Moviegoers got shocking news earlier this month when it was announced James Dean would be digitally recreated using CGI visual effects in order to play a leading role in the upcoming Vietnam War action-drama “Finding Jack.” Dean died in a car crash in September 1955 at the age of 24 after leading the three feature films “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” and “Giant.” Bringing Dean back to the big screen through CGI has proved controversial, but it’s just the beginning for Worldwide XR, a new company that “aims to bring digital humans to traditional film as well as augmented and virtual reality” (via Variety).
In addition to James Dean, Worldwide XR holds the rights for more than 400 celebrities, athletes, historical figures, musicians, and more, all of whom could be digitally recreated to appear in movies or virtual reality projects. “Influencers will come and go, but legends will never die,” Worldwide XR CEO Travis Cloyd said in a statement, while also teasing, “There is a lot more to come for James Dean. Think of it as James Dean 2.0.”
Worldwide XR holds the rights for such Hollywood icons as Bette Davis, Bettie Page, Christopher Reeve, Ingrid Bergman, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Rock Hudson, and more. Musicians include Aaliyah, Jerry Garcia, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Filmmakers Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh are behind “Finding Jack,” the war drama that will star a CGI version of James Dean in a secondary leading role. Pre-production on “Finding Jack” is set to begin this month. The plan is for the movie to be ready for a theatrical release on Veterans Day 2020. Magic City Films is working with Canadian VFX company Imagine Engine and South African VFX studio MOI Worldwide to recreate a realistic version of James Dean. Geoff Anderson from Imagine Engine will be overseeing the VFX supervision on Dean’s recreation.
Worldwide XR CEO Cloyd acknowledges the decision to digitally recreate dead artists is “disruptive.” Actor Chris Evans used social media to lobby against resurrecting James Dean through VFX, calling the decision “awful.” Evans added, “Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful.”
Visit Variety’s website for more on the launch of Worldwide XR.