11/19/2014

In September 2004, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was released in theaters. An homage to the look and imagination of old movie serials from the 1940's, it used modern technology to create an epic in an old-fashioned style. Here are some nuggets of trivia you may not have known about this amazing film.

1. In 1994, freelance illustrator Kerry Conran spent four years working with blue screen and an aging Macintosh IIci to create a teaser trailer for The World of Tomorrow. His brother Kevin did production design for it. This is the trailer he created.


2. The teaser had a huge impact. Both Jude Law and Gweneth Paltrow signed onto the movie on the basis of the teaser trailer alone. Paltrow even agreed before she saw a completed script.
Jude Law and Gweneth Paltrow;
Credit: Paramount Pictures
3. The Conran brothers created twenty-five elaborate pitch kits with VHS tapes of the trailer in foam rubber casings, and Sky Captain comic books, and planned to shop them around Hollywood. They ended up selling the movie concept to the first person they showed the kit to, producer John Avnet.
Sky Captain promotional comic book cover
4. Sky Captain was filmed almost entirely on a "digital backlot" with the actors performing against blue screen at London's Elstree Studios, and environments created with CGI. It was the first major blue screen American movie production, which later became more common with films like 300 and Sin City.
Gweneth Paltow, Kevin Conran, Jude Law on the set;
Credit: Paramount Pictures
5. The only completely real set built was Polly Perkins' office, because they didn't have time to shoot it in blue screen and render it later.
Polly Perkins (Gweneth Paltrow)
Credit: Paramount Pictures
6. The shot of the over-sized radio tower giving off radio waves calling for Sky Captain is a reference to the RKO Radio Pictures logo.
RKO Radio Pictures Logo
7. It took only twenty-six days to shoot the footage for the movie, but spent two years in post production to complete the visual effects.

8. The robots in the opening attack are inspired by the robots in the classic 1941 Superman cartoon, "The Mechanical Monsters."
Robot from "The Mechanical Monsters"
9. Totenkopf means "head of a dead person" or "skull" in German. It was adopted as the name of Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguards during WWII.

10. Even though her role as Franky Cook was relatively small, Angelina Jolie spent hours in her own time interviewing elderly World War II pilots to get a sense of their mannerisms and how they talked.
Frankie Cook (Angelina Jolie);
Credit: Paramount Pictures
11. Conran originally wanted to present the movie as a series of chapters with cliffhangers like a serial, but was talked out of it.

12. Doctor Totenkopf is portrayed with digitally altered footage of a young Sir Lawrence Olivier. It was Jude Law's idea to use Olivier, because he'd always wanted to work with the legendary actor.
Doctor Totenkopf (Lawrence Olivier)
Credit: Paramount Pictures
13. At one point, we see a newspaper that shows Godzilla in Tokyo.
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Source: Movie Mistakes.com
14. Before shooting the film with his main cast, Conran shot the entire movie with extras and used the footage as reference animatics for the full movie.

15. The sphere and prism seen above the mine are based on famous icons from the 1939 World's Fair.

16. The dinosaur creatures of Totenkopf's island were designed by the legendary Stan Winston Studio.

17. The interior of Radio City Music Hall and the headquarters of The Chronicle are not made with CGI. They're actually photographs digitally assembled together into panoramic backgrounds.

18. Some of the CGI was so revolutionary that Conran and his team of 100 animators had to write new code to create it.

19. In his review of Sky Captain, Roger Ebert said, "It's like a film that escaped from the imagination directly onto the screen, without having to pass through reality along the way."

20. Through critically acclaimed, the movie only earned $57 million at the box office. Since the original movie's budget was $70 million, it was considered a major flop.

21. In the ten years since World of Tomorrow was released, Kerry Conran hasn't made another movie. He only directed a Christmas commercial for Coca-Cola and a 2012 short film Gumdrop, which he hopes to turn into a feature film.
Gumdrop
What did you think of Sky Captain?

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4 comments:

Pat Dilloway said...

It was Okay but the technology got out of hand with the helicarriers and so forth. It was ahead of its time. I'm surprised George Lucas never did it.

MedeiaSharif said...

I thought it was a stunning movie, but the story line wasn't as compelling.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All that effort and work, not to mention the actors and talent behind it, and the movie wasn't very good. Neat to look at, but dull story.

Tony Laplume said...

Such a brilliant movie. I've always been surprised that it doesn't get more love.

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