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Jul 23, 2009

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2009 - THURSDAY, PANEL 3 - SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT and TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON

Last year’s Summit TWILIGHT panel was easily a game changer for both the studio and the convention. Summit found out what a huge hit they had on their hands as females – young and old – camped out and packed Hall H, chanted, yelled, screamed and cheered as the director and cast from TWILIGHT, the first in a series of four books about a teenager who falls for a vampire, and Comic-con discovered it had a whole new demographic on its hands. Yes, the fanboys were being out-geeked by the TWILIGHTERS or TWI-HARDS.

The TWILIGHT effect was definitely very apparent on this first day of Comic-con 2009. As mentioned in the earlier (Disney) post, the fans had again camped out over night and the line was predominantly women in TWILIGHT t-shirts. In the Hall, the line for the lady’s room stretched almost to the back wall, and the screams of female joy when Johnny Depp appeared earlier as a surprise for ALICE IN WONDERLAND were deafening.

The displeasure of the fanboys in the auditorium was very vocal as some booed whenever TWILIGHT was mentioned, and others complained that they had to work extra hard to make sure they got in to see the AVATAR panel later in the day. Originally, AVATAR was on the schedule first followed by THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, and I had actually planned to vacate Hall H for a Digital Bits DVD panel after AVATAR as I didn’t really need to see the NEW MOON footage having read the book, and not really seeing what I could have gained from sticking around. My guess is that Comic-con figured that many of the TWILIGHT crowd would be more apt to vacate Hall H allowing for more fanboys to get in. Let’s face it; the audiences for NEW MOON and AVATAR are 2 completely different animals.

Of course Summit wasn’t just promoting NEW MOON. They also had 2 other films, ASTRO BOY and SORORITY ROW that they wanted to push, but knowing that the crowd was there for Robert Pattinson (oh and the rest of the cast), they wisely kept those presentations short.
First up was ASTRO BOY, a CGI animated film based on the classic 1960s Anime series. Stars Freddie Highmore (CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY) and Kristen Bell (VERONICA MARS, HEROES and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) gave a brief introduction to a still work-in-progress, never-before-seen trailer which featured some unfinished effects work. The trailer was good, seemed to stick pretty close to the source material and should do pretty well considering the popularity of the original show. Then again, it didn’t work so well for SPEED RACER.

SORORITY ROW was up next with the full female cast introducing themselves, talking a little about their characters and then the trailer that is already in theatres, and has been for some time, was screened. No new footage. Smart on Summit’s part, not a movie that would have benefited from an exclusive scene or trailer, and just sneak it in to hopefully capture some of NEW MOON’s demographic eyes.

The moment the SORORITY ROW cast left the stage, the crowd knew what was coming, and the screams began. However I will say this, they were less annoying then last year. Maybe it was because the fans had camped out so long and sat through so much they were worn out, or maybe it’s just that I expected it to be worse, therefore it didn’t seem it. Either way though, the ladies let their love of TWILIGHT be heard as cast members Kristen Stewart (Bella- sporting her Joan Jett look for the rocker bio-pic she is currently shooting), Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Ashley Greene (Alice), Director Chris Weitz, and that guy, ummm what’s his name. Oh yeah, Robert Pattinson (Edward) the guy who thanks to TWILIGHT is now a super-star – and the fans let him know it.

After the usual rounds of introduction, especially from Chris Weitz who took over the directing chair from Catherin Hardwicke, we were then treated to a fully cut never-before-seen scene. Of course all this amidst screams from the crowd of I LOVE YOU ROB or I LOVE YOU TAYLOR which were pretty constant the entire time they were on the stage (I did not hear anyone yell for Robert Pattinson to take off his shirt like I heard last year by a middle aged woman – cougar anyone?). The scene was where Jacob is teaching Bella how to ride her newly constructed motorcycle, and then she, after seeing visions of Edward, falls and cuts her head. Jacob then runs to her rescue – happens a lot to Bella – and of course seeing the blood rips off his shirt to show off his abs to the great pleasure of the Hall H female crowd (and very bad for my ears). Funny thing is, that even when he is cleaning her up with his shirt, he’s barely dabbing the blood spot or cleaning it up at all. Nobody seemed to notice, they were just happy to have him bare-chested.

Later, there was another clip, this one in Italy as Bella races to stop Edward from exposing himself (no, not that way) as a vampire which would get him killed by a group of ruling Vampires (he plans to do this by stepping out in the sun where he will of course, sparkle). As Bella rushes to stop him, Edward removes his shirt and again Hall H exploded with screams of female delight. It made me wonder if there are any scenes in the movie where Edward and Jacob manage to keep their shirt on.

The actors themselves seemed a lot more confident, and prepared for what they were facing, than they were last year. For TWILIGHT, they seemed to stumble over their words, supplied really lame answers and just seemed in fear of the rabidly fanatic crowd. This time round they were ready, especially Taylor who was the most articulate of the bunch and said all the right things as he discussed the romantic aspects of the story as well as his training regime, the amount of time he had to spend shirtless and his body in general. He said all the right things to make the female crowd putty in his hands. Out of all of them, I would say Kristen Stewart seemed the least interested. Not only did she stumble over her sometimes incoherent answers, but generally appeared to want to be anywhere else but on stage in front of these fans.
One thing is for certain, Summit has another huge hit on their hands, and I expect another Hall H TWILIGHT spectacular next year for movie #3, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.