Comic-Con 2009: Wednesday-Thursday News Highlights

- G4 TV will host the first-ever live TV broadcast of The Star Wars Spectacular! “The Official Lucasfilm Panel” Saturday, July 25, 2-4PM ET/PT:

The panel will feature never-before-seen footage, breaking news, surprise announcements, guest stars, a live table read of an exclusive new Clone Wars script and much more. Guest panelists include Steve Sansweet (Lucasfilm’s Head of Fan Relations), Star Wars: The Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni, voice actors Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Catherine Taber (Padmé Amidala), Tom Kane (Yoda), and several other surprise guest stars.

- Cinema Blend has a video documentary featuring Mark Hamill as the voice of “The Watcher” for the upcoming video game, Darksiders.
+ GameTrailers.com has a “Voice Actor Diary” featuring Liam O’Brien, voice of “War, Horesman of the Apocalypse.”
+ IGN.com has a video interview featuring Hamill and O’Brien.

- Toon Zone reports from the Disney 3D panel with thoughts on the Robert Zemeckis-directed CGI/3D feature film A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey coming to theaters November 2009:

Zemeckis stressed that the motion capture technology and animation he’s used in previous movies such as Polar Express and Beowulf has now been “perfected.” While I sort of liked Beowulf, the characters just came off really stiff, with very blank faces and eyes. Zemeckis discussed how for Christmas Carol, they are now mapping the retinas of the eyes to improve the facial expressions of the animation.

The first clip featured Scrooge identifying his old business partner, Marley (Gary Oldman) in the morgue. Scrooge yells at the mortician’s apprentice, Pip, and takes the coins off of Marley’s eyes. Scrooge is such a miser. Scrooge is then famously visited by Marley’s ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past. What was impressive about the footage is that it used a lot of dialogue verbatim from Charles Dickens’ original novel. I will say, the animation and facials for these characters look much improved from Polar Express and Beowulf. The major improvement being that the characters look to be more than just walking characters.

+ G4 TV reported from the same panel that Jim Carrey will be voicing eight characters in the film.
+ Toon Zone’s comment on the Q&A with Zemeckis, when he was asked about the possible sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?:

Remember a little while back, Zemeckis hinted that there could be some sort of follow-up to the 1980′s classic, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Well someone did ask about this follow-up. Zemeckis repeated that he can neither *confirm* or deny this movie. However, Zemeckis seemed to be emphasizing the *confirm* word in his statement. The other little tidbit Zemeckis revealed that all the characters introduced before in the first movie would come back as 2-D animated characters.

G4 TV’s coverage posted Zemeckis’ full statement on this: “I can neither confirm nor deny… I will tell you this: If that ever does happen, the 2D animated characters will remain 2D. They will not be dimensionalized… but who knows. That’s my feeling if anything was to happen down the road.”

- Neil Kaplan announced that he is providing the voice of Tychus Findlay for the StarCraft II video game.

- MTV’s Splashpage has a preview of Stan Lee/Walt Disney Studio’s Time Jumper “digital motion comic” and reports that “the first 8-10 minute episode of the 10-part series will be released on iTunes Friday, July 24.” It features the voices of Stan Lee as Lee Excelsior and Natasha Henstridge (Species, Eli Stone, The Whole Nine Yards) as the voice of villain Charity Vyle.

- Summit Entertainment, the studio releasing the Twilight sequel New Moon and the CGI feature Astro Boy, announced that Samuel L. Jackson and Charlize Theron have signed on join the voice cast for Astro Boy. Several media sources claimed that their characters were not revealed, but after a little digging I discovered (via io9.com, linked below) that Jackson will be voicing a “killer robot named Zog, a mean junkyard robot, who has a small but pivotal role in the film,” and Theron is narrating “a little movie that opens the film — a movie within a movie” (via comingsoon.net, also linked below).
+ DaemonsMovies.com has con photos of Freddie Highmore and Kristin Bell (the respective voices of Astro Boy and Cora).
+ Yahoo! Movies has three photos of Highmore and Bell here. (And then click “next photo.”)
+ io9.com has interviews with Bell and Highmore (including a video interview with Bell).
+ ComingSoon.net has an interview with director David Bowers, who discusses Jackson and Theron’s performances.
+ SuperHeroHype has a transcript of the panel’s full Q&A, which includes quotes from Highmore and Bell. Of note here:

Bowers also revealed that the film has “quite a few” hidden references/homages to the original Japanese manga and TV series. Bowers says, “I’m not going to give away all of them. We have Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy) himself in the movie quite a lot. He’s a character actor. In the Japanese version Simo Koto Tezuko [is] doing the voice, which is really special. There are lot of characters from the ‘Astro Boy’ universe in there. You’ll see them.”

And answering how the cast was assembled, Producer Maryanne Garger says:

“It really was a goal for David and myself to have the best actors in the role for the movie. Fortunately, everyone we asked said yes. We feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful cast. Freddie, of course, is just fantastic as Astro Boy. And Kristen and Nathan. Hats off to both of them. We also have Nicolas Cage in the role of Dr. Tenma, who is Astro Boy’s father. He is a big comics fan and an anime fan. He has a real passion for the property, so it was really great to get him onboard. Donald Sutherand. How great is that? He’s our villain, President Stone. Bill Nighy is Dr. Elefun. (Huge cheers from the audience) We loved him so much we actually put him in twice. He’s Dr. Elefun and he also plays another robot character. We have Eugene Levy. There’s Nathan Lane as Ham Egg. We have Matt Lucas from “Little Britain” in the movie.

- Cinema Blend reports that the video game Real Heroes: Firefighter (a Nintendo Wii exclusive) will feature the voices of Michael Jace (The Shield), James Marsters (Buffy, Angel), comedian/actor Jamie Kennedy, Jenette Goldstein (Aliens, Terminator 2), Jack McGee (Rescue Me, Malcolm in the Middle), and John DiMaggio (Futurama). A portion of the proceeds from this game will be donated to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.

- G4 TV’s coverage of The Hobbit (directed by Guillermo del Toro) panel includes the announcement that the film “should” hit theaters for the 2011 Holiday season and that they are “95% sure that Ian McKellen, [Hugo] Weaving and Andy Serkis are in for the films.”

- 1up.com reports that the “anime compilation Halo Legends was announced, bringing several legendary Japanese animation studios together to produce short stories based on the popular Xbox 360 franchise.”

Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, in-Roh: The Wolf Brigade) is producing a Halo Legends as a “seven-part series of animated films that will vary between traditional animation and CGI,” called Codename Duel.”

“The origin of the Spartans will be broken into two parts,” reports 1up.com, “While the rest of the stories will focus on different facets of the Halo universe. Each episode will feature a different cast, and will use Japanese voice actors. As of right now. casting has not been completed.”

- IGN.com has coverage of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken panel:

Panel attendees were treated to a sneak peak at the upcoming second half of season four, which will include sketches featuring MASK, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, and an extended Dark Crystal parody featuring hip-hop artist T-Pain. Co-creator Matthew Senreich also told the crowd that instead of a season finale where everyone gets killed, they changed things up this year with a huge music and dance number that should certainly be different.

+ AdultSwim.com has a feature article on their “Most Awkward Comic Con Moments,” and includes quotes from voice actors Dana Snyder, Doc Hammer, Breckin Meyer, and Dave Willis. The site also has a list of the Robot Chicken creative team’s favorite sketches.
+ G4 TV has a “behind the scenes” video interview with Seth Green.

- Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) will voice a character in the new stop-motion Voltron-esque mecha spoof Titan Maximum from the Robot Chicken creative team. The new series will premiere on Adult Swim in September. (Thanks to Jeff Birnbaum for the news.)

Wired reported in May that Titan Maximum will differ from Robot Chicken because it will have a “steady narrative” rather than a series of rapid-fire comedy sketches. Wired’s description of the show: “In the 22nd century, a group of pilots called the Titan Force Five merge their spaceships to form the mega-mecha Titan Maximum, which then soldiers forth to save the universe from extinction.

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