11:15am PT by Carolyn Giardina
'Gemini Man' Trailer: How Ang Lee Is Crafting a CG Will Smith and Immersive Feel
Paramount dropped the first trailer to Ang Lee's sci-fi thriller Gemini Man, which includes a first look at a strikingly believable CG young Will Smith.
In the Skydance film, Smith plays Henry Brogan, an elite assassin who is pursued by a younger clone of himself. The digital human work, which was previewed last month at CinemaCon, was accomplished by Peter Jackson's Weta Digital using performance capture of Smith and other cutting-edge techniques.
"I think I know why he's as good as you. He is you," co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead tells Smith's Brogan in the trailer. (The film also stars Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.)
“This story is not one that could have been told with cinema as we know it. However, thanks to incredible new digital technology, not only can we finally see both younger and older Will Smith embodied together onscreen, but we can also experience the story in a deeply immersive way," said Lee in a newly released statement. "It is my great fortune to be able to experiment and test the limits of what new digital cinema has to offer us. No less so to be able to work with two Will Smiths — one beautifully sophisticated, the other exuberantly honest. In my opinion, this is Will at his very best, and when the two come together, it is something truly magical."
Gemini Man is also being made incorporating a cutting-edge high frame rate of 120fps (frames per second), with 4K, 3D, high dynamic range (HDR) and immersive sound.
The director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi made Gemini Man using what he learned from his 2016 experimental film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. The movie's Oscar-winning cinematographer, Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha), shot the movie using new models of the lightweight ARRI Alexa M camera, modified by ARRI to capture 120fps at 3.2K resolution, on a 3D rig.
Gemini Man is now in postproduction in New York at a custom-built base made to accommodate the advanced formats. Lee's longtime editor, Oscar-nominated Tim Squyres, is again cutting the film on an Avid. The setup also includes a dual Christie projector system and a Baselight color grading system from Filmlight, along with all of the supporting technologies needed for the advanced workflow, with development led by technical supervisor Ben Gervais.
"The immersive effort and technical skill of the crew in creating a new aesthetic, between the cinematography, art department, visual effects and technical team, was both inspiring and heartwarming," said Lee.
As the movie's Oct. 11 opening approaches, the movie is also prompting work among companies that develop technology for theatrical exhibition.
When Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk opened, there were only a handful of theaters capable of showing the movie as it was intended. For Gemini Man, it looks like audiences will have options.
The film will be released in 2D and 3D at today's standard 24fps. Additionally, there are select existing theater installations — including those equipped with certain laser projectors from Christie and Cinionic (Barco), Dolby Vision systems, or Samsung Onyx LED auditoriums — that could display another version of Gemini Man, such as one in 2D at 120fps or 3D at 60fps. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that test footage is already available, and various manufacturers and exhibitors are working with the studio to determine the best route for release.
Last month, China's Huaxia Film Distribution, projector maker Christie and cinema tech firm GDC signed a deal aimed at developing a cinema system with the ability to produce and project movies at 120fps per eye, along with 4K, 3D, HDR and immersive sound. The first projection systems of this joint development, which use Christie dual RGB laser projectors and GDC's new media servers, will launch in August in 100 auditoriums using RealD 3D systems and Ultimate screens in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, so this group could also have a small install base to display the full format in time for Gemini Man's theatrical release.