Tron

Template:Mergefrom Template:Infobox Film Tron is a 1982 science fiction film by Disney starring Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn (and his counterpart inside the electronic world, Clu), Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley (and Tron), Cindy Morgan as Dr. Lora Baines (and Yori) and Dan Shor as Ram. David Warner plays the villain, Ed Dillinger (and Sark), as well as providing the voice of the Master Control Program. It was written and directed by Steven Lisberger. Tron has a distinctive visual style, as it was one of the first films from a major studio to use computer graphics extensively.

Plot

Kevin Flynn is a young and gifted programmer who once worked for the software corporation ENCOM, creating several video games on the company's mainframe after hours in hopes to start his own software game company. However, another programmer, Ed Dillinger, stole Flynn's work and presented it as his own, earning Dillinger several executive promotions and allowing him to lock Flynn out of the company. Flynn started a video game arcade with games he created, while attempting to hack into the ENCOM mainframe to find evidence of Dillinger's wrongdoings, but is constantly foiled by the Master Control Program (MCP) that detects and defeats Flynn's programs. MCP's actions inadvertently close out the work of another ENCOM employee, Alan Bradley, who created a security program named Tron to enforce ethics at ENCOM. Alan and his girlfriend Dr. Lora Baines discover that Flynn's hacking attempts are not going unnoticed and attempt to warn him. Instead, Flynn convinces them to gain him access to a low-security terminal in the ENCOM basement laboratory where Dr. Baines and her mentor Dr. Walter Gibbs are developing a method of digitizing real objects. Lora brings Flynn in there because the MCP will likely not be monitoring there, making it easier for him to find the evidence.

Meanwhile, as Flynn works at Lora's terminal, the MCP initiates the digitizer at Flynn, and sends him into the ENCOM mainframe. Flynn is initially confused but comes to learn that all the beings in the digital world are Programs that look to their mythical "Users" for instruction and advice. He also learns that the MCP has tightly controlled the system, with his commander Sark in charge of capturing all the renegade Programs. Sark has these Programs participate in a number of games for his amusement, with the losing Programs being erased from the mainframe. Flynn ends up in a Light Cycle arena game with Alan's Program, Tron, and the two manage to escape from the game grid, prompting Sark to send out his forces to chase them down. After their escape, they travel to a nearby I/O Tower where Tron receives instructions from Alan on an identification disk for how to destroy the MCP. As they are chased down by Sark, the two are separated, with Flynn temporarily disguising himself as one of Sark's forces. Tron meanwhile encounters Yori, a Program created by Lora, and the two begin to flee on a Solar Sailer towards the MCP. Flynn manages to catch up to them, and when he reveals he is able to disguise himself, Flynn is forced to explain that he is actually a User, which gives him the ability to create. However, they are caught by Sark's command ship, the Command Prompt, and while Tron is able to escape aboard Sark's shuttle, Flynn and Yori are caught and left aboard the de-rezzing ship; Flynn's abilities manage to keep Yori alive, and he pilots the ship towards the MCP.

Sark debarks at the MCP, escorting several prisoner Programs to be absorbed by the MCP. Tron tries to sneak into the MCP but he is detected, and the MCP sends Sark to battle Tron. Tron is able to gain the upper hand until the MCP transfers its functions to Sark, causing him to grow to enormous proportions. Flynn realizes the only way to end this is to disrupt the MCP, and from Sark's ship, sacrifices himself by jumping into the center of the MCP. The distraction gives Tron enough time to throw his disk into the center of the MCP, destroying it and Sark. As the corruption of the mainframe disappears, all the backed-up I/O requests to communicate with the outside world start flowing freely again, including the I/O request to return Flynn back to the real world. Flynn recovers at the data terminal, finding only a few moments have passed in real time, and that a nearby printer is delivering the information he needed on Dillinger's wrongdoing. The next morning, Dillinger comes to work and learns that the MCP program has gone off-line, his screen showing the same information that Flynn obtained. Flynn becomes the new CEO of ENCOM with the help of Alan and Lora.

Cast

Note: Many of the actors played people in the real world and the programs they have written which appear in physical form in the digital world; for example, Bruce Boxleitner plays programmer Alan Bradley and his program Tron.

Production

Beginnings

The inspiration for Tron occurred when Steve Lisberger saw video games for the first time.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard">Template:Cite news</ref> He was immediately fascinated by them and wanted to do a film incorporating them. According to Lisberger, "I realized that there were these techniques that would be very suitable for bringing video games and computer visuals to the screen. And that was the moment that the whole concept flashed across my mind."<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> He was frustrated by the clique-ish nature of computers and video games and wanted to create a film that would open this world up to everyone.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> Lisberger and his business partner Donald Kushner moved to the West Coast in 1977 and set up an animation studio to develop Tron.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> While a popular rumor states that the title of the film was meant to reference the programming command "TRace ON", Lisberger has insisted in interviews that he did not become aware of this command until after the movie was produced, and that the movie's title was based on the word "Electronic"(elec TRON ic).Template:Fact

Originally, the film was conceived to be predominantly an animated film with live-action sequences acting as book ends.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> The rest would involve a combination of computer generated visuals and back-lit animation.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> Lisberger planned to finance the movie independently by approaching several computer companies but had little success.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> However, one company, Information International, Inc., was receptive. He met with Richard Taylor, a representative, and they began talking about using live-action photography with back-lit animation in such a way that it could be integrated with computer graphics. At this point, Lisberger already had a script written and the film entirely storyboarded with some computer animation tests completed.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> He had spent approximately $300,000 developing Tron and had also secured $4-5 million in private backing before reaching a standstill. Lisberger and Kushner decided to take the idea to Disney, which was interested in producing more daring productions at the time.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> However, Disney executives were uncertain about giving $10-12 million to a first-time producer and director using techniques that, in most cases, had never been attempted.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/>

The studio agreed to finance a test reel which involved a flying disc champion throwing a rough prototype of the discs used in the film.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> It was a chance to mix live-action footage with back-lit animation and computer generated visuals. It impressed the executives at Disney and they agreed to back the film. The script was subsequently re-written and re-storyboarded with the studio's input.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/>

Pre-production

Three designers were brought in to create the look of the computer world. Renowned French comic book artist Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) was the main set and costume designer for the movie. Jeff Bridges' costume bears a suspicious resemblance to the one worn by Hazel O'Connor's character, Kate, at the end of the movie, "Breaking Glass". Since Tron was released 2 years after this film, it is possible that Giraud was influenced by the design. Most of the vehicle designs (including Sark's aircraft carrier, the light cycles, the tank and the solar sailer) were created by industrial designer Syd Mead, of Blade Runner fame. Peter Lloyd, a high-tech commercial artist, designed the environments. However, these jobs often overlapped with Giraud working on the solar sailer and Mead designing terrain, sets and the film's logo.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/> The original Program character design was inspired by the main Lisberger Studios logo, a glowing body builder hurling two discs.

To create the computer animation sequences of Tron, Disney turned to the four leading computer graphics firms of the day: Information International Inc. of Culver City, California, who owned the Super Foonly F-1 (the fastest PDP-10 ever made and the only one of its kind); MAGI of Elmsford, New York; Robert Abel and Associates of California; and Digital Effects of New York City. Bill Kovacs worked on this movie while working for Robert Abel before going on to found Wavefront Technologies. Tron was one of the first movies to make extensive use of any form of computer animation, and is celebrated as a milestone in the computer animation industry.

However, the film contains less computer-generated imagery than is generally supposed: Only fifteen to twenty minutes of actual animation were used.<ref name="DVD">Interview with Harrison Ellenshaw, supplemental material on Tron DVD</ref> Because the technology to combine computer animation and live action did not exist at the time, these sequences were intercut with the filmed characters.

Most of the scenes, backgrounds and visual effects in the film were created using more traditional techniques and a unique process known as "backlit animation". In this process, live-action scenes inside the computer world were filmed in black-and-white on an entirely black set, printed on large-format high-contrast film, then colorized with photographic and rotoscopic techniques to give them a "technological" feel. With multiple layers of high-contrast, large-format positives and negatives, this process required truckloads of sheet film and a workload even greater than that of a conventional cel-animated feature. In addition, the varying quality and age of the film layers caused differing brightness levels for the backlit effects from frame to frame, explaining why glowing outlines and circuit traces tended to flicker in the original film. Due to its difficulty and cost, this process would never be repeated for another feature film.

This film features parts of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — the multi-story ENCOM laser bay was the target area for the SHIVA solid state multi-beamed laser. Also, the stairway that Alan, Lora, and Flynn use to get to Alan's office is the stairway in Building 451 near the entrance to the main machine room. The cubicle scenes were shot in another room of the lab. Tron is the only movie to have scenes filmed inside this lab.

The original script called for "good" programs to be colored yellow and "evil" programs (those loyal to Sark and the MCP) to be colored blue. Partway into production, this coloring scheme was changed to blue for good and red for evil, but some scenes were produced using the original coloring scheme: Clu, who drives a tank, has yellow circuit lines, and all of Sark's tank commanders are blue (but appear green in some presentations). Also, the light-cycle sequence shows the heroes driving yellow (Flynn), orange (Tron) and red (Ram) cycles, while Sark's troops drive blue cycles; similarly, Clu's tank is red, while tanks driven by crews loyal to Sark are blue.

Budgeting the production was difficult because they were constantly breaking new ground as they progressed with additional challenges like an impending Directors Guild of America strike and a fixed release date.<ref name= "Patterson, Richard"/>

Music

The background music for Tron was written by pioneer electronic musician Wendy Carlos, who is best-known for her album Switched-On Bach and for the soundtracks to many films, including A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. The music featured a mix of an analog Moog synthesizer and GDS digital synthesizer (complex additive and phase modulation synthesis), along with non-electronic pieces performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (hired at the insistence of Disney, which was concerned that Carlos might not be able to complete her score on time). Two additional musical tracks were provided by the band Journey. They were originally going to be recorded by British band Supertramp. The soundtrack album was released on record and tape by CBS Records. It has been recently re-released by Walt Disney Records. Some of the music from the film can also be heard in its companion arcade game released the same year.

Reception

Tron was released on July 9, 1982 in 1,091 theaters grossing USD $4.8 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $33 million in North America, moderately successful considering its $17 million budget.<ref name= "boxoffice">Template:Cite news</ref>

Critical reviews were mixed; review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes lists 67% positive reviews of the film. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and described the film as "a dazzling movie from Walt Disney in which computers have been used to make themselves romantic and glamorous. Here's a technological sound-and-light show that is sensational and brainy, stylish, and fun".<ref name= "Ebert">Template:Cite news</ref> However, near the end of his review, he noted (in a positive tone), "This is an almost wholly technological movie. Although it's populated by actors who are engaging (Bridges, Cindy Morgan) or sinister (Warner), it is not really a movie about human nature. Like [the last two Star Wars films], but much more so, this movie is a machine to dazzle and delight us".<ref name="Ebert" />

On the other hand, Variety disliked the film and said in its review, "Tron is loaded with visual delights but falls way short of the mark in story and viewer involvement. Screenwriter-director Steven Lisberger has adequately marshaled a huge force of technicians to deliver the dazzle, but even kids (and specifically computer game geeks) will have a difficult time getting hooked on the situations".<ref name= "Variety">Template:Cite news</ref> In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin criticized the film's visual effects: "They're loud, bright and empty, and they're all this movie has to offer".<ref name= "Maslin">Template:Cite news</ref>

"In the year it was released", says director Lisberger, "the Motion Picture Academy refused to nominate Tron for special effects because they said we 'cheated' when we used computers which, in the light of what happened, is just mind-boggling". The film did, however, earn an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Costume Design.

Following the film's moderate success in theatres, it grew to become a cult favorite due mainly to its innovative use of computer graphics and its computer and video-game plot line. In 1987, the French radio station TopFM voted Tron the best film with computer graphics in its annual film competition. It retained that title for ten years until Titanic was released in 1997.

In 1997, Ken Perlin of the Mathematical Applications Group, Inc. won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for his invention of Perlin noise for Tron <ref>Kerman, Phillip. Macromedia Flash 8 @work: Projects and Techniques to Get the Job Done. Sams Publishing. 2006.</ref>.

Comic book

In 2003, 88 MPH solicited a mini-series titled Tron 2.0: Derezzed. This comic was canceled before any issues were released.

In 2005, Slave Labor Graphics announced its six-issue limited series comic, Tron: The Ghost in the Machine. The first issue was released in April 2006, the second issue in November of the same year. The comic book is set 6 months after the events of Tron 2.0, when Jet Bradley, now emotionally scarred and distrustful of technology, returns to the computer world against his will. The comic book is written by Landry Walker and Eric Jones, with art in the first two issues by Louie De Martinis. The artist on the third issue is Mike Shoykhet.

The comic from Slave Labor Graphics opens with a detailed history of the Tron universe, providing this previously unseen background on the events that allowed Ed Dillinger and the MCP to rise to power:

In the early 1970s a small engineering company called ENCOM introduced a revolutionary type of software designed to direct and streamline the transfer of data between networked machines. Ed Dillinger, the lead programmer on this project, realized the enormous potential of his team's creation and secretly encoded a secondary function to be activated upon installation: to copy the sub-routines of other programs and absorb their functions. This alteration allowed Dillinger to appropriate research and claim it as his own, and he rose quickly through ENCOM’s corporate ranks. This was the beginning of the Master Control Program.

Video games

Since games play a central role in the film, many video games based on Tron have been produced over the years. Atari, Inc. had plans to develop a real Space Paranoids game, but this was canceled due to the video game crash of 1983, along with arcade adaptations of Superman III and The Last Starfighter. In 1982, Midway Games released the Tron arcade game, which consisted of four mini-games based on sequences in the movie. This game earned more than the film's initial release. In 1983, Midway released Discs of Tron, a sequel that focused on disc combat. Mattel Electronics released three separate Tron games (unrelated to the arcade game) for the Intellivision game console in 1982: Tron Deadly Discs, Tron Maze-A-Tron, and Tron Solar Sailer. Deadly Discs was later ported to the Atari 2600 (along with an original Tron game for that platform, Adventures of Tron), and a version also appeared for the short-lived Aquarius home computer. A special joystick resembling the Tron arcade game joystick was also created as a free giveaway in a special pack that included both Atari 2600 Tron video games.

Tron 2.0

Tron 2.0, a PC game sequel released for Windows and Macintosh, was released on August 26, 2003. In this first person shooter game, the player takes the part of Alan Bradley's son Jet, who is pulled into the computer world to fight a computer virus. A separate version of this game, called Tron 2.0 Killer App, is available for the Xbox, and features new multiplayer modes. In the Game Boy Advance version of Tron 2.0 Killer App, Tron and a Light Cycle program named Mercury (first seen in Tron 2.0 for the PC) fight their way through the ENCOM computer to stop a virus called The Corruptor. The game includes light cycle, battle tank, and recognizer battle modes, several security-related minigames, and the arcade games Tron and Discs of Tron. While the game is only minimally connected to the PC game, one of the 100 unlockable chips shows a picture of Jet Bradley.

Kingdom Hearts II

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2), by Disney/Square Enix, features a world named "Space Paranoids" (after one of Flynn's games in the film) that is set in the world of Tron. This world is the most important Disney-based world in the game in terms of plot. Tetsuya Nomura, director of the Kingdom Hearts series, stated in an interview that Tron was the first Disney movie to be suggested for use in the game. He got his inspiration after seeing a game designer working on Tron 2.0 Killer App on a computer during a visit to Disney in the United States.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Bruce Boxleitner reprises his role as Tron in the English version, while Sark and the MCP are voiced by Corey Burton.

Sequel

File:Tron2.jpg
Tron 2 logo, from the test footage premiered at ComicCon

On July 29, 1999, ZDnet news reported a rumor from an unnamed source that a Tron film remake or sequel was being considered by Pixar.<ref name= "Barry">Template:Cite news</ref> In 2002, Steven Lisberger discussed the planning of the sequel.<ref name= "Helfand">Template:Cite news</ref>

On January 12, 2005, it was announced that Disney hired screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal to write a sequel to Tron.<ref name= "Fleming">Template:Cite news</ref> As of 2007, director Joseph Kosinski was in final negotiations to develop and direct Tron, described as "the next chapter" of the 1982 film, with Lisberger co-producing.<ref name= "Kit">Template:Cite news</ref>

Test footage

On July 24, 2008 Disney surprised San Diego Comic Con attendees with test footage from a sequel to Tron. The footage began with an update of the lightcycle duel from the original film, pitting a blue program against a yellow one with the two racing (where the rider is now exposed) through a futuristic landscape. The duel is being observed from a high, cliff-side structure by a human figure – an older, bearded Kevin Flynn played again by Jeff Bridges. The yellow program is shown to have the face and the voice of the younger Jeff Bridges, presumably killing the blue program. The footage ended with a '2' appearing in the traditional Tron font and the title, TR2N, emerging around it, then fading away to leave the number.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> As of August 9, 2008, the Internet Movie Database entry for the film is titled TRON 2.0 with a projected release date of 2011.

On December 29, 2008 Bruce Boxleitner's website indicates that he is also actively involved in the production of the new Tron feature film.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

Production

Joseph Kosinski directed the promo and is currently slated to direct the film. Kosinski previously directed commercials for Gears of War, Halo 3, Apple, Inc. and others, and was noted for his skill at blending photoreal CGI with real actors and scenery. Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are slated to write the film.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

The production is currently looking at Vancouver, BC for filming.Template:Fact

On December 15, 2008 The Hollywood Reporter said that Kosinski has begun casting, with Olivia Wilde and Beau Garrett being the first actors signed to the as-yet-unnamed or announced production. Garrett will play a programmer, and Wilde will play a siren.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

On January 7, 2009 it was revealed that Garrett Hedlund was cast into the lead role as "a man pulled into the computer world and retraces the steps of the original main character, Kevin Flynn."<ref>http://newsinfilm.com/?p=7489</ref>

See also

References

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External links

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