If you're "TRON" geeks like we are and you're all atwitter about the upcoming "TRON: Legacy," here's a list of fascinating facts and choice movie lines from the groundbreaking 1982 Disney original, "TRON." Zoom through it.
TRON Trivia and Movie Quotes
From Pong to "TRON"
"TRON" is the silver screen convergence of video games, computer-generated visuals, backlit animation and live-action footage conceived by animator Steven Lisberger in 1976."That [MAGI/Synthavision] reel of computer-generated imagery impressed me terrifically with the computer's capabilities. Shortly after that, Atari came out with the first video game, called PONG, and I put the two ideas together."—Steven Lisberger, "TRON" Screenwriter and Director
TRON ("TRace ON") is a BASIC programming language debugging command. Lisberger admits, however, that he had no prior knowledge of the BASIC command — he took TRON from the word electronics.
In effort to produce storyboards for "TRON," Lisberger and producer Donald Kushner borrowed against future profits of "Animalympics," a 90-minute animated television special aired on NBC. The pair originally conceived "TRON" as an animated film with live-action sequence book ends. They were turned down by Warner Bros., MGM and Columbia before they took the storyboards and CGI film samples to Disney.Disney executives agreed to back the film after funding and being impressed by a test reel highlighting a mix of live-action footage with back-lit animation and computer generated visuals.
Kushner and his group felt a less than warm welcome at Disney claiming, "We tackled the nerve center — the animation department. They saw us as the germ from outside. We tried to enlist several Disney animators but none came. Disney is a closed group."Many Disney animators refused to work on "TRON" because they feared that computers would put them out of business. In fact, Disney did close its hand-drawn animation studio, but not until 22 years later.One imagineer credits early previews of "TRON" for allowing him to see the huge potential of computer generated imagery. That imagineer was John Lasseter, who later helped set the industry standard for CGI/VFX at Lucasfilm/Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and has since returned to Disney, now serving as CEO of Pixar and Disney Animation. Hand-drawn animation was ultimately resumed at Disney at his behest.
"TRON" was the first live-action film to use computer-generated imagery to any large degree. The film has over 800 shots in which the actors are put into computer-generated environments.At the time, computers could only generate static images, so the coordinates for each image, such as a lightcycle, had to be entered for each individual frame to simulate motion. For every four seconds of film, it took 600 coordinates, each entered by hand.
Cheated by Oscar
"TRON" was refused an Academy Award VFX nomination because members felt the film "cheated" by using computer-generated animation. James Cameron's "The Abyss" won the Best Visual Effects Oscar for the same kind of technology seven years later."TRON" did receive Oscar nods for Best Costume Design and Best Sound, but lost out to "Ghandi" and "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," respectively.
On July 9, 1982, "TRON" opened in 1,091 theaters and grossed $4.8 million its opening weekend. It went on to make $33 million in North America — a modest success against its $17 million budget.
Several international and DVD releases of "TRON" include a prologue, which sets the stage for war between real world and computer world before the full opening credits sequence.Prologue"This is the story of two worlds and the beings that inhabit them. One of these is our world. The one we can see and feel. The world of the 'users.' It lies on our side of the video screen. The other, an electronic micro civilization, lives and breathes just beyond our grasp. This is the world of the programs. Because we, the users, have created this new world, part of us lives there too. On the other side of the screen."
Flynn's Arcade movie location is the historic Hull Building at the Northwest corner of Washington Blvd. and Watseka Ave. in Culver City, Calif.Google Location Map
At the heart of the movie's storyline is protagonist Kevin Flynn's (Jeff Bridges) video game Space Paranoids, which has been hijacked by villainous programmer Ed Dillinger, who has risen to success at ENCOM by passing Flynn's creations off as his own.Dillinger's own inventions, Master Control Program and its chief lieutenant Sark, have taken control over all other users' programs, including Tron, a watchdog program written by user Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner).Upon hacking into ENCOM's mainframe to secure evidence of his inventions, Flynn is transported to its virtual world and is forced fight MCP to restore the power balance and for his own release back to the real world.
Disney's head of production Thomas L. Wilhite said the studio green-lighted the project not only because of its technological innovations, but because of its use of technology to tell its story, insisting that it would call forth "a new mythology" of characters. Wilhite explained, "We invested $20 million in our belief that the characters in this computer world, invented by man in his own image, would appeal to people."
Memorable Movie Quote"Well, it's called Tron. It's a security program itself, actually. It monitors all contacts between our system and other systems. It finds anything going on that's not scheduled, it shuts it down."— Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner)
The name of Kevin Flynn's program Clu is a nod to computer programming language CLU, developed by MIT Professor Barbara Liskov and her students.
The name of Bruce Boxleitner's character, Alan Bradley, is a nod to Allen-Bradley, an industrial automation manufacturing product line by Rockwell Automation.
ENCOM co-founder Dr. Walter Gibbs (Barnard Hughes) started in his garage just like Walt Disney did in real life.Memorable Movie QuoteEd Dillinger (David Warner): "ENCOM isn't the business you started in your garage anymore. We're billing accounts in thirty different countries; new defense systems; we have one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment in existence."Dr. Walter Gibbs: "Oh, I know all that. Sometimes I wish I were back in my garage."Ed Dillinger: "That can be arranged, Walter."Dr. Walter Gibbs: "That was uncalled for! You know, you can remove men like Alan and me from the system, but we helped create it! And our spirit remains in every program we design for this computer!"Ed Dillinger: "Walter, it's getting late. I've got better things to do than to have religious discussions with you. Don't worry about ENCOM anymore; it's out of your hands now."
Something from Nothing
Memorable Movie QuoteDr. Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan): "Well, here goes nothing."Dr. Walter Gibbs (Barnard Hughes): "Interesting! Interesting! You hear what you just said? 'Here goes nothing.'"Dr. Lora Baines: "Well, I meant..."Dr. Walter Gibbs: "See, what we plan to do is to turn something into nothing, and back again. So you might just as well have said 'Here goes something, here comes nothing!' Hah?"Dr. Lora Baines: "Right."
Pac Man Cameo
Video arcade games were at the height of their popularity in the early '80s, grossing between $8 and $9 billion a year, three times the roughly $3 billion a year for all the movies shown in theaters. Pac-Man was the most popular video game of the time and Disney had licensed its distributors, Bally-Midway, to install $50 million worth of TRON video games in arcades across the country.
The arcade video game was a huge success and out-grossed the film's box office. TRON was also named 1982 Coin-Operated Game of the Year by Electronic Games Magazine. The game consists of four movie-inspired segments, each with 12 levels of difficulty, including I/O Tower, MCP Cone, Battle Tanks and Light Cycles challenges.Video Games and SequelsTron (arcade game) (1982)Tron: Deadly Discs (1982)Tron: Solar Sailer (1982)Adventures of Tron (1982)Discs of Tron (1983)Tron 2.0 (2003)Space Paranoids (2009)Tron: Evolution (2010)
The graphics in Kevin Flynn's Space Paranoids game bear a striking resemblance to 3D graphics game engines, which would not come along for another 12 years.Space Paranoids itself became a reality in 2009. Designed by 42 Entertainment to mimic the look and feel of the game in "TRON," it was released at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con International.
Video Games on Set
The set was full of video games and actors were encouraged to play them for inspiration between shoots. Jeff Bridges was reportedly the best gamer on set, but several cast members admitted to having difficulty tearing themselves away from the game play.Memorable Movie Quote"On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy."— Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges)
Hidden Mickey Mouse
Disney films, theme parks and other products oft contain a Mickey Mouse hidden by its imagineers, and "TRON" is no exception. In the scene where Flynn, Tron and Yori escape from the game grid, they fly over a silhouette of Disney's house mouse in their solar sailer.Hidden Mickeys
Memorable Movie Quote"I knew you'd escape. They haven't built a circuit that could hold you."— Yori (Cindy Morgan)
Klaatu Barada Nikto
The sign in Alan Bradley's cubicle pays homage to the 1951 science fiction thriller "The Day the Earth Stood Still."Memorable Movie Quote"There's no limit to what he can do. He could destroy the earth... If anything should happen to me you must go to Gort, you must say these words, 'Klaatu barada nikto.' Please repeat that."— Klaatu, "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
Dr. Walter Gibbs' guardian program that helps Tron connect to his user at the ENCOM I/O toweris named after Allen B. DuMont, an inventor best known for perfecting the cathode ray tube for television. DuMont's Model 180 receiver was the first all-electronic television sold to the public in 1938.
The Computer Age
Memorable Movie Quote"Yes I'm old. Old enough to remember when the MCP was just a chess program!"— Dumont (Barnard Hughes)
Inside lab scenes were filmed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The laser bay in the film was the actual 20-beam shiva laser bay used for nuclear fusion research in the late '70s and early '80s. It was capable of delivering up to 28 trillion watts of power on target.Google Location Map
During exterior shoots at ENCOM, Cindy Morgan had to have her shoes decontaminated after stepping in radioactive spillage.
Off the Grid
During filming, Walt Disney Studios blew part of the Burbank, Calif. power grid. The "TRON" outage was so significant, it warranted a call to the studio from officials at the power company who wondered what they were up to.
The deleted love scene between Tron and Yori is the most visually stimulating and sexually suggestive of the film. Lisberger has said he regrets deleting the scene — it was cut so late in the post-production process that all effects and music were complete. Yori's intimate attire makes it the only virtual world scene in which a program can be seen wearing something other than a light suit and helmet.
Costume designers were forced to use concealing methods on Jeff Bridges' in-world light suit when his manhood proved too conspicuous for Disney's family-friendly sensibilities.Incidentally, the production of "TRON" and a handful of other PG-rated Disney flicks, including family sci-fi adventure "The Black Hole," led then studio head Ron Miller to create Touchstone Pictures as a brand for Disney's more adult-oriented films. "Splash" (1984) was the first film released under the Touchstone label.
Can't Touch This
Peter O'Toole ("Lawrence of Arabia," "Macbeth") may have been considered for the role of Dillinger/Sark, but he was interested in playing Tron. He is rumored to have passed on the film altogether upon arrival to a set that had few tangible props and learned that most of his acting would be done against a black screen with backgrounds to be added digitally after filming.
Don't Call Me
Deborah Harry of Blondie was among the actresses who tested for the role of Lora/Yori that ultimately went to Cindy Morgan ("Caddyshack.")
World of Motion
The computer simulated landscape in "TRON" was used in General Motors's "World Of Motion" ride at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, which is well known for educating its audience by demonstrating the present through a tour of the past and providing a glimpse into the future.World of Motion Tour "It's Fun to be Free"Ideas that will propel our age old dream to be free. Free in mind, free in spirit, free to follow the distant star of our ancestors to a brighter tomorrow.
Memorable Movie Quote"End of line."— Master Control Program
Directed by Steven LisbergerWritten by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBirdProduced by Donald KushnerCastKevin Flynn/Clu — Jeff BridgesEd Dillinger/Sark/MCP — David WarnerAlan Bradley/Tron — Bruce BoxleitnerLora Baine/Yori — Cindy MorganDr. Walter Gibbs/Dumont — Barnard HughesPopcorn Co-Worker/Ram — Dan ShorPeter Jurasik — Crom
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