This weekend was the annual, the ever-so-popular, San Diego Comic-Con. One of the big highlights of the event was the world premiere of director Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens on Saturday night. It took place at 7pm at the city’s Civic Center auditorium several blocks away from the San Diego Convention Center, where the convention took place.
Some of the cast and celebrities present included Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard. A lucky number of Comic-Con attendees were able to enter as well, if they happened to have discovered a ticket hidden inside 3 of the 50 “gold bricks” (made of cardboard) that were randomly passed around from people in cowboy uniforms at certain corners of the streets around the general area (these secret locations were usually announced through text messages).
On Thursday, director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) discussed their current and future projects at the Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries panel at Hall H. Both of them are currently developing Disneyland-attraction-related properties. Favreau will be working on Magic Kingdom, about a family caught in Disneyland, where all the attractions come to life, perhaps an answer to Night At The Museum.
Del Toro is developing a reboot of Haunted Mansion, based on his favorite ride at Disneyland, but according to the director, “it is not a comedy, and there is no comedian in the cast” (in reference to the poorly-received 2003’s Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy). His Pacfic Rim, about giant robots piloted by humans defending the Earth from an alien invasion, comes out in 2013. He also briefly talked about “the classic spooky movie” Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (coming this August 12th), an American horror film based on the 1973 ABC made-for-television horror film, which he wrote with Matthew Robbins, and is directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey.
In regards to his Cowboys and Aliens, based on the comic book of the same name, Favreau mentioned how the studio at first hated the title. He then recalled Harrison Ford responding to that with, “What else are you gonna call it?” Then, apparently, the argument had ended.
In his approach to the film, Favreau made sure he “didn’t make the Western look silly” but drew his inspiration from the seriousness of John Ford and Sergio Leone films. In regards to its comedic elements, he added that “comedy is about finding irony in [straight] situations and playing it to the hilt.”
Compared to Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens is a property that is less well-known. “You’re old when you stop taking risks…If you are in the safe zone, it becomes boring,” he added. “Once you become comfortable with failure, nothing can really hurt you.”
Del Toro and Favreau also talked about their love of old-fashioned special effect techniques such as puppetry and models. “CGI is [too often] used as a lazy tool,” Del Toro said. Favreau then added how showing less (like Jaws) and the use of tension through suggestion and facial expressions has become a lost art. “Just because it is easy to show doesn’t mean you should,” del Toro explained.
Throughout, Del Toro appeared to have a hard time keeping his f-bombs to a minimum, to the amusement of the fans.
Cowboys and Aliens opens next week in Orange County theaters on Friday, July 29.