Sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending benefits from UK talent and facilities

Starting today, US and UK audiences will be able to see Jupiter Ascending, the latest mind-warping sci-fi from the Wachowski siblings, creators of The Matrix and 2012′s Glasgow-shot Cloud Atlas. The action-fantasy follows Mila Kunis’ Jupiter, a Chicago housemaid who discovers that she is the heiress to an extraterrestrial empire. Featuring a host of UK talent, stunning locations and breathtaking VFX, Jupiter Ascending is an interplanetary epic created in the UK.

The production based itself at Hertfordshire’s Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden (WBSL), less than an hour from Central London and home to countless major productions including the Harry Potter series, Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Pan (Warner Bros). Offering productions over 250,000 sq. ft of production space across 10 stages, WBSL provided the perfect environment for the Wachowskis to create the imposing fantasy world found in Jupiter Ascending. Beyond production space, WBSL also offers productions an 100 acre backlot, expansive construction workshops and Europe’s largest stage-based underwater tank, allowing even the most ambitious projects to be realised onsite.

Locations for any occasion

Jupiter Ascending’s portrayal of alien royalty called for several grand settings to double as otherworldly palaces, and the UK was more than able to deliver. Amongst the numerous London locations used by the production was the Natural History Museum, which provided the perfect setting with its ornate carvings, high arched ceilings and grand pillars. Beyond London, the gothic architecture of Cambridgeshire’s stunning Ely Cathedral provided a ready-made set for the larger than life production.

Alongside Kunis, the production features a host of UK acting talent, with Jupiter’s villainous rivals to the throne portrayed by Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne, Tuppence Middleton and the up-and-coming Douglas Booth. Fighting Jupiter’s corner is space Marshall Stinger Apini, played by veteran UK actor Sean Bean. Bean is a familiar face to international audiences, not least through his role as Ned Stark in HBO’s Belfast-based Game of Thrones.

Sky’s the limit with UK VFX

Perhaps the most immediately eye-catching element of Jupiter Ascending is the immersive VFX, with futuristic battle scenes and grandiose spaceship settings rendered in amazingly lifelike detail. The film’s visual effects are the result of numerous VFX houses’ efforts, with Brit Dan Glass serving as the film’s primary VFX Supervisor. Double Negative’s award-winning London facility also worked on the project, with David Vickery, a BAFTA winner for his work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.), heading up their efforts.

Double Negative wasn’t the only award-winning London-based VFX facility to contribute to the film’s spectacular visuals, with two-time Oscar-winners Framestore also showcasing their talent, along with leading boutique VFX outfit BlueBolt, recently nominated for a prestigious VES Award.

Jupiter Ascending will be far from the only title to benefit from the UK’s industry-leading visual effects talents in 2015. Warner Bros.’ sci-fi thriller Geostorm will carry out its VFX work in the UK despite shooting overseas, a model made possible by the UK’s recently enhanced Film Tax Relief, which allows productions the flexibility to carry out VFX and post in the UK, even if storylines necessitate an overseas shoot. With the newly opened ILM London working on Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and LucasFilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Nvisible on Lionsgate Television/E-Entertainment’s debut scripted drama The Royals and Peerless, One of US and Nvisible working on Halo: Nightfall (Microsoft), UK VFX talent will be breaking boundaries and entertaining film and television audiences for some time to come.