How Long Before We Completely Replace Physical Actors & Actresses With CGI?

Film has been a constantly evolving platform. I’ve been fortunate to witness some of that evolution over the last thirty plus years. When I was young, terms like weren’t thrown around. Films utilized practical effects, puppetry and mini set explosions to wow the audience. As CGI has grown into a constant staple in film, it has always begged the question, “When will actors and actresses be replaced by CGI as well?”

Predator 1987

Predator 1987

In 1987 I witnessed a film by the name of It Starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers among others. It was an instant classic, utilizing stage and practical effects with very minimal CGI.

At this time in our movie going experiences no one cared about far fetched computer generated effects, we just wanted to see our toughest heroes go toe to toe with the toughest villains.

Movies have of course changed a lot since 1987, but a film that released 2001 named ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ challenged the need for having physical actors and actresses on set.

FF: The Spirits Within

FF: The Spirits Within

was one of the first movies released that comprised itself completely of CGI and voice actors. When the film hit theaters, many thought it signified the dawn of the age of actor-less movies. Though that turned out not much the case, I do believe it helped push forward the age of making CGI prominent in film.

This idea also opened door in the world of gaming:

Uncharted

Uncharted

Blockbuster movie games like have emerged and rivaled the likes of films. Games like uncharted continue to push the idea that a movie could quite possibly be fun and engaging even without a physical acting presence.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Tatooine
Tatooine

And of course we were blessed with George Lucas’s CGI smorgasbord ‘The Phantom Menace,’ which pushed computer generated imagery to the next level and beyond. Lucas took this idea almost to the point that you wonder why he even bothered using physical actors.

Modern movies continue to push the boundaries of CGI usage:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The continued and advancing usage of CGI truly begs the question, “When will actors be replaced, if ever?” I personally enjoy seeing physical characters on screen. But I tend to wonder what will happen when a major studio is presented with the idea of making a billion dollar blockbuster film on a budget of an indie film. What would be the perks of a studio paying major stars 20-30million, when they could make an entire movie for that cost. My only problem with this, is how would you then separate a feature film from an animated film..?