The visual FX team behind James Dean’s resurrection as a digital human in an upcoming Vietnam war movie is now setting their sights on bringing other dead celebrities back to the big screen. According to a new report, the intellectual property licensing specialist CMG Worldwide has merged with the content creation studio Observe Media to form a new company called Worldwide XR. Per the report, the goal for Worldwide XR is to bring more digital humans to movies as well as use them for augmented and virtual reality projects.
“Influencers will come and go, but legends will never die,” Worldwide XR CEO Travis Cloyd said in a statement to explain the motivation behind bringing back so many beloved stars from years past, such as James Dean in the upcoming war drama Finding Jack. As of now, Worldwide XR holds the rights to more than 400 deceased celebrities, which includes famous athletes in addition to Hollywood stars. It’s noted that some of the stars the company holds the rights to include Andre the Giant, Burt Reynolds, Bettie Page, Maya Angelou, and Lou Gehrig. While 400 is certainly a large enough number to start with, it seems likely the company will be looking to acquire additional licenses as well.
Cloyd also spoke about the controversy surrounding James Dean’s return to cinema, suggesting the best is yet to come from the resurrected actor. “Think of it as James Dean 2.0,” Cloyd states, noting the team will do their “due diligence” to do James and all of the other celebrities justice with their digital human recreations. The movie Cloyd refers to is the upcoming war drama Finding Jack, which will bring Dean, who died in 1955, back to the big screen as a digital human. The decision to resurrect Dean for a movie has generated tons of controversy from filmgoers and Hollywood celebrities alike, but filmmaker Anton Ernst still plans to move forward with the project.
From the opposite point of view, there are many who feel the decision to bring back actors from the past for new movies does them a disservice. As much as so many of us miss all of these legendary stars, the consensus seems to be that it’s best to leave them in the past, remembering them by the great work they have already given us when they were alive. We will always have Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, so do we really need to see the two of them starring in a buddy cop comedy in 2021? This James Dean movie could be the start of us heading down that path, and we could be seeing Robin Williams in the next Jumanji sequel before we know it.
There’s no telling how many of our favorite celebrities who’ve since passed away will soon be coming back to theaters in all-new movie roles. While Cloyd may be right when he says that the emergence of digital humans was inevitable, there’s still something that feels very weird about the whole thing. The potential success of Finding Jack will likely determine how soon we see other deceased celebrities starring in new movies. This news comes to us from Variety.