CineEurope 2012: Ang Lee Presents 'Life of Pi' Footage at Fox International Presentation

Ang Lee
Wesley Mann

“Last September, I threw out the opening pitch for the Mets, for Taiwanese Heritage Day, and of course I was introduced as ‘the Oscar-winning director.’ It follows you everywhere," director Ang Lee told THR about his 2006 win for best director for Brokeback Mountain.

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Bruce Willis and Hugh Jackman, along with studio co-chiefs Jim Gianopolus and Tom Rothman, also spoke on upcoming films including "A Good Day To Die Hard" and "The Wolverine."

BARCELONA, Spain -- Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee took to the stage delighting the 2,000 plus exhibition exec heavy audience gathered for 20th Century Fox International's CineEurope showreel and upcoming slate presentation Wednesday evening.

And if the talent brought to the stage wasn't example enough of Fox's commitment to global box office and international exhibition efforts, the evening was also awash with the studio's heavy-hitting executive team.

The studio's international co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus and Fox Searchlight International's Rebecca Kearey led the charge before Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairmen and CEO's Jim Gianopolus and Tom Rothman landed to introduce Lee and his footage from his "unfilmable film" Life of Pi.

Willis took to the stage to cheers and applause having landed in the Catalan city from Budapest "35 minutes" before arriving, taking a break from the shoot of A Good Day To Die Hard.

The star, billed by Hanneman as "the world's ultimate action star" said his portrayal of former NYC cop John McClane was "older, slower but still bleeding."

Willis also noted that it was "great" to return to his character but thought that, while the film was between a third and a half finished its shoot, "we haven't killed enough people yet," before pausing and adding, "but we will."

Also taking to the stage to support a character he himself described as "the backbone of my [movie] career, Hugh Jackman might have spoken for the whole evening about prepping for the start of shoot of The Wolverine due for rollout in 2013.

Returning to his "bad ass" superhero role, Jackman assured the theater-owners that if they went to any gym in Barcelona on any given day during the show they'd find him there working out.

He starts shooting the movie, directed by his chum James Magold in "about six weeks" and said he was excited to get his claws into the character again, "because I believe there's that great movie to be made that defines his character."

Jackman says the Chris McQuarrie script does just that and takes Wolverine into Japan for the first time, a popular part of the comic book series.

The CineEurope show-goers were lapping it up and whooped and hollered at Ben Stiller's specially-created message to support The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he directs and stars in alongside Kristen Wiig.

An artificially aged Stiller emerged from a wardrobe labeled the "time closet" to tell cinema owners and exhibition executives in Barelona that movies had stopped being made in 2013 after his film came out "because it was so good there was no point in trying to match it."

The Stiller from the closet, some 40 years on from now, also informed the audience that movie-making titans such including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Terrence Malick had also given up the ghost because of his film.

He also noted that the film The Watch, an alien invasion comedy which he stars in and which Fox unspooled for the first time to audiences at the show's late night presentation, was one of the only movies along with Mitty to have survived after the aliens wiped up all other movies.

Liam Neeson sent a message as his Taken character Bryan Mills with his tongue firmly planted in his action man cheek when he insisted exhibitors give Taken 2 a good run when it comes out next year.

"Because you know what will happen if you don't," Neeson as Mills said. "I will come for you, I will hunt you down, so give my movie a chance."

The packed Fox slate also included a brace of projects with Steven Speilberg's name on them.  He will direct Robopocalypse and produces Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Hanneman and Jegeus also promised a "huge" 2014 summer with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the "biggest" X-Men yet and Robopocalypse all coming down the pipe for that year.

Kearey detailed a slate of high-end filmmaker titles including Ruby Sparks, a quirky romcom from the makers of Little Miss Sunshine, Stoker, from Old Boy filmmaker Chan-wook Park starring Mia Wasikowski, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman and Hitchcock, the story of the legendary British filmmaker starring Anthony Hopkins and the love affair with his wife played by Helen Mirren that played out during the making of Psycho. Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel and Toni Colette also feature in a strong ensemble.

But the evening truly belonged to Fox's backing and efforts to put Life of Pi firmely on the exhibitors' radars.

Gianopolus and Rothman apologized for high-jacking the Hanneman and Jegeus show but said the message about Lee and his movie was an important one.

Gianopolus, who watched over both Titanic and Avatar at Fox described the upcoming adapation of Yann Martell's international best selling book about a 17 year old Indian boy set adrift with only a tiger on board his lifeboat as a similar game-changer for the cinema and movie-making.

"You will believe the unbelievable," Gianapolus stated matter-of-factly. "He's [Lee] a man who never repeats himself and always pushes the boundaries and wants to raise the bar," the studio co-chief said.

He noted that in his 20 years at the studio with Rothman, the pair have been lucky enough to have been there for moments when the technology, filmmaking techniques and storytelling abilities have formed a perfect storm "taking a giant leap forward."

With Life of Pi, Fox clearly hopes it has one of those moments.

Lee, who has been working on the film for four years to date and still coninues to work to hit its anticipated global release in the holiday season later this year, shared footage "85 percent finished" and promised "it will be better" despite the fact the audience's collective jaws dropped and more cheers rang out following the reels.

Gianapolus told THR at the aftershow party that Fox was spending big but spending wisely.

"We have the right filmmakers and we know how to grow the business. North America is a country with 350 million people and there's six billion plus people who live around the globe outside of there. We make movies for the global market and we have a terrific team in place to run our business," Gianapolus said.

Attendees had been invited to a Life of Pi inspired no expenses spared dinner reception complete with tasty Indian inspired food, free-flowing booze and a specially-created ocean pool complete with rowboat and tiger.

"I'm slightly disappointed the tiger isn't real," joked one party wag.

It would have eaten up the party, undoubtedly the most extravagant and lavish shindig laid on during this year's CineEurope show.