New World Cinema: Johnny Depp Promotes Rango With Avatar Based on Johnny Depp -- Sign of Cinema to Come?
I caught this ad for the animated movie Rango over the holidays, and was struck by the way it converts real world actors' performances into the 3D world of the movie, and the way that process is so explicitly promoted in the commercial. We're told Rango stars Johnny Depp, which is a strange thing to say, because it actually stars a talking lizard. Watch:
I'd love to know more about how the actors' performances are actually motion captured (or what Depp calls "emotion captured") for the CGI animators to convert into 3D animation. But essentially, the takeaway message from the ad is that the 3D characters are the real world actors. As the tagline puts it, "Johnny Depp is Rango!" Taken together, this ad is the most explicit linkage of a virtual film character with a real world actor that I've seen. (Yes, studios have always promoted the voices of stars in their animated movies, but that's somewhat different. And yes yes, the lead characters of Avatar were also fully computer animated. But the ads for James Cameron's movie didn't say, "Sam Worthington is Avatar!")
If Rango does well (and it's hard to imagine it won't), we'll likely see many more movies made and promoted like this, leveraging the star power of real actors to promote the computer graphic avatars of themselves. (As lizard-like as they may be.) Rango, by the way, is directed by Gore Verbinski, who perhaps not coincidentally, was once also developing a movie set in Second Life.