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Comic-Con 2012: Disney Panel

Disney Comic-Con 2012
Walt Disney Pictures

Comic-Con 2012: Disney Presents ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ ‘Frankenweenie’ and ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful’ live from Hall H!  Panelists include Tim Burton, James Franco, Mila Kunis, John C. Reilly, Sara Silverman, Sam Raimi and more.

Walt Disney Pictures officially brought three films to Comic-Con 2012 and has some brand new footage to show off to the fans of Hall H.

Last night, they debuted a new exhibit at their booth titled “The Art of ‘Frankenweenie’” and we were there taking pictures and bringing back a full report. But that’s not all the ‘Frankenweenie‘ fun. Tim Burton and the cast from his upcoming animated film will be on hand along with the stars of ‘Wreck-It Ralph‘ and the upcoming ‘Wizard of Oz’ prequel, ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful.’

Walt Disney wasted no time during its Hall H Comic-Con panel. With Chris Hardwick moderating, here’s what went down:

First up was a sizzle reel for ‘Frankenweenie,’ a feature length version of Burton’s 1984 short about a boy in 1960s-ish who uses Mary Shelley-ish means to bring his dog back to life. The voice-over narration is intentionally hokey, proudly announcing that it is viewable in the THIRD DIMENSION. The reel was similar to the released trailer, but also includes a gag about cat poop.

We also saw two finished scenes – one with Martin Landau’s scary-looking science teacher Mr. Rzykruski teaching young Victor Frankenstein’s class about lightning. Building himself into a frothy monologue about electricity “entering the new world” (I imagine that Mr. Rzykruski is an immigrant with some regrets.)

It’s a hilarious moment, and the reaction from the classmates is adorable, with each of the craftily designed maquettes having clearly defined personalities. (Unfortunately, one of them was a serious Japanese stereotype, but we’ll wait to see the whole movie before we pass judgement.)

The second clip showed Victor and his creepy hunchbacked pal zapping a dead fish back to life. But invisible.

Only a guy with Tim Burton’s clout could get a black and white animated movie into mainstream theaters – or bolts on the neck of his Frankendog when Genndy Tartakovsky could not. As someone who watches ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ twice a year, I’m very excited.

Comic-Con 2012 Disney panel - 'Oz'
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Next up was ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful,’ which began with a Sam Raimi sizzle reel. And, holy crud this guy has made such great movies! ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Army of Darkness’ and. . .woah. . .is that a clip from ‘Crimewave’?!?

Raimi came on stage and explained a bit about James Franco‘s character in ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful,’ a misguided Kansas carnival performer who gets swept away to the iconic, magical land.

We then took a look at a very brief sizzle reel, starting up in Black and White with Franco playin’ around with zoetropes and things. He takes a hot air balloon ride that goes wrong (a twister!) and ends up in color. In time, he will become The Wizard.

The footage went by quickly, but it leaned heavy on the world building of Oz. There are living dolls and sprites and, yeah, there’s Emerald City. It should come as no surprise that it looks magnificent. It’s early still – but for now I’m a Friend of Dorothy. From the conversation we learned that the Tin Man and Scarecrow and ruby slippers are not in the movie – but “The Classic” (Raimi’s trademark Oldsmobile) is.

After Raimi and Michelle Williams (playing Glinda the Good Witch) and Mila Kunis (playing Theodora, who I imagine is in the L. Frank Baum books) exited, Rich Moore, veteran Simpsons director, came on stage to discuss ‘Wreck-It Ralph.’

WRECK-IT RALPH
Walt Disney Studios

It’s a very funny premise, kind’ve a mix of ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Tron.’ We go behind the scenes of a Rampage-esque old school coin-op video game. Turns out John C. Reilly’s big bruising baddie just doesn’t want to be a building-smasher anymore.

We see him living in his pile of trash, yearning for a cozy, family life. His fellow video game villains at Bad-Anon (located in the Pac-Man ghost generator box) try to convince him that it isn’t “bad” to be bad, but he really wants a change.

After a walk through Game Central Station, Ralph gives his stolen Pac-Man cherry to a forlorn looking Q-Bert, then takes a journey through multiple game landscapes that will make gamers lose their freakin’ minds.

Even a non-gamer like myself will catch references to Halo and Nintendo-ish kiddie games. But don’t look for a-Mario. That’s one of the few licenses that director Rich Moore couldn’t secure. (Even though some of the Super Mario Brothers sound effects made it in.)

During the audience Q & A, a fan asked if it was difficult to get many of the properties. John C. Reilly (the voice of Ralph) performed a little “day in the life of the guy who invented Frogger” play. In other words, for most of these nostalgia games, they were thrilled to get involved in a major multimillion dollar movie.

Sarah Silverman was on stage, too, and her character plays a “Glitch” in a kiddie racing game, and I gotta say it’s terrific to see the legendary filthy comedian pitching a Disney film.

Just before the session ended we got a brief, blazingly fast glimpse at a teaser for Gore Verbinski’s ‘Lone Ranger.’ It looked big, iconic, expensive and set to a heavy metal beat. My father loved The Lone Ranger show when he was a kid and he’s gonna hate this. Maybe that’s the point.

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