The power of the genre movie fan was on display Saturday as Sony, Screen Gems, Warner Bros. and Legendary showed up in full force at Wondercon in the hopes of getting the word about their summer movies.
The Anaheim-based sister convention of the larger San Diego Comic-Con showcased Pacific Rim, Legendary/Warner’s Guillermo del Toro franchise hopeful, Screen Gems’ The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bone, the Evil Dead remake, and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s apocalyptic comedy This is the End.
Pacific Rim was the 800-pound Kaiju of the event. With a new trailer and del Toro’s charm and star power, geeks were not disappointed. "This is the movie I want to see above all others, even more than Man of Steel,” one diehard fan told THR (a sentiment shared several times).
Some were hoping that Warners and Legendary would sneak a new Man of Steel trailer, but that’s not the movie the studios feel needs the marketing boost. Superman is a known commodity while Pac Rim, a monsters vs mecha action movie, is a $200 million gamble. The movie opens July 12, a week before Comic-Con, so Legendary/Warners can’t count on that confab to generate buzz.
First up on the release calendar is next week’s remake of Sam Raimi’s horror classic Evil Dead. Sony’s TriStar premiered the movie at SXSW but Wondercon got stars Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Shiloh Fernandez and Jessica Lucas, as well as director Fede Alvarez. Geek favorite Bruce Campbell, star of the original and now one of the producers, was also on hand.
Alvarez and Campbell’s addressed the pressures of making a remake to a cult favorite (some superfans have questioned the effort). Alvarez recalled being in his home country of Uruguay and hearing that Raimi was considering a remake. He and his friends hated the idea. “Some dude is going to turn it into a piece of shit,” he told the audience. But when he found himself the object of Hollywood’s affection with his short Panic Attack!, he jumped at the opportunity to take on the property.
"I know my friends, I know the movie they want to see: a very violent — not CGI — movie. And I was cool with the idea [of being the director]. Otherwise somebody else was going to do it and ruin it," he said.
Campbell, whose wit and charm had the audience eating out of his hand, summed up his thoughts by contrasting his experience to making the low-budget original: "It pleases me that we had special effects where you can’t see the green garden hose. It pleases me that we had actors that had something called ‘experience.’ It pleases me that nothing froze. It pleases me that you may actually see the movie when it first comes out and not 15 years later.”
The Screen Gems panel featured The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s supernatural YA novel. While not a phenomenon like Twilight or The Hunger Games, the book still has a strong and devoted female audience.
That audience was evident at the Q&A session, As opposed to other panels where questioners skew more male, this one was all female, almost all teen, and most of the questions were directed to the author, who sat next to stars Lilly Collins, Jaime Campbell Bower and Kevin Zegers. (One woman even brought her newborn infant, which she named after a character in the book.)
The author played up her participation with the movie, saying she was more involved than she thought she would be. She said she developed a strong relationship with the casting director, got see all the auditions and had access to files. "The more they consulted me the more I felt confident in the movie,” she said.
Sony ended its presentation with This Is the End, bringing out Rogen, Goldberg, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson.
The panel was heavy on comedy, with Rogen showing up in a cheap Wolverine costume and Goldberg in an S&M outfit (This is WonderCon, not AdultCon, Rogen chastised him.) A few clips were shown from the movie, where Rogen and company play themselves as Los Angeles experiences an apocalypse, including one that showed death scenes of Michael Cera, Anziz Ansariand Rihanna.
Rogen did get somewhat serious when he revealed that the biggest obstacle in making the movie was not convincing his friends to play themselves but convincing a studio to accept the conceit.
"They were like, ‘Do you have to play yourselves?’" he recounted. "But to us that’s what made it original and crazy.”