While Preview Night of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con offered a chance to land exclusive merchandise and explor the vast exhibition floor, Day 1 brought unique experiences in the famous Hall H. Thousands of fans waited hours (some even several days) to have a chance to view panels featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars discussing their equally big upcoming movies and other projects.
It’s impossible for any one individual to see everything at Comic-Con. In fact, it’s impossible for anyone to see even 5% of everything at the massive convention, with panels and special events overlapping tenfold. So prioritizing is key to getting the most enjoyment out of the event, with a willingness to wait in long lines for the most desired presentations and an equal willingness to skip others, as difficult as it is. Fortunately, for those only interested in the biggest panels, getting a seat in Hall H allows for viewing all of the day’s subsequent panels in that room, with many opportunities to get a better seat between presentations. It’s all a bit of a game, but a fun one with big rewards.
Likewise, it’s also impossible for me to summarize everything that happened in all of the panels I attended. I’ll leave that up to the movie blogs. Here I am covering the convention itself and my experiences at it.
With my early morning spot secure in the long line for Hall H, I stepped out onto the exhibition floor for a few minutes.
There I ran into Jeff Sutphen, host of Nickelodeon’s “Brain Surge” and ABC’s “101 Ways to Leave a Game Show.” He was shooting a Nick promo with the Power Rangers, recently sold by Disney.
I also grabbed a few freebies, including several full-size posters given away by Lionsgate.
Then the Hall H adventure began with a panel about the Twilight saga, particularly the upcoming “Breaking Dawn Part 1” film. In attendance were stars Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson, among others.
They showed the crowd of fans (mostly girls) never-before-seen clips from the not-yet-released movie, with plenty of screams let out every time one of the lead characters removed an article of clothing. It was pure Comic-Con excitement.
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock made a surprise appearance following the Twilight panel, showing a first look at his upcoming documentary all about the San Diego Comic-Con, which he shot last year. Now that I’ve been to the convention, I’m eager to see it and relate to the experiences shown.
Aardman animation put on a short presentation focusing on their upcoming stop motion film, “Pirates”. They’re the ones responsible for “Chicken Run” and “Wallace & Gromit.”
But many in the audience weren’t there for Aardman but rather to see Pee-wee Herman, whose comedic panel was a late addition to the schedule, not even making it into the printed books. But plenty of fans were there to scream along with him when he said the secret word of the day was (what else?) “Comic-Con.”
In the video above, one fan asks him about his voice being removed from Disney’s Star Tours ride and requested that he yelled out the famous phrasee “Artoo, lightspeed to Endor!”, which he obliged.
In a joint panel following Pee-wee, directors Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn paired to discuss their upcoming films “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “Drive,” respectively. Both films look excellent and quite intense and both directors were not shy about using profanity to describe the movies.
It was a laugh-out-loud experience. Del Toro didn’t mention the new “Haunted Mansion” movie he announced last year at Comic-Con, but later in the day in another panel, he did say progress was moving along with it.
20th Century Fox held a panel next with nothing specific announced to be included, so plenty of surprises awaited the eager audience. And they didn’t disappoint, offering a first look at Ridley Scott’s upcoming return to sci-fi with “Prometheus.” One of the film’s stars Charlize Theron came out on stage, followed by a live video chat with Ridley Scott himself, who was on location in Iceland shooting the film, along with actress Noomi Ripace.
The film looks like another in a long line of fantastic Ridley Scott sci-fi films, with plenty of creatures and technology wrapped in an original story.
Next Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried previewed their upcoming film “In Time,” which trades monetary currency for time to live, forcing humans to barter or steal time from others to survive. The scenes shown were entertaining, but I never grasped the whole concept completely.
Finally, acclaimed motion capture actor Andy Serkis came out to discuss “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and all of the careful work that went into creating the photorealistc apes needed to tell the story. Two long scenes plus a third-act sizzle reel were shown to excite the crowd about the film and while the movie does look good, it lacked the grand finale punch for the whole panel presentation.
Across the convention center in a much smaller room, some of the biggest laughs at all of San Diego Comic-Con were found at the Beavis and Butthead panel. Creator Mike Judge was interviewed by Johnny Knoxville about the second coming of the MTV animated duo, who will now be commenting on live action shows in addition to music videos. I am not exaggerating when I write that I had tears in my eyes due to laughing so hard at the jokes fired at “Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant.” This first look at the new show was what Comic-Con is all about.
The day turned to night as Voltron begins its resurgence with a new animated TV show, video game, toy line, and, announced at the panel, an upcoming live action movie for the big screen.
Voltron himself even made an appearance!
More laughs were found with Penn and Teller introducing their new Discovery show “Penn and Teller Tell a Lie”, which is basically Mythbusters – but with Penn and Teller. They even retold some of the same myths previously seen on Mythbusters, but with their own comedic twist. And in the end, they performed a magic trick out of their Vegas show. Video coming soon.
And yes, Teller spoke, the first word out of his mouth a vulgarity – much to the audience’s amusement.
Any night at San Diego Comic-Con can be wrapped up in the nearby Gaslamp District, featuring restaurants and bars, many re-themed for the SDCC crowd.
Day one of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con was a long but exciting and entertaining celebrity-filled adventure – and I only saw a small percentage of what was available. Stay tuned for a report from a very different Day 2 and beyond!
More photos from Day 1 of San Diego Comic-Con 2011: