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Kevin Spacey Plays A Part-CGI Cat in the French Film ‘Nine Lives’

If you’ve been keeping up with film trailers in the past week, chances are you’ve seen some of the commentary about Nine Lives, the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed movie that stars Kevin Spacey as a “daredevil billionaire” trapped in the body of a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants:

Produced by French company Europacorp, it’s part of a continued effort by European producers to make “American-style” English films that play across global markets. One of the most successful examples of this trend, so far, has been Studiocanal’s family film, Paddington, which grossed nearly $260 million worldwide.

Much of the recent discussion about Nine Lives has been centered around how ridiculous and awful it looks — fair points, of course — but we feel it deserves a mention on Cartoon Brew because it’s a movie that uses animation to bring to life its main star. According to this USA Today piece, about 20% of Mr. Fuzzypants’ scenes use animation, while the rest of his performance is portrayed by a rotating group of five Siberian cats.

Method Studios, which contributes vfx to plenty of high-profile Hollywood blockusters like San Andreas, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Iron Man 3, is responsible for the animation and visual effects. The visual effects talent runs deep on the movie: Nine Lives’ visual effects supervisors are Craig Hayes and Erik-Jan de Boer.

Hayes is an industry veteran who spent many years at Tippett Studios, and whose credits include RoboCop, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Hollow Man, and The Matrix Revolutions. Erik-Jan De Boer won an Oscar and BAFTA for his animation direction of the tiger, Richard Parker, in Life of Pi. De Boer has the perfect resume for animating a photorealistic animal, having worked in a supervisory capacity at Rhythm & Hues on CG animal-starring films like Stuart Little, Scooby-Doo, Cats & Dogs, and Babe: Pig in the City.

Nine Lives opens in the United States on August 5, 2016, one week before Disney releases its live-action/CG reboot of Pete’s Dragon.