San Diego Comic-Con 2007
Highlights and selected coverage from San Diego Comic-Con International, July 26-30, 2007
Good Luck Chuck
An unexpected comedy from Lionsgate films, “Good Luck Chuck” features a completely comedic role for star Jessica Alba. At the Lionsgate panel Alba confirmed that she chipped her front tooth during a kissing scene with costar Dane Cook, to which she also mentioned “There’s nothing bad about working with Dane.” She plays a penguin trainer who catches the eye of Chuck, and he must try to avoid her in order to make sure he stays with her. Alba was all smiles and laughs in the spotlight, and garnered the majority of the audience questions. When asked what would most surprise people about her, she replied “I’m a man” to a hearty round of laughs. Cook made fun of her shoes throughout the event, and she was finally forced to show them off (their colors matched C-3PO). Upon her exit from the podium, most of the audience left, clearly showcasing her appeal at this event.
Enthusiastic Dane Cook stars alongside Jessica Alba in “Good Luck Chuck” and provided great sarcasm and laughs at the Lionsgate panel. This 17 year standup comedy veteran reveled at the chance to do an R-rated comedy, and portrays Charlie Logan, who is cursed into leading women to the man of their dreams immediately after breaking up with him. Filled with tons of slapstick comedy, Dan Fogler as a sidekick, and the luscious Alba as a klutzy love interest, “Good Luck Chuck” looks to be a highlight for raunchy adult comedy. After two audience members posed questions to him while in full Comic-Con costumes, he uproariously joked at an older lady who was next in line: “I like your costume too.” Also getting to do plenty of improvisation, the Comic-Con audience got to preview an exclusive montage of Alba footage displaying her clumsy nature in the film. Additionally, an entire scene featuring Alba and Cook talking over the phone while in bathtubs proves that “Good Luck Chuck” definitely has some moments worth waiting for.
3:10 to Yuma
Bill McCuddy from the Fox News Show mediated the Lionsgate panel and started off with quite a few jokes at the audience members’ expense. Next up was Ben Foster and Peter Fonda from “3:10 to Yuma” which opens later this year.
Ben Foster was asked why he wished to be involved with this project, to which he replied that James Mangold was directing, and his costars included Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Nothing more was needed. “Is it more fun to be a villain?” asked Bill. To which Ben replied: “Going on a killing spree across the desert to save Crowe – this one was REALLY fun.” The hardest part of filmmaking for Ben was the constant waiting. Lots of preparation and setting up dwarfs the actual shooting time, which was the aspect Ben participated in the most.
Peter Fonda was graciously welcomed by a large round of applause as he made his entrance. The legendary actor portrays Byron McElroy in “3:10 to Yuma”. Being a “gunhead”, (a competition shooter) and having plenty of experience with firearms, toting a shotgun in the new Lionsgate film was not a challenge. But riding a horse was something new, and Fonda admitted to having to go through “Cowboy Camp” to learn the tricks of the trade. Getting on and off the horse turned out to be the most physically challenging part of shooting, especially with his bad leg.
Warner Bros. kicked off Day 2 of the Comic-Con with the highlight of their presentation, a lively panel featuring their upcoming comedy “Get Smart.” Peter Segal introduced several of the film’s stars including Nate Torrence, Masi Oka, Ken Devitian, Dwayne Johnson, and Steve Carell!
The footage looked like an action packed comedic adventure and got the loudest audience response of any of the Warner’s footage. They immediately opened the panel up to audience questions and surprisingly the first came from none other than the Star Wars kid! He asked the director how closely the film would follow the Mel Brooks series tonally. Segal responded that he was a huge fan of the original series and that their really is no way to achieve its greatness, but they are trying to bring all the characters and gadgets from the show and make them their own. They worked with Mel on the project and Segal even hinted that the legendary actor/director might have a cameo.
The next question was directed at the whole panel, but Carell quickly answered. In regards to funny stories from the set Carell said that Pete Segal went pantless around the set. Rock quickly interjected that the funny part was that Segal demanded they call him “BIG Pete.” When asked how he felt about stepping into the shoes of Maxwell Smart, Carell said that it was very exciting. He thought he was going to have to audition for the part, but instead he entered a room with five executives who said the part was his if he wanted it. Carell said he was excited to fill the shoes and respected Don Adams for his legendary performance.
When a question about the film’s budget came up, Carell joked that it was 14 trillion dollars. Segal said that, while it wasn’t that high, if he told anyone he would have to kill them. Devitian, best known as Borat’s sidekick, spoke up and cracked a joke that he didn’t even know he was supposed to get paid and that they had the budget for him to wear clothes. A girl, obviously infatuated with The Rock, asked how much the former WWE champion could bench. Like most bodybuilders however, Rock answered honestly saying “I don’t know.” The crowd seemed a little disappointed at this so the star turned to the girl and said, “Well how much do you weigh?” The best part of playing a spy for Carell? He said that he loves the fact that he gets to look athletic, coordinated, intelligent, and sexy whereas in real life he is none of the above. The talent left to a big round of applause from an audience that obviously liked what they saw.
Invasion and One Missed Call
After a rousing start with “Get Smart,” the Warner Bros. panel began to peter off a bit. First Nicole Kidman gave a rather lame video hello from Australia to promote “Invasion.” They then showed the trailer with absolutely no new footage. Then we were treated to a pathetically embarrassing panel for the upcoming American remake of Takashi Miike’s “One Missed Call.” Ed Burns and Shannyn Sossamon came out to a mixed reaction after showing some disappointing footage from the film. While it didn’t have sound effects finished, it still didn’t look all that impressive or original. No surprise the film is debuting right in the midst of the January dumping grounds. Disappointing to the fans in the audience both stars also hadn’t seen the original Japanese film.
However other than another notable appearance from the Star Wars kid the only other interesting part of the panel was that the three audience members that got up to ask questions received iPhones. It was a great way to promote a rather lame movie. When the Star Wars kid asked if Ed Burns had a “Confidence” sequel in the works, Burns responded that while their had been talks of a sequel, when the film died at the box office, like almost all of his films do, the idea disappeared.
Up next was the “Whiteout panel,” an adaptation of the Eisner award winning graphic novel. While the footage looked quite intriguing, the writer of the graphic novel Greg Rucka seemed to be hoping for a “300”-like reaction, trying to urge the audience to insist on an encore. While he did get a reprisal of the footage, it didn’t quite get the reaction I think that he, producer Joel Silver and director Dominic Sena were expecting. Perhaps had Kate Beckinsale shown up on time the panel wouldn’t have dragged its heels so much, because once she did it became far more entertaining and easier on the eyes.
The film, which shot in the cold tundra of northern Canada, is a rather straight adaptation of the graphic novel. Rucka said that they did things that he never could have dreamed with just using the page. When asked about any humor to break the tension on the set, Sena, not knowing how young some of the audience members were, made a joke about a dildo and Kate Beckinsale. When a youngster came up to ask a question about when the film would be released, Sena quickly interrupted saying that now he “felt bad about what he said before.”
Before Beckinsale came out an audience member asked Silver how the Wachowski Brothers’ “Speed Racer” is coming along. The producer seemed quite happy about the film saying it was big like only the Wachowski Brothers could do. Beckinsale finally appeared, looking absolutely radiant and excited to see legions of fans gathered. She seemed very floored and appreciative for their love of “Underworld,” especially when one called her a superhero. When asked if she would ever be Catwoman in a future Batman sequel, she smirked and said that while she had a thing for black leather, she would be intimidated trying to fill Michelle Pfeiffer’s shoes. She did say she would consider it heavily though, because her husband (“Live Free or Die Hard” and “Underworld” director Len Wisemen) would kill her if she didn’t.
On the major differences between this film and the “Underworld” pictures, Beckinsale joked that here she “slept with the director way fewer times” and got to use her own set of teeth. She said that both films left her bumped and bruised. She said that on this set though, dressed in a giant parka, she hadn’t heard nearly as many male crew members moaning every time she bent over to pick something up. She claims that the role is dramatically different, as we can all but assume, and while she doesn’t get to wield automatic weapons, she does get her share of action. “I don’t get machineguns in this one, but I do hit someone really hard with a pot.” There is very little greenscreen in “Whiteout,” which matches the setup for her previous role in “Underworld,” in which her husband opted for practical effects, causing “dangerous things for the wife.” Beckinsale ended the panel by saying that if the opportunity to play a Bond girl or Wonder Woman came up she would probably turn it down, saying that she has probably embarrassed her daughter (who is currently subjected to third grade torment) enough with all the running around in black latex, let alone underwear.
Midnight Meat Train
Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, Clive Barker and Ryuhei Kitimura joined the Comic-Con celebration to discuss their new project “Midnight Meat Train.” Closely based on Clive Barker’s short story, the audience quickly dove in to questions for the famous horror novelist. What scares Clive Barker? He admits that he has a weak spot for animals, and that in his nightmares he finds himself “in the psyche of animals (the belly of the beast)”. After that, Clive went off on a tangent about arriving at the film’s peculiar title, including eating “special” cookies at a party, and not handling marijuana all that well. Additionally, a future project involves a “huge sow that eats adolescent miscreants,” which shoots next year.
Watching the final cut of “Midnight Meat Train” only yesterday, Clive says that it is incredibly faithful to the written story, and that it is a “dark, dark movie – it’ll be interesting to see what the MPAA has to say.” The last time one of his films confronted the notorious group, a female member commented, “Oh Christ, it’s the hook man.” Very intense and with absolutely no hints of comic relief, “Midnight Meat Train” promises to be a new breed of horror.
“I’m a bit of a pansy when it comes to horror films” Leslie Bibb exclaimed, motioning “chick vision”. “It’s beautifully shot and very frightening.” Bill McCuddy (the moderator) also questioned Vinnie about his roles in films that usually embody intimidating characters. He’s not like that in real life, we’re sure. His character is a butcher for a meat factory and his expertise is skinning humans. His favorite tool is a spiked hammer. Bradley Cooper also joined the panel, and plays the protagonist who is a photographer and accidentally catches on to the murderous habits of Jones. Barker, in his unusually gravelly voice chided in with jokes about several pieces of his artwork that were featured in the film, and that portrayed comically large images of the male phallus.
Darren Lynn Bousman, Mark Berg and Tobin Bell are back again at Comic-Con to discuss “Saw IV,” which opens this October. Having just received an NC-17 rating, the group discussed how intense and shocking the events in the movie are. Originally they had wanted to show the Comic-Con audience the first 5 minutes of the film, but the footage was rejected by the Comic-Con orchestrators. Bousman has always liked disgusting things, reminiscing about his memories of an early screening of “Cannibal Holocaust.” He mentioned that they aren’t hiding what these films are about and the graphic and intense subjects they contain – they are made for the fans, not the critics. Which is just as well, since these films are rarely screened for the press anyway. The director for “Saw V” (David Hackle) was briefly mentioned, and that project is already underway.
Next for Darren Bousman is “Repo” a rock opera about the repossession of body parts. It is intended to be a VERY hard R-rating. Additionally, a remake of “Scanners” is in the works for Darren.
Paramount opened with a presentation of the comedy “Hot Rod,” which included the theatrical trailer and a scene from the film. The geniuses behind the infamous “dick in a box” SNL skit were all present and discussed the origins of their newest film as well as their online videos and Justin Timberlake’s instant enthusiasm for the notorious SNL segment. The highlight of the panel was of course the extended sequence from the film which showed Rod (Andy Samberg) head to his “quiet place” after an argument with his dying father. Beginning with a hilarious dance routine which transforms into several vigorous gymnastic stunts, and ending with an unrelentingly massive fall down a forested hill, “Hot Rod” could easily be a slapstick success if it manages to keep up the visually entertaining humor.
Stardust, Beowulf, Sweeney Todd, and Cloverfield
Next up was the “Stardust” presentation which featured writers Neil Gaiman and Jane Goldman, who revealed that the adaptation was fairly faithful and provided a scene from the film. The special-effects laden sequence introduced the evil witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) creating an inviting inn as a trap to cut the heart from the fallen star Yvaine (Claire Danes). The segment employed a healthy mixture of fantasy, comedy, and adventure as the young hero Tristan (Charlie Cox) faces down the witch and helps the girl escape (with the help of a trusty unicorn). The Q & A prompted information about a possible Sandman movie, to which Gaiman answered with his expected reply that he’d rather see no Sandman movie at all than a bad Sandman movie. While he did allude to the possibility of such a project coming to fruition in a few years, his next undertaking will be the movie adaptation of his Death comics, which he will direct, and the upcoming Coraline and Beowulf. Stardust opens nationwide on August 10th, and Beowulf will premiere in November.
Neil Gaiman returned for a quick presentation of “Beowulf,” this time accompanied by co-writer Roger Avary, who explained their cheap beer-drinking exploits in Mexico to finish writing the screenplay. The world premiere of the 2-D trailer was shown, but after having seen the 3-D version the previous night, it wasn’t quite the same. Chances are, if no one told you that the movie was done with CG characters, it would probably take you a while before you realized it. The likenesses to the real actors is stunning, and the animation is perhaps the most realistic yet.
Very little information was revealed about Tim Burton’s newest endeavor, an adaptation of the Broadway musical Sweeney Todd, but Paramount was kind enough to give out stunning Comic-Con exclusive posters showing Johnny Depp sitting in the barber’s chair. The film also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
A quick presentation by J.J. Abrams got the crowd pumped for his upcoming as-of-yet untitled monster movie whose release date is engrained in everyone’s mind. 1-18-08 as it is called for now was described by Abrams as the Godzilla of the US, and way cooler than the cute and cuddly King Kong. While there was speculation of the creature being borrowed from an H.P. Lovecraft story, Abrams talked about the monster as if he designed it himself, and there was no mention of using someone else’s creation. In addition, he scoffed at the idea that the film might be called “Monstrous.” He ended without a much-needed Q & A, though the fantastically cunning marketing scheme certainly benefitted from its absence.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Drillbit Taylor, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Star Trek
Next up in Paramount’s presentation was “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” directed by Mark Waters. The panel included the writers Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi as well as special effects wizard Phil Tippett, whose studios along with ILM will be handling the visual effects. The fantasy driven story features many different creatures from vicious goblins and flitting fairies to giant ogres, and Tippett provided plenty of sketches, concept art, and even animation tests and test footage to let the audience get an idea of what goes into creating a scene involving CG characters. Unfortunately, Comic-Con rules do not allow filming of such material, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the effects and creature designs ably complement the darker fantasy elements of the story, which according to the panel members is not all that similar to the source material.
From the creators of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” comes the new comedy “Drillbit Taylor,” which follows the misadventures of two teenagers who hire a bodyguard to protect them from school bullies. The trailer premiered at Comic-Con and gave us a glimpse at the always-funny Owen Wilson as he masquerades as a teacher at the tortured kids’ school in order to defend them and flirt with co-worker Leslie Mann. A promising preview of another comedy from the mind of Seth Rogan, though it’s hard to say if this one will be rated R or not.
A surprise appearance by Jon Favreau made the crowd go wild, though nothing compared to the energy of the director nonchalantly announcing that he would premiere exclusive Iron Man footage a few days early. After a clever psych-out of old Iron Man cartoon footage, the real trailer played, and it was nothing short of spectacular. Robert Downey Jr. perfectly captured the sarcastic and arrogant Tony Stark, who’s sardonic lines drummed up plenty of laughter. Utilizing mostly practical effects, everything from the action to Iron Man’s legendary costume looked simply amazing, and under Favreau’s protective wing, this will likely be one kick-ass comic book movie.
The highly anticipated Indiana Jones segment revealed very little about the story or characters, though seeing Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Ray Winstone, Shia LeBeouf, and Karen Allen was a treat for any fan. The video filmed from the set showed the actors chatting, joking, and complimenting, but everything about the story still remains shrouded in secrecy.
J.J. Abrams returned to present a panel on his upcoming Star Trek film (the 11th in the series), and confirmed that Zachary Quinto would be playing Spock. However, much to the delight of the thousands of Star Trek fans gathered in Hall H, a special appearance by the legendary Leonard Nimoy revealed that he too would play Captain Spock in the film. No details on the story were given, but Abrams assured us it was superb and Nimoy added that after reading the script, his decision to participate was “logical.”
Zack Snyder, the director for the upcoming film “Watchmen” came onstage to discuss his newest project. Upon originally being pitched the idea of reworking Watchmen to be updated for current events and times, he thought it over. Later he decided that it would be better to preserve the original story and its 1985 setting. “We should bring the people to the film, not the film to the people.” Early criticism commented on his casting decisions, which left out big name stars. But 300 didn’t have any stars and certainly proved his place as a visually daring and groundbreaking director. The cast also contains several actors who are younger than those in the graphic novel. Snyder commented that he would rather use makeup and effects to portray differences in age than to use two different actors to portray one character who has aged. It’s disjointed and distracting, and occasionally difficult to comprehend. Confirmed talent who joined Zack on stage was Jackie Earl Haley and Malin Akerman. Also confirmed roles include Patrick Wilson as Night Owl, Jeff Dean Morgan as The comedian, Stephen McCaddy as Hollis.
Snyder is working on getting the Pirate story into the mix (which is only relevant to those who have read the graphic novel) and feels that it is important, but had to be pitched as a separate script. Alan Moore once again will probably not have any association with the movie adaptation (he notoriously demanded to have his name removed from V for Vendetta); Snyder will nevertheless attempt to faithfully adapt the novel with the intent of honoring the story and its author. Dave Gibbons, the artist of the Watchmen graphic novel, on the other hand, is very cool and enthusiastic about the script. He created a limited edition poster as a Comic-Con Exclusive for those who attended the panel.
Snyder mentioned that if “Moore watches the DVD on a rainy afternoon in England and he says: ‘He didn’t fuck it up that bad’ – that’s an ultimate goal.” It was rumored that Keanu Reeves might have a part in the film, but Snyder shot it down with a sarcastic “He’s a talented and nice actor…that’s all I have to say.”
30 Days of Night and Resident Evil: Extinction
To a big round of applause legendary Evil Dead and Spiderman director Sam Raimi came out to introduce the next film from Sony, a vampire movie based on the graphic novel 30 Days of Night. First Raimi introduced the panel of talent, which included the comic’s creators Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, director David Slade (Hard Candy) and stars Ben Foster and Josh Hartnett.
They opened the presentation by showing a clip, one that had been trimmed down because the Comic-Con deemed it too intense. In a grizzly sequence, showcasing more of Slade’s unique editing and camera movement that he applied in “Hard Candy,” Josh Hartnett and his group of survivors encounter and kill a little vampire girl. They cut the sequence right before an axe was swung at the little girl’s neck. Hartnett joked that it was deemed alright to show a clip that implicated killing children, just as long as they didn’t show the act.
Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith were thrilled with the outcome of the project, saying that David Slade has accurately translated their vision to the big screen and that, in a world filled with shows where teenage girls date vampires and kids munch on Count Chocula, together they have “made vampires scary again.” Slade said that while the film is indeed violent, he never went so far as to exploit the gore.
Before the panel concluded Raimi was of course asked about the future of the Evil Dead series and a return to directing horror. Raimi said that while he and his brother would love to do a fourth Evil Dead, they have so many other projects at the moment that they haven’t had time to even think about it. He said he would still be open to doing a remake of the first film if a young director with a strong enough vision came along. As far as a return to directing horror, Raimi said he was enjoying producing too much. The director said that he learns a great deal from watching the dailies and seeing someone else’s vision grow. When asked if veteran Sam Raimi actor Bruce Campbell would make a cameo in 30 Days of Night Raimi quickly replied, “No, we wanted to keep this film of a higher quality.”
Milla Jovovich then appeared in person to talk briefly about the latest Resident Evil film, titled “Extinction.”
Superbad and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Judd Apatow came out to rousing applause from the Comic-Con crowd. Sarcastically the director/producer said it wasn’t intimidating at all following Sam Raimi, heck he might as well have followed Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He said the female Comic-Con crowd had gotten hotter this year and asked the crowd if they were having some sex at Comic-Con this year. He said he had seen some girls here who would “fuck you to death.” The comment got a big pop from the females in the audience and lots of laughs.
Apatow then brought out the director of “Superbad,” Greg Motolla, the writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg and the film’s stars Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and McLovin himself, Christopher Mintz Plasse. Plus, for no reason at all, “Knocked Up’s” Charlyne Yi. The panel itself was off the wall with lots of hilarity. Girls were throwing themselves at Michael Cera, giving him their hotel room number and asking to have his baby. Apatow asked Charlyne what she thought of this since her and Michael are dating. She laughed bashfully every time the microphone was put near her, which scored some big laughs from the audience.
The poor audience member who happened to be in line next got subjected to the running joke when Apatow asked if he was going to suggest a threesome with Michael and Charlyne. Eventually the panel got down to business and actually answered some serious questions. As for a Freaks and Geeks movie, Apatow turned the answer to Jonah Hill, who looked confused, but being quick on his feet jokingly told the crowd that, “Yes the Freaks and Geeks movie begins shooting next week and we’ll show footage at next week’s Comic-Con!”
Since it was announced last week that Seth Rogan would be writing and starring in a film adaptation of “The Green Hornet,” the question would inevitably come up at Comic-Con. The questioner posed his query by asking “Why Seth Rogan?” Apatow quickly replied that he felt that was an anti-Semitic remark. Laughing Rogan said that even “Jews hate crime too” and that after “Knocked Up” and his upcoming action/comedy “The Pineapple Express” he was sick of looking at his face, so it only made sense that in his next film he should wear a mask.
Of course the “Superbad” footage shown was fantastic, but Apatow then surprised the audience with footage of another upcoming comedy he produced called “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” A much needed spoof of “Ray” and “Walk the Line,” the seven minutes of Dewey Cox, starring John C. Reilly, cracked the audience up.
Taking the stage just a month after wrapping principle photography Jon Favreau , Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow and producers Avi Arad and Kevin Feige came out to an enthusiastic Comic-Con crowd to present the Iron Man panel. Faverau was pumped to show the footage to the crowd for the second time at the Comic-Con, but even more excited to show it to the actors who had yet to see any edited footage.
The crowd, once again, went crazy for “Iron Man,” and rightfully so. It looks action-packed, tonally true to the comics, and filled with Downey Jr.’s dry charisma. This is the Iron Man film fans have been waiting for, and by the filmmaker’s enthusiasm, it seems everyone thinks we have something really special to look forward to next May.
Favreau stated that he doesn’t mind making characters that aren’t entirely good, in fact he likes characters with a bad streak, citing as an example his love of the fact that Han shot first. Just following this statement the director was interrupted by Iron Man creator, Stan Lee, who took the stage and said that had Marvel had guys like Jon Favreau working for them ten years ago they would have “overcome DC much faster than they had already.” Downey Jr. said that he felt everything had to do with destiny, and that it brought him to the role. He graciously thanked the producers, director and co-star Terrance Howard, who had always been a big proponent of Downey filling the title role.
Howard said that “Iron Man” was a change of pace for him because he actually got to work on a film with a budget. He also said that he got to do exciting new things, like go up in an F16 and do barrel roles. He then joked that he got to throw up in an F16. Paltrow said that “Iron Man” offered her not only the chance to work with Downey Jr., but to do so in a great script with fun character dynamics.
The big surprise from the Marvel panel though? Kevin Feige asked the fans if they wanted an Avengers movie. After a near deafening reaction the producer said, you got it, leaving the fans very happy indeed.
Neil Marshall, the renowned director of “Dog Soldiers” and “The Descent,” made his first appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con to discuss his newest film “Doomsday.” The post-apocalyptic feel of the film was inspired by the cult classic grunge-punk look of The Road Warrior, Walter Hill’s The Warriors, and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York. An unconventionally science-fiction/fantasy/horror blended storyline follows the aftermath of a virus outbreak in Scotland. The entire city is walled off and abandoned as the only solution to the devastating viral attack. 25 years later a team of soldiers are dispatched to investigate reports of survivors behind the looming wall of Scotland. As it turns out, there are hundreds of survivors who have created their own anarchistic world with multiple factions who are constantly at war. Cannibals, fanatics and countless dangerous humans do battle with the troops who struggle to get out alive.
Malcolm McDowell plays the Colonel Kurtz-like leader of a particularly sadistic faction of survivors, and much to the delight of Marshall’s fans, several characters from Dog Soldiers and The Descent make an appearance. Marshall took questions from the audience, which was thoroughly excited about the exclusive footage shown. Fast-paced, violent, explosive and destructive, the Doomsday teaser hinted at a post-apocalyptic world riddled with gritty action and plenty of graphic fun. Shot primarily in Cape Town, South Africa, Marshall discussed how he filmed The Descent on a six million dollar budget with the goal of making it look like a 30 million dollar film. On Doomsday he had a “30 million dollar budget which looks like $100 million”. The primary concern of one audience member was that the film obtain an R-rating. Marshall guaranteed that due to beheadings, cannibalism, disemboweling and other horrific violence, Doomsday would probably struggle to stay Restricted. “The more carnage the better,” he said. Finally, he briefly discussed that since he had to sell the rights to Dog Soldiers just to get it made, he would not be involved in the sequel if it were to be made. There had been talks over screenplays for the sequel, but nothing has yet been solidified. A future project for Neil Marshall is 9th Legion, which he wasn’t able to discuss in detail.
Balls of Fury
The Balls of Fury panel included the hilarious team behind Reno 911, Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon, and the star of the upcoming movie Fanboy, Dan Fogler. Easily one of the funniest panels of the convention, Lennon, famous for portraying Lt. Dangle on Reno 911, appeared in the leotard from the Balls of Fury film. Several gay jokes later (though “not as gay as new Affleck Daredevil”), the creators explained the film’s synopsis and exclaimed “If you only see one Ping Pong Wire-Fu Martial Arts movie this year, make it Balls of Fury.”
An exclusive clip from the film showed the first Ping Pong match pitting Fogler’s Randy Daytona against Freddy Fingers in a hilarious match to the death. Moonwalking, pectoral juggling, and Christopher Walken’s bizarre mannerisms boasted an absurd sports comedy in the vein of Dodgeball. A riotous Q & A session found Fogler proclaiming himself a zen buddha of Ping Pong and outstaging a questioner with one of the best Christopher Walken impressions I’ve ever heard. Once on the topic of Walken, the creative team behind the film explained their delight at having the iconic actor read their script and jump on board, and described several “Walkenisms” and funny stories including the actor’s apparent unfamiliarity with the @ “at” symbol and his pranks of buying a cake and pretending it was his birthday several times during the movie’s filming.
The questions meandered into the release of The State on Dvd, and Comic-Con favorite Bob Stencil queried about the Reno 911 actors’ lack of mustaches, to which they answered that the ‘staches were gay. In a truly “had-to-have-been-there” moment, Stencil quickly retorted at the laughter of his own mustache, “well the lady in my bed last night sure wasn’t gay.” The panel closed with the drawing for a Balls of Fury movie premiere ticket, which actor James Hong hilariously won. His appearance prompted an onstage marriage proposal by Fogler and the return of a fan favorite Slave Leia attendee.
Bryan Bertino, Scott Speedman, and Liv Tyler (in her first ever Comic-Con appearance) attended The Strangers panel and showed an exclusive clip which revealed a lot of screaming and a promising horror-thriller for first-time director Bertino. You can read our interview with Bryan here. The actors explained their interest in the script and the rather different genre they tackled with the creepy thriller about a couple terrorized by three mask-clad strangers.
The Q & A rarely stayed serious with attendees asking Tyler to speak Elvish (to which she spoke some lines from Lord of the Rings in her mesmerizingly soothing voice) and inquiring if she was saddened when Bruce Willis doesn’t make it back in Armageddon. The Q & A ended with Speedman saying he would definitely consider playing Captain America, and then the exclusive trailer for The Strangers premiered to a resounding cheer.
The Simpsons Movie and Coraline
Saturday’s Simpsons panel celebrated the release of The Simpsons Movie as well as the airing of the 400th episode, and featured guest appearances from Matt Groening, Al Jean, David Mirkin, Yeardley Smith, David Silverman, Matt Selman, Michael Price, and Matt Warburton. Exclusive clips shown included the intro to the new Simpsons Halloween special, The Treehouse of Terror, and the Q & A session brought out a wide variety of irreverent and ultimately hilarious topics. Favorite episodes and guest voices were discussed, as well as my favorite question involving the best Homer accidents, to which the creators chose impalement on a fire hydrant, falling into Springfield Gourge, and Homer answering the door to get kicked in the face.
In response to how the show manages to stay relevant all these years, Mirkin replied “fortunately, the world has remained so fucked up that we always have something to parody.” Groening announced that Futurama is returning with new episodes and the panel concluded with everyone singing the “Spider-Pig” theme song and an appearance by the “real” Simpsons family.
Neil Gaiman made a quick surprise appearance with Henry Selick to talk about their upcoming collaboration Coraline, based on Gaiman’s dark fairy tale for kids. Touting the project as something similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas in appearance, the film will be utilizing stop-motion animation, will feature the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, and the soundtrack will include music by They Might Be Giants.
The Incredible Hulk
Just four years after their first hulking disaster, Marvel Comics is set to release a re-imagining of The Incredible Hulk for next summer under the direction of Louis Letterier (Transporter 2). The film, Marvel Studio’s second feature, began shooting principle photography just two weeks ago but the cast and producers swung by to let the geek-tastic Comic-Con fans know how things were going.
Limping in on crutches, Leterrier and company promised a meaner, greener Hulk, showing off, very briefly, some conceptual art. I think it is safe to say that this new Hulk design would beat Ang Lee’s into a bloody pulp. The screenwriter/star Edward Norton seems particularly enthused about the project, saying that the fact that the series is getting a reboot already shouldn’t be an issue, that films do it all the time, stating that his previous film, The Painted Veil, has been adapted from a novella four times now.
Liv Tyler also appeared on stage, looking absolutely radiant. She seemed pleasantly shocked to see a fan-girl dressed as her Lord of the Rings character, Arwen. The actress said she felt this would be a challenging, aggressive new role for her. Norton agreed saying that no film he has done before will have had effects this big. He also said that had the technology not been there to allow him to control the performance as the Hulk he might not have been so keen to sign on. The film will explore the origins of Hulk again, but Leterrier and Norton mined a great deal of the comics for a big, action film that includes over 350 scenes. Norton said that they also had a great deal of fun referencing other parts of the Marvel universe, which Leterrier said is homage, a French word for stealing American ideas.