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Seattle WA (SPX) Mar 12, 2010
A new live-action movie based on H.G. Wells' seminal science fiction alien invasion novel, The War of the Worlds, is in post production, it was announced by Pendragon Pictures. The new movie, titled War of the Worlds - The True Story, has a planned release date of October 2010.
Pendragon Pictures is an independent motion picture company that released a previous movie version of War of the Worlds in 2005. Their earlier production grossed $7 million dollars and sold 650,000 copies on DVD, though its critical reception was tepid.
Pendragon producer Susan Goforth states, "This is a complete remake, not a re-working of our previous production."
Under the direction of Timothy Hines, War of the Worlds - The True Story is being created as a faux documentary for television. Like the famous 1938 Orson Welles CBS radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, the new motion picture deliberately blurs the lines between reality and fiction.
Timothy Hines talks about the new story approach, "When Orson Welles broadcast War of the Worlds on the radio in the 30s, he presented it in such a way as to not clearly identify that it was a work of fiction. He did it for the drama. And many people took the fictional news broadcast as a real news broadcast. People believed they were hearing an actual invasion from Mars that night. We are approaching the story in the same way, as if it were an actual news documentary."
"We're really enjoying ourselves with this," adds Susan Goforth. "People know there was no real Martian invasion a hundred years ago, right? So laying it out as if it were actual history is a lot of fun. And it hasn't been done this way since that original Orson Welles broadcast."
The premise of War of the Worlds - The True Story is that in 1965 a documentary film crew captured the memories of the last living survivor of the war between Earth and the planet Mars that took place at the turn of the 20th Century. Nothing was done with the footage until, in 2006, it was discovered in the basement vault of a condemned house. Found in the vault with the interviews, was previously unknown footage of the actual Martian invaders and their machines of war.
82-year-old stage and television actor Floyd Reichman, who plays the aging journalist recounting his war memories, leads the cast of the new movie. Highlights of Reichman's lengthy stage credits include Willie in The Sunshine Boys. Seasoned voice talent, Jim Cissell, is providing third-person war narration drawn directly from the book.
"This project is right up Jim's alley. He's narrated many war documentaries for the History Channel," states Timothy Hines enthusiastically.
Adds Susan Goforth, "You may not recognize Jim Cissell's face, but you've undoubtedly heard his voice. Jim's the winner of hundreds of national awards, CLIO's, Addies, Tellies, EFFIES, and Peabody's. Jim's been the voice of movie trailers for Disney, Time Warner and others."
Director Timothy Hines shifts his focus from the new production to the old.
"We made so many mistakes the first time around. I wanted to make War of the Worlds. But what I made was something that has a macabre cult following, like an Ed Wood movie. We pretty much stumbled and fell on our face right out of the gate back in 2005. We were spread too thin without enough time and we really wound up in the weeds," reflects Hines.
A changing financial environment forced the 2005 production to downscale mid-stride. Then the director's troubles were compounded when his distributor, who, in a rush to beat the big studio version, asked for a rough-cut to prove the film's quality and existence to buyers. Instead, they distributed the rough-cut.
Susan Goforth says, "We had no choice but put on a smile and see it through."
"Needless to say, we were not happy," adds Hines. "I've learned a lot since my first outing. My heart is really in the new War of the Worlds - The True Story. I'm relaxed and enjoying myself, and so far it's turning out pretty well."
Pendragon Pictures is scrapping all production design and effects work from their former movie, though a small amount of live action performances will be composited into archival footage.
"We are starting over with the special effects and designs in the new film," Hines says. "Every concept has been re-approached. The tentacled Martians will be entirely different. We're going way more Steampunk on the Martian machinery."
Effects Artist Ezra Hamill shares "We're working hard to get things that were missed the first time. For instance, the fighting machines will shoot gas canisters and the walk cycles will fit the descriptions in the book. That's what I'm aiming for, while trying to do it in a way that hasn't been done before."
Co-Producer Donovan Le states, "I have seen Tim's growth as a moviemaker over the years. He tried to do too much last time. But now, by focusing on the important scenes and using the documentary format, I think Tim has got it this time."
As for the remake coming only five years after the first movie, Hines says, "I don't know if this is the right time to do a re-make or not, but we're all very passionate about it and doing it without stress this time. I recently read an Oscars article in USA Today drawing comparison between the themes of alien invasion in War of the Worlds and human invasion of the aliens in Avatar. It showed to me that War of the Worlds is a cultural touchstone and its fan base only increases with each passing year."
Addressing the former version, Susan Goforth says, "We're not pulling the previous movie, The Classic War of the Worlds out of distribution because it has quite a cult following. People want to see it. Who are we to take it away from them? Even if it's to have parties and laugh at it. You'll always be able to get it at places like Netflix and Amazon. But I can already see that the new remake, War of the Worlds - The True Story, is going to be a lot more satisfying as a representation of Wells. At least that's our plan."
Timothy Hines concludes, "The first outing I made a lot of neophyte mistakes in being too enthusiastic with the fans and then the movie didn't meet expectations. How War of the Worlds - The True Story will turn out will remain to be seen, but we've worked with this material for many years and we know it pretty well. This may not be the definitive version of War of the Worlds, but we're in a mindset of making it a really good viewing experience."
Pendragon Pictures is eyeing cable television stations such as the History Channel for release in late October.
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