Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:

PRIEST, based on the Tokyopop-published graphic novel, is brought to you by the folks behind the agreeable B-movie LEGION. While many of the original Manga take place in the past, the movie serves as a sequel, set in a post-apocalyptic world. We’re shown a clip that is “not MPAA approved.” It begins with a dark, BLADE RUNNER-style cityscape. A hooded figure carrying a rosary walks through. It’s Paul Bettany, and he has a red cross tattooed on his face. A vampire attacks – this vampire is like a wild, wet beast, with no eyes, no pigment – think the demons in CONSTANTINE, on the offchance you actually saw that.

There’s a barren, post-nuke-looking desert. A Judge Dredd-type set-up, maybe? Christopher Plummer! Jet bikes. Looks decent in 3-D. Then the title.

Panelists are Director Scott Stewart, Paul Bettany, Stephen Moyer, Cam Gigandet, Karl Urban, Maggie Q.

Stewart was a big fan of the comics, and was blown away by the script when he got it. Loved the opportunity to create an entirely new world. Bettany says they were “shackled by a smaller budget” on LEGION.

Urban plays Black Hat, a warrior priest thought dead, who gets transformed into “a formidable new force.” Moyer plays “Paul Bettany’s shorter, better-looking brother, something I’ve dreamed of doing for a long time.” Gigandet plays the naïve, small-town Sheriff Hicks.

Stewart wanted to shoot it very classically, with vintage lenses full of depth. The 3-D is conversion after the fact, but theyr’e taking 6 months to do it right, and not rush like AIRBENDER or CLASH.

The opening prologue is 2D animation, from Genndy Tartakovsky…and we get to see it now. Begins with medieval knights versus the vampire monsters, as a narrator tells of a long battle. Limbs get hacked off, and we move forward through World War I type eras, and finally to the future, where humans retreated behind walled cities ruled by the church. Then came the priests, trained to fight the vampires, and did so too well. Surviving vampires were put on reservations, while the priests, who scared the church, had their authority taken away. Now both they and the vampire threat have faded into obscurity.

I think we can assume there’d be no movie unless that status quo is changed somehow.

Audience Q&A:

For Cam and Stephen: how do these vampires differ from TWILIGHT and TRUE BLOOD? Cam: “They’re feral beasts…obviously TWILIGHT, that’s not how it was.”

Did Paul keep up his martial arts training? “I’ve been practicing mostly my beer and cheese skills…My body reverts to the body of a reader pretty quickly.”

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