CCI XTRA: Rogue Pictures and Focus Studios Present…

The panel for Rogue Pictures and Focus Studios began with a surprise when Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas") took the stage in Hall H of Comic-Con International. They appeared before the crowd of six thousand to talk about "Coraline," Gaiman's "scary little story for children."

Gaiman had written the book, "Coraline," some time ago. Soon after, Selick became interested in turning it into a movie using his stop-motion animated style. Gaiman agreed, and the two stopped by the panel to announce that they had footage to show the audience later that night

The author was quite enthusiastic about the film and its prospects. The project is utilizing a lengthy list of stars for the characters' voices, including Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, and Ian McShane. "Coraline" will also include songs from They Might Be Giants. Gaiman promised lots of "weird, creepy stuff" in this sweet little nightmare of a kid's film. The two creators then walked off stage with a wave and a "See you tonight!"

Next came the balls...and the fury. Or, more specifically, "Balls of Fury." This movie is coming to viewers courtesy of the creators (and cast) of "Reno 911!" In attendance were director Ben Garant, along with actors Dan Fogler and Thomas Lennon (who co-wrote the screenplay with Garant). Most notable was Lennon's clothing - or lack of it. He came out in character, dressed in a spandex unitard. This was only a hint of the hilarity to come.

"Think of a Van Damme movie from the 80s, and replace the Kung Fu with ping pong," is how the film's director described the project.

Fogler (the movie's main character, Randy Daytona) went into a bit more detail about the plot: "My character basically has to avenge his father's death by winning an underground ping pong tournament."

An amusing anecdote was also related, about working with Christopher Walken, who plays the movie's villain, Feng. Apparently, there is a line in the film where Walken has to relay his email address. However, the actor didn't know what the "@" symbol meant. The production team wrote a special page of the script for him with the word "at" in it.

CBR News couldn't confirm at press time if they were joking about this or not.

Actor James Hong (a ping pong "master" in the movie) also briefly joined the cast. He struck his Lo-Pan pose from the cult film, "Big Trouble in Little China," which elicited cheers from the Comic-Con crowd.

During a Q&A, a fan asked about the possibility of a DVD collection for "The State," which the two "Reno 911!" actors had also been a part of. Garant confirmed that a set was coming with every episode collected and commentary included.

Later, there was a brief presentation on "The Strangers" - a psychological thriller starring Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler. The actors were present, along with writer-director Brian Bertino. A trailer was shown, and the premise was laid out. Essentially, a happy suburban couple is terrorized by three mysterious "strangers" who break into their home.

On a cheerier note during this presentation, Liv Tyler spoke elvish - much to the extreme delight of all the "Lord of the Rings" fans in attendance.

The final presentation was for the movie "Doomsday," which was written and directed by Neil Marshall ("The Descent"). It appeared to be a post-apocalyptic thriller in the vein of "Road Warrior" and "Escape From New York."

As explained by the director, a deadly plague appears in Scotland for which there is no cure. To prevent worldwide contamination, the country is sealed off from the rest of the world. 25 years later, the virus suddenly reappears in London. Word of survivors in Scotland lead the government to believe there is a cure, and they send soldiers behind Scotland's barricade to search for it. What they find, however, isn't pretty.

The film stars Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, and Malcolm McDowell, and will arrive in theaters spring of 2008. And on that happy, post-apocalyptic note, the panel concluded.

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