The Addams Family

The legacy of Charles Addams’ original cartoon series from the New Yorker is extensive.  First, it inspired the classic 1964 TV series and then the 1991 live action film, sealing the Family’s position in the childhoods of two generations of audiences.

Now Cinesite’s weird and wonderful crew has teamed up with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to create The Addams Family, an animated motion picture which introduces the Family to a whole new generation and answers the question – how would the creepy clan fit in to life in modern suburban America?

Addams’ original cartoons were a major influence on the look of the film.  Fans of Addams’ original artwork will immediately recognise the shapes and designs in all aspects of the visuals, from characters to environments and props.  It was a fantastic opportunity for our team to pay homage to the classic artwork and they did so lovingly.

Each of the characters posed their own individual challenges, whether in the creation of their hair, costume, lighting or shading.  Morticia was an important character to get right. Tall and slender, with a skeletal facial structure, it was important that she should always be beautiful.  She was carefully posed by our animators and sensitively lit to maintain her alluring charm.

Both Wednesday and Morticia have a hilarious deadpan delivery.  Despite this, it was important that their emotions, although subtly conveyed, were always received and understood by the audience.   The fantastic performances by Charlize Theron (Morticia) and Chloë Grace Moretz (Wednesday) inspired the characters’ personalities which were realised by our animators.

At the other end of the enthusiasm scale sit Gomez and Pugsley, whose exuberant performances include one sequence where Pugsley is riding a rocket and shooting mines at Gomez outside the family home.  This was a big FX sequence which included smoke, fire, explosions and debris in many of the shots, requiring close collaboration between the pipeline, lighting and FX teams.

Margaux is also an important character in The Addams Family.  An inhabitant of neighbouring town Assimilation, she is big, colourful and brassy, with the most enormous blonde bouffant, which required an intricate and complicated groom of 150,000 individual hairs.  Unbelievably, that was twice as many hairs as were featured in Cousin Itt’s ‘do, although his hair was of course much longer, straighter and thicker!

The Addams Family’s house is set in an expansive set, with distinctive trees lining the whole property, a layer of fog and sinister red hedges which surround the property.  Seen from a bird’s eye view, these hedges form the shape of a skull.  There is a brown-house (as opposed to a green-house) as well as a small cemetery, gardens and a water-filled swamp.  Up on a hill, the house also has views of the distant town Assimilation, as well as an extensive distant landscape.

Software most often used to recreate real-world forces and simulations was used to create the other-worldly FX required for the roiling, rippling swamp and tempestuous weather FX.  The house and wider grounds form a distinct character and personality which is reflected throughout the interior of the house and wider landscape.

We even see its ethereal spirit leaving the building at one point in the film.

The Addams’ dark, gothic house and grounds contrast strongly with the bright and colourful town of Assimilation.

Where conventions state that good is light and evil dark, The Addams Family turns audience’s assumptions upside down.  They may be weird, but they are wonderful.  The messages are clear: it’s okay to be different and families come in all shapes and sizes.

We’re proud of every one of Cinesite’s kooky family for their work in bringing this wonderful film to the big screen. Most work was completed by our team in Vancouver, with the crew in Montreal helping deliver some key sequences.

The Addams Family is co-directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan with Barbara Zelinski (Cinesite) as line producer. MGM’s executive director Tabitha Shick oversaw the project.

  • Directors: Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
  • Executive Producers: Andrew Mittman and Kevin Miserocchi
  • Producers: Conrad Vernon, Gail Berman and Alex Schwartz
  • Release: 11.10.2019