Tweeting a photo from the set of the next Star Wars movie, director J.J. Abrams (@bad_robot) piqued the interest of both Star Wars geeks and IMAX enthusiasts worldwide. The tweeted photo was accompanied by the hashtag #bestformatever.
Based in Toronto and Mississauga, the IMAX company was founded in 1968, after premiering a multi-screen format at Expo ’67 in Montreal. The first IMAX film was screened at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan.
While an IMAX release had already been confirmed for Star Wars (which episode is it again?), the question settled by Abrams’ tweet was whether it would be shot on IMAX’s eye-meltingly huge 70 mm frames, or shot on Super 35 mm and blown up to IMAX size, in a format widely derided as “Fake IMAX” or “LieMax”. In the end, Abrams’ film will be shot in a combination of 35 mm and IMAX, with what he has referred to as a tasteful use of CGI.
Budgeted at over $200 million, the Abrams Star Wars film is set to eclipse the paltry $11 million budget of the first Star Wars film. Or the fourth Star Wars film. People of a certain age just call it “Star Wars”.
Abu Dhabi appears to be standing in for the planet Tattooine in the tweeted photo.
While Abrams has taken a fair amount of heat for excessive use of lens flare in his Star Trek movies, his embrace of an old-school film format like IMAX should redeem his credentials among a certain set of boy-man geeks who are still angry at George Lucas for ruining the original Star Wars trilogy with CGI and the addition of the word “Nooooooo!”during a crucial scene involving Darth Vader that was not present in the original film.
In March, IMAX CEO Richard Gelford let the cat out of the bag regarding the use of the IMAX format for Abrams’ film. “We are talking to J.J. Abrams now about the next ‘Star Wars’ being used with partly IMAX cameras,” he said.
This week, IMAX also confirmed that Luc Besson would be shooting scenes for his new thriller “Lucy”, starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, in the IMAX format.
The Abrams Star Wars film is due in theatres for December 2015.
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