1. INDIANA JONES 4
What is it? Eighteen years after “The Last Crusade,” it seems Indy has at least one more adventure in him after all.
The buzz: Age jokes abound on the Web, but as a typical fan writes on TMZ.com, “I don’t care how old Harrison Ford is, he’s still got it and I want to see it.”
Inside scoop: Shia LaBeouf is not playing Jones’ son, contrary to previous reports. “He’s really the sidekick,” Marshall explains from the pic’s Hawaii set. “It keeps it very fresh when you have new characters coming into the story.” The villains are no longer Nazis, and the period is now the 1950s. Otherwise, from Indy’s wardrobe to the shooting style, “Steven’s taking the exact same approach, and it really has that B-movie feel the first three movies had.”
Comic-Con plans: With two presentations — one by Paramount, the other from LucasArts — fans should be well served. Given production demands, Steven Spielberg will likely join by satellite. “We’ve been a part of these conventions since we did ‘Raiders,'” producer Frank Marshall says. “I remember doing my first up in Seattle in 1980. I used to carry around a little slideshow.”
Opens: May 22, 2008
2. STAR TREK 11
What is it? The seminal sci-fi series returns in a likely prequel with “Lost” co-creator J.J. Abrams at the helm.
The buzz: “I think the team really wants ‘Trek’ to do for kids today what it did for them (and many of us) when we were kids,” says Anthony Pascale of the Trek Movie Report.
Inside scoop: Shooting isn’t set to start until November, but the casting news will be revealing. “When we make that announcement, the fans will begin to extrapolate certain plot details about the movie,” says producer Damon Lindelof. “There may be a couple (clues) in terms of T-shirts and movie posters floating around the Con that may signal to fans when and where our movie is going to be set.”
Comic-Con plans: Abrams will break his silence at Paramount’s panel this afternoon. Lindelof says the plot will remain under wraps but fans can expect the first casting news. The panel will also feature an official title and details for Abrams’ top-secret “1-18-08” project.
Opens: Dec. 25, 2008
What is it? Many consider this to be the Holy Grail of graphic novels, about a rash of murders among a group of retired superheroes.
The buzz: “(“300″ director Zack) Snyder’s earned some benefit of the doubt, but this is still a massive and unpredictable undertaking,” says Devin Faraci of CHUD.com.
Comic-Con plans: Snyder will announce casting, talk about the approach to the movie and throw out a few surprises. “Dave Gibbons (the comic’s original artist) has done a poster for Comic-Con,” Snyder says. “It’s super cool.” A specific release date also may be announced.
Inside scoop: With shooting set for September, Snyder is drawing out his vision of the pic. “The film in its look is closer to a movie like ‘Taxi Driver’ than it is to the graphic novel,” he explains. While the comic’s bright colors may be slightly muted, Snyder says he’s working hard to get Alan Moore’s acclaimed story just right. “It’s my hope that people will be surprised by how much of the graphic novel is in the movie,” Snyder says.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT
What is it? Christopher Nolan’s sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins” finds the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) saving Gotham from his new nemesis, a criminal mastermind known as the Joker (Heath Ledger).
The buzz: Code-named “Rory’s First Kiss” during production, “The Dark Knight” is the first film in the franchise without “Batman” in the title. “It’s a badass title and I’m quite a fan of Ledger’s work so far, but I don’t quite see him as the Joker,” says Quint of Ain’t It Cool News.
Comic-Con plans: Warner Bros. misjudged the importance of Comic-Con two years ago, making the mistake of showing up without any footage to show. This year, the studio’s plans are still unclear, with the pic still absent from Warners’ presentation schedule at press time.
Inside scoop: Nolan is filming four of the film’s big action sequences with the Imax 70mm camera, including the introduction of the Clown Prince of Crime. In Batman movie tradition, “Dark Knight” also features a second villain: Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face.
Opens: July 18, 2008
What is it? The eighth-century epic poem, in which Beowulf (Ray Winstone) slays the demon Grendel (Crispin Glover) and incurs the wrath of its mother (Angelina Jolie), gets a state-of-the-art update from director Robert Zemeckis as an R-rated, computer-animated 3-D feature.
Online buzz: Fans hope the performance-capture technology has evolved since Zemeckis’ last outing. “I like CGI-animated films as much as the next guy but I didn’t like ‘Polar Express’ too much,” comments one user on Image Comics’ site.
Comic-Con plans: On Wednesday, writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary screened the trailer and 15 minutes of 3-D footage, the first look the public has gotten at any visuals from the film. The footage repeats twice today.
Inside scoop: “When Crispin was acting on set, he was totally possessed by Grendel,” says producer Steve Starkey. “He was thrashing around with all these small puppets we used to depict grown men, and we had a very delicate mo-cap rig we all prayed wouldn’t get hit by the flying puppets.”
Opens: Nov. 16, 2007
6. IRON MAN
What is it? Robert Downey Jr. stars as Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy with the magnetic personality. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard also appear as characters from the Marvel comic.
Online buzz: “Iron Man was one of my favs (sic) as a kid,” one Mania.com user wrote after the first photos appeared online. “I can’t believe how friggin (sic) pumped I am now that I’ve seen this suit.”
Comic-Con plans: Fans will get two shots at “Iron Man” secrets. First, director Jon Favreau will appear during Paramount’s Thursday presentation, then Marvel will host Favreau and Downey at its Saturday panel, where they plan to unveil world-premiere footage.
Inside scoop: “He’s not some guy bitten by a spider or zapped by radiation — he’s a weapons designer who reinvents himself as a weapon,” says Favreau. “Iron Man goes through several armor changes. He starts off with really rough armor that he builds from scraps, and then there’s the red-and-gold armor that can fly. We’re going to show a mix of practical suit work by Stan Winston and CGI suit work by ILM to give fans a taste of both. “
Opens: May 2008
Comic-Con Photo Gallery: Iron Man Q&A panel
7. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
What is it? New cast, new director, same angry green guy
Online buzz: “Since this movie (has nothing) to do with the Ang Lee atrocity, hopefully it will be good. But to ensure that, I say we make a list of things the new director should be sure to do,” yeehaw08 writes on IMDb.com. His first suggestion: “Make the Hulk SMASH things!”
Comic-Con plans: “We’re finishing filming at 3 a.m. in Toronto, putting our entire cast on a charter plane, flying to San Diego, and they’re onstage at 4:15 the next afternoon,” says Marvel exec Kevin Feige, one of the film’s producers.
Inside scoop: “This movie’s an entirely new spin on the franchise and on the character,” Feige explains. “When you talk to people, they remember that television series. We really see Edward Norton as the heir apparent to Bill Bixby. As in the TV show, it’s a story on the run, with Bruce Banner taking on odd jobs to get access to labs in his search for a cure.”
Opens: June 13, 2008
Comic-Con Photo Gallery: • The Incredible Hulk Q&A panel
8. I AM LEGEND
What is it? The third time’s the charm for Richard
Matheson’s 1954 cult novel, which previously inspired “The Omega Man.” Will Smith plays Army doctor Robert Neville, who is immune to a viral plague that turns the world’s population into brain-dead savages.
Online buzz: Purists fear changes, including a location shift from Los Angeles to New York, but take solace in “Constantine” director Francis Lawrence’s involvement, “so long as the crucial ending of Matheson’s novel … is kept intact and unmolested,” Momo warns on Twitch.com.
Comic-Con plans: Smith isn’t expected to attend, but Warner hopes to stir interest with Vertigo’s Friday panel, in which A-list contributors (including screenwriter Mark Protosevich) discuss their work on the prequel comicbook.
Inside scoop: “It’s not a zombie or vampire movie,” says Protosevich. “Neville’s vampirelike nemeses share some of the same characteristics, but because Neville perceives himself as the last man on Earth, the movie is ultimately about the mentality of someone under that kind of physical and psychological pressure to survive.”
Opens: Dec. 14, 2008
9. THE GOLDEN COMPASS
What is it? Nearly a decade in the making, this fantasy epic based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy stars Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman.
Online buzz: After seeing the 20-minute preview at Cannes, Rotten Tomatoes’ Jen Yamato reports, ” ‘Compass’ already looks to be more than your average ‘Narnia’-like kids adventure, thanks seemingly to the adult appeal of its source material.”
Comic-Con plans: Look for the life-size polar bear on the convention floor, where a booth introduces fans to Lyra’s world. New Line will also show a short reel of fresh footage during their “Shoot Em Up” presentation on Friday.
Inside scoop: “Golden Compass” is more than another “Lord of the Rings” ripoff, producer Deborah Forte insists. So how does the movie distinguish itself from recent fantasy epics? “It has Philip Pullman’s imagination,” she says. “Daemons are one of the most brilliant and unique concepts in this genre of literature. In animal form, they are the best friend, alter ego, guardian angel. The concept works so well visually.”
Opens: Dec. 7, 2007
10. THE MIST
What is it? Stephen King’s original novella, about an eerie cloud filled with otherworldly creatures, is a favorite among fans, and this adaptation is being directed by Frank Darabont, whose previous King outings include the well-received “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”
Online buzz: “I’ve read some stuff like, ‘I hope Darabont doesn’t screw this up. He can’t make a movie under three hours, or one without a happy ending’ — all not true,” the director says. “Quint from Ain’t It Cool News came on set for two weeks, and those webisode reports got terrific response.”
Comic-Con plans: Darabont, actor Thomas Jane (“The Punisher”) and others will sit in on Dimension’s Friday panel.
Inside scoop: “It’s one of the most beloved Stephen King stories,” admits Darabont, “so we’ve tried to stay as faithful to it as possible — though there’s a couple of nice surprises that fans of the story won’t see coming.” To do the story justice, Darabont ditched his usual painterly, classicist approach in favor of “a very in-your-face, very verite, all-handheld look.”
Opens: Nov. 21, 2007