Cast Includes Freddie Prinze, Jr., Saffron Burrows and Matthew Lillard; Chris Roberts Directs Feature Film Based on ORIGIN Systems' Wildly Successful Computer Game Series
Austin, TX, February 13, 1998--Digital Anvil, Inc., the Austin, Texas-based entertainment company led by computer gaming pioneer Chris Roberts, today announced the final cast of the feature film WING COMMANDER. Up-and-comers Freddie Prinze Jr. (I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER), Matthew Lillard (SCREAM) and Saffron Burrows (CIRCLE OF FRIENDS) have signed on to star in the film, which will be directed by Roberts, creator of the legendary ORIGIN Systems Wing Commander computer game series. Principal photography begins in Luxembourg February 15.
The cast also includes veteran actor Malcolm McDowell (who reprises his role as Admiral Tolwyn from the computer game), David Suchet (Captain Sansky), Jurgen Prochnow (Commander Gerald) and newcomer Ginny Holder (pilot Rosie Forbes). Based on characters, storylines, themes and other creative elements from the first four titles of the best-selling Wing Commander computer game series, the film is budgeted at $27 million, and will be distributed in the U.S. and selected territories, including the UK, by Fox.
WING COMMANDER is a No Prisoners/Digital Anvil production in association with the Carousel Picture Company, with Todd Moyer of No Prisoners serving as producer, and Jean-Martial Lefranc and Romain Schroeder as executive producers. Thierry Arbogast (LA FEMME NIKITA, THE FIFTH ELEMENT) is director of photography. Tom Reeve is line producer. Late last year, ORIGIN, an Electronic Arts? (NASDAQ: ERTS) company, granted Digital Anvil an option to acquire film and television rights to the first four installments of the Wing Commander game series.
"My two great loves are movies and games," said Roberts. "I felt I had combined the two in ORIGIN's Wing Commander games, which, I believe, contributed to their phenomenal success. I'd always wanted to translate that experience into film and it's wonderful that my first feature film directing project is WING COMMANDER."
Producer Todd Moyer said, "I've never been this excited by a film project before. I can't express how impressed I am with Chris, the cast, the creative team, the special effects...the production values are just incredible."
WING COMMANDER's production designer Peter Lamont just received an Academy Award? nomination for his work on TITANIC. Others on the effects and design team include former members of renowned Boss Film, who have set up a "virtual studio" at Digital Anvil. Digital Anvil was also awarded the contract for digital production for the film. Roberts estimates that Digital Anvil can produce the film's effects-about 250 visual effects shots in all-with the same quality as traditional special effects outfits, but at about half the cost.
The film combines state-of-the-art sci-fi special effects and settings with the story and creative elements of a classic World War II film. Scripted by Kevin Droney, Chris Roberts and Mike Finch, WING COMMANDER follows the exploits of Christopher Blair, a young pilot fresh from the Academy with a shady, secret past. Carrying an encoded message about a Kilrathi invasion, Blair, his comrades Maniac (Lillard) and Deveraux (Burrows) and his commander Paladin (Tcheky Karyo, ADDICTED TO LOVE, LA FEMME NIKITA) join in the fray as the Confederation forces mobilize to evade and ultimately repel the alien attack.
"The film will deliver all the action, visual impact and provocative characters that the millions of Wing Commander fans worldwide have come to expect," Roberts explained. "Yet, the WING COMMANDER film will have mass appeal as we have developed a brand-new storyline, so moviegoers don't need to be familiar with the game to understand or enjoy the film."
Although WING COMMANDER represents Roberts' film directing debut, he directed actors such as Mark Hamill (in the lead role of Christopher Blair) and Malcolm McDowell in extensive live scenes during production of the Wing Commander games III and IV. Roberts explained, "It's been said in the past that we have already created a Wing Commander movie since Wing Commander IV had such high production values, awesome computer effects and 38 sets. Planet Hollywood has even recognized the impact of our games on the industry by featuring our costumes in their restaurants."
Since the 1990 launch of the first Wing Commander, the Wing Commander series has spawned four full sequels and numerous derivative products combining to generate sales of more than five million units worldwide. In that time, the Wing Commander series has consistently broken new ground. Wing Commander III was one of the first interactive movies and marked the first extensive use of full-motion video in a computer game. Wing Commander IV was the first game to use 35-millimeter film for its linear narrative. ORIGIN released Wing Commander: Prophecy, the fifth installment in the series, to critical acclaim this past Christmas.
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