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CON: Visionaries Panel with Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro

Jul. 26, 2011by:

Hearing Jon Favreau or Guillermo del Toro speak is always a highlight of any Comic Con, so whoever thought of getting both geek-friendly directors together deserves a raise. Entertainment Weekly hosted what they called “The Visionaries” panel, which would cover the two men’s thoughts on pop culture, technology and the future of the industry.

Del Toro came up on stage despite being in excruciating pain due to a bulging disc, and was still his usual upbeat, filthy self. “I’m just lucky that after 40 I still have something that’s bulging,” said the filmmaker. And Favreau was glad his friend didn’t have to cancel: “We never look thinner than next to each other, buddy.”

The actual discussion kicked off with talk of how the duo first met—a dinner with famed artist Drew Struzan at director Frank Darabount’s house. (Both filmmakers have commissioned Struzan to make posters for their films, only to have them almost all rejected by the studio. Freakin’ Hollywood…) Del Toro noted their similar interests and said with so many “jealous assholes” in the industry he’s “addicted to friendship and hanging out with people I f*cking adore.” Favreau seemed to feel the same way, geeking out about getting to visit Bleak House, the Mad Mexican’s second home devoted entirely to his collection of macabre and unique memorabilia and artwork. (Click here for a great article on Bleak House.) The two definitely weren’t putting on airs for the panel; they seemed to be genuine pals (even though Del Toro kept referring to SWINGERS as SINGLES and Favreau kept calling Del Toro’s upcoming film HAUNTED HOUSE instead of HAUNTED MANSION.)

Next both filmmakers discussed their upcoming projects. Favreau sounded a little nervous about how COWBOYS AND ALIENS was going to be received by audiences, dismissing the skepticism about the title and concept by saying that westerns and science fiction can’t mix but giant robots can turn in to a truck and everybody’s okay with it. (Early on when Favreau was mulling over a possible name change, Harrison Ford solved the issue with, “Well, what the hell else are you going to call it?”) Del Toro apparently stopped by the editing room to help Favreau put together sequences that utilized puppets, since Favs is more used to working with CGI, while Del Toro lives and breathes as much practical as possible. And ever the nice guy, Favs gave a fan who was wearing a COWBOYS AND ALIENS shirt passes to the premiere of the movie.

Both men are also currently developing projects based on Walt Disney World properties: Favreau is still prepping MAGIC KINGDOM, which he announced was currently being written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon, and Del Toro has THE HAUNTED MANSION lined up as one of his many, many upcoming films. Each director shares an admiration for Walt Disney and the risks he took throughout his career, but they both seemed more excited that they’re able to go behind the scenes at the theme park whenever they want (including after hours!) and call it “research.” Del Toro claims he hid a quarter and a dime somewhere in The Haunted Mansion attraction that will never be found.

Each of those films were still in the very early stages, so there weren’t too many beans to be spilled. In honor of the Mouse House’s storied history in cinema, Favreau said that he was considering using different techniques to give MAGIC KINGDOM a nostalgic feel, from stop motion to traditional 2D to CGI and more. Del Toro promised that his HAUNTED MANSION movie would be like the ride—scary, but a fun scary. He promised it wouldn’t be funny and definitely not have a comic relief sidekick or anything like that. He was also taking a role in helping to redevelop the ride itself, including reinstating the famed Hatbox Ghost. Before moving on, Del Toro left the audience with this nugget of truth: “Most filmmakers tackle these properties, but they don’t have a boner for them. You have to have a chubby to tackle it.”

While MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS still has a pulse (Del Toro owns the rights himself, so with his control he’s confident it will get made), his full attention and precious time is completely dedicated to PACIFIC RIM. Del Toro claims it’s the most fun he’s had in a Hollywood movie ever, designing “gigantic f*cking monsters” all day long. Favreau claims to have seen preproduction artwork that was jaw-dropping and believes Del Toro has some of the best artists in the world working for him. That led the director to reiterate something he’s said at previous Comic Cons—he loves nothing more than discovering new talent. If you see him, feel free to show him any artwork, short films, whatever you want. Obviously, he’s not going to give every person their own movie to direct, but he did say a large chunk of his art department consists of people and collaborators he met at the Comic Con floor. He even gave out his own personal email address (Abe_Sapien@hotmail.com) for the same reason.

While the panel was a blast to watch, it honestly didn’t really seem to have a purpose. Aside from a rather cliché bit about the overabundance of CGI in movies, neither really touched much on pop culture or technology as the panel promised. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’d pay money to watch these two talented guys shoot the shit any day of the week. (I’m pretty sure even Guillermo del Toro brushing his teeth would be fascinating.)

Extra Tidbit: Favreau, who was once attached to direct JOHN CARTER OF MARS, has a cameo in Andrew Stanton’s new film as a Thark. He also had a supporting role as DJ Favs in this year's JoBlo.com Comic Con Party.
Source: JoBlo.com

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