Tom Cruise to Narrate Documentary on Industrial Light & Magic!


The evolution of visual effects over the last 35 years is largely due to the influence of a single production company nestled in Northern California: the legendary Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). In an upcoming documentary set to air in November on the Encore cable channel, Tom Cruise narrates a retrospective of the company founded by iconic filmmaker and producer George Lucas. First established to breathe visual life into the director’s smash science fiction hit, Star Wars, ILM has gone on to invent or perfect many of the most innovative visual effects in the film industry.

The hour-long documentary, Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible was directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and is scheduled for a premiere broadcast on Friday, November 12 at 9 p.m. Set your TiVo or DVR to make sure you don’t miss Tom’s narration of how ILM changed film history with spellbinding visual effects.

UPDATE: Steve Belgard from Encore and Starz Channel updated us in the blog comments with new air dates. Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible is also scheduled for broadcast Saturday, November 13 at 12 noon and 10 p.m. and Sunday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m. and 10:50 p.m.

The examples of ILM magic below paint a before and after a completed shot come courtesy of the Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds. What was once a plain landscape gets transformed into an all-out alien invasion!

ILM War of the Worlds Before 092310 PSILM War of the Worlds After 092310 PS

The addition of booming sound effects from Skywalker Sound, another George Lucas company, creates an experience audience won’t forget. Take a look below at another example of this amazing visually effects process, or skip to the movie’s trailer for a view of this work in action! Take another look at this incredible visual artistry at work, this time in the background of a shot. What was once a plain bridge gets altered into a death-defying scene for Tom Cruise on the run!

ILM War of the Worlds Before2 092310 PSILM War of the Worlds After2 092310 PS

Here’s a quick breakdown of Industrial Light & Magic by the numbers:

  • 35 Years Old
  • 15 Academy Awards
  • 23 Sci-Tech Awards
  • 275 Films

The company not only relies on advanced technology, but also invents it to achieve these enviable accomplishments. The major milestones in technical innovation at ILM include the creation of the first completely computer-generated character (the “stained-glass man” in Young Sherlock Holmes), the first completely computer-generated 3D character (the “pseudopod” in The Abyss) and the first completely computer generated detailed living creatures (the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, earning ILM their 13th Oscar). These kind of breakthroughs have become film standards, now used to create the dazzling visual spectacles entertaining audiences throughout the world.

Over the last few years, Tom has also turned the to expertise of Industrial Light & Magic in creating the memorable visual effects that make his action films jump off the screen. The results have been spectacular, including some of the most iconic visual sequences of his career. Below is a short list of some Tom Cruise movies where ILM handled creating the visual effects that transport audiences:

As for War of the Worlds, see for yourself in the trailer how the ILM magic worked out ;)

A side note: this is one of very few times fans get an opportunity to hear Tom’s voice as a narrator. His work as a voiceover artist is limited to only a handful of documentaries, so this should be a treat.

What are your favorite Tom Cruise films with ILM visual effects as a part of the magic? Are you a big visual effects fan? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, keep in touch with your thoughts on ILM visual effects or movies in general through the official Facebook page or Twitter channel. We’re always excited to hear from you.

  • sean ryan

    Excellent. ILM has done some amazing work over the years in turning our dreams into realities. Well done to Tom on this project as their work deserves exposure.

  • Letícia Maciel

    I found it very nice to know what’s behind the great special effects!

  • Alexandra

    Dear Tom,
    The most alluring and my favourite film is Minority Reports. The visual effects made the future real!
    Thank you

  • m4urici0s0uz4

    The visual effects really gave the movie a big change and highlighted. Today it is rare for a film not to use this tool to implement your work!


  • Renata Scarme

    I watched the film over 3 times, is one of my favorites, I enjoy the hole package, Tom Cruise+ powerfull visual effects+ficcion= awlsome!

  • Caroline

    Eu realmente acho incrivel o filme Minority report.. a visão futurista que o filme passa é impressionante. E adorei saber como fuciona por de tras das cameras Obrigada tom. há você é incrivel.

  • Vladimir Brodsky

    Vazeny,Tome videl jsem vetsinu Vasich filmu,uz se tesim na Mission Impossible 4,ale muj nejoblibenejsi je

  • Steve Belgard

    Hi – in regards to the ILM documentary on Encore – we’ve added a few more airdates.

    It’s actually premiering on Encore, Friday, November 12 at 9:00 p.m. (et/pt), with additional airdates on Saturday, November 13 at 12 noon and 10 p.m. and Sunday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m. and 10:50 p.m.

    Just thought you should know.

    Steve Belgard

  • Blog Admin

    Thanks for the update, Steve! We’re updating the blog to reflect the new airdates.

    all the best,


  • kevin

    Starwars was the reason wy i love movies, thank you george, en ILM.
    Tom is my favorite actor, If george is the reason wy i wanna direct, than Tom is defenetly the reason wy i wanna act. a documentaries about ILM (who made some offe my favorite movies), narrated by Tom. i cant waite to see it

  • monica serra

    Assisti esse filme no cinema… eu adorei ! com muitos efeitos especiais… e claro com o ator mais lindo do cinema !!!

  • Vladimir Brodsky

    Slysel Jsem uz davno o ILM.Ted jsem asi pred 4 dny koukal na Valku Svetu s Vami Mily Priteli Tome super film super vizualni efekty nadherne udelano,odvedena opravdu kvalitni prace.Nevim jestli i ILM spolupracovala na Minority Report taky supr film.Ale nejspis delala Hvezdne Valky 3,4 tam bylo spousta efektu Taky kvalita.S Pozdravem Vas Pritel Vladimir Brodsky.

  • Frida Vijaya

    War of world is a great film :) ! Awesome effects !

  • Marcelo Caballero

    Spectacular and extraordinary.