If it's a summer blockbuster, there's a (very) good chance it's got special effects created in the Bay Area by Industrial Light & Magic. If that blockbuster has the word "Aliens" in the title, you can move those odds up to about 100 percent.
Sure enough, "Cowboys & Aliens" bowed to big box office, and if you read the reviews, special effects had a lot to do with it. It's no big spoiler to reveal that critics found plot holes in a movie where aliens attack a bunch of cowboys, but when it comes to the effects -- the reviews have been terrific.
ILM has been here before - over and over again. From "Star Wars" to all those "Pirates" movies, the effects house, started in 1975 by George Lucas, is the go-to leader when you need to show something awesome on the screen.
Having been lucky enough to spend time inside the studio, I can tell you there is no shortage of cool, cutting-edge tools the ILM team creates to make each project fresh and new. Unlike, say, Pixar, which has to stress the storyline before they add the technology, ILM gets the story from the outside, then goes to work.
Having recently completed its first animated feature ("Rango"), ILM is back to summer shoot-em-ups. The results are in, and (OK, they had to share the title with "The Smurfs," of all things) ILM is back on top. Another blockbuster, another round of cool effects in the can.
Scott loves going to ILM. He’s on Twitter: @scottbudman