Good or bad, I can’t wait to find out!!

‘Polar Express’ Brings Risky New Animation to Film
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Even at a hefty cost of around $165 million to make “The Polar Express,” director Robert Zemeckis thinks an innovative new animation technique he used may have saved the Warner Bros. studio and the film’s producers about $835 million.
“Polar Express” marks a huge financial risk for the studio, and Warner Bros. hopes the film about a magical train ride proves a major hit when it chugs into theaters this Wednesday.
Add distribution and marketing costs that some reports put at $105 million, and “Polar Express” would need around $500 million at global box offices to break even, based on industry standards. That figure excludes DVD, video, television and other revenues that make the profit potential hard to determine when considering only theater ticket sales.
Zemeckis also is taking creative risk for using a revolutionary animated process he calls “performance capture” to tell of a child whose belief in Santa Claus is renewed on a trip to the North Pole.
“Like anything, whenever you do something for the first time, it’s risky,” Zemeckis told Reuters.
Zemeckis has pushed technology boundaries before, in movies such as “Forrest Gump,” and the method behind “Polar Express” allows actor Tom Hanks to play five different characters.
There was no other way to recreate on film the lush paintings in Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 book, “Polar Express,” Zemeckis said. Using computer animation as in the “The Incredibles” would have been too cartoonish, and live action as in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” would detract from the emotion and charm of the pictures, he said.
In a demonstration at the studio last month, he said making real sets and hiring actors would be “virtually impossible” and cost “in the range of a billion dollars.” He and Hanks joked about saving Warner Bros. big bucks, but with Reuters Zemeckis repeated the billion dollar figure, and said it was no joke.
The film tells the tale of a boy whose faith in Santa Claus and his belief in the Christmas spirit of giving have diminished as he has grown older.
But on this Christmas Eve, as he stays awake in bed, the roaring Polar Express comes to a stop outside his house.
In one role as a conductor, Hanks coaxes the boy onto the train where he meets other kids who have things to learn about themselves and Christmas. Their journey north is fraught with peril, but they are rewarded in a colorful send-off to Santa.
If the story sounds like tried-and-true holiday fare, the tale of making “Polar Express” is anything but standard.
In what Zemeckis has called creating human blueprints,
the actors wore black suits covered by special dots that allowed cameras and computers to track their every move. The dots — 152, in all — also covered their faces.
The actors’ movements and expressions were digitized, loaded into computers and plugged into the animated world.
In recent years, a battle has been waged over using digitally created actors as substitutes for the real thing.
Zemeckis said the characters in “Polar Express” were never meant to look real, but were supposed to re-create the book’s paintings. Among animators and critics, the result is mixed.
“Some people have been disturbed by the fact the kids didn’t look realistic … but there have been critics who loved the look of the film and said it captured Van Allsburg’s work,” said Ramin Zahed, editor in chief of Animation Magazine.
Whether movie fans accept that the human characters are not supposed to look human will be key to its box office success.
In 2001, Sony Pictures released “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” with computer-animated humans. Fans thought they looked fake, and it earned only $32 million in the U.S. and Canada.