<p>Tim Burton seemed excited to discuss his new film 'Frankenweenie' with the crowd at Hall H today.</p>

Tim Burton seemed excited to discuss his new film 'Frankenweenie' with the crowd at Hall H today.

Credit: John Shearer/Inivision/AP Photo

Tim Burton shows several scenes and an old-school trailer for stop-motion 'Frankenweenie'

A spirited Q&A showed Burton at his best

SAN DIEGO - In the half-hour before the Disney panel began in Hall H of the San Diego Comic-Con, Tim Burton stood upstairs in the green room, laughing, smiling, completely at ease and comfortable.  Anyone who sat through the presentation he made for his new stop-motion animated film "Frankenweenie" knows, though, that Burton wasn't always that relaxed in his own skin, and many of his real childhood anxieties, especially about school, served as fodder for the film.

"What did they do to you in that school?" the panel moderator Chris Hardwick asked at one point.

Burton just shook his head, shuddering, and answered, "The lawsuits are still pending."

At the start of the presentation, the first of three films promoted as part of today's Disney event, Hardwick talked about how seeing "Beetlejuice" on the bigscreen was a major event for him as a kid, and how it taught him early on that films did not all have to look the same.

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<p>Sam Raimi teases the preposterously pretty Michelle Williams during the Comic-Con panel for 'Oz The Great and Powerful'</p>

Sam Raimi teases the preposterously pretty Michelle Williams during the Comic-Con panel for 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

Credit: John Shearer/Inivision/AP Photo

Sam Raimi brings Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis to Hall H to introduce 'Oz'

Raimi talks about walking the fine line beween homage and creation for this one

SAN DIEGO - Chris Hardwick, better known as king of a podcasting empire under the handle The Nerdist, was practically giddy as he introduced the second film at today's Disney panel in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con.  He said he'd never had a chance to meet the filmmaker he was about to bring out, but that he considered himself a huge fan, and confessed, "I peed just a little bit when I found out this next guy would be here."

The highlight reel that they showed featuring clips from "Evil Dead 2," "The Quick and the Dead," all three "Spider-Man" movies, "Darkman," "Army Of Darkness," and "Drag Me To Hell" made a strong case for why Hardwick might be so excited.  Taken as a thrilling kinetic whole, the clips not only featured some huge, iconic pop culture moments like the upside down kiss in the rain from "Spider-Man," but geeky beloved beats like Bruce Campbell's "groovy" and "Hail to the king, baby."  Sam makes images that you can instantly recognize as Raimi images, and he is justifiably adored by many film nerds.  He took the stage to enthusiastic applause and settled in next to Hardwick to discuss his latest film, "Oz The Great and Powerful."

"This is my home away from home, Comic-Con.  I love it here," Raimi said, talking about how his favorite parts of the convention are "where they sell the comics," which he considers the heart of the event.

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<p>It was kind of like this, but moving.</p>

It was kind of like this, but moving.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Fans get first look at Johnny Depp in 'The Lone Ranger' footage to finish Disney panel

Could Verbinski make Westerns cool again?

SAN DIEGO - The final surprise of today's Disney panel at Comic-Con 2012 probably wasn't a total surprise to anyone in Hall H.  After all, this is the same place where Disney ended a panel with footage of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow on the set of "Pirates 4," and it's the same place Guillermo Del Toro made an appearance to announce a "Haunted Mansion" film that no one was aware of.  And of course, this is where Disney showed that test footage that kicked off the avalanche of anticipation that built to the release of "TRON: Legacy."  Disney knows the value of a Hall H moment, and they did their best to guarantee one this afternoon with the debut of the very first footage anywhere for "The Lone Ranger."

Much has already been written about the backstage drama for this movie, with a production delay while the budget was slashed and later reports that the budget was creeping back up during production anyway, but none of that ultimately matters if the film works.  Based on the four or five minutes they showed today, "The Lone Ranger" looks to be a lush, opulent take on the Western, focusing on the way the introduction of the railroad changed the power dynamic of the Old West.

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<p>By complete coincidence, this is what I'm wearing to the HitFix Comic-Con party tonight.</p>

By complete coincidence, this is what I'm wearing to the HitFix Comic-Con party tonight.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Is Fox in danger of losing 'Daredevil' back to Marvel?

New behind the scenes developments make things interesting between the studios

20th Century Fox has taken plenty of heat over the years for their handling of comic book properties, some of which I've applied personally, but any fan of the modern age of superhero movies has to acknowledge that if they hadn't taken a chance on "X-Men" when they did, things might look very different right now.

They're still very much in the Marvel business, and it looks like they've made it official now that they'll be rebooting "Fantastic Four" with Josh Trank directing.  I really liked his work on "Chronicle," and I think it'll be interesting to see what sort of aesthetic he brings to the property.  They never really found a tone that worked in the first two films, but I believe that "Fantastic Four" could be one of the biggest franchises in all of superhero cinema if they get it right.

What's more interesting is that David Slade has left "Daredevil," which means Fox has to scramble now to get someone onboard to start production on the film this fall, or they risk having the rights revert to Marvel.

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<p>I just hired this guy to do my yard. That shouldn't be a problem, right?</p>

I just hired this guy to do my yard. That shouldn't be a problem, right?

Credit: Universal Pictures

The MCP: Don Winslow guests on an Oliver Stone-themed podcast

Tom Cruise and Andy Griffith are also discussed in this free-wheeling conversation

The latest episode of the podcast is posting a few days past its due date, but I had a weird tech issue I had to sort out, so I apologize.

The good news is that the interview I did with author Don Winslow is about a half-hour long, and it's a really great chat with a guy whose work is reaching an increasingly large audience with each new book, and who deserves the acclaim.  It's always nice to talk to filmmaker or actors, but we don't feature nearly enough in-depth conversations with writers, and this is a great example of what I'd like to do more often in the future.  Also, since the film's already out, I don't feel so bad about talking with Winslow about the ending of the movie, but be warned…  if you haven't seen it, spoilers do ensue.

In addition, Scott and I have a lengthy talk about the work of Oliver Stone in general this week, and both of us were hardcore fans of Stone for many years.  It's been frustrating for a while now looking at movies of his that just didn't excite me, and finally having a new movie from him that feels like it's worth the sort of excitement he used to generate every time out has been a treat.

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<p>Kratos may finally make his way to the bigscreen thanks to some new writers who have been hired.</p>

Kratos may finally make his way to the bigscreen thanks to some new writers who have been hired.

Credit: Sony Playstation Studios Santa Monica

'God Of War' calls the writers of 'Saw' and 'Pacific Rim' to arms

If nothing else, it's a big week for possible video game adaptations

I'm guessing every development executive in Los Angeles spent the long 4th of July weekend playing video games.  That's the only explanation.

"God Of War" has been in the works as a movie for a while now through Atlas Entertainment, with Chuck Roven and Alex Gartner producing.  They originally had David Self attached as the film's writer, but now it looks like Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan have been chosen to help get the film ready for production.

If you were a fan of "Project Greenlight," then you remember Melton and Dunstan as the writers of "Feast."  If you're a horror movie fan, then you probably know them from their work on the "Saw" series.  And if you're a development exec in town, you probably read their spec "Monstropolis," and you know that they were brought in to do some of the production rewrites on Guillermo Del Toro's upcoming "Pacific Rim."

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<p>Adam Jensen's going to get his shot at bigscreen iconography when CBS&nbsp;Films brings a 'Deus Ex:&nbsp;Human Revolution' film to the bigscreen.</p>

Adam Jensen's going to get his shot at bigscreen iconography when CBS Films brings a 'Deus Ex: Human Revolution' film to the bigscreen.

Credit: CBS Films/Square Enix/Eidos Montreal

CBS Films makes a deal to bring sci-fi video game 'Deus Ex' to the bigscreen

Do this and 'Assassin's Creed' signify a new age of game-to-movie attempts?

They must be throwing some crazy parties in Montreal this week.

Yesterday, Ubisoft Montreal made news when it was announced that Michael Fassbender has agreed to star in and produce a film adaptation of "Assassin's Creed."  That's one of the first gaming properties I've seen make the jump to movies that I think could be something truly special.  The "Assassin's Creed" games are built on strong narrative building blocks and they feature a pretty great way of telling a story in historical eras as well as in the near-future.

Now, it looks like Square Enix and Eidos Montreal have closed a deal for CBS Films to create a movie adaptation of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," one of last year's headiest gaming experiences.  Again, we're talking about a game that has a big world that it's created, that hinges on some very real and big ideas, and that could easily provide enough material for a series of films.

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<p>Anthony Hopkins, seen here at a charity event in Vegas this February, will play the oldest man alive for Darren Aronofsky in his upcoming film 'Noah'</p>

Anthony Hopkins, seen here at a charity event in Vegas this February, will play the oldest man alive for Darren Aronofsky in his upcoming film 'Noah'

Credit: AP Photo/Las Vegas News Service, Brian Jones

Anthony Hopkins will play the 900-year-old Methusaleh for Aronofsky in 'Noah'

How does he fit into the director's radical rethink of the Bible story?

I don't care how many Bible stories or translations you've read, and I don't care how many films based on those stories you've seen.  You have never seen anything like what Darren Aronofsky has planned for "Noah."

Sure, the basic broad strokes of the story are pretty evident.  Noah (Russell Crowe) hears the voice of God warning him that the world cannot be allowed to survive in the corrupted, ruined form Noah sees around him.  It is a violent, freaky, scary world that Aronofsky and his co-writer Ari Handel have created.  I'm particularly excited to see how Aronofsky brings to life the Watchers, eleven-foot-tall fallen angels with six arms and no wings.  They have a major presence in the script, and they're fascinating.  Early on, when Noah needs to go see his grandfather, he has to move through the homeland of the Watchers, something that is not easy to do.

Noah's grandfather is the 900 year old Methuselah, and word today is that Anthony Hopkins is joining the cast to play the role.  He's only got three scenes in the film in the script I read, but they're all crucial, and they are beautifully written.  It's a good role, and I can't wait to see what sort of make-up they put on him to make him look like he's been alive and walking the earth since the days of Adam and Eve.

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<p>Hugh Jackman is set to return to the role that made him famous when 'The Wolverine' starts production in Australia and Japan later this year.</p>

Hugh Jackman is set to return to the role that made him famous when 'The Wolverine' starts production in Australia and Japan later this year.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

James Mangold adds Japanese names to 'The Wolverine' cast

As the character prepares to head to Japan, the cast comes into focus

If you were starting to believe that "The Wolverine" was never actually going to happen, that would be understandable. 

After all, when Darren Aronofsky left the film, it seemed to drop off the radar.  Sure, we've heard that James Mangold is now attached to direct, and we've heard vague rumbles from Hugh Jackman over the last year or so, but it's been a fairly quiet development process for a while now.

Today, four names were added to the film's cast, and it appears to confirm not only the creative direction the film is headed but that the film is indeed gearing up now for production and release in 2013.  For longtime fans of the character, some of the characters names of the new cast members may seem familiar, and it definitely seems like they're taking the Japan-based run of stories by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and using them as the basis of the script that they plan to shoot in Japan and Australia later this year.

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<p>Blake Lively sat down with us to discuss the difficult material she had to play in the new film 'Savages'</p>

Blake Lively sat down with us to discuss the difficult material she had to play in the new film 'Savages'

Credit: HitFix

Blake Lively talks about the emotional side of her threesome in 'Savages'

She's not just the pretty face we've seen so far in her work

It's safe to say that there are few people given less genuine respect in the Hollywood system than pretty girls.

Sure, they're given money and fame frequently, and sometimes for no reason other than how they look, but respect?  That's a whole different kind of currency, and that's where pretty girls often come up short.

You can see it in the headlines about them.  You can see it in the roles they are offered.  You can see it in the way they're churned through, given a few shots at things before they're replaced by the newer younger model.  And it really underlines the way Hollywood treats pretty people as a commodity, not as people.

Blake Lively has taken her fair share of critical abuse and then some.  She's also enjoyed some really warm and encouraging words about her work in "The Town."  I don't know her TV work at all, so I can only judge her by the films I've seen her in, and while I thought she was fine in "The Town," it's not a great role to judge anyone by.  It's too brief.  In a much larger role in "Green Lantern," I didn't care for her work at all, but that may well be because I think the film is a mess and the script a sham.

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