In this photo from DreamWorks Pictures’ Real Steel, which began shooting live-action scenes recently, Hugh Jackman isn’t throwing the punches: the guy to the left is.
The movie, directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night), imagines a world in which human boxing is non-existent, replaced by leagues of mechanized pugilists. It’s expected to arrive in theaters in November 2011.
"The moment of walking in and seeing these robots, my jaw was on the floor," Jackman said. That’s because the robot in this image is a real device, not a digital visual effect.
Motion-capture animation is used in the film when the machines are brawling (with boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard working as an adviser on those), but 19 real-life animatronic giants were created for scenes with the human actors.
Levy says that blend was encouraged by Steven Spielberg, an executive producer. (This is a DreamWorks film being released by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures.)
"There are some things only visual effects can pull off," Levy says. "But when you give an actor a real thing, in this case a real 8-foot-tall machine, to interact with and do dialogue opposite, you get a more grounded reality to the performance."
A gritty, white-knuckle, action ride set in the near-future, where the sport of boxing has gone hi-tech, Real Steel stars Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback.
Real Steel is a DreamWorks Picture to be distributed locally by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.