CCI: Warner Bros. Studios Presents ...

Fri, July 27th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

The first studio presentation for Friday came from Warner Bros. With two comic book movies and loads of genre fare, it's clear they were ready for the fans at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.

They began things with a showing of an extended trailer for the new "Get Smart." With a cast that includes Steve Carrell (as Maxwell Smart), Anne Hathaway (as Agent 99), and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is it any surprise the audience roared with laughter?

Of course not. The real surprise was the amount of action packed into the trailer. For every bit that made audiences "guffaw," there was another sequence that made them say "oooh."

In attendance for the film were director Peter Segal and actors Steve Carrell, The Rock, Ken Davitian (Azamat from "Borat"), Masi Oka (Hiro of "Heroes" fame), and Nate Torrence ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"). They all began by saying what it meant to work on a remake where the original holds so many fond memories for the cast.

Segal said that they had tried to capture the "spirit" of the show, and that the movie had received the blessings of several members of the original show, including Mel Brooks, Leonard Stern, and Buck Henry. In addition, the director told the audience to keep their eyes open for certain cameos in the movie. He also added that Hymie the Robot and Agent 13 definitely make appearances in the film.

Carrell said that he was a fan of the original show, and has great respect for Don Adams (the original Smart who passed away in 2005). The actor said he likes to play characters like Smart as though they don't know they're in a comedy, and that he really wanted this film to feel like "a comedic 'Bourne Identity.'" He also added he enjoyed playing a spy because spies are "athletic, coordinated, intelligent, and sexy, and I am none of those in real life." Then, each actor went around the table and said a little something about their characters.

Oka and Torrence said they play inventors who work for Maxwell Smart's agency; however, their inventions never quite work as they're supposed to.

Davitian said that his character worked for Kaos, and that he got to keep his clothes on in this film (as opposed to his infamous "Borat" role).

The Rock plays Agent 23, who is Smart's mentor (and had some funny scenes in trailer as well).

They also mentioned that Alan Arkin plays Chief and Terence Stamp plays Siegfried.

They concluded by mentioning the film is out in June of 2008.

Next came a video clip of Nicole Kidman. She is currently in Australia filming "Australia" for director Baz Luhrmann, but she was appearing at Comic-Con today to promote "The Invasion," the latest remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Produced by Joel Silver, the audience was then treated to an extended trailer of Kidman running, hiding, and screaming to avoid being "taken over." The film will be released in theaters on August 17th and also stars Daniel Craig and Jeremy Northam, who were evident in the trailer.

Following this bit of terror came an even bigger heaping of horror in the form of the film "One Missed Call." This is a remake of the Japanese horror film "Chakushin Ari," by noted director Takashi Miike. The plot involves an evil spirit that travels through cell phone signals. When you get called, you apparently hear your own death.

The film stars Shannyn Sossamon as a young woman whose roommate has been killed by this spirit. Ed Burns plays the lone cop who believes Sossamon's story about her roommate's death, mainly because his sister was the evil spirit's first victim. Both Burn and Sossamon were in attendance, and said they were mystified and terrified by the film, and hoped audiences had the same reaction.

Warner Bros. then presented a film that made many comic book fans happy – "Whiteout," based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka. An unofficial trailer was shown, where a voiceover talks about how deadly Antarctica is. The lead character (played by Kate Beckinsale), then appears and we see shots of her investigating a murder while battling these elements of nature. The images felt mysterious, bloody, and cold – fans are in for a treat!

On hand to talk about the movie were producer Joel Silver, director Dominic Sena, actress Kate Beckinsale, and writer Greg Rucka. Sena mentioned that they had only recently finished filming the movie, and that the trailer we had just witnessed was cobbled together by the footage they had available.

When it comes to adaptations, creators of source materials will tell you that things can sometimes go awry. Rucka, however, feels the script captures the best of the graphic novel. As a matter of fact, he said that there were several scenes in the movie that he wished they had put in the book.

As for the casting of Beckinsale, Silver said that he wanted her to star from the beginning. Although, he did regret that they had to put her in a parka for most of the movie.

Fans were allowed to ask other questions in a Q&A, and the "Whiteout" group happily played along.

Regarding the character Lily from the book, Rucka said that she is not in the movie. He said there is a new character named "Price" who is her equivalent. He also agreed with this decision because it emphasizes Kate's aloneness as a female in her environment.

When asked about a "Queen and Country" movie, Rucka said he definitely does want one. He explained that someone has the rights, drafts of scripts have been made, and he hopes it goes into production one day.

In talking about the conditions in making a film that takes place in the Antarctic, Sena said they used/will use a combination of real snow, fake snow, and computer-generated snow. The film was shot mainly in upper Manitoba (where temperatures were 30-40 below zero) and Montreal. He also mentioned some of the dangers of filming in Manitoba, where the crew spun a car off the road every day on the way to and from the set.

A fan next asked Beckinsale the difference between a film like "Underworld" and "Whiteout." She replied, "On 'Underworld,' when I bent over in my costume I would hear someone say, 'Ahhhh...' – that didn't happen on 'Whiteout.'"

The last question of the Q&A was directed at Silver. As the producer of both "Lethal Weapon" and "Die Hard," he knows both Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis. The questioner wanted to know if Gibson and Willis fought, who would win? Silver's response: "I would."

And to wrap up their presentation, Warner Bros. saved the best for last. There is one comic more than any other that fans have wanted to see adapted for years. It's almost happened several times, but now, the time has actually come for "Watchmen," based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore.

Director Zack Snyder ("300") came out to talk to the audience about his plans. He said that he's always loved "Watchmen" because it showed him what a comic could be.

He began by talking about the discussions he had with Warner Bros. over the time period setting for the movie. The comic is firmly set in the 1980s, which is relevant to several plot points that occur.

The studio was somewhat interested in "contemporizing" the film to make it accessible for audiences. "Instead of focusing on the cold war, it could focus on the war on terror," was one of the ideas thrown out.

Snyder, however, felt that the story had to take place in the 80s. He wants viewers to make connections on their own. "I don't want to tell people what to think, it's better for them to think for themselves."

The director knows "accessibility" is a bit of an issue, but when it comes to "Watchmen," he said "I don't know if it should come to the people, or the people should come to it." It seems he's leaning towards the latter.

Another inevitable discussion he had with the studio was in regards to the rating. Warner Bros. actually brought it up with him first in saying, "This doesn't feel like a PG-13 movie." Naturally, Snyder agrees. He emphasized though that he doesn't want to make the film an R just for the sake of going crazy with blood and violence – he said, "I just want the story to be what it needs to be."

The director said they are building lots of sets in Vancouver, and that they are going for all practical (real) sets with the exception of scenes taking place on Mars and Antarctica. He then moved onto the news that everyone was waiting for – the cast.

The Watchmen will consist of actors Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Malin Akerman. Snyder says he feels this group is basically "perfect." He likes them because they are "real" actors. To clarify, he explained that the film isn't "Watchmen" starring Tom Cruise, it's just "Watchmen" – period. Any questions the studio had about this were justified when he told them, "I made '300' without any stars, and that did okay."

Two members of the cast then came out and joined Snyder – Malin Akerman (Laurie) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach).

The director said that he has heard some comments that the actors seemed young. He felt that they're the perfect age because the movie contains a lot of flashbacks. Instead of finding other actors to play the actors as young adults, Snyder said they can age these actors up and down as needed with makeup.

When it comes to Dr. Manhattan (who will be played by Crudup), the director indicated that the young hero will be played by Billy "as is." For the Dr. Manhattan in the 80s-present, it will be a cool-looking CG character. Snyder added that they've been running tests for this already.

In the Q&A that followed, a fan asked about the "pirate story," which is part of the comic book. The director said that he wants to film it, but he doesn't know if the studio will let him. He explained that when he turned in the script for "Watchmen," it was big. As opposed to including the pirate story in that script and scaring the studio, he sent in a second script and told them it's part of the film too. He hoped two smaller scripts would be less scary to the studio than one extra-large one. Snyder hasn't heard back from them yet, but he's hoping ...

Creator Alan Moore has historically been very cantankerous when it comes to putting his name on filmed adaptations of his works. Snyder admitted that they've tried to contact him but haven't heard back. The director says he does understand where Moore is coming from and hopes the film pleases him eventually. Ideally, Snyder says that he hopes Moore might check the DVD of the film out someday and say, "You know, they didn't f*ck it up too bad."

As for artist Dave Gibbons, the director says he has read the script and approves of what he's seen and heard. As a matter of fact, Gibbons drew a con-exclusive poster of the movie that announces its release date – 3/6/09. Snyder joked that the studio picked that date because he's bad with numbers.

And thus, the Warner Bros. presentation ended with fans scrambling to go get these special souvenirs.

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