Jar Jar Binks Frozen In Carbonite (And Other Things You Might See While Touring ILM)

How does anyone working in this building ever get anything done?

This weekend, I flew up to San Francisco to take part in an Ant-Man-related event taking place at ILM. While I'm strictly embargoed from getting into that until next week (look for a post Monday afternoon!), I have been given the go-ahead to share some pictures I took after the event, when we were given a tour of ILM headquarters. I'm going to preface all of the following by saying this: the sheer amount of film history we were exposed to on this tour was overwhelming, and the ~30 photos I snagged before my phone died doesn't nearly do the experience justice. If you're ever given the opportunity to poke around the complex of buildings that make up ILM, I strongly recommend you take it.

Let's get started.

Above: a look at the fountain outside ILM's main lobby. As you can see, Yoda's perched up top.

Below: a better look at the li'lest Jedi master.

Moving inside: the ILM lobby was enormous (I've lived in apartments that would fit comfortably inside its four walls). On the far side of the room, across from the receptionist's desk, was a long row of bookshelves interspersed with full-size Star Wars statues. 

The bookshelves themselves were filled with all kinds of things: film history stuff, Star Wars books, art collections and the like. One case was devoted entirely to awards that ILM's racked up over the years (including a heavily-coveted MTV Movie Award; you can see the Golden Popcorn bucket towards the middle of the following photo) and busts of several Star Wars characters. Alongside these were prop replicas, like Han Solo's blaster (that's it up top), the Thermal detonator from Return Of The Jedi, and Darth Maul's dual-ended lightsaber. 

Remember: this is just the lobby.

The centerpiece of the room was this statue of Willis H. O'Brien, a legend in the world of special effects. As that statue indicates, he's the guy responsible for the stop-motion animation that brought 1933's King Kong to life, but O'Brien's also remembered for his work on the original The Lost World (1925) and 1949's Mighty Joe Young

Inside the lobby and spreading into the adjacent hallways were a number of enormous, original film posters (all of them from other countries). The following photos really don't get across the size of these things; I'm guessing they were roughly 6x4', just massive. Weigh either of these against modern-day poster design and weep in the face of what Photoshop hath wrought.

We were ushered down this hallway and into another room, where pure sensory overload awaited. All the way around, the area was filled with memorabilia - props, maquettes, posters, statues, you name it - from Marvel movies, the Star Wars franchise, random Spielberg joints...it was bananas. Alongside one wall was the actual "Han Solo frozen in carbonite" statue/prop from Return Of The Jedi, propped up between display cases. To its left was a doorway, and beyond that: an unexpected sight gag - Jar Jar Binks frozen in carbonite. 

Well played, ILM.

Across the room, C-3PO and R2-D2 were kicking it with Yoda...

...while an Iron Man maquette stood sentinel over an ILM fax machine.

To the left of Iron Man were a row of facecasts from Steven Spielberg's Hook. The floating Robin Williams face on the wall was...well, let's be frank: it was kinda ghoulish. Cool, yes. But a little ghoulish. 

Leading off of this room was another long hallway that led to another part of the building, which was our next destination. The wall was filled with one-sheets for every film ILM's ever worked on, which resulted in a few juxtapositions: Howard The Duck was rubbing elbows with Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, while-- further along the wall-- Hudson Hawk and Baby's Day Out jostled for wallspace with The Empire Strikes Back and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

The next hallway was filled with enormous matte paintings, many of which were far too big to capture well with an iPhone. The only one I got a decent photo of is this desert-set piece for Oliver Stone's The Doors

We next came across the Blue Fairy from Spielberg's A.I., which (sorry, A.I. haters) was a particular highlight for me, and then rounded the corner to find ourselves face-to-face with an old editing bay, which was just chilling in the small waiting area outside a bank of elevators (you can see a giant still from Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 hung on the wall behind it).

We continued through the building, passing an enormous model of the house from A Series Of Unfortunate Events and the space shuttle from Deep Impact, before arriving in a long corridor filled with small models: a tiny, destroyed Explorer from Jurassic Park, a Curious George or two, and so on. This led into one final area, which had quite a bit of Ghostbusters ephemera on display. There were several Slimer models (some of them partially dissected, so that viewers could gawk at their complicated insides), two enormous Scollari Brothers puppets, and the actual Viggo The Carpathian painting from Ghostbusters 2

The real crown jewel in that room, however, had to be this puppet from E.T. I could not believe I was standing in front of this thing. Emotions seemed to run high for everyone who approached it.

Again, this is just a fraction of the stuff that we got a look at during our tour of ILM, but we figured you guys would appreciate a look at it. Many thanks to the folks at Disney/Marvel and ILM for hosting us on this escapade: this was dream come true stuff, folks.

Keep your eyes peeled on Monday for that Ant-Man post. I've got good news to share.