Sunday, August 1, 2010

Comic-Con 2010 Rundown - THURSDAY: the "Tron Legacy" panel!

The first full day of Comic-Con was "Tron Legacy" day! Although I'd have to say the entire event really did belong to the movie we'll finally get to see this coming December. Because the much-anticipated panel for "TL" was first up on the day's schedule, I knew we'd need to get in line for Hall H really, REALLY early. The alarm went off at 5:30am. Rebecca was up and getting ready before my feet could reach the floor. Soon she had snacks packed for the morning / day and was ready to head down and get in line. I followed a short time later, keeping visual tabs on how long the line was getting. For the first of many times I said, "Thank God we're in this hotel!" Before I left she called me to say the line was moving. A quick glance out the window would confirm that no one was going in yet and that they were just compacting the line. If we’d been staying in the Marriott we could only guesstimate what was happening a full three blocks away at the other end of the convention center!

Finding Rebecca holding a prime location in line, we were joined by Chris, a producer I'd worked with at Happy Hour Creative who was no longer with the company, and his son Justice who I'd arranged with previously to meet up with for this. They arrived about an hour out from the panel. Finally 9:30 came and the doors opened!

Right before "Tron Legacy" we'd be seeing the presentation for "Megamind", the animated superhero adventure starring Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt. Ferrell was introduced and walked onstage with a hall costume-like rendition of his animated counterpart in the film, which was pretty funny. Tina Fey and Jonah Hill soon followed and there was a bit of anticipation in the air as to whether Brad Pitt would step onstage. He plays Megaman in the movie. Suddenly Will Ferrell made his way over to the steps leading up onstage and sheepishly grabbed a life-sized cutout of Pitt from behind the curtain. Everyone laughed, but there was still a feeling that he might actually surprise everyone and appear. Considering the fact that his wife, Angelina Jolie would be there the next day for the “Salt” panel, we kind of assumed he would follow suit. Never happened. I have to say after seeing the extended trailer and learning more about the story of “Megamind” my interest in the movie definitely went up!

Then it was time for the main event! First up, director Joe Kosinski, Producer and original "Tron" director Steven Lisberger, and stars Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Sheen, Olivia Wilde took the stage to wild applause. We were then treated to the footage we've all been patiently waiting to finally see! Beyond the incredible test footage they showed two years ago, no one had seen any clips from the actual film yet. Now we would be treated to eight minutes of footage from the movie!!! WOW!

Amazing images of Kevin Flynn's son, Sam (played by Hedlund), introduced us to how this 28 years later world of Tron would look and feel! He boards a Recognizer with other appropriated programs to be taken to the game grid where he's fitted with his combat gear by mysterious female figures. Then came the reveal of Kevin Flynn's alter ego, Clu, also played by Jeff Bridges using a CG masking technique that digitally altered the actor's facial features to look like he was in his 30's again. Two years ago were shown a brief glimpse of Clu in that test trailer. Programs in the world of "Tron" don't age of course, so it was necessary to utilize the same technology used in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" to achieve this. The effect definitely works, but you could tell that they were still perfecting it going into five months before the actual film's release. Kind of the way that The Hulk and Iron Man looked just a tad CG-ish during their respective Comic-Con panels than they did months later when their movies premiered. I'll let the fans over at give a much more detailed description of the extended scenes we were treated to.

The final shot of the brand new "Tron Legacy" trailer showed Clu jumping into mid-air as a flying vehicle digitally formed around him, blasting out of frame. We cheered applauded wildly along with the 6,000+ in attendance as the final logo appeared on screen. A Q&A followed with director Joe Kosinski revealing that two of the most important things that needed to be in this new movie was Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn and Tron. Even though it wasn't said specifically, it became clear that one of the big reveals in the film might very well be Bruce Boxleitner as Tron. If that's true, they're doing a nice job of keeping a lid on it.

Something extra special we all had a chance to become a part of was a full Hall H audio session with director Joe Kosinski. You're like 'whaaa?'. Towards the end of the panel the entire room was told we could all be a part of a scene in the movie, just by following some simple directions on the giant screens overhead. In between each command we would see a card that said 'now be quiet'. First we were instructed to cheer, stomp our feet, then shout out the phrases “DISK! WARS!”, “RENZ-LER!”, “DE-REZ!”, all of which was recorded to be used as spectator voices during the gladiator-style game grid sequence of the film. It was pretty awesome and the 6,000+ fans in the room were all very respectful to the directions and really enjoyed the chance to be a part of this experience.

A final round of applause and cheers from the fans and we were on our way out of Hall H to meet up with Bill in the Exhibit Hall. It was time to start our customary top-to-bottom walk through of the dealer’s area and movie, TV, and game booths. Starting in Aisle 100, Rebecca and I picked up where we left off on Wednesday night to shop and see the sights. We'd come back to the spot we left off at a few times over the course of the four days, amazingly ending our complete tour on Sunday afternoon. The first year I attended, it took me two and half days total to get through everything. Now that I know what I like to see and can pass by, it still usually takes a day and half total.

Thursday night took us up the streets of San Diego once more to a restaurant someone at the "Tron Legacy" booth had referred us to, a breakfast place that was supposed to be very good. Unfortunately the service turned out to be not the best and some of the food actually came out cold, mine in particular. Rebecca's and Bill's seemed to be O.K., but I had to send mine back to be reheated. Amazingly, when the dishes returned they were still somewhat cold! Needless to say this place ended up being a mistake. Keeping it to the familiar would be the next night's dinner selection.

Unfortunately we missed Penn & Teller, who were performing in our hotel that night. No worries because it was either them or food....we chose food. And the first full day came to a close.


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