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Jul 29, 2007

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON DAY 2 -- FRIDAY

Day 2 of Comic-con is always a good one for me. I finally settle in from the excitement of Thursday and have the lay of the land with any new policies and what booths to keep an eye on out on the exhibit floor, but also it’s still only Friday meaning that there are still 3 full days of convention left!

Friday is also the start of the truly busy time (well, used to be at least now it seems Thursday has stolen that title) as more people settle in, and this year particularly so as the single day passes for Friday sold out on Thursday, so meaning it would be just as busy as it will be on Saturday (about 120,000 people tops!).

The day started out with the yearly WARNER BROS. panel. Warner is one of those studios that has used Comic-con to promote their titles for several years now, and their panel is always a huge hit, and this one is no exception. Although, the interesting thing with this panel isn’t what was discussed, but what WASN’T discussed.

The first movie on the agenda is one that I am somewhat biased towards, GET SMART as my former employer, producer Andrew Lazar is the producer on it, and I had some involvement with the development of the early drafts of the script when I was working for him. It was great to see the almost 5 minutes of montage footage which got a fantastic reaction from the crowd. It seemed to contain a mixture of high comedy and intense action. On hand were director Peter Segal along with cast members Nate Torrence, Masi Oka from HEROES (who by the way was treated like an absolute Rock Star by the crowd when he was announced), Ken Davitan (Borat’s cross country and very naked associate from…well…Borat), The Rock (who also was treated to loud yelps from the crowd) and the new Maxwell Smart himself, Steve Carrell. The panel was witty, informative and won the crowd over easily – especially Peter Segal who had some great jokes at the crowd’s expense. But personal bias aside, the reaction to the footage was extremely positive, and I was very impressed with what I saw.

Next up was ONE MISSED CALL, yet another North American remake of an Asian horror film. After director Eric Valette and stars Ed Burns and Shannyn Sossaman arrived on stage, we were treated to some footage followed by a quick Q&A and an exclusive never-before-seen Comic-con trailer. Very much like THE RING, it’s about people who after receiving a mysterious phone call, end up dying horribly shortly after. I found this presentation, including the footage and trailer, to be very disappointing. One of those over-stylized horror films that will last a week in theatres before ending up on DVD.

The came THE INVASION with Nicole Kidman, yet another update on the INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS story (this would be the 3rd remake in total I believe). Nicole Kidman was not on hand, but sent a pre-recorded message from Australia where she is working on Baz Luhrman’s AUSTRALIA (fitting don’t you think?). Joel Silver was part of the panel, and we were treated to (surprise) another exclusive trailer which did nothing to excite me at all. This story has been told better before this so this is one of those superfluous remakes that I can see doing only moderate box office business if that.

We were then treated to a clip from WHITEOUT, a film directed by Dominic Sena (Swordfish), produced by Joel Silver and starring Kate Beckinsale. They were all on hand and took some questions and showed an exclusive trailer. The plot of this is very much like a reverse INSOMNIA as US Marshal Kate Beckinsale is investigating a murder in Antarctica while the sun about to set for a six month period. A little better looking than ONE MISSED CALL, but not by much. Joel Silver was asked about SPEED RACER during this panel, and made a couple of comments about it, but that was all which was surprising given the fact that SPEED RACER is a major WB tent-pole for 2008.

What was very disappointing was that the next trailer (which looked fantastic) was merely just a trailer with nobody on hand for a Q&A. The trailer was for TRICK R TREAT written and directed by Michael Dougherty (one of the writers on SUPERMAN RETURNS and X2) and it looked absolutely creepy. It had the feel of a classic 80’s horror film, very atmospheric and the photography looked amazing and I can’t wait to see more about this one in the coming months.

Which brings me to the final title for this panel which is the adaptation of Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN. Zach Snyder (director, 300) was on hand with cast members Malin Ackerman and Jackie Earle Hailey, Jr. (recent Oscar Nominee for LITTLE CHILDREN). Zach basically outlined the long development process involved in this, promising the fans he was going to remain as faithful to the original comic book as he possibly could. This film has been in development hell forever, so it’s a big deal that it is finally being made. Since it’s just finishing the casting stage (Jude Law and Billy Crudup are in it as well) there was no footage, and I have to say that Zach droned on a little too long on this one. He also kind of slammed V FOR VENDETTA when he was asked about if he was concerned with pleasing Alan Moore who wrote WATCHMEN the comic as well as the V comic, and since the movie isn’t even coming out until 2009, it definitely was too early to have a Q&A on a movie that is just barely starting pre-production.

As I mentioned before, what really was interesting is what didn’t get mentioned during this panel. A movie like WATCHMEN that doesn’t come out until 2009 somehow trumps THE DARK KNIGHT (Batman Begins 2), HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (#6) and SPEED RACER all which are huge 2008 releases and are already well into production? Very curious Warner, very curious indeed.

So I had planned to take in the 20th Century Fox panel, but cruised the floor with Andrew Lazar for a bit instead, then we made our way to the New Line panel. First up was SHOOT ‘UM UP with Clive Owen. Clive was on hand with Director Michael Davis and we were treated to 3 scenes from the film, equaling about 10 minutes of screen time. This is an action comedy about a hit-man who helps a woman deliver a baby, then finds himself protecting it from an insane amount of angry gun men. The scenes shown had so much stylized gun play that while sure the movie looked fun, the concept looked like it would get tiresome after a while. If I’m getting tired after only 10 minutes of it, imagine what an hour and half would be like.

Then there was New Line’s big tent-pole for the holiday season, THE GOLDEN COMPASS. Nicole Kidman was not on hand (although she had sent a recorded message for THE INVASION, she did not do so here) and we got about 5 minutes of footage in a montage. The film looked and felt fantastic, but I couldn’t help wondering if that was us just being sucked in by beautiful production design. To me it just looked like another in the long line of fantasy knock-offs that have been coming at us since LORD OF THE RINGS, this one in the vein of the family-friendly THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and of course with a second one of those on the way for next year (see Day 3’s write up when I get the chance to write and post it..lol) I can see these getting tired really fast.

That was it for big Friday panels, so after another round of flesh pressing on the exhibit floor, we then headed out for the evening hitting the DC Comics party. Day 3 coming soon, and the chaos that is Comic-con on Saturday.