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The Incredible Way Pixels Brought Donkey Kong To Life

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If you to to see Adam Sandler fight aliens disguised as video games in the new movie Pixels, there’s one scene that will probably impress you — the movie’s climactic final battle, where Sandler, Kevin James and Michelle Monaghan take down Donkey Kong. And part of what makes it so cool is that while the 8-bit barrels and monsters are CGI, the actual set isn’t

“There is a temptation, because as a director you have a toolbox of CGI tools,” director Chris Columbus told MTV News. “For me, it was exciting to actually build the Donkey Kong set. When you saw that set on stage, it was spectacular. It was full sized — the actors were 100 feet in the air on harnesses, jumping and doing physical stunts.”

“Combining that with the CGI of it all was really exciting for me. It’s a hands-on approach that feels like a throwback to something like the original Jurassic Park. I really fell in love with that approach,” he added. And it definitely shows, as you can see in the trailer:

 

Not that it wasn’t a challenge for the actors on set, of course. “The only challenge I felt [doing Pixels] was the Donkey Kong scene,’” Michelle Monaghan said. “All that CGI, and pretending there’s a Donkey Kong 50 feet away and that there are flaming barrels coming at us.”
“That was pretty rough,” Adam Sandler agreed. “You felt your age having to jump over a fake barrel.”

Still, it paid off as one of the highlights of the movie—which is surprising when you consider that Nintendo almost didn’t allow for Donkey Kong to appear in the film at all. Speaking to WIRED, Columbus admitted, “After months and months of meeting with the board of Nintendo they agreed that we were going to treat Donkey Kong with respect and the proper gameplay, which was very important, and bringing Donkey Kong into the film was a slam-dunk for us.”

Speaking of slam-dunks, let’s hope the Pixels crew didn’t have to break that enormous set down yet—it would make for an AWESOME theme park attraction. Who doesn’t want to run up and down a real life Donkey Kong level?

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“Pixels” is in theaters today, July 24.

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