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The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn
Teaser poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Peter Jackson
Steven Spielberg
Kathleen Kennedy
Starring Jamie Bell
Andy Serkis
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Daniel Craig
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Janusz Kamiński
Editing by Michael Kahn
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) October 26, 2011
(United Kingdom)
December 21, 2011
(United States)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
New Zealand
Language English
Budget $135 million
Gross revenue $239,100,000


The Adventures of Tintin (also known as The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) is a 2011 American performance capture 3D film based on The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Hergé (Georges Remi). Directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, and written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the film is based on three of the original comic books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red Rackham's Treasure (1944). It is also the first animated film Spielberg ever directed in his entire career.

Spielberg first acquired rights to produce a film based upon the Adventures of Tintin series following Hergé's death in 1983, and re-optioned them in 2002. Filming was due to begin in October 2008 for a 2010 release, but release was delayed to 2011 after Universal opted out of producing the film with Paramount, who provided $30 million on pre-production. Sony chose to co-produce the films. The delay resulted in Thomas Sangster, who had been cast as Tintin, departing from the project. Producer Peter Jackson, whose company Weta Digital is providing the computer animation, intends to direct a sequel. Spielberg and Jackson also hope to co-direct a third film.

The first press-screening was held on October 10, 2011 and the world première took place on October 22, 2011 in Brussels. The film is set to be released in North American theaters on December 21, 2011 in Digital 3D and IMAX. The release date in Australia is 26 December.


Plot

Tintin, a young journalist, and his dog Snowy are browsing in an outdoor market in a European town. Tintin buys a model of a three-masted sailing ship, the Unicorn, on the cheap, but is then immediately accosted by the sinister Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, and the mysterious figure of Barnaby, who both try to buy the model from Tintin, without success. Tintin takes the ship home, but it is broken during a fight between Snowy and a neighbour's cat. As it breaks, a parchment scroll slips out of the ship's mast. Snowy spots it but is unable to alert Tintin. Meanwhile, incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson are on the trail of a pickpocket, Aristides Silk. Tintin visits Sakharine in Marlinspike Hall, where he learns that there are at least two model ships.

Later, Tintin is shot at, then abducted by accomplices of Sakharine, and imprisoned on the SS Karaboudjan. On board, Tintin escapes and meets the ship's nominal captain, Haddock. Haddock has been supplied with whisky by first mate Allan, who is working for Sakharine, and the captain is permanently drunk, and doesn't know what's happening on board his ship. Tintin and Haddock (and Snowy) eventually escape from the Karaboudjan in a lifeboat. Sakharine sends a seaplane to find them, but Tintin is able to capture the plane, and fly towards the (fictitious) Moroccan port of Bagghar, but they crash in the desert.

Dehydrated in the heat, and suffering from a sudden lack of alcohol, Haddock hallucinates, and starts to remember stories about his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock(e), who was captain of the Unicorn during the 17th century. Sir Francis' treasure-laden ship was attacked by a pirate ship, led by the masked Red Rackham, and, after a fierce battle and eventual surrender, Sir Francis chose to sink the Unicorn, and most of the treasure, rather than allow it to fall into Rackham's hands. It transpires that there were three models of the Unicorn, each containing a scroll. Together, the scrolls will reveal the location of the sunken Unicorn, and its treasure.

In Bagghar, Tintin and the Captain find out that the third model ship is in the possession of the wealthy Omar Ben Salaad, but it is encased in a bullet-proof glass display case. Sakharine's plan is to stage a concert involving famous diva Bianca Castafiore, the "Milanese nightingale", whose penetrating singing voice will be able to shatter the glass case, allowing Sakharine's trained hawk to fly down and steal the third scroll. After a chase down to the harbour, pursued by Tintin and Haddock, Sakharine finally escapes with all three scrolls. Tintin chases him back to Europe and arranges a police reception for him on the dockside. Haddock and Sakharine, who is revealed to be the descendant of Red Rackham, replay their ancestors' swashbuckling sword fight, using dockside cranes, and Haddock is eventually victorious.

With the three scrolls in their possession, Tintin and Haddock find that the indicated location is Marlinspike Hall, and that the hall had been built originally by Sir Francis Haddock. There, in the cellar, they find some of the treasure, and a clue to the location of the sunken Unicorn.


Cast

  • Jamie Bell as Tintin. Bell replaced Thomas Sangster, who dropped out when filming was delayed in October 2008. Jackson suggested Bell take on the role, having cast him as Jimmy in his King Kong remake.
  • Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. Serkis played Gollum in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and King Kong in the 2005 remake, which were both roles requiring motion capture. Serkis joked he was concerned that Jackson wanted him to play Tintin's dog Snowy, who will be animated traditionally, i.e., without motion capture. Serkis remarked upon reading the comics again for the role that they had a surreal Pythonesque quality. Serkis also plays Haddock's ancestor Sir Francis Haddock in flashbacks.
  • Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thomson and Thompson, bumbling detectives who are almost identical. Spielberg invited Pegg to the set and offered him the role after he had completed How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Pegg also stars alongside Serkis in John Landis' Burke and Hare, released in autumn 2010.
  • Daniel Craig as Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine and Red Rackham, Sakharine being the descendant of Red Rackham, the pirate who attacked the Unicorn, the ship captained by Sir Francis Haddock. Craig collaborated with Spielberg on Munich, Toby Jones in Infamous and Bell in Defiance.
  • Tony Curran as Lieutenant Delacourt, an ally of Tintin.
  • Toby Jones plays Aristides Silk, a pickpocket.
  • Gad Elmaleh as Omar Ben Salaad.
  • Mackenzie Crook and Daniel Mays play Ernie and Allan, smugglers aboard the Karaboudjan.
  • Kim Stengel as Bianca Castafiore
  • Sebastian Roché as Pedro.
  • Cary Elwes and Phillip Rhys appear as seaplane pilots.
  • Ron Bottitta as Unicorn Lookout.


Filming

Filming began on January 26, 2009, and the release date was moved from 2010 to 2011. Spielberg finished his film – after 32 days of shooting – in March 2009. Jackson was present for the first week of filming and supervised the rest of the shoot via a bespoke videoconferencing program. Simon Pegg said Jackson's voice would "be coming over the Tannoy like God. "During filming, various directors including Guillermo del Toro, Stephen Daldry and David Fincher visited. Spielberg would try to treat the film like live-action, moving his camera around. He revealed, "Every movie I made, up until Tintin, I always kept one eye closed when I've been framing a shot," because he wanted to see the movie in 2-D, the way viewers would. "On Tintin, I have both of my eyes open." Jackson took the hands-on approach to directing Weta Digital during post-production, which Spielberg supervised through video conferencing. Jackson will also begin development for the second film for which he will be officially credited as director. Spielberg says "there will be no cell phones, no TV sets, no modern cars. Just timeless Europe."His cinematographer Janusz Kamiński serves as lighting consultant for Weta, and Jackson said the film will look "film noirish, very atmospheric." Spielberg finished six weeks of additional motion-capture filming in mid-July.


Release

Steven Spielberg at the film's premiere in Paris, 22 October 2011. The first press-screening was held in Belgium on October 10, 2011. The world première was held in Brussels, Belgium on October 22, 2011, with the Paris première later the same day. Sony released the film during late October and early November 2011 in Europe, Latin America, and India. The film is expected to be released in Quebec on December 9, 2011. Paramount will distribute the film in Asia, New Zealand, the UK and all other English-speaking territories. They will release the film in the United States on December 23, 2011. Spielberg hopes that thereby there will be a word-of-mouth effect coming from Europe - where Tintin has always been a huge success - that will attract the American audience, which is unfamiliar with Tintin.


Box office

The film has earned $239,100,000 in markets outside North America, as of December 20, 2011. On its first day, the film opened in the UK, France and Belgium, earning $8.6 million. In Belgium, Tintin's country of origin, the film made $520,000, while France provided $4.6 million, a number higher than other similar Wednesday debuts. In France, it is the second best debut of the year for its first day after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. On its first weekend it topped the overseas box office with $56.2 million from 21 countries. In Belgium, it earned $1.99 million. It also earned the top spot in many major markets like France and the Maghreb region ($21 million), where it set a record opening weekend for an animated title, the UK, Ireland and Malta ($10.9 million), Germany ($4.71 million) and Spain ($3.75 million). It retained first place for a second-consecutive and final weekend, earning $39.0 million from 45 territories. In its native Belgium it was up 20% to $2.39 million, while in France it plummeted 61% to $8.42 million. Its biggest debut was in Russia and the CIS ($4.81 million).

The movie grossed 73.5 million rupees ($1.46 million) on it opening weekend (November 11-13, 2011) in India, an all-time record opening for a Steven Spielberg film and for an animated feature in India. The movie was released with 351 prints, the largest ever release for an animated film. In four weeks, it became the highest-grossing animated film of all time in the country with 254.4 million rupees ($5 million).


Sequel

Depending on the film's success, two more Tintin movies could be produced. The first of these was originally planned to be based on The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun, however screenwriter Anthony Horowitz has since called this into question, suggesting these films would be the second sequel and another story would become the first sequel. Peter Jackson also confirmed he will direct it once he has finished The Hobbit. In December 2011, Spielberg confirmed a sequel to his 3D movie will be made and said the book to adapt had been chosen. He explained the Thompson detectives will "have a much bigger role". This movie will this time be produced by Spielberg and directed by Jackson. Kathleen Kennedy said the script might be done by February or March 2012 with the movie being released either on Christmas 2014 or during the summer 2015.


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