Teleport Into The Secret History Of Tron

With Jumper opening today and everyone abuzz about teleportation, it seemed like the perfect time to remind everyone of another movie about teleportation: Tron. The device that zaps Jeff Bridges into the video-game world is actually built to teleport matter from one place to another. Learn the secret history of Tron, after the jump.

That experimental laser that turns Bridges into a video game character actually zips an orange across space first, early in the movie. It's only later that a pissed-off Master Control Program does the same thing to Jeff's pesky ass. Of course, no one at the company seems to remember that they've invented teleportation either, at the end of the movie. Probably a more lucrative line of work to go into than gaming. Here are more secrets of Tron:

  • Director Steve Lisberger saw video games in the late 1970s, and was fascinated with the world they existed in. However, he wanted to open that up to people in a non-cliqueish way, and he and his partner Donald Kushner set up an animation studio in 1977 to start developing the film.
  • The film was supposed to be animated, with live-action bookends setting up the "human" side of the story. However, Lisberger met with Information International, Inc., who showed him footage of filming real actors in front of back-lit animation. They filmed test-footage of a frisbee champion hurling discs, and this convinced Disney to fund the film.
  • Information International, Inc. had previously animated the android-vision in the movie Westworld, and they scanned and animated Peter Fonda's head for the sequel Futureworld, which was the first appearance of 3D computer graphics in a film. They also did animation tests for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars, but they ultimately achieved the most success for creating a newspaper and technical document publishing system.
  • Moebius, Syd Mead, and tech artist Peter Lloyd all contributed to the production design of the film, with each designing different elements: Moebius the set, Mead the vehicles, and Lloyd the environment. Mead also created the iconic Tron logo.
  • Speaking of vehicles, when I was a kid those Recognizers scared the hell out of me. Yes, it's not really trivia related, but can you imagine one of these, on fire, and piloted by a Sleestak? Holy hell.
  • Peter O'Toole was originally signed on to play Sark/Dillinger, but when he arrived on set and didn't see any of the physical sets or props, he balked.
  • Apparently Jess Bridge's manhood created too much of a bulge in his "Clu" outfit, so he had to wear a dance belt to conceal it. The Big Lebowski, indeed.
  • Debbie Harry screen-tested for the role of Yori. She probably told the producers to "Call Me," which they never did. Yes, that was a bad Blondie joke. Sorry.
  • The scenes of the ENCOM labs with the laser teleportation array were shot at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Their own real laser is able to produce 28 trillion watts of power on target. The lab is now the home of the faster computer in the world, Blue Gene.
  • The Tron videogame was a smash hit compared to the movie, which did moderately well. The game has far outgrossed the movie. In fact, it took several dozens of my quarters back in the 80s. It spawned a sequel called Discs of Tron, which is worth it just for the black light effect alone.
  • A game sequel that ties into the movie, Tron 2.0, was released in 2003. It features Jet Bradley, the son of Alan Bradley (Tron) being zapped back into the computer world. It didn't do that well financially, but is worth picking up and playing. I still play the damn thing from time to time.
  • Supertramp was supposed to provide two songs for the movie, but eventually those were provided by Journey. They are "Only Solutions" and "1990's Theme," and are pretty forgettable.
  • Composer Wendy Carlos provided the rest of the soundtrack, doing most of the work on MOOG synthesizers. She had also provided the scores for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.
  • The Academy left Tron out of the voting for any visual effects awards, because they felt they'd cheated by using a computer. Oh Academy, always so forward-looking.
  • A sequel for the film has been in the works since 1999, and last September Disney announced that the project continues to move forward based on a script by Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who both write for Lost. Jeff Bridges has said he's excited about possibly reprising his role as Flynn.

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I am so, so beyond stoked about the possibility of a sequel. You can count me among the folks who wound up with a career in IT because of this movie! I don't have the Laser Disc, but I do own the clamshell VHS, the original DVD, and the 20th anniversary DVD. My husband got Tron 2.0 for me for Christmas last year, although I haven't played it too much. I enjoyed what I did play, though. I'm not much of a gamer.

I watch it every now and again too, and incidentally my husband and I use it to test our our TVs. It was the movie that proved to me component cables actually make a difference over composite. :)