With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
Chris Columbus has his hands full with his next movie, "Pixels." Based on a short movie about iconic arcade game characters like Pac-Man and King Kong descending from the sky and having their way with the people of Earth, the feature-length "Pixels" movie stars a vast array of actors like Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James and more — but juggling an all-star cast isn't anywhere near the top of the list of headaches for Columbus.
"We have about 400 of 1000 visual effects complete, and we have to finish those in about six weeks," the filmmaker told MTV's Josh Horowitz while in CinemaCon this week. If that sounds like a nightmare schedule to you, then, well, you're not Chris Columbus; it's a daunting amount of work, certainly, but less daunting for the man who first brought "Harry Potter" to the big screen.
As Columbus tells it, his work on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" provided a training ground of sorts for heavy visual effects work, like what you'll see in "Pixels." Having lived through the Wizarding World, Columbus now knows the best and most efficient ways to survive an effects-heavy project.
"At the beginning, back in 'Potter,' we were shooting sequences out of order," he said. "We shot important visual effects sequences at the end of the schedule. If you shoot that way, your visual effects suffer. If you shoot all those sequences early, then you have plenty of time to plan and prepare, so your brain won't melt."
Another way "Potter" prepared Columbus for "Pixels," potentially, is in its cast of beloved characters. In "Sorcerer's Stone," Columbus was charged with introducing the world to Harry, Ron and Hermione for the first time, among other fan-favorite figures. Likewise, in "Pixels," Columbus has the unenviable task of not just introducing Pac-Man to the movie world, but also Donkey Kong, Galaga, and other iconic arcade games and characters. In other words, Columbus is used to juggling an ensemble packed with icons from your childhood.
"I don't even know how we got the rights to all of them," he laughed. "The idea that each one of these characters could have their own movie. In today's Hollywood, you can make a movie out of Monopoly, so certainly Pac-Man can have his own movie. The fact that we could bring them all into this movie and create this visual style that the audience… the audience has never seen Pac-Man be threatening and funny at the same time. When he bites your arm off or he bites through a city bus, it pixelates and turns into these beautiful, grotesque cubes. It's really great stuff."
"Pixels" hits theaters on July 24.