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Comic-Con Lures Hollywood

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By Jessica Wolf | Posted: 21 Jul 2005

SAN DIEGO — Comic-Con, where the geek is king, continues to be an essential destination for Hollywood studios to highlight upcoming DVD and theatrical releases.This year at the July 14-18 show, home entertainment departments took the opportunity to whet appetites of this year's avid crowd — nearly 100,000 strong — for upcoming DVD projects.

It was Buena Vista Home Entertainment's biggest presence yet at Comic-Con, said BVHE EVP Gordon Ho.

One highlight of BVHE's Comic-Con lineup this year was definitely the appearance of “Lost” stars Maggie Grace and Josh Holloway, who signed autographs at the Inkworks booth and sat on a panel discussion. BVHE releases Lost: The Complete First Season on DVD Sept. 6.

It's not just about promoting at Comic-Con, it's about listening, Ho said, because Comic-Con is packed with “entertainment influencers.”

“It's a great opportunity for us to hear feedback from the consumers directly — good or bad,” he said. “They're very upfront about it. Not only are they fans, but they are fans who know their stuff.”

Pixar execs at the convention ruminated on the beginnings of their company and on making Toy Story 10 years ago. BVHE and Pixar are prepping a 10th anniversary DVD release of the hit CG-animated film. It's going to include video footage of the animation team getting the then-amazing news that the project had been greenlit, Pixar panelists said.

It's funny to look back at how small the scale of the operation was and how crude the production, compared to today's technology, said Pete Docter, writer and supervising animator for Toy Story. Everyone was surprised the movie was such a hit, he said.

“It was a weird experience after the movie first came out and was so big, because we felt like we'd been making a movie in our garage with our buddies,” he said.

Speaking of animation powerhouses, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, releases The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season on DVD Aug. 16. Matt Groening, creator of the long-running series appeared at this year's Comic-Con to take questions from fans and talk about the amazing longevity of the animated family. Fox also premiered the “Family Guy” feature-length direct-to DVD The Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story at this year's show.

But it wouldn't be Comic-Con without “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will have the only new “Lord of the Rings”-related product in the holiday market this November with the DVD release of Ringers: Lord of the Fans, a documentary on the phenomenon, its loyal followers and cultural impact.

Ringers writer/producer Cliff Broadway, writer/producer/director Carlene Cordova, and executive producer Tom DeSanto talked up the doc and showed a lengthy sneak peek of the film for eager fans in the audience.

“[Comic-Con fans] definitely are very well-informed, you have to really come up with some new information for them at the show,” said Tana Evans, director of marketing for SPHE. “Their expectations are really high.

“It's a great place to interact with the fans on a more personal level and really get them more excited about the product.”

Clips of Ringers ran at the Ringers booth on the show floor, and fans who dropped by got a kick of seeing themselves on the screen, she said.

“Star Wars” fans were eager to hear anything about Fox's fourth-quarter DVD release of Revenge of the Sith.

Steve Sansweet, head of fan relations for Lucasfilm, showed the nearly 7,000 “Star Wars” fans the world premiere of a new documentary on the legacy of “Star Wars,” The Journey.

While he had no news on the exact street date or extra features of November's release of Revenge of the Sith on DVD, he did bring along one of the deleted scenes that will be on the disc. It's a few moments featuring the characters Bail Organa, Padme Amidala, Mon Mothma and three other senators trading ominous looks and concerned dialogue over Emperor Palpetine's power. It's an important moment, Sansweet said, because it represents the formation of the Rebel Alliance, which drove the story and character motivations for the original trilogy.

Lions Gate Entertainment has long been a staple at Comic-Con. Horror films traditionally outperform their box office on DVD, so the supplier made sure to hit all the marks, previewing a trailer for the upcoming Saw 2 and bringing along Rob Zombie to promote the upcoming Devils Rejects.

A panel of DVD producers speaking on the first day of the convention brought along clips and commented specifically on some of their upcoming DVDs:

• Charles de Lauzirika showed a short clip from the three hour and 20 minute making-of documentary for DreamWorks Home Entertainment's upcoming three-disc edition of Gladiator.

The doc is broken up into segments like “Shadows and Dust: Resurrecting Proximo,” which reveals how director Ridley Scott and his special effects crew used CGI to fill in gaps of Oliver Reed's performance after he died during filming.

Interview footage with the venerated actor features some candid, off-color comments on getting the part of Proximo.

“This isn't a love fest, it's a pretty honest documentary,” de Lauzirika said.

He's also in the thick of working on the Kingdom of Heaven DVD with Scott. He turned the documentary for this film into an interactive extra. Viewers can select and organize segments and create the unique documentary they want to see, he said.

• Robert Meyer Burnett dropped an “X-Men” hint.

“You know we did a special edition release X-Men 1.5, right?…..You know X-Men 3 comes out next year right?” he said. Burnett said there was a ton of footage and extras leftover from the original X-Men 2 DVD. “There just wasn't enough time,” he said.

As for his most current projects, the making-of footage he's gotten on the set of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is “the best he's ever done,” Burnett said.And, he's got carte blanche on the set of Superman Returns, with full access to director Bryan Singer.

“I even filmed him getting a blood test,” Burnett said. “Bryan, he's like Madonna, he doesn't want to live off camera.”

• Robby Huckell who works in house at SPHE brought footage from the upcoming Lords of Dogtown DVD.

It's a section showing versions of a couple of scenes filmmakers created to see what might get past the Motion Picture Association of America ratings committee. The young actors involved had plenty of fun coming up with colorful dialogue options.He also said SPHE is going to be creating a Cary Grant boxed set that will include the DVD debut of Holiday and a much-needed new transfer for The Awful Truth.


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