Inhumans set

A Little Russian Expressionism and Brutalist Here and There

Art director Adam Davis and Carlos Barbosa are two architects who’ve worked on eight projects together, including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They wanted to create a lot of space in some vertical sets. There are a lot of scenes in hallways, so they made sure to create plenty of space for them. Some of these environments were influenced by Russian expressionism – the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, in particular – and brutalist, Davis told us:

The style of architecture here is based on early Russian expressionism and brutalist. Those are the two periods that Carlos and I defined as being could be on the moon. The primary building materials are what we’re calling lunar concrete because it’s all stone, there’s no wood, and there’s no water up there. As for the period choices, a part of it is instinctual. It’s just a gut reaction to the script. If you look at concrete building forms throughout the years, brutalism is probably one of the most interesting periods. You know, it was very prevalent in the ’60s, and it’s big and massive pure geometric shapes. We decided to carry that through as a theme. We’ve chosen a particular shape for each one of the sets. The quiet room is based on the circle. The royal hall is based on rectangular shapes. Then the control room is based on equilateral triangles. We’ve kept it distinct.

The sets, of course, give them more control while filming, unlike going on location. Honolulu has a lot of brutalist architecture, though, so the beautiful island worked in the show’s favor.

inhumans ancestors

The Royal Hall’s Ceremony 

In the two chambers shown above, there are three holes in the bottom that get filled with blue crystals. After a person enters one of the chambers, they come out transformed. It’s called the Terrigenesis process. Sometimes, they turn into something beautiful, sometimes into their worst nightmare – but it unleashes and unveils their powers. The Royal Hall is where the ceremony occurs. When it was Maximus’ big day came, he lost the Inhuman gene.

On the set, we saw Maximus sitting in the rock solid chair in the hall. During one of the few takes we witnessed, the camera panned up from the marble floors, first focusing on the streams of shimmering light coming from above the chair. The filmmakers hope the reflective surfaces provide more depth to the images, which are captured on IMAX Arri Alexa 65 cameras. The first two episodes are shot on IMAX, were designed for IMAX, and will premiere in IMAX theaters.

inhumans set visit


IMAX is in 74 countries, has 1,200 screens, and 500 waiting to be opened. According to IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, their goal is to provide 52 weeks of reliable content. A part of the problem is that studios don’t provide the sort of content suited for IMAX every week. There’s also the fact they don’t open big movies on Labor Day weekend, the first two weeks of December, and end of April. Inhumans is premiering the first week of September, so it’s good timing. But for Foster, the Marvel show also felt right for IMAX:

The lines between televisions and movies is blurring. In fact, I would posit they blurred. We have an incredible relationship with Marvel and have for a long time. We have an amazing relationship with Disney. Maybe there’s something to that. We started talking, and this came about. As you just saw, it’s being designed and customized to take advantage of the IMAX footprint, the IMAX scope. It’s a television show, not a movie, but it’s a television show with incredibly high production value that features a lot of things, futuristically, and in space – which lends itself to IMAX. It’s got this window, and the window happens to conspicuously be when we don’t have big studio movies. That’s the ultimate genesis of it.

IMAX expects the two episodes in the two-week window to perform better than anything else they could have released. In the past on September 1, they’ve re-released Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Wizard of Oz, and Apollo 13. There usually wasn’t anything from the studios, so something new and something from Marvel naturally appealed to them.

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