Directed by Wally Pfister | Written by Jack Paglen
Music by Mychael Danna | Cinematography by Jess Hall
Transcendence is an upcoming 2014 American science fiction thriller film with Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas as executive producers. It is set to be released in theaters on April 17, 2014.
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.
However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.
Transcendence is directed by cinematographer Wally Pfister in his directorial debut. Jack Paglen wrote the initial screenplay for Pfister to direct, and producer Annie Marter pitched the film to Straight Up Films. The pitch was sold to Straight Up. By March 2012, Alcon Entertainment acquired the project. Alcon financed and produced the film; producers from Straight Up and Alcon joined together for the film.
In the following June, director Christopher Nolan, for whom Pfister has worked as cinematographer, and Nolan's producing partner Emma Thomas joined the film as executive producers. By October 2012, actor Johnny Depp entered negotiations to star in Transcendence. The Hollywood Reporter said Depp would have "a mammoth payday" with a salary of $20 million versus 15 percent of the film's gross.
Pfister met with Noomi Rapace for the film's female lead role and also met with James McAvoy and Tobey Maguire for the other male lead role. The director offered a supporting role to Christoph Waltz. In March 2013, Rebecca Hall was cast as the female lead. By the following April, actors Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman joined the main cast. Continuing his advocacy for the use of film stock over digital cinematography, Wally Pfister chose to shoot the film in the anamorphic format on 35mm film.
The film is going through a traditional photochemical finish instead of a digital intermediate. The Chinese company DMG Entertainment entered a partnership with Alcon Entertainment to finance and produce the film. While DMG contributed Chinese elements to Looper and Iron Man 3, it did not do so for Transcendence. Filming officially began in June 2013.