Another edition of the legendary San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and once again the geeks of the world have definitely come out on top. Hollywood hit the convention in full force, transforming the event from a mere comic book convention into a celebrity-filled showcase for blockbuster entertainment.
As expected, most of the major studios were in San Diego to promote their upcoming genre offerings. Some of the highlights included Marvel announcing their upcoming slate of superhero films, Lionsgate showing off scenes from the final "Twilight Saga" movie, and Warner Bros. debuting footage from their new Superman film "Man of Steel." But among those major announcements were a few surprises… and some big let downs.
Surprise: "The Host" crashes the "Twilight Saga" panel — The San Diego Convention Center's massive Hall H played host to the cast and creators of the "Twilight Saga" for the last time at Comic-Con. With the release of the final film in the series, "Breaking Dawn — Part 2," just around the corner, this was likely the last "Twilight"-related Comic-Con appearance for stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Attendees were treated to a screening of the first seven minutes of "Breaking Dawn — Part 2," in which Stewart's recently transformed character Bella hunts, kills, and feasts on a mountain lion.
Also in attendance were "Twilight Saga" author Stephenie Meyer and director Andrew Niccol, who used the panel as an opportunity to show off a teaser for their next project: the big screen adaptation of Meyer's novel "The Host." The upcoming alien invasion film follows Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl whose body has been taken over by the invading force but whose mind refuses to give in to the entity controlling her. The footage was well received by the media in attendance, and a nice treat for Twi-hards upset about the impending end of the "Twilight Saga."
Let down: No "Ant-Man" release date — Marvel's first "five year plan" entailed producing a number of films that shared the same fictional continuity. These films included "Iron Man 2," "Thor," and "Captain America: The First Avenger," and their success resulted in the company's ability to produce "The Avengers" — a superhero ensemble that became a super-powered smash at the box office.
Marvel used Comic-Con as an opportunity to unveil their next "five year plan," a slate of films that includes sequels "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and "Iron Man 3," as well as new comic book movie properties "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Ant-Man." The latter film has been a long time coming, with geek director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World") having tried to get the project going for years. Wright showed off the impressive test footage he shot to sell Marvel on the project, but details remained scarce. The Marvel hero who can alter his size at will would make a great addition to The Avengers (he was a founding member of the team in the comic books), and will reportedly make a cameo appearance at the end of "Iron Man 3." However, every other film talked about during the panel was given a solid release date, save for "Ant-Man." Wright has to direct his next film, "The World's End" in the interim, so hopefully fans will know more once he has completed that project.
Surprise: "Godzilla" — During the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures panel the King of all Monsters made an unexpected appearance. No small task for a radioactive lizard the size of a skyscraper. Yes, everyone's favourite Japanese monster, Godzilla, is back for another crack at the North American box office after a less than stellar 1998 outing. Several years ago, Legendary Pictures announced that they had acquired the rights to Godzilla, and earlier this year "Monsters" director Gareth Edwards joined the project.
As no mention was made of the city stomper in the lead up to Comic-Con, no one really expected to hear anything about the new "Godzilla" film at the event. This lack of expectation made the teaser footage that Legendary showed off — featuring Godzilla prowling the remains of a destroyed metropolis - a big hit at the panel.
Let down: No 48 FPS "Hobbit" footage — One of the highlights of Comic-Con was "The Hobbit" panel featuring filmmaker Peter Jackson, and actors Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and Elijah Wood. The cast and crew fielded questions about "The Lord of the Rings" prequel and presented a 12-minute reel of scenes from the first of the two films, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
The extended look at the film was a welcome sight for the assembled Comic-Con attendees, but one major thing was lacking in the presentation: the much ballyhooed 48 frames per second (FPS) 3D projection that Jackson has touted at every opportunity. The technology is intended to reduce flicker and motion blur, but has the unintended consequence of making things appear almost too real.
Media attending the industry-focused convention CinemaCon earlier this year did not react well to the 48 FPS "Hobbit" presentation, with some calling it "underwhelming," "non-cinematic," and "TV-like" in appearance. The cameras that were used to shoot "The Hobbit" and new projectors that are used to project the film double the amount of frames per second, with the effect being reportedly quite noticeable.
To avoid any controversy, the Comic-Con crowd was shown a standard 24 FPS version of the "Hobbit" footage.
"I didn't want to repeat the CinemaCon experience where literally people see this reel and all they write about is 48 frames a second," Jackson told Movieline. "That doesn't do us any good. It doesn't do 48 fps any good."
The con could have been a wonderful opportunity for the filmmakers to test 48 FPS out on their target audience. Instead they seem to be evading the issue entirely, something that could backfire on them when the film is released later this year.