If Stuart Little’s status is to be measured by how much it cost to get him, then he’s bigger than Hanks and Cruise put together. Bringing E.B. White’s creation — a well-spoken, spiffy mouse who’s adopted by human parents — to life ate up nearly half of the movie’s reported $90 million budget.
And turning him into a realistic, three-dimensional animated character in a live-action film required not only cutting-edge animatronic technology but also the special touches of director Minkoff, who cohelmed ”The Lion King,” and John Dykstra, the visual-effects supervisor for the original ”Star Wars.” The team modeled Stuart’s humanlike mannerisms on old Charlie Chaplin skits and actor Bill Irwin’s movements. ”It’ll make you say, ‘Wait a minute, how is that possible?”’ promises producer Doug Wick.
Sony also has high hopes: Last year the studio signed licensing deals with Hasbro to develop a line of tie-in toys, and with HarperCollins to publish seven new ”Stuart Little” books in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, there were no trinkets around to help the real-life actors feel closer to their furry cohort. Instead, they built Stuart a mini-RV as a reminder of who the real star was. ”We had to learn how to love space,” says Davis, who often had to kiss the air during her scenes with the mouse. Isn’t that just like a star, to go hide in his trailer when you need him? BUZZ FACTOR: 5
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