×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spielberg sparks Comic-Con

Another 'Jurassic Park' on the way

Each year San Diego’s Comic-Con, which wrapped Sunday, rolls out an array of top genre stars and helmers, and each year there are unexpected moments for both presenters and auds. In his first appearance at the Con, Steven Spielberg may have been surprised that his “Jurassic Park” news managed to upstage

his planned “Tintin” presentation, while Francis Ford Coppola grappled with a tech snafu. Universal broke the usual promo protocol by not showing footage of “Snow White and the Huntsman,” but attendees were satisfied with the director’s presentation on the pic.

Paramount had only “The Adventures of Tintin” to promote this year and went big by enticing Spielberg to push the 3D motion-capture-animated pic with producer Peter Jackson. Yet when Spielberg took the Comic-Con stage for the first time, what the 6,000 fans and media filling Hall H wound up blasting around the Web was Spielberg’s reveal that a fourth “Jurassic Park” is but a few years away.

U took its swings on Saturday, world preeming “Cowboys & Aliens” for a rowdy throng at a converted opera house just a few hours after hosting its “Snow White and the Huntsman” panel. With nothing yet shot on “Snow White,” U relied on its stars, first-look concept art and footage from commercials whiz Rupert Sanders, who’s making his feature directorial debut. Though the appearance of stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron drew attention to the panel, it was Sanders who stole the show with a fairly lucid and promising picture of where the potential fantasy franchise is headed.

“It’s not a little girl sitting around a well with tweety birds,” said Sanders, describing a reel of “Huntsman” test footage that was at turns artfully surreal and action-packed. “This is all the down-and-dirty filmmaking that got us here.”

Sony also chose to put relatively unknown directors front-and-center for its “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” presentation, highlighting the daredevil directing techniques of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Rather than Nicolas Cage, the star of the panel was footage of the helmers pulling all kinds of crazy stunts to get shots, like dangling over a dam and rollerblading behind speeding motorcycles with a camera in hand.

Webslinging

Sony’s most important task, however, was promoting its reboot “The Amazing Spider-Man,” described as darker and more character-driven than its predecessors. To that end, the panel’s main talking point was star Andrew Garfield’s love for the webslinger: Thesp made his entrance in a cheaply made Spidey suit and posed as an obnoxious fan grabbing a mic; when he yanked off the mask to reveal the ruse, his professions of love for the Peter Parker story turned serious, with Garfield saying at one point that as a skinny kid growing up, “Spider-Man saved my life.”

A dazed-looking Rhys Ifans, who plays the villainous Lizard, was the last to join the panel, then left his own impression on Comic-Con when word got out of an altercation between the Welsh thesp and a security guard over smoking backstage. But it was the “Spider-Man” footage that will reverberate, and it looked good: Garfield is a convincing goofball high-schooler whose gangly frame fits the suit, and it’s clear that director Marc Webb is delivering on his promise for a grittier Spidey.

Coppola presented one of Comic-Con’s most intriguing new ideas in years but failed miserably to execute it. For his upcoming ghost thriller “Twixt,” Coppola said he would take his show on tour, changing the scenes and score in real time, mixing and editing on the fly for a live-performance feel. Though film geeks were ecstatic at the possibilities, Coppola will need to hone his technique before hitting the road: Twice he had to stop and start over, and he spent as much time fumbling with digital controls as projecting footage.

3D thoughts

Coppola also dipped into the 3D debate that took place at nearly every panel, suggesting that the medium will evolve to a point where glasses are not needed, and only certain scenes will open the third dimension. And Jackson, in town on a break from shooting “The Hobbit,” said the “price issue needs to be addressed” on 3D tickets. “It’s starting to backfire a little bit. With the right movie it can make a good film great and a great film amazing.”

Spielberg agreed, saying, “I’m certainly hoping that 3D gets to the point where people do not notice it, because once they stop noticing it, it just becomes another tool and an aid to help tell a story.” He said more collaboration with filmmakers is needed “because it’s not just like putting a new lens on a camera and forgetting it. It takes a lot of very careful consideration. It will change your approach to where you put the cameras. So, 3D isn’t for everybody.”

Not for Jon Favreau, whose 2D “Cowboys & Aliens” had its world premiere Saturday (two nights after the “Iron Man” helmer and Comic-Con staple DJ’ed a private party in the Gaslamp District). Favreau bounded out onto the stage to a roar of applause, telling the crowd that his movie is like that odd Christmas present under the tree you could never quite guess at — and didn’t know you wanted until you opened it.

“We’ve had a lot of Christmas presents this summer,” Favreau said, “but there’s one that everybody’s been shaking the box, and reading the label, and they say, ‘From Santa?! “Cowboys & Aliens,” what is this?!’ Well, you’re the first people to unwrap the present. We hope you enjoy it.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Joe Anthony Russo

    Russo Brothers to Receive Publicists Motion Picture Showman Award

    Hollywood union publicists have selected the Russo Brothers to receive the Motion Picture Showman of the Year Award. Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed “Avengers: Endgame,” will receive the award at the 57th Annual Publicists Awards ceremony on Feb. 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The publicists are part of the Intl. Cinematographers Guild, IATSE [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: A

    Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: 'The Warrior Can Never Find Peace'

    Sylvester Stallone may be 73, but he’s not one to sit back in his twilight years. As his legendary body slows, his output certainly hasn’t. This Friday, “Rambo: Last Blood” hits theaters around the world – 37 years after the debut of “Rambo: First Blood.” Why bring the muscled Vietnam veteran back for a final, [...]

  • VINCENZO-NATALI

    Vincenzo Natali to Open Sitges Pitchbox (EXCLUSIVE)

    Like Ron Perlman in 2018 and Guillermo del Toro the year before, Canadian writer-director Vincenzo Natali, whose new Netflix film, an adaption of Steven King’s “In the Tall Grass” will innaugurate October’s Sitges Film Festival, is lined up to open this year’s Sitges Pitchbox, organized in by Barcelona-based platform Filmarket Hub. The Sitges Pitchbox take [...]

  • "Tezuka's Barbara" in competition at Tokyo

    ‘Tezuka’s Barbara’ and ‘A Beloved Wife’ Head for Tokyo Festival Competition

    Two Japanese films, “Tezuka’s Barbara” and “A Beloved Wife” have been selected for the main competition section of next month’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will reveal the remainder of the competition and the bulk of its other selections later this month. To date the Japanese festival has only revealed its opening film (“Tora-san, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content