'Alien' prequel leads strong pack of summer popcorn-pic presentations
The strongest summer-movie buzz coming out of WonderCon centered on Fox’s “Prometheus” as the studios revved up fanboy interest in tentpoles that are opening too early for a presence at July’s Comic-Con.Aside from Fox, Universal, Sony and Open Road also successfully presented at the event. With co-scripter Damon Lindelof moderating a Q&A in the Anaheim Convention Center ballroom Saturday, Ridley Scott acknowledged that the storyline had evolved and the film is now in fact a prequel to “Alien.” Fanboys had long wondered why Scott and Lindelof had been saying their project had ” ‘Alien’ DNA” but was not necessarily connected to Scott’s 1979 classic. The direct ties to “Alien” offers Fox a key marketing and buzzmaking hook for the film, which bows June 8. Traditionally held in San Francisco, WonderCon was moved to Anaheim this year while its Bay Area venue is renovated. Though Fox’s footage was limited to the new trailer, reaction on Twitter and the bustling convention floor was noticeably positive. Significantly scaled up from Scott’s original “Alien,” “Prometheus” — starring Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba — looks fresh, expansive and scary, with action on the surface of a distant planet where dome-topped spacesuits and crashing star cruisers complement the claustrophobic, trapped-with-the-monsters tone of pic’s predecessors. “We’re almost action-filmed out, and we’re almost science-fiction-filmed out,” Scott said, acknowledging the glut of alien-menace fare. “So the question is now, how original are you going to be?” Not seen in “Prometheus” materials: any extensive shots of actual aliens. Universal, however, opted for an intimate autopsy of its fighting extraterrestrials from May 8 blockbuster “Battleship.” Director Peter Berg and star Brooklyn Decker were onstage while two long clips unspooled: a zany meet-cute scene between Decker and “John Carter” star Taylor Kitsch and a very close encounter with one of their battle armor-clad alien adversaries (spoiler alert: the scene ends very badly for the alien). “At its core, it’s supposed to be a big, rousing, fun piece of summer popcorn madness,” Berg said of the Hasbro boardgame adaptation, acknowledging early “skepticism as to why we would want to try this.” Universal also presented “Snow White and the Huntsman,” with a surprise appearance by star Kristen Stewart, who joined evil queen Charlize Theron and director Rupert Sanders on the ballroom stage. The WonderCon audience was shown extensive, never-before-seen footage, revealing more trippy fantasy and magical elements than before. Asked what kind of research he did to develop a sweeping epic from the simple fairy tale, first-time feature helmer Sanders quipped: “I actually did a lot of research. I read those seven pages like a dozen times.” Sony cued up the eight-minute sizzle reel it previously unspooled from its “Spider-Man” reboot, while star Emma Stone and director Marc Webb minded the stage. Studio also presented “Resident Evil: Retribution” and garnered some positive buzz for the first footage from time-travel noir thriller “Looper,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger version of co-star Bruce Willis. Fox also delivered a new trailer for “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” while Open Road showcased its space-prison actioner “Lockout,” a FilmDistrict production starring Guy Pearce as a mercenary infiltrating a space-based supermax prison that’s been taken over by inmates.