San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Friday

Day two of Comic-Con had attendees a little on edge. First, the pre-registration had most freaked out about the line that snaked even farther down the marina than on Thursday, and they worried about their chances on attending in 2012. And the wait time throughout the day Thursday for Ballroom 20 was in jeopardy of being eclipsed by Friday’s maxed schedule of can’t-miss panels.

On top of that, we had Spielberg and Spider-Man in Hall H.

See, didn’t we tell you Comic-Con would test even the strongest of you?

The biggest story the con, on a positive note, has to be the appearance of Steven Spielberg for the Adventures of Tintin panel starting Friday in Hall H. Despite the star-studded cast, none of the cast was present, but Peter Jackson, executive producer of the movie, made a surprise appearance to a gracious Comic-Con crowd. The crowd was graced with hysterical pre-production footage of Peter Jackson testing the mo-cap technology and interacting with Snowy the dog drinking some spilled wine, getting drunk and falling off a pier with Jackson diving into the ocean after him. We also got some footage from the film in 3D which showed off the awesome animation and superb score from John Williams. The art style helped avoid the uncanny valley problem of The Polar Express, which was specifically called out by Spielberg to show how far the technology has come. But although the art was faithful to the original material, it felt a little too classic for the modern technology used.

There were two reveals during the Q&A. One, Spielberg said there was a story for a Jurassic Park 4 movie, they hired a writer, and that we should expect to see it within the next two to three years. Peter Jackson talked briefly about The Hobbit, saying they were on break because lead Martin Freeman had to leave to film the Sherlock BBC series, and that they had 200 more days of filming remaining.

And the viral moment of the con – a joke played by a fan, when he asked a completely innocent question while wearing a shirt that read: “”If possible I would love to meet Steven Spielberg just to shake his hand and say thank you very much.” The crowd erupted, and the fan was allowed onstage to shake Spielberg’s hand. A funny touch was when the fan went on stage, both Jackson and Spielberg pulled out their camera phones and snapped photos of the fan, spreading the meme, “how many Oscar-winning directors does it take to snap a picture?”

Total Recall got some good buzz and positive reaction from its different take on the Schwarzenegger classic. But it was later in the day when the next must-see panel hit the Hall, during Sony’s unveiling of The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, due in 2012. Fans were treated to exclusive footage and breathed a sigh of relief that the reboot, although taking the franchise in a different direction from the Raimi films, still did the web-slinger justice. Thousands of fans in line were turned away from entering Hall H, making it one of the biggest of this year’s show.

In the weirdest news of the day, Lizard actor Rhys Ifans was arrested shortly after the panel on misdemeanor charges after pushing a female security guard while allegedly drunk.

In Ballroom 20, the lines grew even longer than on Thursday, with a day maxed out with huge panels. Fans were treated to The Walking Dead season two footage, which premiers in October, followed by The Big Bang Theory. The Bones panel was unexpectedly canceled with no replacement panel scheduled, leaving a big gap in the middle of the day. And then last panel of the day, True Blood, caused many fans to invade the Psych and Eureka panels earlier, and leaving thousands of attendee stranded in a line outside during the panel that stretched out to the marina.

The other news was how crowded the Indigo Ballroom was – not just on Friday for the Adult Swim panels, but on Thursday for the Archer panel as well.

Coupled with the long lines for the panels and the folks camped out for the pre-registration lines, it’s no wonder the show floor was so empty. Many exclusive toys were ready for the purchase by just walking up to the booth, something that hasn’t been seen at Comic-Con in a long while. See, there is a silver lining for everything.

Check back later for our analysis of Day 3 of Comic-Con!

About Jeremy Rutz