Legendary Pictures showcased five upcoming films during its Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego: Godzilla 2, As Above, So Below, Black Hat, Crimson Peak and Warcraft.
Introduced by moderator Jessica Chobot of Nerdist News, CEO Thomas Tull thanked the audience for its support, saying, “Right here, several years ago, is where we kicked off the campaign to bring the king of the monsters, Godzilla.”
Although director Garreth Edwards couldn’t be in San Diego, he did send a video message.
“Sorry I couldn’t be there today,” he said from in front of a San Francisco backdrop. “Due to the destruction of Godzilla, Thomas has forced me to come up here and personally supervise the rebuilding of the city.”
Edwards also thanked the fans for helping to make Godzilla a success and apologized for the delay of the sequel.
“I needed a break from all the pressure of a major franchise and fanboy opinions and all of that, so I’m just up here doing a small sci-fi movie,” Edwards said, alluding to his Star Wars spinoff. “But as soon as that’s over, I’ll be back there for Godzilla 2.”
A series of bleeps prevented Edwards from revealing which monsters would appear, but Tull claimed to have “classified” footage that he could share.
The clip began with Godzilla, but promised that “There Are Others.” Specifically, Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah were named as creatures for the next film, with the tagline of “Conflict Inevitable. Let Them Fight.”
After the clip, Tull explained that the success of the first film has allowed Legendary a chance to expand its Godzilla universe with more properties from Toho’s toybox. “Toho’s has been great to us, and now we have more monsters to play with and we’re excited about it,” he said. “Thank you, Comic-Con. It started right here.” (Legendary later announced the King Kong film Skull Island, scheduled for release in November 2016.)
Going from monsters in San Francisco to monsters in the Paris underground, Chobot brought out brothers John and Drew Dowdle to discuss their upcoming horror movie As Above, So Below.
Directed by John, produced by Drew and written by both of them, the found-footage film follows a team of archeologists that stumbles into Hell while studying the catacombs of Paris.
“The catacombs of Paris are just awesome,” John Dowdle said. “We’ve always wanted to do a found-footage Indiana Jones kind of story. We thought the Paris catacombs would be the perfect place for that kind of epic adventure, done in a really personal style.”
Trespassing in the catacombs is illegal, and the Dowdle brothers are the first production ever to be given permission to shoot in the restricted areas.
“There were days when we were up to our chest in water,” John Dowdle said.
“Just want to let you know, that’s sewage,” Chobot said. “That’s the horror you find down in the catacombs.”
However, that doesn’t compare to what the the Dowdle brothers have dreamed up for their characters.
“As our characters get deeper and deeper into the catacombs, they are each forced to face their own personal demons,” John Dowdle said. “We all have that one thing you wouldn’t tell somebody, and it’s that.”
Chobot then introduced filmmaker Michael Mann, making his Comic-Con debut to promote Black Hat, about a hacker turned consultant working with American and Chinese military to stop a cyber-threat.
“One of the big benefits and thrills of doing the work I do is the ability to immerse myself into the view of the characters,” he said. “There’s that research and excursion that’s always amazing.”
Known for putting a great deal of research into his work, Mann explained the necessity of studying real-life hackers to learn both their methodology and their mindset.
“One of the things you find out was that when they got deep into the experience of coding they kind of zone in,” he explained. “It’s a kind of escapism, but it’s escapism in reverse. They don’t escape into fantasy or fiction, but they escape into a place where their impact is in the real world.”
After debuted a first look at Black Hat, star Chris Hemsworth appeared on stage, expressing his admiration for the filmmaker and his excitement in being able to work with the man who created some of his favorite movies.
“There’s no one that does the precision and detail like him,” Hemsworth said. “It’s the best experience of my life.”
Mann and Hemsworth shared that their research took them to prisons across the country to interview actual hackers. Likewise, making the movie itself was a globetrotting ordeal.
“We did 74 scenes in four countries in 66 days,” the director said.
Hemsworth addressed what it was like playing a role so different from those he’s become known for. “There is an intelligence that this guy has. He’s kind of unmatched to the normal people in his world as far as the cyberworld goes,” he said. “He had this knowledge and ability and then fell into cybercrime and ended up on the wrong side of the law.”
As shooting took place around the time of Edward Snowden’s information leak, Chobot asked what it was like to create a movie so immediately connected to the headlines.
“It is the world we live in,” Mann said. “We live in this world of this exoskeleton of the Internet connecting us. That’s where a lot of our drama happens.”
Hemsworth took two months of computer lessons in prepare for the role and was shocked to discover what dangers are out there. “All of a sudden you realize how vulnerable you are,” he said.
Following Mann and Hemsworth was Guillermo del Toro, who was there to discuss a return to his horror roots with Crimson Peak.
“I wanted to make a movie that was able to blend two sides of my personality,” said del Toro, who wanted to combine the beautiful horror of his Spanish language films and the excitement of his English films. “It’s a gothic romance. They said it’s R-rated and it has incredible beauty but it’s also very macabre. … I thought it was an incredible way to return to the genre.”
A year and a half away from the finished product, del Toro was only able to provide a brief look at the film, but promised there would be more to show at next year’s convention.
The trailer revealed some of the colorful set pieces, including a three-story Victorian mansion built on a soundstage.
“It was truly a labor of love,” del Toro said. “Everything you see was built for the film.”
Expressing his desire to create a strong female lead, he expressed how impressed he was with the cast as they switch between romance and horror.
“We have scary ghosts, but I think scarier people,” del Toro said. “I think it’s a beautiful adult confection and I hope you all enjoy it.”
Director Duncan Jones concluded the Hall H presentation with a discussion of his video-game adaptation Warcraft.
“So, Warcraft,” Chobot said Just one of the most successful games of all time. A limitless fantasy world with millions and millions of players. Any pressure?”
“There’s a lot of fans,” Jones said. “I was one of them.”
Chobot asked how much Jones would be drawing from the source material while still keeping the film accessible to newcomers.
“There is an awful lot to draw on for Warcraft,” he replied. “There’s a lot of films which want to make an origin story, but I think in this case it really merits an origin story. We want to show how the world of Azeroth falls into conflict between Orcs and Humans.”
Addressing the technical challenges of building the world of Warcraft, Jones said, “We were trying to really do the set building and world building that was going on in Lord of the Rings, and at the same time bring the technology that was in Avatar, and it really is like trying to make those two movies at the same time. It’s a big project, and I think it deserves it.”
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