While Peter Jackson made it clear that he wouldn't be attending Comic-Con with "The Hobbit," the fan-friendly director still bought a plane ticket to San Diego and today he was the (not so) surprise guest at the panel for "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” (And yes, that image above is a brand new look at the film released not-so-coincidentally just before the the festivities this afternoon got underway).
The panel kicked off with Steven Spielberg receiving this year's Inkpot Award and attendees were treated to about five minutes of footage from the film. Judging by instant reactions on Twitter, feedback was hugely positive. Our own man on the ground Jeff Otto told us, "Footage looked pretty damn cool. About five minutes and arguably some of the best mocap work I've seen." Together Spielberg and Jackson fielded questions about 'Tintin,' but naturally, given the other projects these guys are involved in, the Q&A veered off topic as well. Here are some of the highlights from one of the most highly anticipated presentations of Comic-Con.
"How many people here have ever read a 'Tintin' book?" Spielberg asked, getting a response of strong applause. "That makes my job a lot easier. I didn't know anything about Tintin until I read a review in 1981 of 'Raiders' that kept comparing my movie to 'Tintin.' I'd never heard of it so I picked up a book…When I got to the end of it, I could see their point. There was a commonality to it. 'Tintin' kind of put himself into the stories he was reporting and kind of became the story. Indiana Jones gets involved in [a similar way] and in that sense there is a kinship."
As for Jackson, he also has been a longtime fan of the books and admits he's been persevering for decades waiting for it to come to life on the big screen. "Steven got the rights to 'Tintin' in 1983. I was looking forward to Steven's 'Tintin' movie for a quarter century," Jackson said. He also joked, "Working with Steven has been pretty amazing. I think he shows promise. If he sticks with filmmaking he could be pretty amazing."
It was their shared enthusiasm that brought them together on the film. "We're both 'Tintin' fans and that's the reason we collaborated on this from the very beginning," Spielberg said, going on to explain their approach. "We wanted the movie to look like the drawings. [At first] it wasn't an exact translation. We wanted to get as close as we could to the characters [he] created."
"We also wanted to make it as much of a hybrid of live action and animation as we could. We wanted it to have a texture and a level of detail [that] almost looks like live action," Jackson added.
Jackson elaborated more on the cinematic appeal he saw in Hergé's books even as a young child. "My first experience was looking at the books before I could read. They were almost like silent movies. Once you do learn to read you learn how exciting the stories are. It has that wonderful escapist party. Once you look at the books as an adult, you see the social statements he was making. You start to appreciate the world Hergé was living in," Jackson said, adding, "We haven't done anything tonally different from the books."
And of course, a sequel has been the plan from the start. This spring it was revealed that Anthony Horowitz was being asked to write “Prisoners of the Sun," but it's going to be up to you if it happens. "If you guys like it, then Peter gets to direct the next one," Spielberg said.
Finally, a question was raised about the long in development fourth installment of Spielberg's dinosaur franchise. As you might recall, last month it was reported that writer Mark Protosevich and Spielberg were chatting about working together on the movie. Today the director confirmed that progress was moving forward. "Yes it has. 'Jurassic Park 4,' we have a story, I can happily announce. We have a writer. Hopefully we are going to make 'Jurassic Park 4' within the next few years." --reporting by Jeff Otto