Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, two of the most famous and celebrated filmmakers working today, have joined forces to create a series of motion picture films based on the adventures of Tintin, the iconic character created by Georges Remi, better known to the world by his pen name “Herge”.
It was announced today by Spielberg, Jackson, and Stacey Snider, Co-Chairman and CEO of DreamWorks Studios, that Spielberg and Jackson have selected three stories from the Tintin book series to develop into theatrical feature films, which they intend to direct back to back, employing state of the art performance capture technology.
Kathleen Kennedy will serve as producer with Spielberg and Jackson on each of the films.
Seventy five years ago Herge introduced the world to a unique cast of characters who have been loved by readers of all ages, from all over the globe ever since. “The Adventures of Tintin” – a series of 23 books which became Herge’s life’s work, were published between 1929 and 1976 and have sold over 200 million copies world wide. The popular series has been translated into seventy languages and still attracts over 2 million new fans each year.
Thrilling and wildly funny, the Tintin stories chronicle the escapades of a junior reporter who has a nose for a good story and a talent for attracting trouble, which more often than not imperils his life!
Tintin is not a super-hero; nor does he possess special powers. He is an ordinary person to whom extraordinary things happen. Curious to a fault, Tintin has been known to follow a story to the ends of the earth, even if this means entering the shadowy worlds of smugglers, jewel thieves, gun runners, tomb robbers and extraordinarily ruthless crime lords! The stakes are always high and the odds are stacked against him, but Tintin has one thing his enemies don’t count on – the support and assistance of a Sea Captain with a drinking problem and the undying loyalty of a little white dog, called Snowy.
This eccentric mix of high adventure and absurdist comedy, best sums up the tone of these well loved stories: whilst there is danger and mystery, the adventures of Tintin are ultimately defined by Herge’s unique sense of humor. From the endearing lunacy of Captain Haddock, to the muddled genius of Professor Calculus, to the magnificent buffoonery of the Thompson Twins, Herge’s gift for comedic story telling has won Tintin legions of fans all over the world.
Spielberg and Jackson will use new technology to bring Tintin to the screen. “We want Tintin’s adventures to have the reality of a live action film,” said Steven Spielberg. “And yet Peter and I felt that shooting them in a traditional live action format would simply not honor the distinctive look of the characters and world that Herge created.”
During “The Lord of the Rings,” Jackson’s Weta Digital developed technology that allowed him to capture every minute subtlety of actor Andy Serkis’ performance and translate that to the face and body of Gollum, thus allowing the choices and skill of a human actor to drive a digital character. This was further developed for King Kong, capturing a very delicate human performance and accurately applying it to the face of a huge gorilla.
“From our earliest conversations, Steven and I were intrigued about the potential of developing this performance capture technique even further, to apply a real actor’s performance to computer generated versions of Herge’s vast cast of characters,” said Peter Jackson. “For well over a year now, artists at Weta have been quietly testing the theory of creating life-like reproductions of Tintin, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and many of the other core cast – faithfully replicating Herge’s original designs, but not rendering them as cartoons, or the familiar looking computer animated characters – instead we’re making them look photo realistic, the fibers of their clothing, the pores of their skin and each individual hair. They look exactly like real people – but real Herge people!”
“We’ll be casting actors to play these characters, with all their performance choices accurately captured and applied to amazingly organic dimensional versions of Herge’s line drawings – the effect is startling,” said Spielberg. “Herge’s characters have been reborn as living beings, expressing emotion and displaying a soul which goes far beyond anything we’ve seen to date with computer animated characters. The use of capturing the performance of actors on a stage, allows Peter and I to direct these films just as we would with any other film we were making – they won’t have the feel of animation – they will have the style of live action films.”
The movies will be firmly anchored in the time period in which the books are set. Both Spielberg and Jackson want to be authentic to the look of the world Herge created, which is familiar and beloved by millions of Tintin readers. Herge himself was convinced of the importance of a soundly built storyline, and he did meticulous research. Despite sending his hero on adventures in every corner of the world, he himself didn’t travel outside Europe until a trip to the United States in 1971.
“After looking at over 20 minutes of test footage produced by Weta, Steven and I decided to add that one last element that will totally immerse the audience in the excitement of Tintin’s adventures – and that is to produce these movies in full digital 3-D,” said Jackson. “Just the thought of it makes me feel like a kid again. I’m thrilled beyond belief that Steven invited me onboard to help realize his long held dream of bringing Tintin to life on the big screen.”
“I have always wanted to see the Tintin stories dramatized as fully realized motion pictures in a way that truthfully reflects Herge’s vision.” said Spielberg. “The recent development of performance capture technology now gives us the best opportunity to do justice to the characters and the world that Herge created. I know Peter, Kathy, Stacey and I share that excitement and responsibility and we all join in thanking Fanny Rodwell, Nick Rodwell, and Stephane Sperry for allowing us to be become the new members of Tintin’s family.”
“We are delighted that after so many years a dream team for Tintin is finally in place,” said Fanny Rodwell. She was married to Herge when he died in 1983 and is now the President of the Herge Studios in Brussels, Belgium. “We couldn’t think of a better way to honor Herge’s legacy than this announcement within days of the 100th anniversary of his birth – May 22, 1907. It is also a special honor for us to be associated with these exceptional, creative filmmakers who have our full confidence as they bring Tintin to his biggest adventures on the biggest screens. Herge himself once said, ‘I consider my stories as movies.’ How prophetic!”
“Tintin is a beloved character whose stories have been enjoyed by the young who first meet him and by the parents and grandparents who grew up with him,” said Stacey Snider. “We at DreamWorks Studios are proud to be producing the Tintin films with these two great filmmakers who know how to bring large scale entertainment to motion picture audiences.”
Producer Kennedy and Adam Goodman, DreamWorks Studios President of Production, added, “Our production teams eagerly look forward to this exciting series of films. They will take us into our own new worlds of filmmaking with stories, characters, and technology for Tintin’s fans to enjoy and new ones to embrace.”
The filmmakers are currently making an evaluation of presenting the film through DreamWorks Animation which is distributed by Paramount Pictures.