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Published: Saturday, 7/23/2011

Facing the fans

Comic-Con brings out big names, big announcements

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Steven Spielberg, right, stands on stage with Comic-Con programming director Eddie Ibrahim during the panel for "The Adventures of Tintin." Steven Spielberg, right, stands on stage with Comic-Con programming director Eddie Ibrahim during the panel for "The Adventures of Tintin."
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SAN DIEGO — Dinosaur fan alert: Steven Spielberg says a fourth Jurassic Park film may be only a few years away.

Spielberg told an audience at the Comic-Con fan convention on Friday that he has a story and a screenwriter for the next installment of his blockbuster franchise about prehistoric reptiles brought into modern times through cloning.

The filmmaker directed the first two Jurassic Park adventures but would be overseeing as a producer this time. He says the film may come together in the next two or three years.

It was Spielberg’s first trip to the sprawling Comic-Con event, where the director and his producing partner, Peter Jackson, showed off footage of their action story The Adventures of Tintin, due in theaters late this year.

Comic-Con also presented Spielberg with an Inkpot Award, an honor given to notable convention guests.

Spielberg took the stage to a booming standing ovation from the Comic-Con crowd, whom the director offered profuse thanks.

“I wouldn’t be here without you,” Spielberg told the audience. “I wouldn’t be here without you supporting these movies. Kids, no matter what your age, you’re kids, and you’ll be kids the rest of your lives. I’ve been a kid all my life.”

Spielberg said the day he grows up is the day “I stop making movies, which I don’t intend to do.”

Jackson joined Spielberg on stage, a surprise appearance, since distributor Paramount Pictures had kept it under wraps that he would be attending Comic-Con.

A producer on Tintin, Jackson added his own wry accolade for Spielberg.

“I think he shows real promise,” Jackson said. “If he decides to stick with filmmaking, I think he could really go places.”

Jackson also said he’s nearly a quarter of the way through his long, long shoot for his two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

Jackson told the audience that he just finished the first 60 days of production and is on break before resuming for 200 more days of shooting.

“So almost there,” Jackson joked, admitting that he’s enjoying The Hobbit far more than he thought he would after directing a similar long shoot on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Film sequels
Robert Rodriguez announced that he’s planning sequels to Sin City and Machete.

He says a script for Sin City 2 is being refined, and he hopes for two sequels to last year’s Machete — at least one of which will bring the blade-slinging star into space.

“Even if we don’t get to three, I’m at least making the trailer for three because it’s so good. I would put it even before part two,” Rodriguez said.

Machete goes into space! It’s like Moonraker.”

Serkis wins again
Andy Serkis left no doubt in the minds of Comic-Con fans that he’s the king of the apes.

With footage from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Serkis demonstrated Thursday why he’s the king of performance-capture, in which an actor’s dramatic essence makes up the foundation of a character that is layered over with digital effects.

The British actor pioneered the technique as the gnarled little fiend Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films, a role he is reprising for The Hobbit prequels, and later as the towering ape in King Kong.

Now Serkis delivers the main simian role for the Apes prequel, playing a chimpanzee leading an ape revolution against oppressive humans. The film debuts around the world beginning the first week of August.

“People said to me, ‘Why are you choosing another ape character, why are you playing another monkey?’” Serkis said at a presentation to show off footage from the film. “With Kong, he was a huge technical challenge, because he was a 25-foot gorilla. Gollum’s a 3½-foot ring junkie. With Caesar, I actually believe it was even more of a formidable challenge.”

Caesar has a sprawling, tragic emotional arc to his story, said Serkis.

Inheriting high intelligence from his mother, a chimp treated with a test drug to cure Alzheimer’s, Caesar is raised in a loving human home by a researcher (James Franco) and grows up feeling like part of the family.

“Then at a certain point, he realizes that he is not the same as the human beings that he’s been brought up by. He feels like a freak. He’s treated like a Frankenstein’s monster. He’s then taken away from the people, his parents, his family, and thrown into a sanctuary, which is full of apes, and it’s kind of like a hard-core prison,” Serkis said. “Then he brings this disparate group of apes together and then leads them to revolution. And then, oh, by the way, he’s an ape. It’s an amazing journey.”

The ‘Game’ continues

The cast and crew of Game of Thrones are ready to go off the wall for the second season of the HBO fantasy saga.

During an uproarious panel Thursday, actors and executive producers offered a few clues about what’s to come next season, which will soon go into production.

“For the second season, we’ve got a bunch of great new characters coming in,” said executive producer David Benioff. “We’ve got such an incredible cast, but it’s time to meet the Red Priestess, and see those dragons and wolves start to grow up.”

Lena Headey, who plays the vicious Cersei Lannister, dodged a fan’s question about her favorite scenes from the first season, which was nominated for 13 Emmys last week.

“My favorites are still to come because I just read some of season two,” she teased.

Author George R.R. Martin noted that he has an idea of how he wants to conclude the entire saga in his coming novels and that he is a fan of “bittersweet endings.”

Peter Dinklage, who is nominated for an Emmy for his role as pragmatic Tyrion Lannister, offered an entirely different kind of conclusion.

“Dance number,” he deadpanned to the crowd of more than 4,000 fans.



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