‘While New York Comic Con has become known as a venue for television promotion, compared with its San Diego forefather, Fox used the platform of the growing, big-city event to plug two of its biggest upcoming films.
The studio’s two-hour session at the AMC theater on 34th street was devoted equally to X-Men outing Dark Phoenix and the James Cameron-produced, Robert Rodriguez-directed Alita: Battle Angel. Each hour included a significant chunk of footage being screened, accompanied by remarks from filmmakers and cast.
The Dark Phoenix session featured producer Hutch Parker and his longtime collaborator on the X-Men franchise, Simon Kinberg, who is making his directing debut on the film after writing and producing other installments. Dark Phoenix in some ways shares the spirit of Logan, Kinberg and Parker said, with the studio receptive toward a project aiming to be both a satisfying genre yarn and a film with more depth and resonance. “They like when we zig after we zag with these films,” Kinberg.
The 13-minute sequence that screened showed the mutants coming to the rescue of U.S. astronauts incapacitated during a space shuttle mission. Kinberg connected the storyline to similar looks toward the stars by Marvel franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy, with the resulting freedom propelling the narrative possibilities. While he didn’t specifically talk about Fox soon joining Disney under the same corporate tent, his remarks suggested a kinship that is probably only just beginning.
Alita: Battle Angel, which just moved its release date out of December and into February 2019, screened 20 minutes of 3-D footage plus a bonus minute that is still rough and in 2-D. The cyborg story, based on a Japanese graphic novel, has been the object of Cameron’s affection since 1999, his longtime producing partner Jon Landau said during the film’s panel. In a move that was “un-heard-of in Hollywood,” Landau said, Rodriguez agreed without any deal in place to try to crack the script once Cameron stepped away to make Avatar. “He went away for four months and came back with a script that had all of the heart and emotion that we had been missing.”
Ridriguez repeatedly played to the crowd, saying “I’m one of you,” and a fan of Cameron’s films before he became his friend about 25 years ago. “When I see this photo-realistic 3D footage in our film, it’s actually more real that Avatar because we’re showing a human face and a recognizable city,” he said. “When you watch it, you’re experiencing everything through this character’s eyes and she’s seeing the world for the first time.”