How to Remove a Tattoo

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Warners could spend $1 million or more if "Hangover" lawsuit doesn't settle.

Warner Bros. might need to spend more than $1 million to alter the distinctive tattoo that appears on Ed Helms' face in The Hangover Part II. Warners told a Missouri judge June 6 that if it can't resolve the copyright lawsuit filed by tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill before the movie's December home video release, it will alter the litigious mark. What would such a digital makeover require? "It would be best to have a 3D scan and photographic textures of Ed Helms' face and head," explains award-winning effects supervisor Jeff Okun (The Day the Earth Stood Still). "Then it becomes just a tracking and blending issue. While this would take a bit of time, it is not impossible, nor is it anything that has not been done before." Okun declines to offer his own cost estimate, citing the vagaries of lighting, sweat, water interaction, rain and so on. But other sources in the effects community suggest an alteration could cost at least $1 million, possibly several million. Okun suggests a practical solution might be to alter the mark just enough so it is not that design. "The specifics of this approach are for the legal folks to judge," he says. Lawyers for Warners and Whitmill are scheduled for a private mediation June 16 in St. Louis. Of course, any price would pale in comparison to the cost of the permanent injuction Whitmill seeks.  And it helps that Hangover II has grossed more than $432 million worldwide.               

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