Busch ride wends way to film


Plans are in the works for Corkscrew Hill, an animated 3-D stereoscopic theme park ride at Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va., to become the basis of a 3-D CG feature film.

Visual effects innovators Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak -- who wrote and directed the ride for Busch Entertainment -- have taken the ride idea and extended it to a developed feature-length script. Plans would call for Kleiser and Walczak's Synthespian Studios to produce in partnership with Busch Entertainment. Kleiser and Walczak also would co-direct.

Kleiser and Walczak's visual effects credits include "Clear and Present Danger" and "Stargate." Kleiser's resume also includes work on the 1982 groundbreaking effects film "Tron."

"We're a few weeks away from bringing (the script) to Hollywood and passing it around to see if we can find people to help us make it," Kleiser said. "The idea of presenting 3-D stereoscopic feature films is finally going to go mainstream. "Jim Cameron, my brother Randal, everyone's talking about going stereo."

The animation for the film would be produced by Synthespian, but Kleiser said the team already is preparing to handle that work at multiple sites, domestic and abroad.

"We believe the time is right for doing a distributed production where you can assemble a team of artists globally and have them work where they work best -- which is where they are -- and not necessarily have them gather in a central location," Kleiser said. "We are extending our reach globally so we can deliver the highest quality at the best price."

Kleiser reported that more than 10 million park visitors have experienced Corkscrew Hill since the ride opened in 2001. He added that Corkscrew Hill also is on the Iwerks global simulator network. "The characters will continue to gain impressions for the foreseeable future, and hopefully we can capitalize on that," he said.

The intent further out would be a DVD release of the film that would include distribution at the Busch Entertainment theme parks, which include three SeaWorld locations in the U.S.

The ride takes "guests on a magical and mystical Celtic journey" to a world with "hungry witches and magical stallions," according to the Busch Gardens Europe Web site.