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MONSTER HOUSE

The Monster House Story
Monster House brings together two seminal Oscar®-winning filmmakers — Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg — who are joining forces with a talented newcomer, filmmaker Gil Kenan, and are pioneering another breakthrough in the art of moviemaking: The cutting-edge technology known as motion-capture animation. With the help of a cleverly funny and wonderfully scary script by Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler, from a story by Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab, they have applied this magical new development to two beloved genres — comedy family film and scary movie — seamlessly combining them to entertain and jolt the imagination of their worldwide audience of admirers.

Motion pictures have a long, well-regarded tradition of highlighting scary/haunted houses — from the Gothic mansion in Psycho to Boo Radley's eerie shack in To Kill a Mockingbird to the out-of-place suburban residence that housed Edward Scissorhands — and exploring kids' fascination with these forbidding structures and their strange inhabitants. Given the genre's enduring appeal, it's no surprise that executives at Robert Zemeckis' production company ImageMovers were immediately intrigued when writers Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab pitched their idea about a house that is alive.

"From the moment it went into development at ImageMovers,” says Zemeckis. "I thought it was an extremely clever and totally cool idea.”

Adds producer Steve Starkey: "This was something unique, family-friendly with a fresh, contemporary attitude. Our goal was not only to make a scary story, but one with a lot of humorous hip sensibility that would appeal to old and young audiences alike.”

However, the Monster House script presented the filmmakers with one seemingly insurmountable technical problem: At one climatic moment, the haunted house is supposed to break free of its foundations and roam the streets, terrorizing everyone in the neighborhood. "Since it was originally conceived of as a conventional live-action film,” says Starkey, "the dilemma was always, ‘How do you blend a conventional film with a house that comes to life?'”

"We struggled with that problem for a long time,” adds producer Jack Rapke. "We were asking ourselves, ‘What will that world look like? Will it just end up looking goofy?'”

The problem was solved when Zemeckis discovered the groundbreaking motioncapture process, which was then honed and perfected by Sony Pictures Imageworks and applied to ImageMovers' worldwide hit The Polar Express (which Zemeckis directed). "Motion-capture seemed to be the perfect way to best tell the Monster House story,” explains Zemeckis. "It's the perfect blend of live-action cinema and computer-generated imagery. This way you have control over the images and, at the same time, get to work with skilled professional performers — which allows for the kinds of happy accidents you only get when you're working with live actors.”

From the start, Monster House was conceived to be more stylized than The Polar Express. "While Polar Express was designed to be more photo-realistic, Monster House was different,” explains executive producer Jason Clark. "We felt comfortable taking liberties with the design of the characters in Monster House and using animation to enhance the performances. We hired a lot of the Polar Express crew, who not only taught us what worked, but also what we could improve on. The technology was constantly evolving. In the process, we've devised a kind of ‘bleeding edge' technology of filmmaking – which is like the cutting edge, but a little more out there.”

Finding the right director for the project presented ImageMovers with another challenge — until they met a young graduate student named Gil Kenan whose college senior year film, The Lark, won the UCLA Spotlight Awards in 2002. "The Lark was interesting

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