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COMIC CON: Intro!!

07.26.2004

This was our 5th year covering the San Diego Comic Con at JoBlo.com (see previous coverage here). It wasn’t the best year of events ever, but it wasn’t necessarily the worst either. This year was a little less hectic for the Arrow and myself, since Indiana Sev also came along to help out (and not just in the drinking department) Overall, I would say that I was a little underwhelmed with the movie panel presentations, particularly with the lack of “major” stars showing up (sending a video message doesn’t cut it, folks) or cool-ass video presented (although both Robert Rodriguez’s SIN CITY and Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s TEAM AMERICA panels sure knew why they were here—to give the fans some kick-ass footage and behind the scenes insight, baby) Without further adieu, here are my personal "celeb awards", as well as all of the positive and negative stuff that I got out of this year's conference. Click links below if you want to go directly to our movie panel coverage:

Monday
Batman Begins / Open Water / The Incredibles /
Saw / Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Tuesday
 Seed of Chucky / Donnie Darko (Director's Cut)

Wednesday
Sin City / Blade: Trinity / The Grudge /
Star Wars: Episode III / Boo & Cemetery Gates

Thursday
Fantastic Four / Constantine /
Friday the 13th

Friday
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow / Alien Vs. Predator /
The Devil's Rejects

Saturday
Team America / Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle /
Ride the Bullet

CELEB "AWARDS"

Most obvious celeb phony: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Ultimate hottie of the weekend: Jessica Alba
Best combo comedy/sexpot: Jennifer Tilly
Best surprise hottie: Blanchard Ryan (Open Water)
Man who least wanted to be at the Con, despite not actually being at the Con: Christian Bale
Coolest surprise guest: Hayden Christensen
Funniest panel speaker: Guillermo del Toro
Least like his exterior persona in real life: Rob Zombie
Celebrity that looked least like I see him in movies: Keanu Reeves Most overexposed Con-man: Mike Mignola
Most embarrassed filmmaker after being called a “hottie” by audience member: Richard Kelly (director Donnie Darko)
Best wildman/director cameo: Eli Roth
Most bitter man: Kane Hodder
Best “ass in Jeans”: Jessica Biel (second year in a row)
Most spaced out celebrity: Lance Henriksen
Coolest cowboy: Robert Rodriguez
Biggest gum-chewing whore: Jason Behr
Most over-exposed Hobbit: Billy Boyd
Most overpriced prize for autograph: Lou Ferrigno
Most F-bombs on stage: Ryan Reynolds
Strangest appearance: Corey Feldman/Corey Haim

THE POSITIVE STUFF

"Hey JoBlo...is that you?"
It was nice to be recognized by more and more people around the Con this year. I never really seem to realize how “big” the site has become, but with many fans and industry folks approaching me this year, talking movies, taking pictures and what-not, it sure put a perspective on the growing popularity of the site and people’s apparent appreciation of our hard work. That was cool. On Saturday night, we even took some time from the Masquerade Party (although I use the term “party” loosely), to hook up with some fans from the site and share some beers and movie talk. Fun times.

Webmasters check out the Sky...
Seeing all of the other movie webmasters was nice as well, like old favorites like Garth from Dark Horizons and new ones including the dudes from Latinoreview.com, Bloody-Disgusting and others. One of the funner nights was the first evening during which many of us were invited to an early screening of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (great adventure, btw!), presented by the writer/director Kerry Conran himself, producer Jon Avnet, and including folks like director Victor Salva and Simpsons’ creator Matt Groeing in the audience. Cooler was the line-up outside which included the “who’s who” of the online movie fansite community with everyone from Comingsoon.net, Rotten Tomatoes, CHUD, Smilin' Jack Ruby, AICN, IGN Filmforce, Latinoreview.com, Sci-fi.com, IMDB and others, present. If a bomb had gone off in the building that night, well...you know the rest...

Meeting the Tomatoes
Another groovy thing about this convention is meeting people and this year was no different. Even though we had been corresponding since we both started our respective sites back in 1998, I had never actually met the boys from Rotten Tomatoes, so it was nice to take some time out and grab a bite with them. The same went for a number of screenwriters and producers around the Con, many of which were surprisingly open to meeting and talking to us. Very cool. Needless to say, every single person that we met was cool as heck and quite genuine.

"Hey Sarah...how's Freddie in the sack?"
In terms of the actual panels, despite the lack of pertinent information found in many of the biggest panels (see NEGATIVE points below), we were invited to almost every single press “junket/press conference” which took place before or after many of the panels this year, and managed to actually ask the filmmakers and stars of the film, the required questions about their actual movie…as opposed to questions about their eating habits and shit. Thanks to the Lisa Stone for her continued kickass work in that regard.

Hoooooooooooters!!!!!


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BEST MOVIE PANELS

The SIN CITY panel was the best one of the entire Con with Robert Rodriguez not only continuing to prove that he is a major Hollywood (actually, non-Hollywood) force to be reckoned with, in terms of both his movies and his extremely independent attitude toward filmmaking, but because he actually understands what this Con is about, showing up with his co-creator in tow, Frank Miller, passing along plenty of interesting information about his upcoming film, strolling 3 hotties up on stage with him (Jamie King, Rosario Dawson and my future ex-wife, Jessica Alba), but even more importantly, providing the audience with an exclusive first look at his extremely original take on SIN CITY, with an entire sequence from the movie, as well as several clips of characters from the movie, alongside excerpts from the graphic novel. A showman, a great looking, a great fuckin’ panel and a half!


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My second favorite panel was the one for TEAM AMERICA, the hilarious looking up and coming movie by SOUTH PARK creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, both of whom showed up and also “killed” the audience. The duo was also very open about their film and its details, and brought two very exclusive and funny clips along for the audience. A note to all other studios: THIS is the kind of panel you should set up at the Con,…creators with pertinent information and exclusive clips. If you don’t have anything and are simply going to show up with a screenwriter and the film’s trailer…don’t bother because you’re not doing your movie any good.

Lastly, and quite surprisingly on a Sunday morning panel (yeah, we were hungover), SEED OF CHUCKY, and more specifically its lead actress and overall bubbly, hottie Jennifer Tilly, blew my nuts off with two exclusive clips from the film featuring plenty of gore, swearing, sex, cleavage and coolness, as well as an excellent panel led by Tilly, who not only played her “dumb brunette” routine to a tee, but looked awesome in a tight black dress, smelled amazing when I went to take a picture of her, and most importantly, banged out information about the movie like nobody’s business. You go, girlfriend! Rogue Pictures…give this awesome lady a raise already…she just scored you plenty of brownie points with your core audience. Thumbs way up!


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THE NEGATIVE SHIT

"Speak into the mike, I can't hear you!"
On the negative tip, I was a little taken back by the lack of organization at the actual Con this year. I’m usually quite impressed with how everything is run like a tight ship, year in, year out, but this year almost felt like they cut back on their budget or something. From a number of panels NOT having any moderators, leaving the stars to stumble around, trying to figure out what to do, to a lack of direction to the audience, many of whom wouldn’t know to step up to the microphones to ask questions, leading to 80% of the audience NOT hearing the questions, and only hearing the folks on the panel respond. This was particularly obvious at the DEVIL’S REJECTS panel, which despite having a very cool Rob Zombie try to repeat the questions for the rest of the audience at times, didn’t leave much to be desired. The BOO panel was also handed some awful microphones which kept reverberating their responses, leading to mucho frustration. Where's the goddamn moderator?!?

"You're a press agent...like I give a shit!"
This was also the first year that we actually had problems getting into certain panels, despite having been given PRESS PASSES by the convention folks. I stress this because I believe the whole idea behind handing out these passes is so that we could cover the event to the best of our ability, and I think we can all agree that actually BEING IN the panel rooms, is probably a good place to start. I didn’t expect to be bitching and moaning about this sort of this thing, after 5 years at the Con, particularly when it’s for the fans of the site, which is exactly what are site is all about. This wasn’t just a problem with us either, as several other press folk were left out in the cold. I’m not sure I understand the strategy behind all this, but maybe someone at the head office can look into this matter for next year?

"Hey Keanu...can I give you a kiss? Tee-hee..."
One thing that has become obvious to me over the past year or two is that the actual panels at the Con, especially those featuring big-time stars like Angelina Jolie and Sarah Michelle Gellar, aren’t worth their value in spit, when it comes to providing audiences with any pertinent info on their upcoming movies. Now while I recognize that the San Diego Con is based on the concept of “fans” interacting and questioning the stars that they’ve come to love over the years (that’s all very cool, I’m a big fan and still quite starstruck myself at times), things do tend to get a little lame when one audience member after the other gets up to say “I really loved you on Buffy…I think you’re the greatest, what’s your favorite episode…” and the like. Gellar was at the Con to push her new film, THE GRUDGE, but if anyone at that one-hour panel can tell me anything about the movie, other than the fact that Gellar apparently learned a few words of Japanese while filming in Tokyo, I’ll give you a buck.

Batman doesn't really begin
My biggest disappointment of the Con was the lack of material presented at the BATMAN BEGINS panel. No teaser, no special surprise guests, no new pictures, no costume designs, no fuckin’ nothing! Even the videotaped “message” from director Nolan and Batman himself, Christian Bale, sucked, mainly because Bale looked like he wanted to be anywhere but in front of that camera, saying anything but what he was saying. A misstep in Warner Bros’ great marketing on the film so far.

George Lucas still sucks
George Lucas and his gang of accountants, oops…I mean, “creatives”, might’ve read my ass-ripping of their over-commercialized panel from last year, with the announcement of the next STAR WARS movie title at the Con: REVENGE OF THE SITH. That said, the Lucasfilm rep immediately followed that up with an even greater announcement….everyone in the audience can now PURCHASE a T-shirt of the film’s new title at the STAR WARS booth downstairs! ($20 for those scoring at home) Wow…will these guys ever learn?

A big “fuck you” to the greedy bastards over at Lucasfilm who have lost all touch with “fans” and how they aren’t just piggy banks, but actual people who love their films with a passion that should be recompensed with a little more than commercial propositions in the future. How about handing out those T-shirts to everyone in the audience (other panels do this all the time), or at the very least, handing out rebate coupons or some shit? But alas…I guess I'm just one man with one dinky opinion.

Garner, Bale, Cruise, Berry, Depp...absent!
The lack of “surprise” guests was also quite disappointing. We’d heard a lot of rumors about folks coming down to "surprise" their fans in Diego, including Bale for BATMAN, Berry for CATWOMAN (although I think we’re all pretty grateful that didn’t happen), Garner for ELEKTRA and maybe even Bryan Singer for SUPERMAN, but none of them showed up (Garner sent in a video “message”…yawn), and disappointed.

"Not so fast, taco-bean...the line is that way!"
Another major problem at this year’s event was the lack of space and long line-ups. Saturday is usually the biggest day, with all of the events taking place in one big room, but for some reason, the people who organized this event neglected to take into consideration the sheer popularity of these panels, and were left with thousands of angry fans, waiting in line and not being able to get into the panels. What sucks even more is that these people had PAID to be at the Con. Again, something has to be done about that before next year.

Source: JoBlo.com
Tags: Hollywood

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