'The Hobbit,' 'Django Unchained' and more look to stir advance word at Comic-Con
SAN DIEGO - I'm here but I'm not covering Comic-Con this year. Last night was the annual HitFix Kick-Off Party, which I was happy to attend, but a day in Coronado sounds a lot better than fighting the hordes, so I'm opting out this year.
Most agree this is a pretty thin year on the whole for movies at the Con, anyway. Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall will surely have a blast on the TV side of things, as the small screen continues to dominate programming. But I don't think I could sit through "Resident Evil" and "Total Recall," etc. The only panel of note in my view is Warner Bros., bringing footage from "Man of Steel," "Pacific Rim" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
On the latter, it's one of a couple of films that serve our purposes here. As in, films that we may be talking about in a few months' time as the awards circuit heats up. Peter Jackson and company hit a bit of a snag when the 48 fps (frames per second) footage was largely criticized at CinemaCon in April, but the presentation here at Comic-Con will be in 24 fps "so the focus stays firmly with the content and not the technical stuff," as Jackson said in a recent interview with Hero Complex's Geoff Boucher.
Also maintaining a presence here will be Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" after already turning up with a footage presentation at Cannes in May. Tarantino will not be doing press, but there will be a panel on Saturday and they're having a bit of fun with the local marketing: If you're here and you see any bandits about, walk up to them and give them the password ("The 'D' is silent.") and you'll get a redemption coin for a free T-shirt. Oh, the hoops you jump through at the Con.
Then there is Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" to consider, which has a panel on Friday. Three years ago "District 9" had its big coming out party at Comic-Con with a screening and panel. It was a huge hit, parlaying that into a healthy box office take and eventual Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. I've heard good and bad things from those who've seen it, but the premise is fascinating and sure to tickle sci-fi fan fancies.
Will any of these movies get a boost? "District 9" and "Avatar" are, to date, the biggest awards success stories out of a Comic-Con. They seized the opportunity and got the best out of it. And that's really what it's all about: standing out amid the fray.
Finally, the first screening of the convention has also already dropped: Pete Travis's "Dredd" with Karl Urban in the title role. By most accounts it's an extremely (maybe even shockingly) gory affair, but a solid piece of work. There was nowhere to go but up after Danny Cannon's 1995 iteration of the British comic. But I think it's safe to say we won't be talking about that in any Oscar conversations. I'm interested to see how it looks, nevertheless, with Anthony Dod Mantle behind the camera and all.
Otherwise, there's not much else to float my boat, so I'll be heading back to LA this evening. Screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises" have been held throughout the week there and in NY and more of us get a look next week. There is a big exhibit of all the movie Batmobiles here outside of the Hilton Bayfront hotel, but that's pretty much it on the Batman side of things at Comic-Con. Christopher Nolan successfully avoided the fan base here for seven years. (Though there's hope out there that he might turn up for the "Man of Steel" panel, the line-up of which has yet to be announced.)