The Adventures of Tintin hits theaters on Dec. 21, 2011, and it’s certainly one of the most buzzed about movies this year. Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy, and based on a classic comic book series by Hergé, the story follows Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) as they set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship, too.
The movie is rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking. It also stars Daniel Craig (Ivanovich Sakharine/Red Rackham), Simon Pegg (Inspector Thompson), Cary Elwes (Pilot), Toby Jones (Silk), Nick Frost (Thomson) and Sebastian Roche (Pedro). Two sequels are already in the works: The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun (2013) and a third untitled Tintin sequel (2015).
1. This is the first animated film directed by Spielberg (I know, right? Seems like he’d have at least one in his long list of credits).
2. Spielberg has had the rights to Tintin since 1983. Around that time, he hired [amazon_link id=”B00003CX9Q” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial[/amazon_link] writer Melissa Mathison to write a draft of the script, which featured a battle in Africa between Tintin and ivory poachers.
3. Spielberg originally planned to do a live-action adaptation of Tintin, and called Peter Jackson to ask if his visual effects company Weta Digital would work on the film — in particular, create a CGI Snowy (Tintin’s dog). As it turned out, Jackson was a longtime fan of Tintin and convinced Spielberg that live action would not do justice to the comic books, and that motion capture was the best way of representing Hergé’s world of Tintin. However, Snowy would still be CGI.
4. The Adventures of Tintin was released 30 years to the day that Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1981, also directed by Spielberg. The movie fittingly starts with a closeup of a painter’s palette. Spielberg has said of his experience filming Tintin: “I did feel like a painter in a way, and that was exciting for me.” Indeed, it does have similarities to [amazon_link id=”B001E75QH0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Indiana Jones[/amazon_link]. Check out the trailer:
5. Spielberg has always shot his films traditionally, but since he saw Tintin as an animated film (though real people are “captured” in their movements), he didn’t mind shooting it digitally.
6. Screenwriter Steven Moffat claims he was “love-bombed” by Spielberg into writing the script for this film, with Spielberg promising to shield him from studio interference with his writing.
7. Moffat finished a draft of the script, but couldn’t polish it because of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and then signed on as executive producer of Doctor Who. Spielberg and Jackson allowed him to leave and fulfill his duty to Doctor Who (Jackson is a big fan), and brought in Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish to rewrite Moffat’s draft.
8. This is Spielberg’s first comic-book adaptation. At one time, he was considered to do Superman.
9. Spielberg has been an avid fan of [amazon_link id=”0316006688″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Adventures of Tintin comic books [/amazon_link]since 1981, when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. His secretary bought him French-language editions of each book, and Spielberg immediately fell in love with the artwork. Meanwhile, Tintin creator Hergé became a fan of Spielberg, and has said he “thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice.”
10. When the film was in development in 1984, Spielberg wanted Jack Nicholson to play Captain Haddock.
11. This is Andy Serkis’s third collaboration with Jackson, as well as his fourth motion-capture role (he played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, as well as King Kong in that feature and Caeser in Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Serkis joked that he was worried Jackson would cast him as Tintin’s dog Snowy.
12. To prepare for his role as Captain Haddock, Serkis read the majority of the Tintin comics. He later commented that they had a surreal quality, similar to the Monty Python films.
13. Spielberg always keeps one eye closed when framing a shot, so that he can visualize the film in 2D, “the way viewers would.” But on this film, he had both of his eyes open, as it was 3D and he wanted to treat the film like live-action.
14. Spielberg’s cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was brought on to act as a lighting consultant for Weta, as Jackson wanted the film to look “film noir-ish, and very atmospheric.”
15. Spielberg shot his portion of the film in 32 days (in March 2009). Jackson was present for the first week of filming, but supervised the rest of the shoot via a specially made iChat videoconferencing program. Simon Pegg said Jackson’s voice would “be coming over the Tannoy like God.”
16. Spielberg enjoyed working with the virtual camera so much, he did a lot of his own camera work in the movie.
17. This is Nickelodeon’s first involvement with Tintin in 20 years. The Nickelodeon channel originally aired [amazon_link id=”B005G5NPG0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Adventures of Tintin[/amazon_link].
18. The artist taking Tintin’s portrait at the beginning of the movie is drawn in the likeness of Georges Prosper Remi, aka Hergé, the author of the Tintin books.
19. The Crab with the Golden Claws is the most frequently filmed Tintin adventure. It was previously adapted to the screen in 1947 as a stop-motion puppet film, and adapted twice for TV — once in 1959 and again in 1990.
20. At the beginning of the movie, when Tintin’s likeness is being drawn, featured in the background are characters in various Tintin books as shown on their inside covers. Also, the opening credits are in the same typeface as the books.
Are you a fan of The Adventures of Tintin? Looking forward to the movie?
Images: Paramount Pictures