Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Buddy-L's continuing coverage of San Francisco's WonderCon. He's got tons of news here... Chris McQuarrie scripting LOGAN'S RUN! Some really, really interesting tidbits on the world of STAR WARS (TV series now to be set around the Original Trilogy? Not vaguely inhabiting the void between the Prequels and Sequels?), and tons more! Enjoy!!!
Hiya Harry, Morry, Quint. Buddy-boy's back again with Day 2 @ Wondercon. Sorry for the late post, but I just got home and I'm dead tired. I'll try to get in as much as I can.
As opposed to the simple walk-around that yesterday was, everyone knew that THIS was the day to be there, in room 20-00 for the big presentations. So I made it a point to have my Black ass there on time ! I got there was immediately pleased to get a free "M:I-3" cap just for showing up and a raffle ticket.
Things were supposed to kick off at 10:30 with the presentation of BRICK, but we were delayed for more than a half-hour. During that time, the room slowly filled with people. By 11:20, Gary Sassmancredit where due), then there was a clip from the film's opening where our hero gets a call from the girl in distress. Very quiet, very creepy, very cool. Huge applause.
Everything was 45min or so late from this point on, but trust me, we didn't notice or care. Before and after each presentation, people would come and go while the most-dedicated (nay, "foolish") of us didn't go for potty breaks or nothin'. Next was the Fox Searchlight thing. A Fox exec named Michael (can't recall last name) hosted. First he plugged NIGHT WATCH, a flick I've been waiting for forever. He showed the "whole movie in 2 1/2 min" (a la SIN CITY on DVD) clip. I buried my head in my notebook as I refuse to take in even the slightest spoiler of what looks like a kick-ass trilogy-starter. While I turned away, peope around me gasped and sighed and said "whoa" a lot. Big applause. Michael then brought out Wes Craven and the cast of THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake: Aaron Stanford, Vinessa Shaw, & Dan Berg. There was a bit of confusion as to which clips were supposed to be played as Michael kept yelling out "Wrong Clip ! Stop!" and the lights came back up. Craven eased the mood by saying that each clip was part of a trilogy (NIGHT WATCH jokes) and that the last part would be in Swedish. Wes talked up the director, Alex Aja, "even though he's French." Shaw said the original scared her to death. Berg said he "tried to rent [the original]" but wanted this one "to be its own thing." Craven: "Bullshit. Don't give this guy any residuals." Wes said this one "starts where the first one began and goes from there." The clip we saw was of the main characters witnessing one of their own being burned alive.
Then there was the Q & A: Wes was asked about FEAST. He said the Weinsteins "have it. It's delayed. I don't know if it'll ever be shown." This would be just the first swipe Wes took at Bob & Harvey. I asked him if this new trend for horror remakes diminished the originals. He said No, pointing out that the Bogey version of THE MALTESE FALCON (the masterpiece) is the third version of that story. "It all depends on the director." Then I asked what he thought of his peers' work in "Masters of Horror" (whichI love to death, Moriarty). He said he loved it and would have done one, but was filming RED EYE at the time. He's spoken to Mick Garris about maybe doing one for Season 2. Then... the bitch asked a question: some snotty chick from the crowd went to the mike and asked if she and her boyfriend could "get our money back for CURSED ?" (Lots of jeers for her). Wes laughed it off, but said the reason the movie failed was because the Weinsteins kept fuckin' with him through the whole shoot then re-edited it to the PG-13 version. Next for Wes ? A stage production called MAGIK MACABRE with the producer of Sigfried & Roy's show. This cast left.
Next, Michael talked up Marcus Nispel's (TEXAS CHAINSAW remake) viking movie, PATHFINDER: AN AMERICAN SAGA. It's about a group of Vikings who come to the Americas 600 years pre-Columbus and fight Indians. The clips and trailer make it look like a mix of LOTR and SE7EN, I shit you not. We also saw some behind the scenes footage of Nispel on set, getting his grizzly beard shaven (it's grown back now) and baring his pale white ass for an injection to keep him awake. Nispel came and explained the story is meant to be a "medieval FIRST BLOOD" and that producer Mike Medavoy inspired him to do it. The German director went on to say that the Vikes in this flick are true bad-asses "Why [in the US] are Vikings 'cute' ? Like HAGAR THE HORRIBLE ? They raped and pillaged !" The hero of the flick is LOTR star Karl Urban, who Nispel says didn't have to go through the actors' "medival boot-camp" cause he'd already trained on LOTR and did his own stuntwork on this flick. Clancy Brown (who Nispel loved in HIGHLANDER--didn't we all) also stars as does the fiancee of his CHAINSAW star, Eric Balfour.
After he left, Michael asked if there were any biblical scholars in the crowd ? No. He then read a passage from Revelations and introduced THE OMEN remake. "Which comes out when ?", he asked. "666" we all said. Writer Dan McDermott and director John Moore came out. Moore explained that the teaser was actually the screen test for the kid playing Damien in this one. He said they'd only tested two kids and did this screen testthis flick's got tone and atmosphere to spare. The first tv spot was of a little girl drawing in a living room when she hears a "thump". She goes to the window and sees dead birds all around. The second was of a couple nailing crosses to the side of their house. Both end with the words "His Day will Come." Moore pointed out how dangerous it was for people to do drastic things based on religious convictions, "I'm sure there's a 'Dubya' in there somewhere."
Next, Michael showed a clip of ICE AGE 2: THE MELTDOWN. It was of Scraps, the chipmu uh, whatever-the-hell-is still chasing after that damn acorn in and out of a frozen pond. Words wouldn't do it justice, but it was hilarious. They have GOT to put this clip on-line soon. Next, Michael showed us the (I have to admit, really cool-looking) X-3: LAST STAND posters made specifically for bus shelters. These... are... beautiful. Think of the solo posters for ATTACK OF THE CLONES taken to the next level. He then gave some out in a raffle which I did not win (shit). This was the end of Michael's show for Fox.
Next came the true highlight of my day, the best panel of the Con. Gary comes out and runs the M:I-3 Super Bowl spot then introduces JJ Abrams. He didn't answer question just yet, but intro'd a clip. It was the bulk of the "airplane interrogation" scene between Hoffman & Cruise as seen in the trailer. The close-ups of Hoffman are from a differenttake than the trailer ("You have a wife? Girlfriend?"), but the same dialogue. We get a clue as to why this guy is such a bad fucker and Hoffman plays him as really smug and unredemptively fuckin' evil. Since it's an interrogation, Cruise, after kicking that box behind him, decides to get answers by reminding Hoffman that they're in a plane. You will not believe this when you see it. Then... there was clip #2. Y'know that Chesapeake Bay Bridge shoot-out that we've been teased of in the trailers with Cruise slammin' into that car ? The guys shooting are trying to retreive Hoffman and to do that, they engage in an action sequence that is not only believable (perish the thought) but it makes the bridge scene from TRUE LIES and the chase from MATRIX RELOADED look like student films. And there were no PERCEIVABLE F/X, it all looked real (and Abrams said that the F/X weren't done yet). This isn't the cartoony, illogical, gravity-defying John Woo shit anymore; this is Jack Ryan's worst nightmare mixed in with a little PLATOON... and it doesn't miss a beat. Hell, when the Q & A happened, most of us praised Abrams for moving from tv-spy stuff "to full-blown Tom Clancy shit !" He told the story of how Cruise was given the ALIAS DVDs by someone on the show. Then, while filming the pilot for LOST, Cruise called and they chatted it up. After meeting in person, the two liked each other. Then Abrams got a surprise call from LOST co-creator Dan Lindleloff saying Cruise said JJ was directing M:I-3. Abrams thought he was being "punk'd". He says that his purpose for doing this one is to find out who Ethan Hunt is. He brought a lot of LOST and ALIAS folks with him onto the film and regrettably said that he won't be on hand to see the ending of ALIAS filmed as he'll be promoting this. (He also hasn't been involved in this season of LOST as he was filming) I asked if, now that he's done a feature, if he'd like to do more from other genres. He said, only if there were a great story. He'd love to do something like a TOOTSIE or BACK TO THE FUTURE. His biggest as-of-yet is writing for a comic book, for which he is jealous of pal Dan Lindleoff. He ended by saying that remembered John Woo's old interviews of how Cruise is determined to do his own stuntwork, so JJ was hesistant to write certain things. Even on the set, Cruise wanted to do it all, scaring Abrams. All in all, JJ Abrams is a cool, relaxed guy for someone responsible so many sucessful shows.
Next was Kevin Smith's turn. If you've ever seen AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH then you know what happened here. I neither have the time nor the internet space to write it all up, so I'll try to be brief: he loved Bryan Singer's X-flicks because they were "gay allegories. Part 3 woulda just been a full-on BROKEBACK MUTANT." I asked about FLETCH and GREEN HORNET. He isn't doing FLETCH anymore because Harvey Weinstein refused to hire Jason Lee for the lead; Harvey wants Zack Braff. Has been offered to direct an episode of MY NAME IS EARL, but would rather be on-screen as "Earl's retarded cousin." He realised he bit off more than he could chew by wanting to direct HORNET, so he won't do that, "but the script is good." and it's in the hands of the Weinsteins. Although folks liked that SPIDEY: BLACK CAT is finally out, one guy bitched that his DAREDEVIL: TARGET isn't finished. He joked that he's the master of never finishing things. There was a former Prince employee in the audience who apparently corroborated his EVENING comments ("I should take this guy on tour with me.") There was a six-year-old Jay-look-a-like who asked to be in a movie as "young Jay." Kev was agast that this kid's father let him watch the flicks. He invited the kid onstage, but when he got applause, he told him to go sit back down. He said the rumour of Bill Murray being the oringinal choice for JERSEY GIRL was just a brief thought, not serious (furthermore, the rumour of Bill refusing the flick because he's friends with Chevy Chase werenot true, he never offered to Bill). He says he was NEVER offered any part of the STAR WARS tv series; he just kept saying "wait and see" in the hopes that it would crystalize. Ironically, he says that when Lucas was recently asked about Smith's involvement, the Flanneled One said "wait and see."
Then came the CLERKS 2 clip. Remember in DOGMA where the "disclaimers" kept popping up in the beginning ? There was five minutes of that for this clip with titles humourously "warning" people not to record this ("fucking AICN-wannabe-spy"). The clip was of Randal at Mooby's debating the shittiness of LOTR to two Hobbit fans who talk shit about the prequels. Funny stuff. The clip ended with a new version of Jay and Bob dancing to a beatbox. This time, it's Jay recreating Buffalo Bill dick-less dance ("Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me") from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Funny shit that my poor typing skills do no service.
Next was the Pixar panel. After showing a short "best of Pixar" montage, the guys took the stage: Morg Vass, Bob Pali (sp?), Scott Quart, Jay Schuster and Jonas Rivera. Now, I love Pixar as much as the next guy, but (no offense to them) hearing these guys talk was like watching paint dry. They were dull as hell. People kept nodding off. Fortunately, they perked up when the clips for CARS were shown. (There are no humans in this world, and the cars have the personalities of the people who drive themI swear to God, this looked just like the Quidditch tounament in GOBLET OF FIRE. Cool, nonetheless. They ended by showing us the latest Pixar short: ONE MAN BAND. It's a nice and funny 6-min. piece that takes place in 19th century Europe where a one-man band (walkaround drum, tuba, harmonica, trumpet) notices a child about to drop a gold coin in a well. The band-man starts playing, hoping to win the coin. Just as the lil tyke's about to give it over, another band-man (with violins, mandolins, and the like) plays. I won't give away the ending, but it's hilarious.
After that, Gary introduced the ridiculously-HOTT Deborah K. Unger, who was just there to show the trailer and a clip from SILENT HILL. All I'll say is that it's not gonna be PG-13 (thank God). It's a bloody clip of a spirit ripping the skin off of a body the way a shell is taken off a peanut. Ponder that for a moment.
Then came the moment everyone was waiting for. Gary came out and introduced Bryan Singer to a standing ovation. He was asked how he acheived the flight F/X. He said that they used every trick in the book from greenscreen to Cyberscan. He was asked if he'd met John Williams. He said he'd first met Williams years ago to ask him to score X-1, but it didn't pan out.
He then showed the SUPERMAN RETURNS footage from last year's ComicCon. As I wasn't there, this was my first time seeing it, and I can see what all the fuss was about. Great stuff. He was asked was he thought about "Brett Ratner 'raping' the franchise you helped bring about?" He said he wished he could have done both, but an opportunity like SUPERMAN doesn't come around everyday. He said he and Brett have been friends for years and that he likes the X-3 trailer, and that it might surprise us. (Y'know, I'm like you guys: I really want to enjoy X-3, but everything I've seen so far has left me discouraged) He then turned to his side and said "I wanna introduce somebody who worked on the film with me. He's a nice guy and he came a long way to be here." From backstage, comes the one, the only... Brandon Routh ! [Standing ovation, Cameras go crazy]
The two then did a tag-team Q & A. They were asked if Lois would be the usual (?) damsel in distress. Singer explained how this Lois "has achieved things. She's up for the Pulitzer. She's fiesty as always." When asked why Lois had a new love when Superman returns, Singer said "besides kryptonite, there's not much that can hurt him. This will hurt him and test him." Routh added: "it's the only un-moveable obstacle for him."
Singer was asked if he'd spoken to his USUAL SUSPECTS writer, Chris McQuarrie, recently. He mentioned that McQuarrie did uncredited rewrites on X-1 and is currently writing LOGAN'S RUN for Singer. Brandon was asked about the infamous cod-piece. He sheepishly grinned and said that he wasn't there for the meetings, but can't believe that it was such a big deal. "It's good news for me, I guess... it's like a [baseball player's] cup, only softer because I'm not supposed to be hit there."
Routh was then asked if he believed in the so-called "Curse of Superman". He said that the tragedies of the past actors were "things that happened beyond their control" and that he "can't let it stand in my way." When asked about beating out bigger names for the role, he said he was honoured to do the film. Singer concurred and mentioned how both George Reeves and Christopher Reeve were both relative unknowns upon taking the role. "A star brings a lot of baggage. [An unknown] can represent the character from our collective memory."
Singer was asked about sequel possibilities. He said he's taking each project one-by-one; that he has some ideas for a possible sequel "but then I had ideas for X-MEN 3, too." When asked why Superman left and returns at the beginning of this film, Routh said "there are things about himself that he didn't know and could only find out by leaving." Both mentioned how the new Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) will be "more villianous." Singer: "He's been in prison. He still has a wit about him, but he's much more villainous."
The ended with Routh being asked about the best thing of being Superman. "Being part of things like this [WonderCon]. Having kids recognise me. Being an iconic, inspirational character. [Being part of] a movie that took a long time to get off the ground." They got another standing ovation as they left.
Many folks made their way out, too. Gary came back on stage. "Where ya goin' ?" He held up a V FOR VENDETTA mask in his hand. Anyone still in their seat will be receiving these if you stay for the two trailers. It's a cool Halloween mask of the Guy Fawkes caricture used in the story. Everyone was given one (I got three, in my own sneaky way). The trailers were just the teaser for THE FOUNTAIN and the trailer for V.
I stayed for the LucasFilm presentation. Steve Sansweet was lead in by Stormtroopers and Darth Vader to the SW theme (not the Imperial March); he joked that it was "the strangest wedding march I've ever seen". He mentioned how next year will be SW's 30th anniversary AND their 30th year with ComicCon, as the first movie was first hyped at the '77 Con. After talking about the Bay Area's role in creating SW, he played a short doc (akin to the ones that appear on SW.com) called "The Journey" that featured interviews with the cast and crew of ROTS and had footage of the premieres. Kinda sad, really. He then mentioned that Hyperspace is running a contest where the winner will be the SW fan-club pres. for a year.
He mentioned how ROTS has received many F/X nods and awards in the past year. He played ILM clips from WAR OF THE WORLDS, GOBLET OF FIRE, and ROTS. He then mentioned upcoming LucasArts games: LEGO SW 2: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY (during which, the screens showed the classic NEW HOPE poster with LEGO characters) and a RTS for the PC called EMPIRE AT WAR (takes place between the two trilogies). He also mentioned that they're considering a Celebration 4 for next year, the 3-D re-releases of the original trilogy, and that the live action series is still in the planning stage.
We were then shown a fan-made short called FOR THE LOVE OF THE FILM. Taking place during the SPECIAL EDITIONS in '97, the flick is about the projector breaking, so the patrons act out the flick themselves. Pretty funny. During the Q & A, he was asked if George cared about the "box office slump." (A 6% drop is not a slump) He said that "it wasn't a slump where SW was concerned." He said the live action show will occur around the classic trilogy. The full scores for AOTC and ROTS have not appeared on CD because Sony Classics had bad sales for the PHANTOM MENACE sets. When asked if CLONE WARS' Gennedy Tartakovsky would be involved, he said "No. He's head of The Orphanage now. He's doing DARK CRYSTAL 2. When asked about RED TAILS, INDY 4 or whether ILM would be involved in the upcoming TRANSFORMERS, he said (respectively): "No script has been written. Close but can't guarantee yet. Not to my knowledge."
With that, I finally left room 20-00. I was a bit pissed to find out that Bryan Singer was giving out SUPERMAN posters while I was listening to Sansweet. Plus, I missed Mark Waid's panel. Fortunately, Waid was at the DC booth and he signed my KINGDOM COME hardcover. People kept offering to buy my V mask, but it wasn't happenin'. I wore that thing home and scared half the folks with it (the other half thought I was part of the day's SF Chinese New Year Parade). Dave Stevens still wasn't there, but this was the end of the day, so I may have just missed him.
Well... that's all for the exhaustive cornerstone of WonderCon. I'll be there tomorrow. I might not have much to write as there isn't much scheduled and I'll be leaving early. BUT... I will be there for Frank Miller's Q & A. Till then, later y'all.