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James Dean to star in movie six decades after death thanks to CGI

James Dean died over 64 years ago, but he's just been cast in a brand new movie — thanks to the magic of CGI. The original "Rebel without a Cause" will star in a Vietnam-era action-drama projected to be released next year.

The movie, titled "Finding Jack," is an adaptation of the 2015 novel of the same name by Gareth Crocker, which details "the actual existence and abandonment of over 10,000 canine units at the end of the Vietnam War," according to a press release sent to CBS News. A CGI recreation of Dean will portray the secondary lead character "Rogan." 

While some may question why living actors were snubbed for the role, co-director Anton Ernst said the team "searched high and low" for someone to play the part, which has "some extreme complex character arcs." 

"After months of research, we decided on James Dean," he said in the release. "We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact."

The movie's production company, Magic City Films, obtained the rights from Dean's family to cast him posthumously in the role, according to the release.

Ernst added that Dean's family considers the picture to be the star's fourth film, "a movie he never got to make." The icon died at just 24 years old in a head-on collision on Sept. 30, 1955. The actor only made three films in his short lifetime: "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant."

Ernst and Tati Golykh will direct the movie, and co-produce it with Donald A. Barton of Artistry Media Group. Visual Effects companies Imagine Engine and MOI Worldwide will recreate a "realistic" iteration of the star. Barton said the film will decide on remaining actors soon.

Pre-production will begin on November 17, 2019, with the goal of a worldwide release on Veterans Day next year. 

But many people, including celebrities, weren't happy about the casting, and expressed their frustration on Twitter. "I have talked to friends about this for YEARS and no one ever believed me that the industry would stoop this low once tech got better,"said Robin Williams daughter, Zelda Williams. "Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their 'clout' alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance."

"This is awful," Chris Evans wrote. "Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful."

"NOPE. this shouldn't be a thing," said "Lord of the Rings" actor Elijah Wood.

Despite the backlash, Dean may not be the only star reproduced using CGI in the future. "With the rapidly evolving technology, we see this as a whole new frontier for many of our iconic clients," said Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide, the business agent for Dean's family. CMG Worldwide recently acquired the "extended reality" company Worldwide XR, the press release said.

"This opens up a whole new opportunity for many of our clients who are no longer with us," Roesler said in the release. 

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