If you’ve read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, you know one of the biggest challenges for writer-director Gavin Hood was bringing the Battle Room to life.
When Ender (Asa Butterfield) is recruited by the International Fleet, he’s sent into space to Battle School to learn how to defend the planet against the Formics, an alien race that nearly decimated humanity and is expected to return. While there are classes in Battle School, the central element of the curriculum is actually a game.
While on the film’s NASA Michoud Assembly Facility set in New Orleans, producer Linda McDonough explained, “They have two different ‘gates.’ They accumulate points by hitting each other with these lasers. The lasers don’t injure you; they freeze parts of your suit. But if either team is able to get a man through the other team’s gate, they completely win the battle.” Now just picture all of that in a zero-gravity environment.
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How do you make a movie set in the future about a six-year-old recruited by the military to wipe out an invading alien race? If the answer were simple, perhaps Ender’s Game would have been adapted to film far sooner. Orson Scott Card’s novel was first published back in 1985, after which the rights sat at Warner Bros. for 12 years, the film never making it past the development stage. Finally, the rights lapsed and Linda McDonough and her producing team snatched them up to make the movie their way — independently. As she proudly points out, “We think we may be the largest independently financed film ever put together.”
Directed by Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game features a young boy named Ender (Asa Butterfield) who’s plucked from his family on Earth and shipped off to Battle School to train with the International Fleet (IF) in the hopes that he’ll be able to save the human race from the alien Formics by using their own colony, Eros, as a vantage point.
If you were keeping track, that makes three key locations — Earth, Battle School, and Eros. Even though Ender’s Game isn’t some $200 million mega budget project, the filmmakers were still hell-bent on creating fully realized versions of each realm, down to the tiniest detail.
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While the widespread success of young adult book-to-film adaptations like The Twilight Saga, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games does facilitate some serious potential for a big-screen version of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, it also comes with the added pressure of ensuring that the Ender’s Game movie stands out.
Just ahead of the Ender’s Game San Diego Comic-Con panel in Hall H, writer-director Gavin Hood sat down to discuss making his mark in the YA-to-film realm and the challenge of doing the beloved book justice, but also noted one specific directorial decision that he hopes will help put the audience in Ender’s head.
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Take a Virtual Tour Through the ‘Ender’s Game’ Fan Experience at Comic-Con
Bummed you didn’t get to check out Battle School on the Ender’s Game set first hand? We’ve got you covered. Disappointed you didn’t make it out to San Diego for Comic-Con this year? We’ve still got you covered because not only did Movies.com get a preview of theEnder’s Game Fan Experience, but we’ve also got a video walkthrough of the facility so you can check out some of the set pieces, props and costumes for yourself.
The setup consisted of various rooms all made up of actual items used in the film. First stop, the Wiggin home on Earth, which closely resembles your average living room, adorned with throw pillows, books and family photos. From there it’s into the spaceship that transports young Ender from Earth to Battle School in space, and then it’s off to the Battle School itself, first for a peek at the dormitory setup and then into a classroom setting, appropriately featuring some encouraging words from Harrison Ford’s Colonel Graff.
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