Cine Expo toons in to studios' fare

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Last year on Day 2 of Cine Expo, 20th Century Fox promised delegates here Hugh Jackman as "Wolverine" in his own spinoff from the "X-Men" franchise.

This year, the same studio wowed reps from the European exhibition industry with footage from the much-anticipated "The Simpsons Movie" and a big "Simpsons"-themed shindig Tuesday that had delegates imbibing at Moe's Tavern and chowing down at Krusty Burger.

The studio flew in creator Matt Groening, who drew a laugh from the crowd by quipping that despite his Dutch ancestry, he learned only that day that he has been "mispronouncing my name wrongly all my life."

He said that four years on, he and his team finished the movie "literally last night." The crowd was treated to 10 minutes of completed footage, including the first-ever glimpse of "Simpson genitalia."

Also in tow for the show was director Doug Liman, who came to tell delegates about "Jumper," his character-driven sci-fi tale about people who can teleport around the globe "in the blink of an eye."

Liman stressed that his films are about "character" and said that many current action flicks are getting more and more like porno films, using dialogue simply to get to the sequences and link them. "I want to make films that stand up without the action bits in them, and this is what I am doing with this film," Liman said.

The audience also listened to Blue Sky Studios animator and "Horton Hears a Who" co-director Steve Martino, who talked about his latest animation project voiced by Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett, among others.

There also were taped messages from several stars and directors to support their Fox projects, including M. Night Shyamalan, who is making his first R-rated horror film, "The Happening," with the pledged hope "that if I've traumatized you, that's a good thing."

Eddie Murphy, who stars in "Starship Dave" as an alien spaceship in the form of a human body, told delegates to disregard any info on other projects and concentrate on his "because it's a big fucker." Fox delegates were at pains to say that his bit had not been scripted.

James Cameron sent a 3-D message of support from the virtual set of his much-anticipated "Avatar," while Baz Luhrmann talked at length on tape about his epic drama "Australia," starring Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

Earlier in the day, Sony Pictures Releasing International organized a packed digital screening of "Surf's Up" using Sony Professional Solutions Europe CineAlta 4K projection technology.

But it was the inclusion of more than 200 children from the British and international schools in Amsterdam that gave the event its atmosphere as the kids, filled with popcorn, soda and sweets and bedecked in garlands and "Surf's Up" caps, whooped it up at every opportunity.

Unlike last year, there was no presentation from Sony regarding its upcoming product from any of its labels.

Day 2 ended with a packed screening of "Live Free or Die Hard," starring Bruce Willis reprising his role as hard ex-cop John McClane.

Just before the screening, The Hollywood Reporter presented 20th Century Fox with the 2006 International Boxoffice Achievement Award for garnering more than $2 billion at the overseas boxoffice, more than $1.3 billion of which came from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Cinema Expo International is produced by the Nielsen Film Group, a division of Nielsen Business Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter. The Expo runs through Thursday at the Amsterdam RAI.
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