In what may become the new trend at Hall H in upcoming Comic-Cons, major television shows with huge, devout fan bases (that line up early by the thousands) took over the room, overshadowing any movie attempting to gain traction today. Granted, there were only two studios gutsy enough to try and top consecutive panels for The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.
The first panel of the day was Focus Features’ stop motion animated movie, ParaNorman, featuring Kodi-Smit McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell and producer Travis Knight. We got a look at a couple of clips, including a new extended version which you can watch below.
The first clip was the first scene from act two and finds Norman going to a cemetery to read an incantation from a book to stop a witch’s curse. As he begins to recite the words, his nemesis/bully Alvin stops him by stealing the book and waving it around out of Norman’s reach. As a large storm cloud swirls in the sky, zombies begin to break through the ground and encircle Norman and Alvin.
The second clip was the beginning of a chase sequence with Norman, his sister Courtney, his friend Neil, Alvin and Mitch (voiced by Casey Affleck) inside a van. Unbeknown to the quintet, a zombie is clinging to the top of the vehicle and manages to smash its way inside. As Neil is wrestling with it, the teaser clip comes to a close with him saying, “I have an idea!”
During Q&A, it was learned that Kendrick got the role of Courtney not because the directors had seen her in Twilight, but because they liked her voice in interviews. Mintz-Plasse rather coyly stated that Kick-Ass 2 would begin production in September.
Next up was The Big Bang Theory with producer/creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady along with cast members Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch and via satellite from New York, Jim Parsons. Johnny Galecki was supposed to be a part of the panel, but his plane had been delayed and he wasn’t able to make it on time. Appropriately, the panel was moderated by Mythbuster Adam Savage.
While it was easily the most entertaining panel filled with lots of laughs, the highlight came at the end when astronaut Rick Searfoss mades a surprise appearance and offers Helberg if he would be interested in flying with him in the Lynx suborbital space machine. Before getting the answer, we see a video of what the experience is like and after watching the promo clip, Helberg declines, joking about how dehydrated food doesn’t sit well with him.
Lorre then asks if maybe someone in the audience wants to go and eventually, those who had asked the panel questions were invited up on stage and participate in a raffle. A young lady named Mercedes holds the winning envelope and jumps for joy.
Following the laughs of Big Bang came the more zombie action. The Walking Dead followed next with a panel featuring Robert Kirkman and Dave Alpert along with cast members Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus and others. Not much came out this panel aside from a sneak peek at Season 3 which premieres October 14. The clip featured a look at the zombie-infested prison and looks at David Morrissey as The Govenor and Danai Gurira as the katana-weilding badass Michonne.
Game of Thrones was up next with George R.R. Martin moderating the panel. Stars Michelle Fairley, Emilia Clarke, Richard Madden, Sophie Turner and Alfie Allen took the stage. Again not much substance here as Martin grilled his stars in what came off as a casual interrogation. The big reveal came at the very end as the premiere date for season three was announced – March 31, 2013. In other words, you’ll have to wait a while.
Following Thrones, much of Hall H emptied out. When Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Retribution took the stage, only about a third of the room was still filled. The panel featured director Paul W.S. Anderson and stars Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Boris Kodjoe and Japanese musician Mika Nakashima.
As he had previously mentioned at last year’s Comic-Con and this year’s WonderCon panels, Anderson spoke of wanting to wrap up Alice’s storyline. In doing so, he "wanted to blow out the story and make the ultimate post-apolocalyptic movie ever."
He added that the movie affords us an opportunity to see Milla like never before as she confront a global terror. Jovovich added that playing a normal person horrified her and was the toughest thing she has had to do acting-wise.
We then got a glimpse of two minutes of the final nine minute long climactic fight in a barren snowscape which pits Alice against Jill Valentine, while Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain takes on Kodjoe’s Luther West and Fehr’s Carlos Olivera. The clip concludes with Rain squeezing bullets that have been shot into her, out of her fingertips.
The final panel of the day was Sony’s trio of Total Recall, Looper and Elysium. Recall was up first with director Len Wiseman offering up a loud extended CGI-crazy trailer which included new footage. We got a look at a phone chip that has been implanted in Farrell’s hand, an extended look at an elevator fight sequence featuring Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale and a little more Bryan Cranston as he pursues Farrell.
Wiseman talked about the mysterious storyline and the character being a mystery to himself as two reasons he went ahead with the remake of the Paul Verhoeven classic. Stars Farrell, Biel, Cranston and Beckinsale participated in Q&A, but nothing substantial was learned.
Looper brought out director Rian Johnson and stars Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt along with a five minute long compilation clip of the movie.
The clip gave us a good look at Jeff Daniels’ as the Looper boss as he exchanged words with an eerily spot-on impression by JGL of young Bruce Willis.
The clip also contained a verbal confrontation between Willis and JGL as they play the young and old versions of the same character. Willis’ Older Joe says he’s looking for someone called Rainmaker and that’s he’s going to make things right. The rest of the red-band clip was yippie-kai-yay explosions and special effects.
Those who stayed behind for the final panel got a first look at Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley.
Reaction was lukewarm to the footage which takes place in the year 2159. Earth has become overpopulated and essentially unlivable. The wealthy have escaped onto a man-made space station called Elysium. A semi-cyborg Damon manages to break into their security system and from there, the rich sick Copley on him while Foster plots behind computer monitors.
Elysium is due out March 1, 2013, so there’s still plenty of time to drum up interest.
Saturday brings out the motion picture heavy-hitters in what will be a long day inside the Hall. Seat cushions are recommended as the day kicks off with Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained followed by Open Road Films’ End of Watch and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
From there we roll into a marathon WB panel featuring Pacific Rim, The Hobbit and Man of Steel. How will the Hall react to Zack Snyder’s Superman movie?
That’s not all though. Marvel will follow WB with Iron Man 3 and a few announcements that will surely send comic book site and social media into a frenzy. The day isn’t over until the fat bearded man preaches and thus Kevin Smith will take the stage to close out Saturday with his traditional babble-thon on whatever topics get thrown at him.
We'll be there all day and night bringing you recaps and tweets.