Disney at Comic-Con 2012 – by Alex Lamb

Disney stopped by Comic-Con on Thursday with their three upcoming family features, Frankenweenie, Oz: The Great and Powerful and Wreck-It Ralph.

Director Tim Burton discussed his new stop-motion animated feature Frankenweenie first, and despite my personal reservations about it (especially considering his recent decline in quality), he restored some of my hope for his latest effort.

Burton pointed out that Frankenweenie is the first black and white animated stop-motion feature ever made, and that this color scheme actually brings out more texture and detail in the models. And in 3D, the visuals should be even more impressive to take in.

Part of what I’ve been worried about with Frankenweenie is how Burton would be expanding his original half hour short into a full-length film. He touched on this by saying he was proud that he hadn’t just used padding to lengthen it, but that he expanded a lot of the characters and explored themes such as the politics between the children, while keeping the heart of the story the same.

For the full Frankenweenie press conference with Burton, executive producer Don Hahn, producer Allison Abbate and actor Atticus Shaffer, listen here.

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Next up was director Sam Raimi, producer Joe Roth and actresses Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis for Oz: The Great and Powerful.

Now, while I’m a big fan of Raimi’s work, I’d certainly never think of the man behind The Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies to direct a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Yet the more I think about it, I realize the fantastical and adventurous touch he brings to his films, as well as the light, goofy humor – and he seems like a pretty good fit.

What really struck me about Raimi was how normal he seemed, and I mean that in a good way. He was mild-mannered and extremely genuine in all his answers, and even stuck around after the press conference for a little bit, taking pictures with some of the reporters.

However, it was Williams who truly captivated my attention. She was just as utterly beautiful as I’d imagined, although it was her pure sweetness that really made my heart melt.

From the trailer, it looks as if much of the film will be CGI, although Kunis commented on how she didn’t have to use her imagination much to put herself in Oz because the sets were so elaborate, and were actually twice the size of those on regular productions.

Kunis even had a special connection to the “Oz” franchise, as it was the first film she really gravitated towards after moving to the US, and “Return to Oz” was the first full book she read in English. Williams also loved the movie as a child, but part of why Oz: The Great and Powerful is so meaningful to her is that it’s the first film of hers which her three year-old daughter is really looking forward to seeing.

For the full Oz: The Great and Powerful press conference, listen here.

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And finally came Wreck-It Ralph, the animated movie about a video game bad guy who doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore, and starts hopping through different video game worlds, trying to find his true self.

Director Rich Moore, producer Clark Spencer and actors John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman answered questions about the film, and not only was Wreck-It Ralph the most original movie of the three, but also the most interesting and fun press conference.

As you might expect, Reilly and Silverman were both hilarious. Reilly really is the ultimate goofball. When asked about the differences with voice acting from regular acting, Silverman responded that it was even more difficult since she only had her voice to emote her performance. Reilly built on that with a story from acting school about an exercise to perform a scene only with one’s feet.

While Reilly and Silverman’s characters are both from fictional video games, countless real video game characters are featured throughout the film, from the Pac-Man ghosts to Bowser. Moore explained that obtaining the rights for characters wasn’t all that difficult. He said it boiled down to maintaining a good relationship with the other studios and allowing their input into the animated portrayal of their characters – which ultimately made them feel more authentic.

While Wreck-It Ralph is currently being marketed for its comedy and around the concept of all these video game character cameos, Moore and Spencer pointed out that was only one layer to the film. They described an emotional core to the movie centered around Reilly and Silverman’s characters, an aspect which they believe will surprise viewers and a reason why even those who’ve never played video games will be able to connect with the story.

For the full Wreck-It Ralph press conference, listen here.

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by Alex Lamb

photos by Alex Lamb

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