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The Movie Guys go to Comic-Con
Photos and comments by Paul Preston and Justin Bowler
The 41st annual San Diego Comic-Con was everything the event claims to be: both nerd central and ground zero for the coolest stuff pop culture churns out every year. And, as ever, it was SUPER-packed, with lanes of people moving at Romero-zombie-esque pace and lines to every event hundreds of people deep. Should you ever go to Comic-Con, here’s some Movie Guy advice as to how to get it done right.
The San Diego Convention Center is a huge hall which operates much like a trade show during the Con, with nearly every entertainment entity you can think of present with a booth or table or something as well as retail and artist booths. Lego, Disney, Hasbro, DC, Marvel, Warner Bros., Sony, Stan Winston Studios, ABC, Fox, Dark Horse Comics and hundreds more big-time companies represent.
Give yourself at LEAST a day here, because you will not only be looking at the latest products, movies, TV shows, comics, etc. these establishments have to offer, but there’s an awesome game of one-ups-man-ship where most every booth will do giveaways, in-person celebrity appearances, contests, demos, mini-screenings, etc. Again, give yourself at LEAST one day if you want to experience everything.
In San Diego as in L.A., advertising is king.
On one end of the convention center is Hall H, the much-coveted home to the big studio presentations, mostly movies. A 6,500 seat auditorium that sees a dozen or so panels a day with A-list talent in person to help plug upcoming projects. The line to get in here is so insane, if the first panel is at 10 AM (which it was the Thursday we went), it’s recommended to get there at LEAST at 7AM and get behind the people who got in line the night before. But here’s the tip that keeps on giving. Just out of curiosity, wander to the front of the house and look for open seats. We found some in the front row!
The view for my friend Randy and myself:
The view for many others:
So even if you want to see a panel that’s at 3PM, get there at 6 or 7AM and give over the day. But fear not, there’s is never a dull moment and a cavalcade of stars. Here’s how Thursday went in Hall H at Comic-Con:
MEGAMIND (due Nov., 2010)
Easily the funniest panel of the day. Will Ferrell started things out dressed as the animated character from this upcoming DreamWorks film and milked a lot of gags out of how the blue paint burned his skin. He also brought breakfast for the crowd (a dozen donuts). Tina Fey and Jonah Hill joined him along with the film’s director Tom McGrath (co-star Brad Pitt was there in spirit, represented by a life-size cardboard standee). Hill was very funny, “coming out” as a Mel Gibson supporter and fielding questions from the crowd. The five minutes of footage looked a little familiar (this is the third superhero/supervillain movie after “The Incredibles” and “Despicable Me”), but the 3D was exceptional, as it tends to be in animation these days.
TRON: LEGACY (due Dec., 2010)
I was so anxious to PARTICIPATE in Comic-Con, I really was unprepared to CAPTURE it, so forgive these iPhone pics to which the stage lighting was a bit unkind by the time there was some zooming in. But you can make out The Dude here. Jeff Bridges headlined the panel here, and was joined by Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund as well as producer Sean Bailey, director Joseph Kosinski and original “Tron” director Stephen Lisberger. Patton Oswalt killed as the panel moderator here and there was new trailer unveiled, and they showed eight minutes of footage. They safely showed pretty sedate material, not so much action, but I have to say I was a little worried about the content’s feel. It seemed to by trying really hard to be sexy and hip. The original “Tron” was successful in knowing what it was and not trying so hard. Hopefully “Tron: Legacy” follows suit overall.
While Disney had the floor, they wasted no time promoting other films, too, with a surprise video from Capt. Jack Sparrow, promoting his search for the Fountain of Youth in a new “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, coming next summer.
Then Oswalt brought out Guillermo del Toro, the new force behind a “Haunted Mansion” reboot. Apparently, del Toro LOVES that stuff, goes to Disneyland every year and is hungry to do a film on this Disney property as a really scary, fun film. Hopes are high.
SALT (in theaters)
On the day before opening worldwide, the “Salt” panel didn’t bother with leaking new footage, but did trot forward the film’s star Angelina Jolie, much to the hooting of the thousands of fanboys. Also on the panel was director Philip Noyce (who gives the project a lot of cred in my book), producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and co-star Liev Schrieber, an actor’s actor, for sure. All the talk of stunts and 2D got me pretty excited.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (due March, 2011)
Aliens attack Los Angeles, so naturally a team of filmmakers went to Louisiana to shoot it…! I hadn’t heard of this film before this panel, but now I like to refer to it as “District 90210”. It has “Black Hawk Down”-esque battle sequences, except the enemy is from another world (the alien is keenly not shown in it’s entirety in an extended trailer). Jury’s out on what to expect from this film. Stars Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez were on hand with director Jonathan Liebesman and producer Neal Moritz (“Fast & Furious”) to promote the film and start building buzz, but a March release date for a big-time actioner doesn’t show a ton of confidence. Then again, based on “Avatar” and “The Hangover”, major stars aren’t always needed for a hit. The “Battle” footage was pretty exciting and I’m hoping the whole film finds a way to be provocative AND action-packed.
RED (due Oct., 2011)
This adaptation of the Warren Ellis graphic novel brought out a star-studded panel with Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis (who was a bit too sleepy for me. I like my Willis more “The Late Show-appearance-y). This movie looks hilarious, if you’re willing to throw reality out and get into the comedy. Retired CIA agents are pursued for the secrets they possess, and John Malkovich looks like he might finally get to act crazy in a movie where he plays a character who’s actually supposed to be slightly crazy! Plus, everyone got a poster, which means I’ll probably buy a ticket. I can be bought like that.
A CONVERSATION WITH J.J. ABRAMS AND JOSS WHEDON
This gave pretty cool insight into the minds of two huge forces in pop culture today. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Abrams and a real top-notch cinematic scholar capable of big things. As much as I enjoy Whedon’s penchant for dialogue, I’ve never gotten on board his programs. Whedon announced officially at this panel that he is, in fact, directing “The Avengers”, Marvel’s big-deal coming-together of multiple superheroes in one movie. Am I wrong to wish it was Abrams that made that announcement? Regardless of choosing a favorite, there was hefty banter and jokes shared between these two guys. Can a collaboration be far off?
THE EXPENDABLES (due Aug. 13, 2010)
Panel moderator/douchebag Harry Knowles summed it up well when he said that if you took the cast members of “The Expendables” who WEREN’T on the panel, you’d still have a great action movie – Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Arnold Schwarzeneggar. That being said, there was a lot of comraderie and laughs to go around between those who were on the panel – Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Terry Crews. Their leader, Sylvester Stallone came out to huge applause and was the paison you hope he’d be. They talked about the injuries that unsurprisingly plagued the set when that much testosterone is about (and when you ask Lundgren to punch you in the chest as hard as possible) and Stallone was asked about who he DIDN’T convince to be in the film. His response: “I talked to guys like Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris about being in the movie. But there’s things like schedules and…insanity…that keep that from happening.” I wish I could already buy tickets.
So, enough plot, let’s get to the sights and sounds!
One of my favorite moments of the whole week – a one-hour Q&A with Penn & Teller. They even threw in a magic trick and (thank god) did something I HAVEN’T SEEN before with rings!
“The Expendables” tattoos were given out at the Lionsgate booth. I’m sure Randy wishes it were permanent…
I’m not entirely sure what this is. I think it’s guests enjoying a Wii-type dance game. But as soon as the Predator/Teddy Bear (or, “Teddator”) joined in, I had to shoot a pic.
I met actor Gary Lockwood from “2001” and gave him a flyer and told him to watch the latest Movie Guys’ “2001”-themed July Movie Preview. You should do the same…!
Who’s this, you ask? It’s Z-Blade XX, previously mentioned in THE LATEST, here at themovieguys.net. Sometimes, to promote your indie comic book, you’ve just gotta dress like ’em and show up!
That’s not what these guys did. They’re obviously just goofin’ on “Star Wars”. I like to call them Boba Pimp and Darth Hater.
And what’s this guy promoting? Hate? That’s right, it’s a Hitler moustache.
You’re not drunk. Well, even if you are, this TV screen is out of focus on purpose as 3D gaming was on display.
My theory? Not everyone can dress like Slave Leia. But if you can, you should.
The madness usually spills out on to the street, too, as people clamor, trample and KILL for FREE SHIT! In this case, there was a brutal body count only to be followed by massive disappointment when the free thingy turned out to be a Dragon Age II blow-up sword. As if somehow OUTSIDE the convention hall, it’s no longer cool…
JUSTIN (and his high-quality camera…) captured this:
Self Explained (Seriously, you shouldn’t need to read this).
One of the many Black Beauty cars used in the upcoming film, “The Green Hornet”.
This group of Horn-ettes is just a small percentage of the girls handing out directions to Britt Reid’s garage, where fans could take rides in the many cars from the movie.
Ryan Reynolds’ contract rider mandated he lie in this tube for the entire length of the convention.
One of these two hunts for bounty, and the other hunts for booty. The latter is at the wrong convention.
The world’s fiercest and smallest bounty hunter.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay trying to remember what they did the night before this interview.
One real princess and two totally fake droids.
Inside the Tron bar hidden in the back of Flynn’s Arcade VIP experience. Last year’s experience revealed a first look at the light cycles. But this year, the cycles were on the floor:
So, that’s what happened, and we can barely cover 1/3 of it. But this much is for sure: Next year we’ll double the time we spend in San Diego.