One of the world's most beloved characters is back on the big screen as a new chapter in the Spider-Man legacy is revealed in 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Focusing on an untold story that tells a different side of the Peter Parker story, the new film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb. Screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves. The film will open in theaters everywhere in 3D on June 29, 2012. So here are a few production secrets behind this mammoth blockbuster that you surely didn't know.
The film’s exteriors were largely shot on the New York street sets at Universal Studios as the first film to shoot there following the set’s extensive rebuild following a devastating fire in 2008. “Luckily, the set became available for us to use for several weeks of filming at just the right time,” says executive producer Michael Grillo. “Our production designer, J. Michael Riva, and his team created this world of New York City for us, so we could do stunts and physical effects, maintaining a control over explosions and crashes that are obviously much more effectively achieved than on practical locations,” he adds.
Universal’s new New York Street set could not represent the city authentically without the addition of years of big-city wear-and-tear to the area. Over 2,000 posts, bills and stickers were placed on light poles, mailboxes and alleyways as well as on the eight construction sites added by the production. Discarded gum lent additional realism to the faux detritus placed throughout the several city blocks, and fake pigeons were installed on a lamppost above the street. The production used over 5,000 yards of fabric, 300 venetian blinds and other materials, as well as 300 air conditioning units to dress the more than 1,454 bare windows. Eighteen set dressers worked for weeks in order to install the storefronts, art galleries, restaurants, mailboxes, newsstands and cafes on the streets. Many leading retailers teamed up with the production, loaning them materials to be used in creating the New York street scenes. These stores included Starbucks, DKNY, Manolo Blahnik, Design Within Reach, Brioni, Hugo Boss, Sephora, Patagonia, Dean & Deluca, Banana Republic, Tory Burch, and Bed, Bath & Beyond, whose window was shattered and merchandise destroyed during a particularly intense action scene.
“The construction department built a full-scale, three hundred foot section of the bridge so that our department could prepare for a complex sequence involving a raging reptile and several unfortunate cars,” explains Academy Award winner John Frazier, the film’s special effects supervisor. “The Lizard is on a rampage on the bridge, chasing a character in a limousine, and he is swatting vehicles off of the bridge into the East River when Spider-Man arrives on scene to attempt a daring rescue. Our job was to choreograph and set up all of the mechanics of ‘tossing’ the cars by using car flippers – high pressure nitrogen floor jacks – so we could flip six cars while avoiding damage to the surrounding cars,” adds Frazier
Director Mark Webb’s vision also applied to how Spiderman would move – and it would be different from what audiences might be familiar with. “What was really important to Marc was that the movement was natural and physical, in the sense that a real person could do it. Because of that, there’s a physicality of Spider-Man in the way he responds to gravity,” says Jerome Chen, VFX supervisor. “Andy Armstrong’s stunt team worked hard on suspending Spider-Man from the right geometry of wires that allowed him to swing in the correct way. We were able to mimic that – we looked at what gravity did to the real stuntmen, and then simply enhanced it to give it a bigger scope,” adds Chen. For example, the chase sequence that takes place under the elevated portion of Riverside Drive showcases the marriage between practical stunts and visual effects. Armstrong’s team started the process with practical stunt work. “We integrated that with CG for wider shots, simply because the mechanics of the truss work didn’t extend far enough. We had great reference from the real movement,” says Chen. Similarly, Chen’s team provided CG animation on the Williamsburg Bridge sequence where practical effects were not the best solution: creating the Lizard, of course, but also some blue screen work and a CG Spider-Man when needed.
Costume designer Kym Barrett studied the lightweight, stretchy materials used by Winter Olympics athletes and bicycle racers, among other fabrics, in order to create a Spider-Man suit which allowed for the special acrobatics Spider-Man employs as he swings though Manhattan
The costume designers also kept in mind that the film would be shot in 3D, and the designers looked for ways to incorporate texture that would enhance the suit for 3D audiences. “We found that we could print shadows on the fabric of the suit, and that gives the suit real density and depth on the screen,” explains costume designer Kym Barrett.
Lenses for Spider-Man’s mask were made by a manufacturing company that creates sunglass lenses for the military and for NASA. Coated to reduce reflection, the lenses feature a blue-tinted optical lens with a gold hexagon mirrored pattern printed on top.
The OsCorp Lab set used in the film is one of the largest sets built for the film, took over three months to build. Constructed on Sony’s Stage 30 in Culver City, CA, its massive footprint occupied over 14,000 square feet of stage floor. The ceiling of the OsCorp Lab hallway is actually egg crate soundproofing foam. A three-man team spent three weeks custom cutting, gluing and fireproofing the 3,000 square foot ceiling.
The reptile skeletons and other macabre accessories seen in Connors’ OsCorp Lab offices come from two aptly named Los Angeles shops: Necromance and Dapper Cadaver.
The “mice” seen in the OsCorp Lab are actually cat toys. There are approximately 200 of them, and crew members had to remove the ears of each mouse, which were a very un-lifelike fluorescent pink!