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From Hollywoodreporter.com

Comic-Con falls in love with new Man of Steel (firefly mention)

By Anne Thompson

Monday 18 July 2005, by Webmaster

SAN DIEGO — Superman is back. On Saturday morning, some 6,500 sci-fi, fantasy and comic book fans jammed the frigid Hall H at the airport-scale San Diego Convention Center as director Bryan Singer introduced the first footage anyone has seen from "Superman Returns," the latest attempt to revive the DC Comics movie franchise. "It’s one of the largest films Warner Bros. has ever made," Singer told the crowd.

The fans at the 36th annual Comic-Con International gave the early assemblage — for which Singer flew in from the set in Sydney — a rousing standing ovation. "This is Comic-Con, and it is ’Superman,’ " the director said. "If there was ever a time to make the long flight for a short visit, this was it."

According to producer Chris Lee, Singer hasn’t decided whether to post the teaser on the Internet, but the filmmakers will put it up swiftly if a bootleg version is posted. "Superman Returns" is scheduled for release June 30.

The early footage, cut by "Superman" co-writer Dan Harris, emphasized the retro visual style of the film, which Singer shot with new single-chip Genesis digital cameras. It suggested the lead characters’ romantic dilemma as Superman/Clark Kent (played by newcomer Brandon Routh) returns to Metropolis after a long absence to find that heartthrob Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is married to the son (James Marsden) of Daily Planet editor Perry White (Frank Langella). Kevin Spacey rejoins his "Usual Suspects" director as Superman nemesis Lex Luthor. "Kevin has a unique ability to play humor and villainy," Singer said.

Comic-Con fans also gave a warm reception to another Warner Bros. Pictures property as an expanded trailer for November’s "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was introduced on tape by director Mike Newell. In the latest filmed installment of the series, Harry faces a new fear: girls.

Since its founding, Comic-Con has grown exponentially: Last year’s 94,000 attendees skyrocketed from 75,000 the year before; this year’s attendance was expected to pass 100,000. The major studios like to hawk their science fiction, fantasy, animation, horror and comic book movies to this passionate crowd, who fan out and spread the word, often via the Internet.

Another Warners feature — the Wachowski brothers’ film production of the cult Alan Moore graphic novel "V for Vendetta" — could face a marketing challenge. While "Star Wars" fave Natalie Portman is clearly a plus for fans, she plays opposite a man in a mask (Hugo Weaving, the villain in "The Matrix"). The film also unfolds in a future totalitarian London attacked by terrorists, but despite the recent London bombings, the studio still plans to release the movie Nov. 4.

Also looking to gain a foothold with fans was writer-director Darren Aronofsky, who showed a 10-minute clip from his six-year passion project, "The Fountain." The project was temporarily scuttled when Brad Pitt dropped out in 2002 but went before the cameras in Montreal this year with a $35 million budget and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as a lovelorn couple who seek the Fountain of Youth for more than 1,000 years. "We’re exploiting the shit out of Comic-Con," Aronofsky told the crowd. "Spread the word because Warner Bros. doesn’t know what in hell to do with this movie." (The studio has yet to see his director’s cut, he said at a later cocktail party.)

As expected, Universal’s remake of the 1933 horror classic "King Kong" also proved a big hit at the convention. Peter Jackson, who is halfway through postproduction on a complex FX epic that is due for delivery in November, opted to stay on active duty 6,700 miles away in New Zealand, and sent a charmingly chatty reel to the convention accompanied by the trailer, which has already hit theaters and the Internet. The crowd roared its approval as he then delivered two minutes of animatics and unfinished footage from Kong’s epic battle with two T. rexes who can’t wait to eat the screaming, writhing Naomi Watts. "I tried to make it as brutal as I could," Jackson said. "I’ve been dying to make this movie my whole life, and I enjoyed every minute of it."

Adrian Brody, one of "Kong’s" stars, described the movie as a "timeless tale" and said, "if anyone can improve on the original, it’s Peter Jackson." Brody and Watts provided acoustic drumming as Black performed his ditty "There’s nothing as strong as King Kong."

At the convention’s end Sunday, Walt Disney Pictures also scored with its and Walden Media’s film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Director Andrew Adamson and producer Mark Johnson appeared via satellite in a live conference from New Zealand, where they are working with many of the WETA visual effects artists who worked on "The Lord of the Rings." With 1,300 effects to be completed for the film’s Dec. 9 release, visual effects supervisor Dean Wright reassured one questioner, "We’ll make sure this doesn’t suck." The filmmakers also offered up the news that Aslan, the CG-animated lion who serves as King of Narnia, will be voiced by Liam Neeson.

Attendees packed the house to watch new behind-the- scenes material for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," introduced on tape by producer Jerry Bruckheimer. "It’s not about treasure," he said. "It’s about Jack Sparrow’s deal with Davey Jones." A second sequel, "Pirates 3," starts filming in the fall, he said.

The reception for the kids’ comedy "Sky High" was less enthusiastic. It stars Comic-Con no-shows Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston and Linda Carter as well as Comic-Con favorite Bruce Campbell, who mugged for the fans. The superhero high school premise bears a striking resemblance to "Harry Potter," "Spy Kids" and "The Incredibles."

Also playing a tad too young for this particular crowd was Columbia Pictures’ "Zathura," a follow-up to "Jumanji" from "Elf" director Jon Favreau and based on Chris Van Allsburg’s story about a game that throws its players into space. Favreau stated an oft-repeated theme at this year’s Comic-Con, saying that he preferred to deploy real miniatures and photo effects when possible and spare the CG.

Nicolas Cage did not turn up to hype his turn as the devil’s bounty hunter in Columbia and Marvel’s "Ghost Rider," directed by "Daredevil’s" Mark Steven Johnson, who swore to fans that he would deliver his director’s cut to theaters this time rather than save it for the DVD. Columbia’s high-speed trailer for the sequel "The Legend of Zorro" generated unintended giggles when Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones sounded like chattering chipmunks. With "Serenity," writer-director Joss Whedon offered a movie version of his home-grown Fox cult series "Firefly," which reunites the original TV cast. The space adventure, which played like "Star Trek" for the Comic-Con crowd, could prove a sleeper hit for Universal Pictures.

Animation in all its guises was in plentiful supply. Tim Burton’s presentation of Warner’s stop-motion feature "Corpse Bride" is a sequel of sorts to 1993’s "Nightmare Before Christmas," with four songs from Danny Elfman.

Animation vets Mark Dindal and Randy Fullmer discussed Disney’s upcoming "Chicken Little," while an all-star panel of Pixar animators celebrated their successful decade’s run of nonstop CG blockbusters. Pixar star John Lasseter did not attend the convention but sent along a candy-colored trailer for his "Cars," due June 9, which was scarfed up by the crowd.

Post-"Lara Croft," the studios expect audiences to flock to movies starring high-kicking babes. Charlize Theron showed up to flog her live-action interpretation of anime’s "Aeon Flux," Kate Beckinsale said she was happy to return to rib-squeezing black rubber in Screen Gems’ sequel "Underworld: Evolution" and Keira Knightley, still in production on "Pirates," was a Comic-Con no-show as the gun-wielding bounty hunter in Tony Scott’s "Domino."

A horror glut is clearly heading toward theaters. At Comic-Con, audiences saw trailers for the Russian import "Night Watch," whose subtitles are red; the R-rated David Cronenberg-inspired gross-out "Slither"; the trailer that was too tough for the MPAA for "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," which draws its scare tactics from the William Friedkin original; the white-knuckle airplane thriller "Red Eye"; the underwater monster movie "The Cave"; a remake of "The Fog" with CG effects and the gay horror tale "Hellbent."

In a Comic-Con first, Lions Gate premiered Rob Zombie’s latest horror-fest, "The Devil’s Rejects," on Saturday night.