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Spielberg: Jackson to direct next 'Tintin'

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Dec. 12, 2011 at 10:47 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg says Peter Jackson will direct the next installment in their "Tintin" franchise.

Spielberg helmed the performance-capture 3D movie "The Adventures of Tintin," and produced it along with Jackson. However, Spielberg said Jackson will take over the director's chair for the second "Tintin" movie.

Inspired by a popular comic-book series by the late Belgian author-artist Herge, the animated films are about an intrepid young reporter solving mysteries in the 1930s.

"Billy Elliott" star Jamie Bell lends his voice to the titular journalist, while "Hot Fuzz" co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play bumbling Scotland Yard detectives Thomson and Thompson. The voice cast also includes frequent Jackson collaborator Andy Serkis, as well as current James Bond portrayer Daniel Craig.

Asked to dish about his planned sequel, Spielberg told reporters at a press conference in New York Sunday: "It's being written right now and Peter's going to direct it after he does 'The Hobbit' and I'll produce it with him as he produced this with me. We have the story and we have the book we're adapting from Herge and we can't wait to get started."

Jackson previously mastered the art of performance-capture technology with his "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong" movies. Employed by a team of artists who recreate in animation the movements and facial expressions of live actors, the technique allows filmmakers to bring to life mythical creatures and enables them to make animals speak. It also lets them place human characters in situations too costly or dangerous to film in real life.

Spielberg said Jackson was frequently available via videoconferencing while "Tintin" was being made, even though Jackson was in his native New Zealand working on his own large-scale project, "The Hobbit."

"Peter was on my set every day, but not physically," Spielberg recalled. "His head was on a TV screen. He would be in Wellington, New Zealand, at 4 o'clock in the morning, when it was 8 o'clock in the morning in Los Angeles, and he appeared for 31 days of motion-capture photography, just to be there to lend his advice and make suggestions from time to time. Sometimes, I would just walk over to the monitor to ask Peter a question and I would find Peter [slumped over asleep.] And we'd go, 'Peter, Peter, Peter!' [And he'd wake up and say,] 'Yes, maybe ... .' So I had a real collaborator on the set with me for the whole of the motion-capture experience. I felt so safe with Peter there."

Spielberg said he first became interested in adapting the "Tintin" comics for the big-screen in the early 1980s when his adventure film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" drew comparisons to them.

"The first ['Tintin'] book I ever read was 'The Seven Crystal Balls.' And it was because I was reading a review in French on 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and they kept mentioning something called 'Tintin,' which I had never heard of and I researched it and I got a 'Tintin' book and I fell in love with the books," he said. "That's when I contacted Herge a year and a half later. [My producing partner Kathleen Kennedy] and I did talk to him on the phone for half an hour."

After Herge died in 1983, Spielberg and Kennedy received his family's blessing to make movies based on his work. For years, they pondered the best way to do justice to the beloved volumes. Finally, filmmaking technology caught up to their -- and Herge's -- imaginations.

So, what made Spielberg decide to make the "Tintin" movies animated?

"I didn't want to shoot a live-action movie and have Jamie come in with a big red coif and extraordinarily strange clothing and then have Andy Serkis come in with a prosthetic nose, chin and ears. And everybody else would have had to have the 'Dick Tracy'-'Neverending Story'-'Baron Munchausen'-type makeup," Spielberg said. "If I really wanted to honor Herge, the only way to tell the story and still honor the origins of "Tintin" was to do the whole picture in the medium of digital animation ... and performance-capture techniques."

"The Adventures of Tintin" was released this fall in Europe and has earned more than $200 million at the box office. It is set for release in U.S. theaters Dec. 21.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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