Monday, April 30, 2012

The Making of The Avengers

By James Colt Harrison

You may be surprised to know Walt Disney Pictures’ The Avengers  was not shot in 3D, but was converted after the film was finished.  This is happening a lot today when producers find that 3D enhances not only the film, but the box office as well.

Nasty Norse god Noki (Tom Hiddleston) and half brother to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), has plans to take over the world and subjugate it to his whims. Forming the Avengers, Thor joins forces with other super heroes such as Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), spy agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) who is also the Black Widow, and Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, the director of the espionage agency, whose task is to stop the dastardly plot.

Director Joss Whedon announced at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con convention that he would be directing The Avengers. Comic book fans were ecstatic in anticipation of the film, to be released in 2012. It was also announced Edward Norton would not be returning as The Hulk, due to contractual differences with Marvel Comics. The film had a bumpy road to production when screenwriters were changed and casting was not settled. By June 2010, Jeremy Renner was signed for the role of Hawkeye, and that Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, and Stellan Skarsgaard would reprise their previous roles.

After several false starts at various locations and studios, the film began shooting at studios in Albuquerque in April 25, 2011. The film shot in New Mexico until September and then moved on to Cleveland, Ohio for four weeks. Sitting in for New York’s 42nd Street area, Cleveland’s East 9th Street was used as a battle ground using Army Reserve soldiers from Columbus, Ohio. An old Chevrolet production factory was used to create several large explosions within. And, just like Hollywood, one of Cleveland’s public squares was dolled up to look like Stuttgart, Germany!

Wrapping up production in Cleveland, the company moved on to New York City for dazzling aerial shots of Manhattan to be merged into the digital work. Central Park and Park Avenue were shot as background scenes to be later integrated into the special effects. When sound stages were needed for interior work, the company filmed at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.

The film needed to be scored, and Alan Silvestri was hired to compose the music for the film. Mr. Silvestri is also credited with scoring Captain America: The First Avenger. Working together with the London Symphony Orchestra, Silvestri sculpted a score that emotionally heightens your reactions. Recording at the Abbey Road Studios, Silvestri joined the ranks of The Beatles, musicians who made the studio famous. To catch the interest of young people, the rock band Soundgarden wrote “Live to Rise,” a song included on the sound track. In India, the rock band Agnee has written a song that will serve as the theme for Indian audiences only.

The Disney studio decided The Avengers would be digitally converted to IMAX 3D in January 2012. A fast-track job would have to be done in order to make the release date in May. Whedon was happy about the use of 3D because he felt it enhanced an action film like The Avengers.

In an unusual move, Disney released The Avengers overseas in early April, long ahead of the US release. The film set opening day records in such diverse countries as Malaysia, Iceland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. It was also a smash in Britain and Ireland, as well as Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. It should catch on with American comic book geeks as well.

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