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With no sequels or comic book movies this summer, Warner Bros. came well prepared to hype its movies and generate word of mouth with the geek crowd that showed up at WonderCon, a smaller version of Comic-Con held in the spring that nonetheless attracts close to 50,000 fans over the course of three days.
Perhaps the most anticipated movie for Warner Bros. is Godzilla, which the studio made with Legendary. And the studio could not have closed its presentation any better.
SUMMER BOX-OFFICE FORECAST: Studio-by-Studio Breakdown
The popular trailer was reshown and director Gareth Edwards talked up the movie. But the treat for the crowd was an extended sequence set in Hawaii that slowly built to a monster stalking a city and then ended with a nice reveal of Godzilla himself.
Warners and Legendary for the longest time have been wary to show too much of the creature, only hinting at his appearance during the trailer and being very selective at what has been shown.
“Quiet is the new loud,” Edwards said of the marketing. But he also said now that the movie is only weeks away, the campaign is shifting gears, which has brought him whiplash.
“I’ve been in this bubble for two years [making the movie]. Everyone was, ‘Keep it secret. You can’t show anything.’ And now it’s flipped. Now it’s, ‘Go out and tell everybody. Go sell this movie hard.’ “
The movie has a great pedigree of actors, such as Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Johnson, who are known for dramatic indie fare, not studio tentpoles. Edwards talked of how actors like to have a plan where they do one small, personal film then maybe a tentpole. Edward told the actors this kind of thinking wouldn’t work. “I told them, ‘You have to view this as your personal film; it’s the only way this is going to work,’ ” he said.
Warners started off the panel tubthumping Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie. Cruise wasn’t present, but Bill Paxton was a great spokesman to start off with, with his long pedigree of classic movies, such as Weird Science, True Lies and Aliens, among others.
Paxton talked about the making of the movie and the “punishment” of wearing heavy suits that were like cages, but he was also open about his career at this stage.
“I feel much free-er now. I don’t have to worry about being a lead, and I’m going back to the roles that first got me noticed with audiences … I’ve became the guy that supports the guy,” he said. “Let some other schmuck come in every day. I get to come in, do a colorful part and then party in London.”
Warners also showed off intense footage from Into the Storm, a disaster movie featuring tornadoes. The sizzle reel showed three twisters hitting a small town (one even becoming a fire tornado) and the ensuing destruction.
While director Steven Quale talked about his intent to give the movie a handheld feel, Richard Armitage found himself getting the most attention of the actors present, mostly from the female fans, due to his starring role in The Hobbit movies. Armitage talked about how he went from the greenscreen and costume-heavy set of The Hobbit to what he thought was going to be an easy shoot in real-world locations. Then he faced 100-mph wind tunnels and rain machines and realized it wasn’t going to be that easy.
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