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CCI XTRA: Sony Pictures & Screen Gems Present…

by  in Movie News, TV News Comment
CCI XTRA: Sony Pictures & Screen Gems Present…

Zombies, vampires, and teenage dorks who can’t get laid – these were the topics of discussion Sony Pictures & Screen Gems decided to present for their panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

It seems that this studio really knows their audience!

First up was a presentation of “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which arrives in theaters this fall on September 21. This is the third film in the “Resident Evil” series, and according to Producer Paul W.S. Anderson (who was present), this completes the trilogy he set out to make when he filmed the first movie.

The plot of this film revolves around the survivors of the Raccoon City catastrophe trying to travel across the Nevada desert to safety. Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) joins the caravan, and they all end up fighting against the evil Umbrella Corporation.

A pregnant Jovovich was in attendance for the panel, along with actress Ali Larter (of TV’s “Heroes”) who plays a new character in this film by the name of Claire Redfield. A fan did ask the movie’s representatives if the character Jill Valentine would ever be seen again. Jovovich could only shrug her shoulders, smile, and reply, “Who knows?”

“Resident Evil: Extinction” producer Paul W.S. Anderson and stars Mila Jovovich and Ali Larter

Next came a presentation many comic book fans were eager for: “30 Days of Night.” Producer Sam Raimi took the stage accompanied by director David Slade (“Hard Candy”), actors Ben Foster and Josh Hartnett, and the creators of the graphic novel, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.

To begin with, the audience was treated to a viewing of the trailer and a five-minute scene from the movie. Watching both of these, one can’t help but notice artist Templesmith’s influence on the visuals. From the look of the settings and monsters to the color palette of the film, what was shown truly seemed like the graphic novel brought to life.

During the Q&A that followed, a fan asked about the filming location – did they actually shoot in Alaska? Slade explained that, logistically, filming there would have been physically and monetarily impossible. The film was actually shot in New Zealand, which was convenient as they worked with WETA (who are based in that country) on the effects.

“30 Days of Night” star Josh Hartnett and producer Sam Raimi

Several other questions at the panel were directed at Raimi. When asked if he would be directing “The Hobbit,” Raimi said that while he loved what Peter Jackson did with the franchise, he had no plans to follow it up. Another fan asked about the possibility of a “Hercules” or “Xena” movie based on their TV series (which Raimi co-produced). He responded that while it could happen, it was really up to his co-producer and Xena actress Lucy Lawless (who are married).

Raimi also responded to an audience member’s question about an “Evil Dead 4.” The producer-director said that he and his brother talked about two possibilities: 1) just writing a script for a fourth installment, or 2) hiring a new director with a “vision” to redo the first “Evil Dead.” Unfortunately though, Raimi admitted that he hasn’t had time to further explore either of these possibilities.

Questions then turned to Niles and Templesmith. First, they discussed the origin of the book. “I wanted to make vampires scary again, because most people had begun to think of them as Count Chocula or vampires that date teenage girls,” Niles explained.

Sam Raimi and “30 Days of Night” creators Ben Templesmith and Steve Niles

Both creators expressed great pleasure with the film. Templesmith added that it looks and feels like the book – the vampire designs, the “stripped-back colors,” and its viciousness.

As the footage the audience saw contained a fair amount of “blood and guts,” a fan wondered if there was any ratings trouble. Slade indicated that he was actually surprised by the lack of trouble they had in obtaining an R rating. He admitted that they had expected an NC-17, so they did a well-known filmmaker “trick”: the cut they submitted to the MPAA contained more gore than what they planned on including. This way, when the group asked for cuts, the production could just pull that footage out. So imagine their surprise when the film submitted was actually given an R rating! Slade confessed that they now have to resubmit to the MPAA again with the extra violence taken out.

Raimi wrapped things up with a humorous comment. When asked if Rami-regular Bruce Campbell makes an appearance in “30 Days of Night,” he responded, “No. Me and the other producers wanted to keep the film of a higher quality.”

“Superbad” producer Judd Apatow

This small bit of comedy led to a large bit as producer-director Judd Apatow (“40 Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up”) took the stage.

“I can’t believe I have to follow Sam Raimi here at Comic-Con. That’s the equivalent of having to follow Stan Lee,” Apatow said.

Apatow had two films to present. First came “Superbad,” which arrives in theaters August 17. The writers of the film – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – were present along with much of the cast, which includes Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera. Apparently, Rogen and Goldberg had written the first draft of this script when they were thirteen years old. Not much of those original writings made it into the actual film though, with the exception of the film’s central idea and the “McLovin” joke (which you can see in the film’s trailer).

“Superbad” actors Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera

Rogen showed his knack for comedy while talking about his Comic-Con experience. “This is the only place I’ve ever been where the line for the men’s room is so much longer than the women’s line. As a matter of fact, why do they even have a women’s room here?”

The writer-actor also commented on his involvement in the potential “Green Hornet” film (which he and Goldberg are currently attached to). He said that he and Goldberg recently completed a film called “Pineapple Express” – which is a comedy and “kind of an action film” – which led the studio to believe they could do this action film. In addition, Rogen said he gets to wear a mask, which is fine by him.

“Superbad” actor-co-writer Seth Rogan

“After ‘Knocked Up,’ I was sick of seeing my face everywhere. Adam (Goldberg) was too. A mask would be good !” he exclaimed.

Apatow also showed two clips from the upcoming “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” The film stars John C. Reilly (“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”) and Jenna Fischer (Pam from TV’s “The Office”) and is a parody of films like “Ray” and “Walk the Line.” The movie looked great and will be released this winter – just in time for Oscar nominations!

The crowd roared with laughter at the clips, and it helped leave smiles on the audience’s faces as this panel came to a close.

Now discuss this story in CBR’s TV/Film forum.

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