Helmed by director Jon Favreau of ‘Iron Man’ fame, the 2005 movie ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ stars outstanding talents like Josh Hutcherson and Kristen Stewart. Based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book ‘Zathura,’ the movie is a part of the ‘Jumanji’ franchise. The film follows the ‘Jumanji’ trope of finding a lost board game, only this time, instead of a jungle, the setting is space. The science-fiction adventure film revolves around brothers Walter and Danny Budwing, who find the Zathura board game in their basement.
Upon playing it, the game immediately opens a portal into space. Accompanying them on their adventures are their sister Lisa and an astronaut. As the film progresses, the game gets increasingly dangerous, resulting in a nail-biting climax where the children face up against the forces of the game. With the sci-fi movie showcasing a lot of prop use and special effects, fans are left wondering where this brilliant movie was filmed. Well, we come bearing answers!
Zathura: A Space Adventure Filming Locations
As ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ is set mainly in space, much of the filming was done in a studio. Shot in August 2004, the crew used a couple of studios as well as locations in and around California to fulfill the production requirements. So let’s look at the exact locations where the movie was shot, shall we?
The few exterior scenes of the Budwing house were shot at 216 Oaklawn Avenue in South Pasadena, California. Apart from shooting on location, the house also had to go through several modifications as per the script. Unable to modify the actual house in that manner, the crew constructed a smaller version that they then molded and modded accordingly. Interestingly, the same house was later used to film scenes for the 2007 movie ‘Disturbia.’
Culver City, California
The Sony Pictures Studio at 10202 W. Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California, served as a host to the crew and helped film several scenes requiring special effects. Furthermore, instead of using the actual house as a filming location, the crew reconstructed the interior of the Budwing house on stage 30 of the studio. When filming in the studio, the crew decided to opt for a hands-on approach and even customized most of the alien and Robot suits needed for the movie.
— Sony Imageworks (@imageworksvfx) March 24, 2015
Special effects like gravitational shifts were also created in the production facility with actors strapped on and the studio stage tilted while on a gimbal. Although such scenes were risky and challenging to shoot, the director was able to achieve the precise shots that he wanted this way. However, some special effects, including the design of certain alien ships and armaments, were brought to life through CGI. Later, the studio went on to help in the filming of popular movies like ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Captain Marvel.’
— theloftcinema (@TheLoftCinema) August 7, 2019
Los Angeles, California
Stan Winston Studios, located at 16145 Hart Street, is famously known for its special effects. The person it is named after, multiple Academy Awards winner Stan Winston, was a legendary figure in the American film industry who brought about a revolution in special make-up effects through his work in movies like ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Terminator,’ and ‘Aliens.’ With ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ requiring effective work in the VFX department, it was natural for the crew to take help of one of the best creators in the business.
Go behind the scenes of @Jon_Favreau’s #Zathura: A Space Adventure and see how #StanWinstonStudio used a hybrid approach of digital and practical #FX to create a species of toothy space lizards, the #Zorgons.
— Stan Winston School (@SWinstonSchool) March 9, 2019
The Stan Winston Studio helped the most in designing a model of actress Kristen Stewart. The detailed model was constructed to scale and used to film risky scenes that would otherwise be impossible to film on a living person. The scene wherein a frozen Kristen Stewart appears on-screen was also filmed using the model. Later, the actress said that it was pretty surreal to have such a lifelike version of herself which almost felt like her twin.
— Stan Winston School (@SWinstonSchool) October 3, 2018
Furthermore, the studio also helped design several computer-generated effects like the moving limbs of the robot suit and several outer space landscapes. Scenes that feature the Budwing house flying through space and settling down in the city were also digitally designed and conceived. ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ is a wonderful example of a film using a complex mixture of in-studio and computer-generated special effects to bring us a visual treat.
Read More: Where Was Jumanji Filmed?