(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
The Polar Express is a 2004 Academy Award nominated feature film based on the children's book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg.
The film, written, produced, and directed by Robert Zemeckis, is entirely live action using performance capture technology, which incorporates the movements of live actors into animated characters. It stars actor Tom Hanks in five distinct roles, including the role of Santa Claus. The film was produced by Castle Rock Entertainment in association with Shangri-La Entertainment, ImageMovers, and Playtone, for Warner Bros. Pictures. Warner Brothers first released the $170 million film in both conventional and IMAX theaters on Wednesday November 10, 2004
 The Story
 Story to film
The film expands a story that can be read in under three minutes into a ninety-nine-minute movie, while remaining true to the visual style of the original. The "Hot Chocolate" production number was derived from a single sentence and a single illustration. The "Hobo," "Lonely Boy," and "Know-it-All" characters, the scenes on rooftops and on the locomotive, and the runaway observation car sequence were all new to the film.
The Polar Express is a story of a young boy on Christmas Eve in the late 1950s who is hoping for belief in the true spirit of Christmas. After he had fallen asleep, a magical train called the Polar Express pulls up in front of his house and he is invited by the train's mysterious conductor to journey to the North Pole.
The boy is handpicked by Santa Claus to receive the first gift of Christmas. Realizing that he could choose anything in the world, the boy asks for one beautiful-sounding silver bell from Santa's sleigh. The boy places the bell in the pocket of his robe and all the children watch as Santa takes off for his yearly delivery.
Later, the boy discovers that the bell has fallen from his pocket. On Christmas morning, his sister finds a small present wrapped under the tree. The boy opens the box and discovers that it is the bell, delivered by Santa who found it on the seat of his sleigh. When the boy rings the bell, both he and his sister marvel at the beautiful sound.
 The Train
The steam locomotive that pulls the Polar Express is modeled after an actual locomotive that is on display at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. The Pere Marquette 1225 Berkshire-type (2-8-4), built in 1941 at the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, OH, was part of the Pere Marquette Railway system before being decommissioned in 1951. Slated for scrapping, it was acquired by Michigan State University (MSU) in 1957 and exhibited on campus.
In 1971, MSU steam enthusiasts commenced the formidable task of restoring the mighty locomotive to operating condition. Restoration was substantially completed in 1985, and in 1988, number 1225 started pulling excursion trains in the Owosso area and around Michigan. The locomotive has been listed on the United States National Register of Historical Places.
In the film, artistic liberty is taken with the appearance of the locomotive and its tender, both being made to seem even more massive than the 794,500 pound (361,136 kilogram) original. Many of the train's sound effects, such as the whistle blowing and steam exhausting, were created from live sampling of number 1225 while in operation.
 The IMAX 3D version
In addition to standard theatrical 35mm format, a 3D version for IMAX was also released, generated from the same 3D digital models used for the standard version. It was the first animated feature not specially made for IMAX to be presented in this format, and the first to open in IMAX 3D at the same time as main flat release. The financial results were stunning. The 3D version out-performed the 2D version by about 14 to 1. The 3D IMAX version was released again for the 2005 Holiday season in 66 IMAX theaters and amazingly made another $7.5 million prior to Christmas. Due to its financial success, the IMAX version was re-released in 2006 as well as 2007, and has become an annual Christmas movie.
 Polar Express Experience
In November 2007, SeaWorld Orlando debuted the Polar Express Experience, a motion simulator based around the movie. The attraction is a temporary replacement for the Wild Arctic attraction. The building housing the attraction was also temporarily re-themed to a railroad station and ride vehicles painted to resemble Polar Express passenger cars. The plot for the ride revolves around a trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Guests feel the motion of the locomotive as well as the swinging of the train on ice and feeling of ice crumbling beneath them. The attraction will be available until 2008-12-01.
The film was released to mixed to generally positive reviews from film critics, while faring better with movie goers. The decision to model the characters so realistically was met with criticism from some reviewers, who felt that the appearances of the characters were "creepy" or "eerie". This is related to the concept of the Uncanny Valley, which holds that the closer something appears to human, the more its dissimilarities may stand out and create a negative reaction in viewers. Unfortunately, "Express" suffered from a serious problem that is known as "dead eye syndrome," where the eyes do not move, making the characters have a deadened, 'soulless' look as a result of inanimate eyes. Though it was not the first film to use motion capture technology, The Polar Express is generally regarded as the first film where the dead-eye syndrome was most noticeable and most distracting. In January 2008, the film had a "Rotten" rating of 56% from selected critics with an average rating of 6.4/10, a "Rotten" rating of 54% from top critics with an average rating of 6.1/10, and a "Certified Fresh" rating of 69% from users on Rotten Tomatoes. However the film also has a 61 out of 100 critic rating and a 7.3 out of 10 user rating on Metacritic, both indicating "generally favorable reviews".
It opened at #2, behind Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles, and brought in $23,323,463 in 3,650 theaters for a per theater average of $6,390 in its opening weekend. Initially, the movie seemed to be headed toward a box office failure after its first week, due to it opening 5 days after The Incredibles and 9 days before Disney's National Treasure and Paramount/Nickelodeon's The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, and facing even more competition in the coming weeks with Columbia/Revolution's Christmas with the Kranks and Paramount/Nickelodeon's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. However, despite the crowded family audience marketplace, it was one of the few films to actually improve its gross in the weeks after its premiere. In fact, by New Year's Day, 2005, The Polar Express ended up grossing nearly $160 million in the United States alone, shocking disbelieving critics. Fully 25% of the world gross came from just 82 IMAX 3D theaters. It has been widely noted, however, that much of this latent revenue was due to its status as the only major motion picture available in the IMAX 3D format. As of December 27, 2007, with the original release and IMAX re-releases, the film has made $178,519,973 domestically, and $124,100,000 overseas for a total worldwide gross of $302,619,973. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Song.
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