The Adventures of Tintin opens in U.S. cinemas today (Dec. 21st) positioned as a family film with the potential to do well at the box office during the Christmas moviegoing season. But the animated film, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, faces a marketing challenge because Tintin, the intrepid reporter of comic book fame, doesn’t have as much name recognition in the U.S. as he does in other countries.
Jamie Bell, who provides the voice of Tintin, maintains he’s not too concerned.
“I don’t even think we’re worried about it, because I think, there was a time when no one knew who some of these other very famous animated characters are,” Bell told me recently. “Shrek comes to mind. Toy Story comes to mind. Lots of the Pixar movies are actually all original movies. I think we have to present this movie in the States as an original movie.”
Bell thinks the film’s U.S. prospects will be helped by the widespread recognition of the talents behind the camera, the household names of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Moviegoers, he says, will think, “Oh, this is one of those great action-adventure films made by the same people who make all those other great action-adventure films.”
Then, he says, “They’ll be into it.”
Although the film is animated, Bell sees his contribution as going well beyond providing just Tintin’s voice. Through performance capture technology the actor very effectively gives Tintin his extremely lifelike body movements and facial expressions.
“Without the actor in this process, Tintin as a character does not move. He doesn’t think. He doesn’t feel. He does nothing. He’s a lifeless digital puppet. The actor is providing everything,” he says.
With Christmas moviegoers having numerous family films vying for their attention, Bell sees Tintin as a good choice: “I consider him a beacon of excellence for children. I think his moral compass is pointing in the right direction. I think he relies on nothing other than who he is to be great. He doesn’t rely on a superpower or some kind of technology to make him great. It’s his own fearless, heroic instinct that makes him a hero. That’s a great character.”