Happy Feet 2 – production under way in Sydney, Australia
Happy Feet 2 started production in Sydney in February 2010 with actors Robin Williams, Hank Azaria and Elijah Wood spending a fortnight in the “harbour city” to reprise their original Happy Feet roles. Hollywood hot-shots Brad Pitt and Matt Damon have also signed on to play parts in the animated feature film.
The sequel film is expected to support more than 500 local jobs over three years. This is a great boost for Australia’s animated film industry.
The original, Oscar winning Happy Feet animated feature film
The original Happy Feet, a computer-animated comedy-drama film with music, and made in Australia, was released in 2006. Directed and co-written by George Miller, it also starred the late Britanny Murphy in the role of Gloria, and earned approximately US$384 million world wide. Happy Feet won the academy award for Best Animated Feature Film in the same year.
The original Happy Feet was produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic. It was the first animated feature film produced by Kennedy Miller in association with Animal Logic.
To read a Happy Feet movie review – click here.
Happy Feet 2 Director George Miller is hoping for another hit
Director George Miller said he hoped the follow-up to his dancing penguin hit would have the same success but said it wasn’t guaranteed.
“I have no confidence whatsoever, you just never know,” he said in Sydney.
“Happy Feet was successful I think because it seemed fresh. The sequel obviously can’t be.”
Miller said Happy Feet 2 would capitalize on the technology used on films like Avatar.
“This is exactly the technology that drove Avatar, and that drove Lord Of The Rings,” he said.
“All this technology is now in this city. It’s amazing technology.”
But Miller remained tight-lipped on what audiences can expect from Happy Feet 2.
“It’s a different story. A lot of the same characters, but it’s a different story with a lot of new characters,” he said.
Miller says Australia is well-placed to take advantage of the new technology now being used in film, as seen in recent films Avatar and District 9.
“This is an absolutely wonderful moment to be in the industry. Everyone thought cinema was dead and then we get the kind of movies you’re seeing now. And we’ve got the ability to make them,” he said.
But he says complacency in terms of investment in the film industry has also held the nation back.
“In NSW, in Australia, I do believe we’ve been too lazy. We’ve let others steal the march and now it’s changing,” he said.
“This is a brilliant time because there are so many jobs, and so many incredible talents and skills.”
The New South Wales Government says targeted investment has led to great returns, with the screen industry contributing more than $430 million to the state’s economy each year.
Premier Kristina Keneally says films such as Happy Feet 2 will provide a much needed injection to the state’s coffers during the three years of its production.
“Like so many industries, the local film industry has been doing it tough as a result of the global financial crisis and 500 jobs to our local industry over the three years is a very welcome boost,” she said.
Ms Keneally says in the final six months of 2009, an investment of $5.7 million towards 34 local film and television projects generated $69 million in expenditure.
“[It is] a good return on investment, growing this industry in NSW,” she said.
New technology – Carriageworks studio, Sydney – the best in the world
Miller says he is excited to be using the new motion capture studio at Sydney’s Carriageworks, which he says is the best in the world.
“The stuff we’re seeing already, I’m really, really happy with; where we’re going on it,” he said.
“Technology’s moved so quickly … the look already has improved and we’re just going to do our best to make the best film we can.
He says the success of places like Wellington in New Zealand as a film technology hub have been inspirational.
“I don’t think we would have even attempted this had I not seen what they did in Wellington,” he said.
“They’ve got the best talent pool in the world. Look at what they’ve done. Avatar, District 9 are two of three films nominated for visual effects.
“Wellington is a tenth of the size of Sydney and that economy has shifted dramatically. We go down there to get work done. That can be done here.”
Miller, who came to prominence as the director of Mad Max three decades ago, will also use the studio to work on his planned fourth installment in the franchise, Fury Road.
“There will be a huge amount of production going through there if we can keep it in this country,” he said. “Everyone thought cinema was dead and now we’re getting the kind of movies you’re seeing now.”
Happy Feet 2 is scheduled for international release in late 2011.
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