Sony Pictures Digital Productions Names Theater in Honor of Visual Effects and Animation Legend Ray Harryhausen as He Celebrates His 90th Birthday

By Sony Pictures Digital Productions, PRNE
Sunday, June 27, 2010

CULVER CITY, California, June 28, 2010 - On the eve of his 90th birthday, Sony Pictures Digital Productions is
excited to announce the renaming of its 119-seat screening theater after
visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. The honor comes just days after the
British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) paid tribute to the
creative legend in London with a special award feting his contributions to

The Ray Harryhausen Theater will be formally dedicated on Monday, July
12, 2010
, with the unveiling of a sign displaying the theater's new name, a
reception, and the screening of one of Harryhausen's seminal hit films, JASON
AND THE ARGONAUTS. The 1963 classic, originally produced and released by
Columbia Pictures (now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment), has been
lovingly restored to its original splendor by Sony Pictures. The film makes
its debut on Blu-ray Disc on JULY 6 - the fifth Harryhausen Blu-ray title
from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, the most of any filmmaker from the
label. The disc features new commentaries by Harryhausen himself, as well as
Oscar(R)-winning director Peter Jackson, along with film historian Tony
and visual effects expert Randall William Cook, and a new interview
with Harryhausen with filmmaker John Landis.

"It's an incredible honor to have this theater named at the studio I
called home," says Harryhausen. "It means as much to me as my Academy
Award(R) and the BAFTA honor I just received, especially knowing that it is a
working theater where visual effects artists and animators work every day."

The theater, located on the Culver City, Ca. campus of Sony Pictures
Digital Productions, is the screening theater of Sony Pictures Imageworks,
Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Imageworks Interactive. Used on a daily
basis in the creation of modern visual effects and animated features, the
theater represents the living legacy of Harryhausen's lifelong career, as
Sony's artists continue to develop and practice new animation techniques for
bringing fantasy to life, much as the facility's namesake did throughout his

After being inspired by the work of Willis H. O'Brien, the stop-motion
photography pioneer of 1933's KING KONG, Harryhausen eventually found himself
working alongside his mentor for 1949's MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. In the mid-1950s,
he moved on to Columbia Pictures, where he created mind-boggling special
effects for such films as "20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), THE 7TH VOYAGE
OF SINBAD (1958), JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963), and, later, for M-G-M, the
original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). His ingenious skill at seamlessly
blending stop-motion puppetry with live action footage - of, for example, an
unbelievable seven articulated skeletons battling Jason in the 1963 film -
continues to inspire visual effects artists to this day.

In keeping with the innovation Harryhausen continually introduced
throughout his career, the Harryhausen Theater has undergone a significant
state-of-the-art technical upgrade, with capabilities for projecting digital
3D stereoscopic content via Sony's industry-leading 4K CineAlta projector
system and RealD cinema technology, 2D digital content and analog (filmed)
content, along with a modernization of the THX(R)-rated theater's audio
reproduction system for 7.1 Surround sound. In addition, the projection
system is tied directly to the animation and visual effects computer
production infrastructure, enabling direct access to the artists' work in
progress at any time.

But it is the Harryhausen name which will no doubt continue to inspire
Sony's artists as they see the name which has instilled a sense of excitement
for the visual effects and animation crafts for over 60 years - not the least
of which is Sony Pictures Imageworks' own Creative Head, five-time Academy
Award(R)-winner Ken Ralston. Long before working on such films as the
original STAR WARS trilogy and as Visual Effects Supervisor for BACK TO THE
WONDERLAND, Ralston found himself face-to-face with Harryhausen at the age of
14. "I was invited to the house of Forrest J. Ackerman, who did a magazine
called Famous Monsters of Filmland," he recalls. "I was dumbfounded." His
relationship with his mentor is now entering its fifth decade.

After seeing THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD at a young age at a local theater
in Los Angeles, the budding visual effects wiz was mesmerized. "Ray's films
took me to these fantastic worlds, with these incredible creatures and
characters, in a way I had never experienced before. I'd never seen anything
like it, and it really stuck to me."

Ralston and his friends attempted to recreate the magic in their garages
with small puppets and 8 mm cameras, and, over the years, discovered the most
important aspect of Harryhausen's success. "It was his work ethic - how hard
he disciplined himself to do that work. Those films are all Ray. He was all
of it. For the most part, that was one person doing all of the effects work
we see in his films. That's something that's almost impossible for younger
people to understand, where today, it is an army of individuals creating a
single shot."

"What's amazing - and unique - about his work is that he often brought a
sympathetic quality to the creatures, especially during their demise," notes
Grover Crisp, Sony Pictures' Sr. VP, Asset Management, Film Restoration and
Digital Mastering. "It's never just a shock-and-awe thing - he gave them some
feeling and humanity." One of the most respected film archivists and
restoration specialists in the world, it was Crisp and his team who undertook
the meticulous restoration of "Jason and the Argonauts."

Upon entering the newly named theater and seeing Harryhausen's name,
Ralston hopes for one thing for those who use the facility. "As they walk in,
just seeing his name and contemplating for a minute the inspiration he's been
to so many - not just effects people, but filmmakers in general. Ray
Harryhausen has had a global influence. And we're glad he has a home with

For information on JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and SPHE, contact Jason Allen


Sony Pictures Digital Productions is the digital production center of
Sony Pictures Entertainment and comprises, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony
Pictures Imageworks and Imageworks Interactive. Sony Pictures Animation
produces a variety of animated entertainment for audiences around the world.
The studio is following its most recent hit, the mouth-watering 3D comedy
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, with a full slate of feature films. Sony
Pictures Imageworks is a leading, state-of-the-art digital animation and
visual effects studio creating computer-generated (CG) images and animation
for motion pictures through its live action, all CG animation, and 3D
stereoscopic capabilities. Imageworks Interactive is a full service creative
group that produces websites and supports digital marketing for the studio
and outside clients.


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
company. SPE is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of
Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion
picture production and distribution; television production and distribution;
home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network;
digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities;
development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and
distribution of entertainment in more than 140 countries. Sony Pictures
Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at

Don Levy of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, +1-310-840-7315, donlevy at

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