Comic-Con Live: Warner Brothers Panel
by Alex Billington
July 21, 2006
11:01AM - Time to start the WB Panel! Director of Programming comes on stage to do a little introduction.
Featuring looks at The Reaping, The Wickerman, Harry Potter 5, and Bryan Singer (from Superman Returns).
The Reaping panel with (L to R) Joel Silver, Hilary Swank, Anna Sophia Robb, and Stephen Hopkins.
Check out this awesome coverage with some big names including Hilary Swank and Joel Silver!
11:05AM - World premier of The Reaping trailer. Description: "Thousands of years ago, there was a series of bizarre occourences." Biblical photos. "Some believe they were the plagues." Background details about the plagues. Locusts show up. Tagline: "Evil Has A Savior." Lots of various parts - watch it when it comes online (which it's now being shown in theatres, too).
11:08AM - Joel Silver and director of The Reaping Stephen Hopkins; Hilary Swank; and co-star Anna Sophia Robb make their way to the stage.
11:09AM - Joel Silver says that he wanted to give out live locusts to everyone who got a red chip (a prize pass from WB).
Joel: They got the script that was really "scary and creepy."
Hilary: She's (Hilary) read a lot of scripts in her career, and she really doesn't come across a lot of scripts, but this is a page turner. And she finally got to a point where she was surprised and that was intriguing.
Anna: She got the script and did it because of Hilary and Stephen and liked her character.
Stephen: Joel gave him the script, thought the idea was great. It's set in Louisiana in the bible belt. Thought the subject matter was really cool. Hilary called him up as well. It's supernatural in nature and very much a thriller and detective story.
11:13AM - Audience questions…
1 - How was it like filming in Louisiana?
A very difficult time for most of their crew. They were there for both of the hurricanes. They were shooting around Baton Rouge, and a lot of the film is location film, and they were scrambling a lot of the time. They lost a lot of their equipment and had to make the film without any technology, no phones or anything. It was quite a challenge. Stephen says it was maybe the hottest place he's ever been, too.
2 - For Anna, what was it like going from a children's movie to such scary topics?
Reading the script helped her a lot. She said she enjoys doing different roles, and it was fun to do this because it was something she's never done before.
3 - Did they use live locusts?
Yes they did. She was trained by getting locusts thrown on her and seeing if she wouldn't flinch.
Hilary: She (Anna) would become friends with the locusts on the set!
4 - For Hilary: what is one thing the director should not do working with the actor?
She's never really had a problem with a director, but a director that wouldn't want to collaborate wouldn't be good.
5 - What did both of you (Hilary/Anna) do for research?
Hilary said she is the research queen and really likes to get "into the skin of the character." Stephen gave her a magazine: The Skeptical Inquirer. She read a lot of books and read the bible. She didn't know there were a lot of magazines out there.
Anna: Talked with Stephen a lot. Being on location and meeting a lot of the people down there. Thinking about how she would act and what the situation was.
6 - I noticed that this movie is alot like the Omen, how doees this compare?
Joel: This movie is very different from The Omen, it is a contemperary film where biblical phenomenons are coming to life.
7 - What influenced you to take part in this film?
Stephen: There are a lot of things that interested me in this project. The subject matter itself is very interesting. A lot of the film is about people who use faith because of great tragedy.
Hilary: The element of nothing is as it seems in life, was very interesting to me.
Anna: The things that relate to the bible were really unique because there aren't alot of films that deal with that.
8 - Would you want to do something different than a big hollywood movie, like something on TV?
Hilary: I try very hard not to limit myself. If there is something on TV that is interesting, I wolud definitely consider it.
The Wicker Man
11:24AM - Neil Labute, the director of The Wicker Man, comes on stage to introduce the trailer.
Shows the first few minutes of The Wicker Man, not actually the trailer. Description: Nic Cage on a police bike pulls over a family car for littering. Nick's character talks to the lady driving and her daughter in the back who's doll she dropped. The daughter throws the doll back out the window after he gives it back to her. As he goes to pick it up a truck rams the car head-on. Cage tries to break out the girl from the car that's on fire. The car blows up and he flies back.
11:28AM - Lights back up. Audience Q&A opens.
1 - Why is this changed from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal society, and will there be any singing?
Neil: … There's very little singing. (Sorry, missed the answer to the first part.)
2 - How do you decide to do an original project or something like this one?
Neil: When you get lucky enough to stumble on an idea that you like. He doesn't spend a lot of time thinking if it should be his or someone else's. It was a novel he found and happened to like. He's said he's interested in the genre of horror. He was approached by Nic Cage's company and another producer and felt like it was a good fit and joined forces and made this happen. The answer is, you never really know. As Hilary just said, good material comes by less frequently.
11:34AM - No more questions… Time to move on.
Harry Potter 5
11:34AM - Daniel Radcliff introduces details via a video about the 5th Harry Potter and the director will be out soon.
You'll meet Hagrad's half brother, and there is a wonderful wizard battle at the end. There's another battle for Harry's soul, not his life, against Voldemort.
Richard Donner (L) and Bryan Singer (R)
11:37AM - A few clips that were left out from Superman Returns.
A clip of Marlon Brando talking with some new dialog. Probable tests from the new transition. Behind the scenes clips and funny outtakes/spoofs. A lot of funny outtakes and spoofs from the Superman Returns filming. Basically a full blooper reel that had some really great footage on it. The fans cheered enough and convinced Bryan to "put it on the DVD."
11:41AM - Bryan Singer comes to the stage with numerous applause and a massive Q&A line.
1 - Having directed stuff that is both all optical and something that is all CGI, how are they different?
Fortunately having experience with the first two X-Men films… *cheers* Spending half a year in pre-vis and storyboard and then being on set, there is a lot of time between shots and so on. Then in post-production, after 5 months of shooting, you go back and have to continue working after shooting [with CGI films].
2 - Question about Superman dropping back to his father role?
This child is the product of these parents (Lois and Richard). It's different because the child has the upbringing of those parents but still from Superman. As in, that his upbringing between Richard and Lois makes him unique and different than Superman (and if Superman were fathering him).
3 - A kid claims that there were different cuts of the film that he saw in theatres.
Bryan says "uh no that's not possible." Bryan keeps saying that's impossible.
4 - Touching on Superman's fathering again. She thought that was a compromise with his character.
He has deep love for Lois and many different types of families can live now (in the real world). It was a choice to have the child, pregnancies happen unwanted sometimes, and Lois is an independent woman and makes independent choices. It's hard to write for Superman and he's a tough character to create obstacles for that are insurmountable and this was one of them.
5 - Tell us a personal experience from your life that you put in it that "no one else would know about."
Bryan thinks… "if you told me X-Men 2 I could give you a good one." "I don't know…" One of his crew, the night before they shot the bedroom scene, had just had a frustrating day. The member of the crew and Bryan sat together and he had a child and the lady who had the child didn't let him see the child. He eventually got to see the child by the time he was 1 and a half. "He told me this sitting in this set in the bedroom." Suddenly it occured to him how to shoot this scene (the ending scene) in his bedroom, and he shot it with that guy's story in his mind.
6 - Are you making an extended edition?
Bryan says he is always hesitant because it confuses people when there is an extended version. At the Kent farm with Martha Kent there were some wonderful scenes that he will put on the DVD. He mentions the scene on Krypton in the beginning that he cut and that it would be a beautiful piece that he had to cut but it would just be underwhelming on the DVD. There were also some scenes between Martha and Clark Kent that he had to cut. At the very last minute he had to cut a lot.
7 - Would you let them include Superman Returns in a set of all the Superman movies?
It'll all come out at the same time if they do, but Bryan doesn't know. They're still "compiling" that.
8 - Question about sequels.
His intention is to do it for 2009. This movie introduces everyone to the characters, and this next one allows him to get all "wrath of khan" on it.
11:58AM - Richard Donner comes on stage to join Bryan Singer.
Bryan says the only reason he put Frank in the role is because he knew him from Skeletor!
9 - He said the Superman he saw in DC comics isn't the Superman he sees on film.
Everything in the past has inspired him, and he isn't going to retell what Dick (Donner) has done, but he would tell a return story. He had to pick a universe in which to return to, and picked one that was most classic and respectful. If Richard hadn't come on and done the Superman movies, there would be no template for comic-book movies ever. And now for the comic book fans who know the character. There are many different designs… in the original comic book he didn't fly. You have to start "mining" the pieces that you can. You got to start from some place. You just have to find a place to begin. Dick's are the classics and that is what he used for a starting point.
12:06PM - Richard Donner is showing a special clip from Superman II that he brought exclusively for Comic-Con. There was a scene in II that was never filmed, and he used it as a screen test for Christopher Reeve. This is a scene where Lois tests Clark on whether he is Superman or not.
Description: Lois is in the Daily Planet office. And to test if its Clark Kent, she colors in a Superman picture with a black marker to show his suit that he is wearing standing nearby. Then Lois accuses him when they're meeting with Mr. White. Lois keeps poking Clark with all these Superman puns like "we can fly up there" and jabs him in the stomach. She claims she's nobody's fool. To proove that he is Superman, she jumps out the window saying "you wouldn't let me die Superman!" He rushes out and saves her then rushes back up before she can figure anything out. A pretty classic clip.
12:15PM - Donner proclaims that Bryan Singer deserves a standing ovation for his new film Superman Returns - and receives one.
12:16PM - Back to some more audience Q&A.
10 - Have both of you (Donner and Singer) thought about Brainiac?
Donner: I'm involved in something behind Singer's back that involves Brainiac, but Bryan Singer "can't say." (As in, has nothing.)
11 - As a Superhero film, this has done what others haven't with its epic scope with the savior. In order to do that, a certain amount of time (length of the movie) was required. Was there pressure from the studio to make it shorter?
Bryan: To embrace and uplift iconic imagery, it's great. Bryan is fascinated by our myths and states that comic books will become our mythology. Bryan said he loved embracing that in the movie.
12 - What did Bryan have in mind for X-Men 3?
He wrote a 3rd of a treatment for it… It has certain things to what it became. It did have Phoenix, there was another villain from the X-Men universe. He isn't involved, but he is writing the Ultimate X-Men series.
13 - What made you (Bryan) decide to focus so much on the love story?
In the 70 year history of Superman, he's always had a love affair with Lois Lane. He's never really made a romantic story, and he wanted to challenge himself. He wanted to make a movie that "romantics" (aka women) could relate to. It was about that relationship and reestablishing that. This movie had to do a lot of catch-up with the relationship.
14 - Asked why Clark needed glasses?
He was an awkward kid when growing up and couldn't handle certain Kryptonian biological elements and so on. A bit of a confusing question/answer, sorry.
Bryan: It occurs to me that if you don't care about who the action and adventure is happening to in an action adventure movie, [then] it means nothing.
15 - Are you (Bryan) going to do anything else in comic book world?
"Like Aquaman?" X-Men and Superman are huge characters, they mean so much to so many people. He wants to make a smaller film before he goes back into these big ones. "Comedies are the hardest things to do in the world," (from an audience yell to do a comedy.)
He held a vote for "Charles Zod." Not that many cheers for Zod.
12:30PM - That's all from Bryan Singer and the WB panel!