicle arrives in theaters today with plans to send the webslinger packing.

Loosely based on the classic sci-fi short story collection by Isaac Asimov, I, Robot has police detective Del Spooner (Smith) investigating a murder that may have been committed by one of the many highly evolved androids designed to serve mankind in the year 2035. The unusual investigation eventually takes a more sinister turn as Spooner uncovers a larger threat to humanity. The film was directed by Alex Proyas, whose previous genre ventures include the cult favorites The Crow and Dark City.

I, Robot’s title character, a robot named Sonny, is completely computer-generated. Just as Weta animated Gollum based on the performance of Andy Serkis for the Lord of the Rings movies, the crew at Digital Domain, which handled most of the Sonny shots, used actor Alan Tudyk as their inspiration. Weta Digital, Rainmaker Digital and Pixel Magic handled the remainder of the film’s 1,000 visual effects shots. Read more about the I, Robot’s visual effects in the July issue of Animation Magazine.

Considering the drop-off of nearly 50% Spider-Man 2 experienced in its second week of business, I, Robot has a solid chance of capturing the box office title despite mixed reviews. Next week, however, it will have to contend with another superhero in the form of Warner Bros.’ Catwoman.