SDCC 2012: Disney Brings 'Frankenweenie,' 'Wreck-It Ralph,' 'Oz,' & 'Lone Ranger'

Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:44 Written by  iamrogue
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SDCC 2012: Disney Brings 'Frankenweenie,' 'Wreck-It Ralph,' 'Oz,' & 'Lone Ranger'

Thanks to a rabid fanbase, the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 panel that kicked off today drew the largest crowd at Comic-Con, but the Disney presentation that followed was far more loaded with information and teases for no fewer than four big movies from the House that Walt Built.  Just as we expected, there was a Q and A with director Tim Burton about his new animated feature Frankenweenie, followed by the debut of a teaser for Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful, and a good look at Wreck-it Ralph with the director and cast.  Then Disney dropped a surprise in the form of teaser footage from Gore Verbinski's huge The Lone Ranger.

Okay, let's do this one step at a time, since there was an awful lot going on in the one-hour presentation scheduled to run from 2:05 to 3:05 today. The entire presentation was moderated by Chris Hardwick, the man behind The Nerdist podcast empire.

First up was the Frankenweenie panel Tim Burton took the stage along with producer Allison Abbate, executive producer Don Hahn, and Atticus Shaffer, the youngster who voices Edgar in the film.  Burton discussed how Frankenweenie came to be, as the full-length stop-motion feature is, in fact, an expansion upon a 1984 live-action short film he made for Disney.  Having gained experience with the stop-motion method producing The Nightmare Before Christmas and directing The Corpse Bride, he decided to revisit the tale, a monster movie-inspired spin on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

In order to convey the tone, the panel kicked off with a trailer made specifically for Comic-Con, which you can watch right here:

Two clips from the film followed, both of them showcasing the delightful black and white look and intentionally cheesy sense of humor evident in the trailer.  The first clip is set in an elementary school classroom, where a new science teacher with a nearly incomprehensible Russian accent introduces himself to the class.  The teacher holds forth with a surreal discourse on lighting and immigration, but eventually the class conversation rolls around to just why the town of New Holland is home to strange occurrences and frequent lightning storms.  The kids, who Burton said are based on bygone horror icons and children he remembers from his suburban youth, all have different theories.  In the second clip, young Victor Frankenstein has brought his dead canine Sparky back to life, and Igor's response points to the movie's ultimate monster movie conflict, with many kids using Victor's science to bring their deceased pets back to life.  In the clip, Igor picks up a goldfish from the local pet store, eager to have Victor experiment on the fish.  After it is vaporized, Frankenstein does indeed revive the goldfish, only it's invisible.

After a lively audience Q and A session during which Burton jokingly referred to Oscar-winning costume designer and frequent collaborator Colleen Atwood as a "bitch," the Frankenweenie panel concluded.

Oz the Great and Powerful was up next.  First, a reel of exuberant moments from Sam Raimi's filmography played, getting the crowd properly hyped to see the director of Spider-Man in person.  The man responsible for the Evil Dead trilogy shared his sincere enthusiasm for comic book perusal on the Con floor.  He briefly described the story of his Wizard of Oz prequel, which is technically set in the world of L. Frank Baum's stories rather than MGM's classic 1939 film.

Raimi then quieted down for the first teaser trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful, starring James Franco as Oscar Diggs, a huckster of dubious morality whose hot-air balloon ride ends up taking him through a tornado and into the magical land of Oz.  That trailer is now available online, and you can watch it for yourself by clicking right here.

Immediately following the trailer, Raimi was joined onstage by surprise guests Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams, who play Theodora and Glinda, respectively.  As you can imagine, Hall H went plenty crazy for Kunis and Williams.  In the audience Q and A that followed, Raimi explained that Dorothy's ruby slippers wouldn't be in the film due to issues with the rights (there are no ruby slippers in Baum's original story, only silver slippers), nor will familiar favorites like the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, since this movie is about different denizens Oz.

After the Oz the Great and Powerful panel, Disney launched right into the animated movie Wreck-It Ralph.  Set in an imaginary world of videogames, the comedic adventure marks the feature directorial debut of The Simpsons and Futurama veteran Rich Moore, who was the first guy out on stage. 

Ten minutes of footage from the digitally-animated movie laid out the basic idea and explored the different videogame environments.  The footage begins with the title character lamenting his fate as the bad guy in a Donkey Kong-style 8-bit videogame, a thankless task he's been carrying out for three decades now.  As he expresses in a support group for videogame villains such as Dr. Robotnik and Bowser.  We then see Game Central Station, the inside of a surge protector which distinctly resembles Grand Central Station and allows videogame characters to shuffle from game to game.  In the story, Ralph's existential crisis leads him to find himself in other games, and the footage included Ralph's good guy nemesis Felix in the first-person shooter Hero's Duty, which Moore revealed will be scored by Skrillex.  Also included was a scene set in the candy-coated world of Sugar Rush, a kid's racing game inspired by Mario Kart.

Here's a new official image Disney just released to show off Hero's Duty in Wreck-It Ralph:


John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, who voice Ralph and the Sugar Rush inhabitant Vanellope von Schweetz, then joined Moore in front of Hall H.  Reilly, whose ample improv skills have been demonstrated in the likes of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers, handled questions well, jokingly mocking the crowd and generally being every shade of cool.

All those panels were scheduled.  We've known they were coming for weeks now.  One movie that we thought would have zero presence at Comic-Con was The Lone Ranger, Disney's theatrical revival of the serialized Western hero that has been the subject of a lot of gossip and speculation following a surprisingly public haggling session over the massive budget.  Subsequent budgetary inflation didn't help, but such stories weren't a matter of concern this afternoon in Hall H, where the studio was looking to create a moment of awe and spark some discussion.  After all, the movie marks a reunion of Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and star Johnny Depp.

Here, Depp plays Tonto, the Native American sidekick to the eponymous masked avenger played by Armie Hammer, who so memorably portrayed the Winklevii in The Social Network.  Neither got all that much screen time in the first The Lone Ranger footage publicly exhibited.  That's not to say they didn't show up at all; we see Tonto looking serene in action, even when he's dangling from a moving train, and Hammer looks just like the straight laced hero he ought to, even in a leather mask that should make him seem silly.  Of that mask, Tonto says in voiceover, "There comes a time, kemosabe, when a good man must wear a mask."

Mostly, though, the footage sought to set up the scale of the film and the crucial importance of the locomotive.  Tom Wilkinson, who plays a villain, explains in narration that the railroads are reshaping the American West, and that whoever controls them is in total control of the future.  The centrality of trains is reflected by the fact that the majority of the action shown takes place on, in, and around locomotives.

The footage included almost exactly the image you see below, followed by movie's logo and the card, "Now In Production."  Given that the film is still in the midst of principal photography, most everything shown was practical, without the big visual effects you might expect from the director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.


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