Hulk: It’s Not Easy Being CG
Studio execs are seeing red (and possibly less green) after a rough cut of The Hulk has been circulated on the Internet just two weeks before the movie’s June 20 premiere.
It’s not the first time Web pirates have obtained bootlegged copies of a highly anticipated movie. Recent hits Finding Nemo, The Matrix Reloaded and Spider-Man all appeared online before their theatrical releases.
Problem is for The Hulk, the version viewers are watching–and slamming on Websites like Ain’t It Cool News for its shoddy CG effects–is, according to Universal, an unfinished product and doesn’t reflect the film’s polished F/X.
But the damage may have been done. The Ain’t It Cool News website, whose bad buzz has known to derail would-be blockbusters (see Rollerball), has been flooded with amateur reviews criticizing ILM’s unrealistic renderings. One Web surfer, Orion’s Angel, opined, “I saw an early workprint of the Hulk movie online and the Hulk hadn’t even been added the scenes yet, let me tell ya, the CGI was terrible!”
Not exactly the reception Universal was hoping for its $150 million big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics Day-Glo green antihero, directed by Ang Lee and starring relative newcomer Eric Bana as the mild-mannered Dr. Bruce Banner (who transforms into the not-so-jolly green giant after getting pelted with gamma rays) and Oscar-winning beauty Jennifer Connelly as Banner’s long-suffering gal-pal Betty Ross.
The studio, which recently released hits Bruce Almighty and 2 Fast 2 Furious, is under pressure to perform as its parent company, Vivendi Universal, looks to unload its U.S. entertainment division to the highest bidder. The studio was also eyeing The Hulk as a franchise launcher.
So, despite the disses, the studio is putting on a brave face. Execs insist that Internet critics aren’t representative of regular movie-going audiences and claim that the unfinished flick has been unfairly judged.
“As is often the case with highly anticipated media content, the nature of such postings is more often an indication of the appetite for the movie rather than an accurate link to such content,” said Universal spokeswoman Susan Fleishman in a statement released Monday.
But it’s an uphill battle. The movie’s been battling bad word of mouth ever since a hastily put-together Super Bowl commercial had fans comparing the computer-generated Hulk to Gumby on steroids.
Again, Universal blamed unfinished renderings (and questionable TV resolution) as the cruddy quality culprit.
The movie’s also been over budget and over schedule–at least $20 million was required for reshoots on ILM’s animation work, which the studio denied was required to fix or improve the movie.
However, it’s not all thumbs down. An anonymous movie geek on Ain’t It Cool News, who says he’s seen a legitimate preview, writes, “Forget all those cynics that doubt the movie’s F/X. Everything in this movie looks incredible. The intergration of the CG Hulk into the real environments is flawless. When you see Hulk smashing things like crazy and tossing tanks around, you believe he’s there doing it for real.”
That’s good news for Universal, which is trying to track the origin of the pirated movie that first appeared through Internet Relay Chat, a program that lets users transfer files at high speeds.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation to determine how this occurred, and those responsible will face serious consequences,” said Universal’s Fleishman.
In other words, Universal smash.
Hulk: It’s Not Easy Being CG