Now that "Super 8" has been in theaters for the weekend, earning a better-than-expected $37 million at the box office and taking the #1 spot, we can finally talk about some of the magic and the mystery of the film. If you haven't seen the movie yet, please tread carefully in reading the rest of this story, because MTV News is about to reveal five juicy "Super 8" secrets!
How the heck did they film the epic train crash?
Although the young actors did their fair share of running and yelling amidst minor explosions in front of a green screen, the real heavy lifting in making that intense two minutes of mass destruction came from the visual-effects team, led by Oscar winner Dennis Muren.
"The sequence itself is probably two to three minutes long, and it's all done with computer graphics," Muren said. "We made a point of making it look as organic as we could. It's more realistic in a lot of ways and very frightening, but a lot of fire and all that stuff, it's all computer-generated," he revealed, adding that it took the VFX team three to four months to complete.
Elle Fanning wasn't allowed to drive
Despite her very convincing performance behind the wheel, Elle Fanning wasn't actually allowed to drive the car that her character "borrows" from her father to get the kids to the late-night film shoot.
"It was illegal, so I couldn't drive," Fanning said. "There was actually someone that was in the car underneath my feet driving for me."
The movie-within-a-movie was written by the young stars
Hopefully you stayed through the credits to see "The Case" in its entirety, because the six young stars of "Super 8" wrote and directed it themselves.
"We actually wrote 'The Case,' " Fanning said. "J.J. [Abrams told us] it had to be a zombie movie and that was the only thing we had, so during breaks, we would sit down and collaborate and make up the lines and everything," she explained. "And then we actually shot it with a Super 8 camera."
What's in that tintinnabular tune?
There is a lot going on visually in "Super 8," but it's hard not to notice the sweeping, magical tinkling of the film's score. So what instruments are you hearing? We asked Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino to explain which instruments make up the distinct effect.
"[There is] a celesta, which is kind of a bell piano, a very short piano with bells," Giacchino revealed at the film's premiere last week. "You play it like you would a piano, but with bells. A Hammond organ was a big part of the score as well, which is interesting because you normally only hear those in church or in blues songs," he added. "We used it with the [103-piece] orchestra, which was really fun. There was guitar actually, but done in a very ethereal way, you would never know it was a guitar."
About that alien ...
The biggest secret of them all: There's an alien in the movie — one that the kids didn't see until after they'd already been running away from it while filming green-screen sequences.
"Whenever we were on set and acting with it, we were imagining what it could look like," Ryan Lee said. "When we actually saw it, it was 10 times more scary than what I had imagined."
"The artist for 'Avatar' actually made the alien," Gabriel Basso revealed. "It was really cool, because I was talking to him and he showed it to me on his laptop. I was like, 'That's what we're running from?' [The scary factor] went from zero to 150."
Check out everything we've got on "Super 8."
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