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George Lucas to Resurrect Dead Movie Stars? 296

Posted by samzenpus
from the meesa-think-dis-is-creepy dept.
According to his director friend Mel Smith, George Lucas has a plan for upcoming movies more insidious than a whole Gungan cast. Smith says Lucas is buying the rights to old movies in order to put dead actors in his films. He says, "George has been buying up the film rights to dead actors in the hope of using computer trickery to put them all together, so you'd have Orson Welles and Barbara Stanwyck alongside today's stars." Even if Smith is lying, it makes you wonder who long it will be until Hollywood starts to recycle actors as well as scripts.

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George Lucas to Resurrect Dead Movie Stars?

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:41AM (#34487418)

    If Orson Welles doesn't crawl out of his grave and strangle this arrogant, money-grubbing motherfucker with his own intestines, then at least we finally know that the dead are *truly* and *forever* gone.

    • by DurendalMac (736637) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:44AM (#34487474)
      Lucas might as well dig Welles up and rape his corpse repeatedly. It would probably be less offensive to his memory than this.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Hey, why not. He already did it to Harrison Ford's corpse.

      • Since he and his buddy Steve have already raped Indiana Jones this isn't much of a stretch.

        George Lucas has the worst case of malignant narcissism imaginable - his family needs to stage an intervention for him.

        • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:11PM (#34488968)
          George Lucas has the worst case of malignant narcissism imaginable - his family needs to stage an intervention for him.

          No, all the nerds who complain about him should STOP PAYING HIM MONEY. Then he'll stop. People say the Star Wars prequels suck, but they still gave George money to see them. So he stays in business and keeps recycling the same few ideas he had 30 years ago. I saw the SW prequels on second hand DVDs I got for 50 cents a year after they came out. Which was a fair price; and I'm happy George didn't see a cent of it.

          • by Z00L00K (682162)

            The worst thing isn't one man's ideas.

            The worst thing would be if the movie industry starts to move into an extreme recycling of actors and historic figures instead of adding new actors. But the movie industry is already biting it's own tail by recycling scripts that once were good at the time instead of finding new stories that haven't been filmed yet.

            So I would say that if they are going to just work on recycling they will soon die.

            • The worst thing isn't one man's ideas.

              The worst thing would be if the movie industry starts to move into an extreme recycling of actors and historic figures instead of adding new actors. But the movie industry is already biting it's own tail by recycling scripts that once were good at the time instead of finding new stories that haven't been filmed yet.

              So I would say that if they are going to just work on recycling they will soon die.

              Well, it's really just Hollywood and Bollywood that are doing that. That is why the rest of the world-wide film industry is starting to flourish while Hollywood slowly dies. Face it. People around the world don't give a shit about American movies like they used to. And people like George Lucas are the reason why.

            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              "The worst thing would be if the movie industry starts to move into an extreme recycling of actors and historic figures instead of adding new actors."

              Well, they could go one step more...get the new actors, copy them, kill them, and then not have to pay anyone for them...

              Hmm, that [wikipedia.org] might make for an interesting movie.

              :)

              Ahh...back when Susan Dey was hot.

      • How else do you expect the ILM guys to get accurate bone structure measurements for the reproduction?

      • by tthomas48 (180798)

        I think you guys might need to read a biography on Welles. He's actually quite a lot like George Lucas. He just has a better track record.

        • by b0r0din (304712) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @04:42PM (#34493362)

          By better track record, you mean that he died before he could ruin his own films?

          I don't think George is trying to resurrect dead movie stars here. I think he just needs to own their rights so he can remove them from their films and insert Hayden Christiansen in their place.

          In the end it's really just about owning IP, and George Lucas is the master of owning IP. He just also happens to be the master of destroying IP too. In fact let's just call it P, because there's really no I in his biggest franchise anymore.

    • by cfulton (543949)
      I wish I had some mod points right now. I'd get you a score 5. This is the Worst Idea Ever!
    • Actually, that gives me an even better idea. Thinking of prequels and resurrections, made me think of one book which clearly could use a Lucas prequel: the Bible. Featuring God's whiny teenager years before he made the universe, gungans, ewoks, and an epic lightsaber battle. (Hey, Genesis 3:24 says, "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." So don't tell me God didn't have a lightsabe

    • there's no way he's ever getting out of that piano box.
    • by dangitman (862676)

      If Orson Welles doesn't crawl out of his grave and strangle this arrogant, money-grubbing motherfucker with his own intestines, then at least we finally know that the dead are *truly* and *forever* gone.

      We know a remote farm in Lincolnshire, where Mrs. Buckley lives; every July, peas grow there...

      Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry.

      There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. Get me a jury and show me how you can say "in July", and I'll go down on you. That's just idiotic, if you'll forgive my saying so. That's just stupid, "in July"; I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in "In July"...impossible! Meaningless!

      - Orson Welles, frozen peas [wfmu.org]

    • by tyrione (134248)

      If Orson Welles doesn't crawl out of his grave and strangle this arrogant, money-grubbing motherfucker with his own intestines, then at least we finally know that the dead are *truly* and *forever* gone.

      Considering he knew Welles and you didn't goes a long way to him truly not giving a shit about your input.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:44AM (#34487484)

    Part of me thinks this is very creepy and even morally wrong.. but a bigger part actually wants to see it work. Pulling this off in a way that doesn’t look terrible would be pretty neat.

    I could care less about seeing some dead actor brought back to life... I’m definitely interested in the work required to make it happen though.

    The ethical/legal stuff is a little interesting. This falls somewhere between a family giving permission to use a dead loved one’s image for a product, and publishing something while claiming said loved one wrote it. Does anyone have the right to do the later (or even the former).. should they? Personally I don’t care what people do with me after I’m dead but I imagine some people do.

    It’s probably BS anyway

    Also lunch time is over. Gotta stay late enough as it is ya know. LOTS OF THINGS TO DO!

    • Re:You know... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:58AM (#34487738) Homepage Journal

      Like this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P6EuhSNbGk [youtube.com]

      Or this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFh1X0pZSM8 [youtube.com]

      Harrison Ford filed to protect his likeness so someone couldn't use it after he passed away.

      • by curunir (98273) *

        The difference between this and that is that that is limited to things the actor knowingly did. They knew that people would view their performance, albeit not in the context of a commercial. And, presumably, they made their performance after signing a contract that set ownership of the creation and could have dictated other terms.

        If you digitally bring back the star, you could theoretically make them do something they wouldn't have been comfortable with. Whether it be something like a young Ronald Regan end

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Uhm... Terminator Salvation... nice but not impressive.

    • Re:You know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by click2005 (921437) * on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:01AM (#34487816)

      How long until actors start selling their voice & likeness at different ages? Of course the MPAA will lobby to extend copyright even longer.

      Stallone aged 35.. that'll be $12million.
      Theres a sale on DeNiro at 40 this week only $2m.

      • by Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:30AM (#34488286)

        I read this story ages ago. It won the first Hugo award for best novelette. "The Darfsteller" tells of a time when actors sell their likeness and are replaced by robots (apparently, Keanu Reeves did this early in his career).

        George Lucas must've dusted off his copy of this story and said, "Hey, I can do this!"

      • by Chemisor (97276)

        Everyone has obviously forgotten that good looks do not alone make a great actor. Sure, you can "resurrect" Katherine Hepburn or Judy Garland, but who'll want to watch them if all the acting is done by some modern incompetent?

    • KFC tried to do it when they resurrected the Colonel from the dead using a death mask plus old footage. It looked okay but didn't work on screen. They turned the stately gentleman into a goofball and customers rejected it.

    • Actually I'm having real trouble deciding why this is "morally wrong" or even "creepy" (which is the underhanded way of saying the same thing.) I see it as just another right to be negotiated.

      Music Mashups are a vital creative flow - so why does it suddenly become "morally wrong" when it's a Visual Mashup? We all know the Character is (not supposed to be) the Actor. Go Go Hannibal Lector!

      I'd call this just another case of the Uncanny Valley. After all, for the new Tron movie they needed a young version of a

      • by anyGould (1295481)

        Actually I'm having real trouble deciding why this is "morally wrong" or even "creepy" (which is the underhanded way of saying the same thing.) I see it as just another right to be negotiated.

        Because these old dead actors never gave permission to be recycled endlessly in movies. For one thing, it's going to screw younger actors. (I can just see it - Elvis movies for all freaking eternity.)

        I thought it was in poor taste when they started using CGI to have Astair dance with a vacuum cleaner, to be honest.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "This falls somewhere between a family giving permission to use a dead loved one’s image for a product, and publishing something while claiming said loved one wrote it"

      Bah, there will be a new law about 'Faceright' saying you cannot duplicate the face of a person for 250 years without paying the poor family millions, so that they don't have to get a job.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      The way I see it, if not even death can save you from being abused by money grubbers, we need a revolution to get rid of either of the two root causes of the problem: humans or money. Take your pick, I'll help sharpen your pitchforks either way.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:45AM (#34487504) Journal
    Interviewer: Mr. Lucas, fifteen years ago you made Episode III and a lot of people thought you were done with cinema.
    Lucas: That's right, I had found that children appreciated my advanced work far more than any adult so I was doing a lot of Cartoon Network programs after that.
    Interviewer: So what caused you to return to the silver screen?
    Lucas: Well, I was sitting at my ranch watching some old Akira Kurosawa films -- looking for some plot or scene I had missed that I could possibly turn into a Star Wars movie -- and I got up to retrieve another sandwich from my Carl's Jr. dispenser in my living room. The machine was several treacherous feet away from the couch and as I got up, my snuggie caught on the ottoman made of hate mail and death threats. Well, I fell and a disc slipped in my spine.
    Interviewer: That's right you were in the hospital for several months.
    Lucas: Yes, and as I lay there calling for help in serious pain, an apparition of Ed Wood appeared to me. 'Use the cash, Lucas' he said. And I immediately understood that I had primarily ruined careers of living people when today there were whole sloughs of dead actors whose careers I could ruin with advanced computer technology.
    Interviewer: Ah, yes, so at that point ...
    Lucas: I started buying the film rights to a lot of dead actors and actresses.
    Interviewer: Which led to Katherine Hepburn playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars Holiday Special II last year.
    Lucas: That's right, as well as Bela Lugosi having a classic lightsaber fight with Charlie Chaplin.
    Interviewer: Well, I think it's clear how you maintain such a hated profile.
    Lucas: Well, you know, I try. I try. And I often remind my adopted children that they're what keeps me going. Even though at times it's hard, I can look into my son's eyes and he'll say with so much emotion, "Stop dad, just please stop, people don't want this. Please, please stop." And that keeps me going.
    • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:56PM (#34489722)
      Dude, now I want to search YouTube to seeif someone applied lightsaber effects to a scene where Chaplin was spinning his cane.
  • If there was ever a story that the "donotwant" tag was designed for, it is this. If the idea of digitally resurrecting dead movie stars to star in new content wasn't creepy enough, there's the fact that this has George Lucas at the helm.

    He's probably had this great idea about how much fun Star Wars had been if it had included a musical number from Charlie Chaplin wearing a rubber Gungan suit. Seriously, I hesitate to try to parody whatever Lucas might come up with using this technology, on the grounds that

  • I'm pretty sure this is being done already.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:46AM (#34487524)
    We all know why he's really doing this. Once all the original actors die, he can release Christmas specials every year for as long as he wants with the original cast and no complaints.
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by melikamp (631205) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:46AM (#34487526) Homepage Journal
    Will the same technology work with porn? What am I saying... That was probably the original intention.
  • by gmuslera (3436)
    Those zombie movie stars and him need BRAAINS!!!
  • ...and that's all I have to say.
  • I just wish a studio, director, or someone had the guts and innovation to make a movie like "Star Wars" today.

    Why is everything in Hollywood gone retro/rerun/remake? It is a lifeless, un-original, and un-creative trend these days and it takes the place of fun, interesting, original and daring movie ideas.

    Why do we need to see a re-make of the 'Wizard of Oz?'
    • Like Warner Brothers forking over big bucks on the unproved Wachowski brothers to make the Matrix?

      Or Nolan making Inception?

      There are good original movies. I just skip the crappy remakes and vote with my wallet to go see movies like Inception instead.

    • The answer to your questions: $$$

    • by adonoman (624929)

      Because when you look at movies from years gone by, you only remember the interesting ones. You forget about the thousands and thousands of terrible movies that preceded the terrible movies being produced today. You're also comparing a sample of nearly 100 years against a recent sample. There will be movies from this year that in 50 years will be considered classics.

      • by vlm (69642)

        You're also comparing a sample of nearly 100 years against a recent sample. There will be movies from this year that in 50 years will be considered classics.

        There is at best a 2 in 3 chance that maybe one movie this year might make it into a "top 100" list. Not necessarily "movies" not necessarily "classics"

        • by adonoman (624929)

          There are many more books that are considered "classics" than would fit on a top 100 list. Movies are starting to be the same way. There are just too many "classics". I suppose it was presumptuous of me to assume that any movies from this year will become classics - you can't really say much until they've continued in popularity for years. I'm more trying to say that the movies this year weren't of particularly lower quality than an average year from the past 90 years.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Pretty much this. 99% of all music, movies, and TV shows are, basically, somewhere between 'decent' and 'crap'. But when you're releasing 1-2 movies a week, you're going to get 2 'greats' on average per year.

        Even then, while I fondly remember movies such as Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator, etc... While they're still good, they seem a bit dated to me today. ID4 is showing it's age.

        Still, I'm much more a 'new' movie watcher than a rewatcher. I like the netflix service because I can easily get movi

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      I just wish a studio, director, or someone had the guts and innovation to make a movie like "Star Wars" today.

      I heard there is this awesome new movie coming out called "Hidden Fortress".

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:53AM (#34487650) Homepage

    an adaptation of Frankenstein would seem appropriate.

  • by o'reor (581921) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @10:54AM (#34487662) Journal
    Don't we have plenty of dead actors nowadays on our screens already ? Aren't people like Keanu Reeves (or Hayden Christensen, fergossakes) lifeless enough for you ?
  • Denied, already. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    LucasFilm have already denied the rumour. A very simple Google search prior to publishing this summary would have shown that. I googled "Mel Smith", because I wanted to know if it was the Mel Smith from NTNON/Alias Smith & Jones. Top result, News for Mel Smith... "George Lucas NOT Digitally Resurrecting Dead Actors". On Collider.com, originally reported by On The Red Carpet. I would post a link, but I can't paste anything.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:00AM (#34487778)

    I don't know if this counts, but I'd pay $5 for a movie involving a resurrected JarJar Binks and the guy from Temple of Doom who rips out beating hearts.

    Who's with me!?

    Hello?

  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

    by heptapod (243146) <heptapod@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:00AM (#34487788) Journal

    Well maybe, but it's been done before with Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid [imdb.com] and Zelig [imdb.com] not to mention Fred Astaire's posthumous commercial for the Dirt Devil [youtube.com] (at 3m02s).
    It'd be interesting to see the end product but I'm certain it will cause nothing for grief for various estates despite any good intentions.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      And Forrest Gump, Watchmen, Sky Captain etc. There is certainly a fine line, but arguably some movies are using historical figures for context, or splicing existing film footage as a framework to hang a story. Others such as the Fred Astaire advert are using a dead man to sell a product. I recall Steve McQueen being spliced into a car advert in a similar way. Personally I find the latter examples repugnant.

      There is a line and it would be good to know where it's drawn. If Lucas is allowed to digitally rend

  • Firefly might come back.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:01AM (#34487808)
    The film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow [imdb.com] featured Laurence Olivier [imdb.com], 15 years after his real life death, in the role of the villain, Dr. Totenkopf, using previously recorded archival footage.
  • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:01AM (#34487818)

    Otherwise we might end up with a situation like in the movie "Looker" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looker [wikipedia.org]

  • "Even if Smith is lying, it makes you wonder how long it will be until Hollywood starts to recycle actors as well as scripts"

    I think that last part should read "to recycle actors like they do scripts". Hollywood certainly doesn't recycle scripts well.

  • Now he can not only ruin our memories of a series by adding 3 load-of-crap movies to it - but he can also ruin an actor's popularity by starring them in it.
  • Now, now, let's not get up in arms about this. Lucas develops new filmmaking technology, then other directors put it to good use.

    This tech could lead the way to a live-action Futurama. Those heads in jars are going to have to be CGI, might as well make them look as good as possible. And we need to perfect the technology so that Zoidberg isn't as annoying as Jar-Jar.

  • The movies produced by the big studios have always been driven by the profit motive. "Art" was only valuable to the studios if it contributed to the bottom line.

    It is the same thing now. "Skins" will be used as long as they make money.

    Preserve the old movies, but don't lament their transformation. Celebrate the utter vulgarity of the medium!

    Someday, a creative team will craft a happy accident (like Casablanca or Genevieve) through the use of "skins". Look forward to that! Your memories of the old movie

  • As I seem to recall there was some controversy because there was little control over the use of likenesses and the technology was very cheap. The line I remember was talking about a reimagining of an old Erroll Flynn pirate movie but this version featured him "vigorously and enthusiastically taking a cabin boy from behind." I think this story ran in Asimov's.

    There was another story that really presaged the Youtube phenomenon. The premise is that everyone had personal video drones and could run a personal te

  • Now you all have another BS rumor to latch onto to start a hatefest.

  • This isn't really a new idea. They did it with Paula Abdul and Fred Astaire in a Pepsi commercial, and of course there's Forrest Gump.

  • This is just Lucas starting his own green revolution.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      "Soylent" green revolution? I mean, it is recycling and making money off the dead.....
  • Animation was bound to replace conventional acting, and offers much more scope than mere humans.

    Anime is popular for good reason, and reflects the restrictions of the cartoon. Remove the restrictions, make "animation" lifelike, and the holodeck is closer.

  • Tree House of Horror XIX

  • Honestly, I think the technology to digitally super-impose one person onto another is a great idea. It would be great to see some new Star Trek episodes with the original cast voiced by good impressionist voice actors.

    Sadly, the Great Stumbling Block of the arts and sciences -- copyright laws and their ilk -- will probably prevent that from ever happening.
  • I noticed earlier on my news rounds that Lucas has already denied this [escapistmagazine.com]

  • The media has been doing this with politicians for years now. Reagan being the test run. That guy died somewhere back in the 70s and he still managed to hold office in this country for two terms. A movie actor as a president???? of course they just needed rights to his movies and poof! another public leader is born. So you never notice half his speeches mysteriously flickered black and white depending on the angle of his head and the vowels in the sentence??

    Fast forward to 2010 and what he got now? inside

  • The rights to reproduce an actor, if they aren't in the public domain, are generally held by the actor or his estate.

    The rights to reproduce the character, where the rights aren't in the public domain, do generally follow the movie.

    Whether the "looks like" and "voice sounds like" rights to follow a character that had only one actor exist and who controls those rights is an open question.

  • For example, Kirk (a young Shatner) interacting with the new Kirk (Chris Pine)...or new TNG/DS9 stories...etc

  • Patton Oswalt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:09PM (#34489946)
    has an entertaining bit about traveling back in time to 1978 and beating Lucas to death with a shovel. This is just adding fuel to the 'build a time machine' fire.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:19PM (#34490104) Homepage Journal

    In 20 years there won't even be be any film or movie actors. They won't be needed anymore because it will be far cheaper to create them digitally.

    Quite frankly I will be surprised if the number of live actors isn't severely reduced by 2020.

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