The film industry, of course, 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 CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) 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?"
In 1987 I witnessed a film by the name of 'Predator.' 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. It wasn't until a film that was released in 2001 named 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' challenged the need for having physical actors and actresses on set.
'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. Even though that turned out not to be the case, other films followed suit. Such as 2005's 'Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children' and the 2007 film 'Beowulf.'
Films like these also opened doors in the world of gaming:
Blockbuster movie games like Uncharted have emerged and rivaled the likes of Hollywood films. Games like uncharted continue to push the idea that a movie could quite possibly be fun and engaging without a physical acting presence.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
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:
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 the budget of an indie film. What would be the perks for a studio to pay major stars 20-30million, when they could produce an entire movie for that cost. My only problem with this, is how would you then separate a feature film from an animated film..?