Editor's Note: this is the first of three consecutive Daily Lists to break down the San Diego Comic Con schedule for you. Today: movies. Tomorrow: TV. Thursday: comics. Yes, they still have those. -LYT
With subjects ranging from location scouting to Leonard Maltin, and varying in tone from Superman's 75th anniversary to Spike & Mike's animation fest, the movie-related panels at this year's Comic-Con seem almost infinitely varied. The list below represents only a small portion of the movie events likely to raise the pulse and stir the soul of any red-blooded geek.
Dates, times and locations are not listed here; check the schedule for such specifics.
1. An Unofficial Sneak Peek of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with TheOneRing.net
The gang at the Tolkien site, known as TORn for short, spend some time indulging in "[r]umors, spy reports, conjecture, inside info, debunking, and lively debate" about the next installment of the trilogy. Sounds like fun, but of course the most fanatically geeky Tolkien completists will have already attended a panel earlier that day...
2. Spotlight on Gene Deitch
If only because he was the creator of the Tom Terrific shorts for Captain Kangaroo, it would be right and proper to pay homage to the redoubtable Deitch. But not everyone knows that Deitch was the director of the first film version of The Hobbit, back in 1966, a twelve-minute compression, hastily made so that producer William Snyder could retain (and resell) the rights to the book. Despite the liberties taken with the yarn - Smaug is called "Slag," for instance - it's worth watching; it has a cool Jay Ward/William Steig look to it.
3. The Zero Theorem
Any new work from the brilliant if erratic Terry Gilliam is likely to be worth a peek, and a peek is what's being offered of Gilliam's upcoming film, from a script by Pat Rushin, about a computer scientist (Christoph Waltz) probing...nothing ambitious or anything, just the meaning of existence. Producers Zev Foreman and Dean Zanuck preview the Voltage Pictures release, along with Terry's daughter Amy Gilliam.
4. Ender's Game
It's no surprise that Orson Scott Card isn't scheduled to participate in the July 18 panel for the upcoming film of his popular 1977 novel, sort of a Starship Troopers for the nascent video-game generation. Card is a controversial figure; a staunch opponent of gay marriage (and, it seems, of being gay in general), he's also been accused of basing his central character Ender Wiggin, a young military prodigy during a war between Earth and a race of insect invaders, on Adolf Hitler. The panel is slated to include the likes of producer Roberto Orci - who says he didn't know about Card's attitudes when he set out to make the movie - director/screenwriter Gavin Hood, and stars Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield, all of whom are probably really hoping that none of this crap comes up. And probably in vain.
5. The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music: Bringing a Comic Book to Life
Since the days of "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA! BATMAN!" or "Spiderman, Spiderman/Does whatever a spider can..." or the use of Rimsky-Korsakov's wonderfully public domain "Flight of the Bumblebee" for The Green Hornet, superhero theme music has come a long way. Or so suggests this panel, anyway. Creating a superheroic score for the modern moviegoer is discussed by both composers and directors, among them Marco Beltrami and James Mangold of The Wolverine, Brian Tyler and Shane Black of Iron Man 3, and Henry "I'm not Hugh" Jackman and Matthew Vaughn of X-Men: First Class, among others.
6. Dreamworks Animation Filmmaker Focus
The studio's racing-snail saga Turbo will already be in the multiplexes by the date of this panel. But that won't stop director David Soren from talking it up. Also scheduled are Rob Minkoff and Dean DeBlois, to talk about Mr. Peabody & Sherman and How to Train Your Dragon 2, respectively.
7. Video Games to Movies: Is the Golden Age Upon Us?
The rhetorical question in the title raises the further question of whether, in the era after Pirates of the Caribbean and The Country Bears, we've missed acknowledging the Golden Age of Theme Park Attractions to Movies. A pity if so, but it would be surprising if this panel, which includes writer-director Kevin Tancharoen of the rebooted Mortal Kombat franchise, Adrian Askarieh of the Hitman and Kane & Lynch film projects and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill of the Deus Ex movie, didn't conclude that yes, at least from their point of view, the Golden Age of Video Games to Movies is indeed about to be upon us.
8. The World's End
It's a decent bet that any collaboration between stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame will at least be good for a few laughs. Their newest concerns an alien invasion that occurs, inconveniently, in the midst of a pub crawl, which, coincidentally, is exactly what native San Diegans think is happening every July. Wright, Pegg and Frost are slated to appear at the panel.
9. Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!
Despite compelling calls on this very site for the end of the vogue for zombies, Comic-Con's schedule suggests that reports of the subgenre's demise, like reports of the demises of zombies themselves, may be premature. Day One offers Zombies in Pop Culture at 7 p.m., with author Max Brooks of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, among other mavens of the undead. Just an hour later that same evening, you can check out, no kidding, "Not Guilty Due to Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse," featuring the mock trial of former zombies who have been cured, now facing charges for their actions while dead. It could be a ratings bonanza for TruTV.
10. Veronica Mars
It's a touching, heartwarming story: passionate supporters unite and, via Kickstarter, supply that struggling little indie house Warner Bros. with the necessary start-up funding for a movie version of the UPN's Nancy Drew-meets-noir-style series (2004-2007). It could, perhaps, be seen as the online generation's version of the fan-letter campaign that salvaged the original Star Trek for a third season back in the late '60s. Scheduled to be present at the Mars panel are creator Rob Thomas and stars Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, Jason Dohring, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III and others, along with a look at some footage and maybe some hint as to whether it was money well donated.