CCI, Day 3 - Sony Presents New Film Fun

Tue, July 19th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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Sony Pictures trotted out a slate of new films to entice an audience packed into Comicon's cavernous Hall H, including "The Fog," "Ghost Rider" and "Stealth."

Actress Maggie Grace and director Rupert Wainright were on hand to speak for "The Fog," as "Hellboy" actress Selma Blair and "Smallville" lead Tom Welling couldn't make the event. They showed creepy footage and gave tons of homage to the director of the original, John Carpenter, who has given the new production his blessing.

Director Mark Steven Johnson, actress Eva Mendes and movie mogul Avi Arad appeared to represent "Ghost Rider" (Nicolas Cage was filming, and could not attend).

"We just wrapped shooting a few weeks ago, and we didn't want to miss this," Johnson said. "We don't have Ghost Rider done, and we didn't want to come empty handed, 'Ghost Rider' without Ghost Rider. I'm still a few months away from seeing Ghost Rider."

They showed a clip which skirted around the title character, never showing the flame-headed Johnny Blaze in action due to unfinished special effects, but Johnson promised that the finished product would amaze.

"Kevin Mack is our visual effects person," Johnson said. "He did "Fight Club.' We film Nick or his double with the spikes the chains and collars, and he'd wear an interactive light collar, sometimes a whole green helmet. Using the fire to make expressions. When he gets angry, it goes white hot and gets higher like a lion's mane. When he gets sad, it becomes bluish and goes down."

Mendes talked about her work on the film, saying, "What's really cool about this role is that the original Roxanne in the comic book was my antithesis -- blonde, white ... I'm not. I'd like to thank Mark for thinking out of the box. I didn't know about 'Ghost Rider,' so I read the books and I realized she was a little bit victimy, like 'Johnny, no,' with tears and crying. Mark and I were like 'let's make her a little badass,' women can juggle a lot these days, they're not just girlfriends. Not just making her 'the chick.'"

Jumping into questions, a fan asked if Marvel's equestrian Ghost Rider would be addressed in this film, possibly with Sam Elliot's involvement. "I can't answer it," Johnson said about that question, which many took for "yes."

Arad deftly dodged a question about which villains are in "Spider-Man 3," and said he's excited about a new slate of films with "'Captain America -- finally -- 'Thor,' 'Iron Man,' 'Black Panther,' and if I live long enough, there'll be a lot more." Someone shouted out "Machine Man," and Arad said, "we'll have to wait a little."

Johnson discussed some of the ideas that went into this adaptation. "I just did a lot of research on demonology, I was fascinated by the whole rebel angel thing, Michael cast 'em down. Some of the fallen angels didn't follow Lucifer to hell, and became elemental demons that hide in the elements. Blackheart is tired of waiting for the end of days, comes here and begins collecting those demons."

Mendes, who was a big favorite of many fans, was asked if there was an action figure planned. "I did get cyberscanned," she responded, "but I'm not sure. I want one!"

Despite all the preview images, a fan was worried that the chain would not be a part of Ghost Rider's arsenal. "The main weapon is the chain and the penance stare," Johnson confirmed. "Which I thought was a cool ability. He can manipulate fire -- some fire throwing, fire balls, the hellfire shotgun. All the things I loved from the comic, from both Johnny and Danny, are in the movie."

Another fan asked about the bike's wheels, and Johnson replied, "When we did the wheels all fire, we found 'em a little floaty. But covered with fire, that's the best way to give real weight to them."

"Nick has said that Johnny Blaze is as close as he's come to playing himself," Johnson continued. "We went to his house and were pulling his biker jacket, his biker boots, and so on."

Another fan asked if this movie would be the director's vision, and not missing key segments as "Daredevil" did at another studio. "I do think the director's cut is a better version of that movie," Johnson admitted. "Thirty minutes of story got cut out, you wage a war to make the best movie you can. In this case, we have a studio behind us."

Arad was asked if "crossovers" would occur in movies, with so many properties at Sony. "Eventually you probably will see some crossovers when it makes sense," Arad said. "Now we're spreading the gospel, and every year you can see this genre spreading out."

A new poster was shown of the title character on the Hellcycle, wielding his chain.

The director of "Stealth" allegedly just "happened to be in the area" and happened to bring his cast -- actors Josh Lucas, "Blade: Trinity" starlet Jessica Biel and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, who was very enthusiastic.

Cohen was first asked a technical question and said that the movie was shot on film and had a 4k transfer, released in 5.1 audio, with better sound for the DVD release. "838 visual effects shots," he admitted. "Much more interaction that you'll have to see." There were $34 million in effects, done by Digital Domain.

When asked about green screen work, Foxx said, "The thing about Rob Cohen, and I think there's a difference in directors, when you can't see anything, he already has it all planned out. He had a kind of cartoon simular to the movie, so that made it a lot easier. He was there to make sure everything was A-OK."

Predictably, Foxx became the focus of most questions, including one asking him about the variety of roles he's played. "It's been things you never thought you could [do]" he said. "After this comedy thing on 'In Living Color,' but what people don't realize is that's a great training ground for doing characters. By the time you develop your dramatic muscle, you use things you learned on your comedic side and you just scale it back a little and it works."

Lucas talked about his intensive preparation for his role. "I went to flight survival school, which includes taking a mock helicopter, flipping it in a pool, and having to get out of it while blindfolded."

"I didn't do all of that," Foxx laughed. "I was on a gimbal, a simulated aircraft, I flipped over. Everybody was looking at it, and I was like 'lemme do my thing!' Next thing, I'm throwing up."

Each star talked about the part they play. "It's a guy who's a little superstitious who takes this job, which only a few people can do, and he takes a little luck with him, a little witchcraft," Foxx said.

Biel continued, "The only female pilot in this squadron, she's extremely smart. She's just as smart, if not smarter, than the men, she's one of the top dogs, she's hardcore and strong and tough."

Lucas finished up by saying, "We all have these great call signs, Jessica was just 'Guns,' because of these arms, she was in great sense, and Jamie was 'Easy,' for reasons that are obvious. I play a guy who's called 'Bic' because he lit himself on fire, drunk, at a party in his backstory. He's got a very moral question at the center of this very fun ride, that if you're using machines, you're not paying the costs of warfare."

 
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