San Diego Comic-Con isn't the only Con that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Its Northern California cousin, WonderCon, made its biggest movies splash yet, with tentpole releases like "Green Lantern," "Immortals," "The Three Musketeers" and "Cowboys and Aliens" hosting panels and stars like Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and future "Superman" himself, Henry Cavill, all making appearances.
The three-day convention, which kicked off Friday in San Francisco's Moscone Center, broke records this year, even selling out on Saturday. It's primed to get even bigger considering the event's spring timing is much more conducive to movie studios looking to sell summer releases like "Lantern" and "Cowboys" (as opposed to the behemoth SDCC, which takes place in the doldrums of late-summer).
NextMovie swung through San Fran to bring you the scoop on Hollywood's biggest WonderCon yet.
"The Green Lantern." DC Comics rode into town amidst a reversal of buzz. After its first trailer generated poor-to-mixed reactions, a four-minute clip that had played Las Vegas's CinemaCon only days earlier was earning much stronger word-of-mouth. DC honcho Geoff Johns, along with stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, presided over the convention's most highly anticipated panel.
While the clip – which shows Reynolds' Hal Jordan transform from test pilot to intergalactic crime-fighter (and gives us a good look at its colorful ensemble of ETs) – won love, it was Reynolds, per usual, who owned the panel and had the crowd of 3,500 eating out of his hand. Asked by an audience member if he reads the comics, Reynolds retorted, "I'd be an asshole if I didn't… I'll be leaving out of the west exit. Feel free to stab me there"; on his other high-profile comic-book character: "Deadpool is not a villain. He's an asshole"; and on his input for Green Lantern's costume? "I argued for just straight fishnet."
"Cowboys and Aliens." Director/geek god Jon Favreau was joined by screenwriter Robert Orci ("Star Trek") to present nine minutes of the highly anticipated sci-fi-Western, clearly one of the bulkiest presentations of the event. There was no Harrison Ford in handcuffs this time (a stunt pulled at SDCC), nor any Daniel Craig, but Favreau, like Reynolds, can work the Con crowd with his eyes closed. Lamenting the absence of eye candy Olivia Wilde, who upped her convention cred with last winter's "TRON: Legacy," Favreau noted that she'd specifically sent him a message to share with the attendees: "I sleep naked." Wilde clarified her statement later that day via Twitter: "I was kidding. I sleep naked except for my Princess Leah bikini."
"The Three Musketeers." During a panel moderated by yours truly, Summit marched out hot young stars Logan Lerman ("Percy Jackson") and Luke Evans (in contention to be the next Jason Bourne) to discuss Paul W.S. Anderson's action-packed, 3-D take on the Alexandre Dumas classic.
A never-seen-before behind-the-scenes feature introduced the audience to the fall adventure's large ensemble that includes fellow musketeers Matthew Macfayden and Ray Stevenson, as well as Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Mads Mikkelson and Christoph Waltz, not to mention its stylish take on swashbuckling. As noted at the onset of the panel, this is definitely not your mother's "Three Musketeers."
"Hanna." The buzz is strong with this one. Early reviews are praising this techno thriller scored by the Chemical Brothers for its style and intensity, while drawing favorable comparisons to the 1998 German gem "Run Lola Run." But considering the setting, it's easy to compare Joe Wright's ("Pride & Prejudice," "Atonement") actioner – about a young girl (Saoirse Ronan) trained by her father (Eric Bana) to be a merciless warrior – to one of last year's WonderCon breakouts, "Kick-Ass."
"Priest." It's the holy order versus some very unholy vampires in this dark horror-action flick from director Scott Charles Stewart ("Legion"), and the film's presence here can only help its chances of becoming an early summer sleeper. That's thanks to positive reactions to a sizable sizzle reel that found stars Paul Bettany and Maggie Q – both tattooed with black crosses on their foreheads, whooping on bloodsucker butt.
Joining Stewart and Bettany on stage were co-stars Cam Gigandet (looking somewhat Ken Doll-ish with a fresh tan and bleached blonde hair), and Lily Collins, who landed in San Francisco as Hollywood's most in-demand "It" girl. Not only does Collins, the daughter of music icon Phil who made her debut in "The Blind Side," have "Priest" and "Abduction" (with Taylor Lautner) coming this summer, she'll headline the highly anticipated adaption of the YA series "Mortal Instruments," and on Friday, was just cast alongside Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer as the lead in "The Brothers Grimm: Snow White."
"Immortals." Saturday's movie panels ended with a bang, as Tarsem Singh's mythological action movie reaped the convention's biggest rewards in terms of game-changing blogger and audience reaction, and likely eradicated any comparisons to the similarly themed but disappointing "Clash of the Titans" remake. The movie's trailer, which made its debut here, had many recalling the visionary look of "300," yet dyed in Singh's trademark visual flair.
Singh found a loving crowd who praised him for his underseen but beloved work like "The Cell" and "The Fall," but it was Henry Cavill – recently cast as Superman in Zack Snyder's reboot "Man of Steel" -- who had WonderCon in awe, with the female portion screaming and the males lining up with Supes-related questions (we learned, among other tidbits, that he's yet to try on the suit, which is still in development). One thing became crystal-clear: The Con crowd approves of Cavill's casting.