Journey to the Center of the Earth

Release Date: July 11, 2008

Movie of the Day for Thursday, June 5, 2008
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On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
34/98 David Mumpower Warm albeit straight forward family film offers few surprises, but it delivers exactly what the trailers promise, a rare occurence these days.
149/196 Max Braden Paint by numbers filmmaking.

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In recent years, exhibitors have stated in no uncertain terms that distributors, the supply side of their industry, need to do a better job of distinguishing cinematic releases as different and better. This is important in the DVD and Internet era. Now that consumers have revolutionary new choices in the way they may enjoy a movie, a trip to the theater needs to feel special. Otherwise, a Netflix DVD, a TiVo recording or a Video On Demand cable box viewing is just as good.

The end result is that the production budgets of the biggest releases have escalated as studios spend more and more money on high-end special effects. In exchange for this financial concession, exhibitors have agreed to swallow much of the up-front costs for upgrading their venues with other emerging technologies, particularly the ability to exhibit in 3-D using a single projector in what is called Real D Cinema. Chicken Little was the first mainstream release to feature this immersive experience, but few theaters were equipped to handle it back in 2005. Fast forward to today and some 1,500 theaters have the capability to display Real D Cinema productions. All they need is the right movie to demonstrate the technology’s capabilities.

The collective works of Jules Verne stand among the most popular in pop culture history. His visionary ideas for the future were so far ahead of their time that frequent updates have been possible a century after his death. In particular, Journey to the Center of the Earth has proved to be fertile ground for creative minds. There have been a couple of movies, a television series, an album by a member of Yes and even an amusement park ride based upon this fictional tale. Now that a new 3-D technology is in place, allowing for a truly immersive cinematic experience, the concept of this novel is a natural choice for film adaptation.

For the three of you unfamiliar with the book, it involves a scientist whose research takes him to a volcano in Iceland. His nephew and an intrepid Danish adventurer set out to climb down into the volcano. Their hope is to find a path that leads them directly to the proverbial center of the Earth. The movie will take a slightly different tone in that the trailers make it clear that the lead character, Trevor (Brendan Fraser of The Mummy), is rock climbing with his nephew and either his niece or a friend of his nephew when they find a spot in the volcano that collapses. This accidentally sends them on a freefall several miles downward before they splash into some water that signals their arrival at the center of the Earth. In order to return to the surface, they must trek upward through several miles of uncharted territories that include several unknown or previously lost species such as gigantic Venus Flytraps and dinosaurs.

Journey to the Center of the Earth does not require 3-D exhibition to be viewed. In fact, roughly 60% of the people who see it in theaters will not get the added effects. The fortunate people living in areas with one of the 1,500 Real D theaters will get a much more profound viewing experience. It’s worth a bit of a drive if you want to see this movie to get the full effect of how it was intended. No matter how you choose to watch it, however, the Walden Media releases promises to be heavy on action sequences, special effects and novel set pieces. It’s one of the shiniest looking titles on the summer 2008 release schedule. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Journey to the Center of the Earth
Main Cast Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
Director Eric Brevig
Screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis
Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG
Screen Count 2,811
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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