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Will Smith explains what it takes to get people off their couches and into the movie theater

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee is known for his diverse range of work, including films like “Sense and Sensibility,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Life of Pi.”

His latest movie, “Gemini Man,” which hits theaters Oct. 11, taps into the appeal of Will Smith — hoping two versions of him will be enough of an attraction to make the movie a blockbuster hit.

Smith plays two characters in “Gemini Man”: Henry Brogan, a middle-aged government assassin and Junior, his younger clone who is trying to kill his older self. Junior is a two-year-long collaborative effort of stuntmen, Smith’s performance capture, and most importantly the computer-generated work of effects house Weta Digital, according to TechCrunch.

“What is great about what Ang is trying to do with this film is give people a reason to go to the movie theater for an experience that your big screen television at home can’t give you,” Smith said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Lee shot the movie in 3D, at 120 frames per second, which makes the film that much sharper and clearer, giving less wiggle room for things to look fake and touched up. “You see through people like light. With that requirement, I just don’t think something that erases age will do. You have to create it from zero,” Lee said at TechCrunch Disrupt.

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 27: Ang Lee attends the Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films "Gemini Man" Post-Screening Q&A with Ang Lee at Cinema Pathe Beaugrenelle on September 27, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

“Over the last few years...home systems have been getting so good and television is so good that there’s a certain level of experience you can get in your house. [‘Gemini Man’] is a little bit more immersive of an experience. You’re experiencing it a lot more how your eye experiences the world. And then beyond that point, the creation of a 100% photorealistic digital human. So what can you do with that? That is an avatar now that will exist forever long beyond when I’m here. People will be able to make movies with a 23-year-old version of me. Hopefully my grandchildren will sue them. At the end of the day it all comes down to storytelling. [Things like VR are other tools] for artists to be able to reach the human soul with joy and wisdom,” Smith added.

Movie ticket revenue in the U.S. increased 8% between 2017 and 2018, showing that despite all the existing and (soon to be coming) streaming platforms available, Americans still love going to the movies. The now defunct Moviepass actually incited others to take a page from the subscription model playbook. AMC (AMC), Regal (CINE.L) and Cinemark (CNK) all have their own monthly services. Of course, a handful of movies — typically superhero hits — make the lion’s share of theater revenue.

In addition to his ongoing blockbuster films, Smith has a diverse career, having founded a digital production studio called Westbrook Media and having co-founded Dreamers, an early-stage VC firm.

Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. She also hosts Breakouts, an interview series featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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