CCI: Sony Pictures

Mon, August 4th, 2008 at 1:37pm PDT | Updated: August 4th, 2008 at 1:38pm

TV/Film
Jami Philbrick, Staff Writer

Patrick Tatopoulos, Rhona Mitra, Bill Nighy and Kevin Grevioux at Comic-Con International 2008

The Sony Pictures presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego began with the showing of a trailer for the new film “Quarantine.” In theatres this fall, the film is similar to “I Am Legend” but done in a “Cloverfield” style.

After that, the cast and crew of “Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans,” the third in the popular Underworld series, took to the stage. Cast members Rhona Mitra (“Doomsday”), Bill Nighy (“Pirates Of The Caribbean: At Worlds End”) and writer/actor Kevin Grevioux joined director Patrick Tatopoulos to show a clip from the film and answer questions from the audience.

“Len (Wiseman) told me that when he wrote the first movie that he had an idea in his mind to write the back-story and figure out the beginning so he would be able to write [the first ‘Underworld’],” said Tatopoulos. “In doing so, he realized that the first story was actually very cool and should be told. That’s how [‘Rise of the Lycans’] got created. So it is a back-story, the big difference is as you’ve been seeing the story from the eyes of the vampires, now we will see it through the eyes of the Lycans, the werewolves.”

Tatopoulos went on to say that the film is a period piece, set in the dark ages, focusing on how the Lycans broke from their slavery to the Vampires. The movie will also revolve around the forbidden relationship hinted to in the first film between Lucian (Michael Sheen) and Sonja (Mitra), the daughter of Viktor (Nighy).

Rhona Mitra at Comic-Con International 2008

Mitra, who was also appeared as the second live action model for Lara Croft in the “Tomb Raider” video game series, discussed the movie’s subplot. “It really is a tragic love story. It’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ between Michael and myself,” said the actress.

Nighy, who has recently been seen in the last two “Pirates Of The Caribbean” movies and “Shaun Of The Dead,” talked about his recent roles. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been a vampire, a zombie and a squid,” joked the actor. “How many people do you know who can make that claim?”

Nighy went on to talk about the “Underworld” series. “I was very proud to be in the first one,” he said. “We made, in terms of financial investment, a relatively small vampire movie about six years ago with true believers, some real enthusiasts who were good, decent and honest men who believed in the vampire thing as a genre. It went straight to number one in America and look at us now.”

Kevin Grevioux, who wrote the original film and created the characters and world with Wiseman, talked about how the whole thing began. “I never liked vampires that much, I liked the werewolves,” he said. “Len came to me to help him write it, after he had a meeting with a studio who wanted to do a werewolf movie since ‘Blade’ had done so well for vampires.”

Bill Nighy and Kevin Grevioux at Comic-Con International 2008

Grevioux went on to say that he was nervous about writing a werewolf movie because he believed that there had only been two good werewolf movies made in the last sixty years, “An American Werewolf In London” and “The Howling.” “I told [Wiseman] that I could come up with something if he promised to use real snot-nosed-type werewolf creatures. So that’s what we did, we came up with the storyline for the original screenplay and the rest his history.”

“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” opens early in 2009.

Changing gears from werewolves and vampires to marijuana and comedy, the cast and crew of the new pot/action movie “Pineapple Express” joined comedy guru Judd Apatow on stage to show some clips and talk about the film. The panel included director David Gordon Green (“George Washington”), writer Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”) and actors Amber Heard (“Never Back Down”), Danny McBride (“Tropic Thunder”), Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) and James Franco (“Spider-Man 2”).

Rogan explained how he and Goldberg came up for the idea for the movie, about two stoners who witness a murder. “It was hard sell to make a weed movie for me and Evan. Not really,” said Rogen. “We had the notion, wouldn’t it be funny to make a weed, action comedy? We said, that sounds fucking rad. A movie with a guy smoking joints and shooting AK-47s, that’s a movie I want to go see right now.”

"Pineapple Express" opens this week in the U.S.

McBride talked about working with director Green, who is known for his more dramatic, independent films. “When I first got the role David was like, listen, your character is going to have his armpits shaved. I said, why was that? He said that’s what you have to figure out.”

Franco, who is notorious for immersing himself in a role and doing extensive research, talked about preparing for this movie. “I like to do preparation and take it a little far. It was fake weed but we laced it with heroin,” joked the actor. “We went a little far and then when we got to filming I knew to pull it back.”

After a few clips from the film, including one of the two stars smoking a “cross-joint” (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and a car chase through Hollywood, they took questions from the fans. The first fan asked Apatow, since he had been on a panel with comic book legend Frank Miller earlier in the week, “Is Frank Miller cool?” After an awkward exchange with the director the fan continued to annoy him by asking questions such as, “Do you think Frank would like me?” and “Is it true this movie is based on the graphic novel, ‘Pineapple Express’ by Frank Miller?”

The second fan to ask a question continued to reference the fact that his “butt was super sweaty” and asked the panel “do you know where I could score some weed?”

“I think the answer is yes, but we can’t tell you,” answered Apatow.

Seth Rogen and James Franco at Comic-Con International 2008
Judd Apatow at Comic-Con International 2008

The third fan to ask a question swore that he would not ask anything about Frank Miller. “I just have a huge hard-on right now, I’m so excited,” declared the fan. He went on to say that he was a screenwriter and friends with director McG, and that he wanted to pitch them his idea for “Superbad 2: Full Throttle.”

After that, the audience realized that the previous questions had not come from fans but recognizable actors from various Apatow projects.

Rogen was asked about the script for an episode of “The Simpsons” that he and Goldberg wrote. He confirmed the script has been submitted and that there will be a table read in a few weeks. He also mentioned that the episode is about comic books.

Finally, Rogen was asked about his work on the upcoming “Green Hornet” film. After the question, the audience’s immediate response was quiet. “It’s hard dealing with a property this popular. With fans so rabid,” joked the actor.

“We’re making it, it looks like,” continued Rogen. “We’re meeting with directors and we’ve written a script. A soon as we hire a director we’ll start pre-production. It looks like it’s going to happen. There are no fans for it. There’s nobody dressed like the Green Hornet here. There are people dressed as fucking everything here and there’s no Green Hornet. So yeah, we’re psyched!”

“Pineapple Express” burns into theaters on August 6.

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TAGS:  cci2008, sony pictures, pineapple express, underworld: rise of the lycans, judd apatow

 
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