Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
Seth Rogen comes out. “I’m sorry if you were expecting Ryan Reynolds” (who’s in Warner Bros’ Green Lantern.) Introduces footage that expands on the trailer we’ve seen, where Rogen plays a drunken newspaper heir whose father dies suddenly, and becomes a hero when his father’s Asian chauffeur Kato (Jay Chou, stepping in for Bruce Lee) turns out to be an expert in combat. New scenes include Kato removing a beer bottle cap in such a way that it flies like a bommerang… Rogen saying that Kato’s autobiography should be called ‘Balls Deep In Shit-Kickin’ Dudes,’… Kato insisting on “no tights” … Rogen deciding his hero identity should be “the green bee,” which a room full of friends agree is lame (they prefer “hornet” though he still tries to put it to a vote and get “bee”)… Christoph Waltz yelling “Nothing green should survive the night!”… Rogen accidentally shooting himself with gas gun (next thing he knows, he’s out for 31 days)… This clip was not in 3-D.
Panel: Seth Rogen, co-writer Evan Goldberg, producer Neal Moritz, director Michel Gondry, and Christoph Waltz.
So why the Green Hornet? Rogen says he and Goldberg enjoy writing relationship movies, “especially between two dudes.” He liked the idea that the sidekick is better known than the hero. Watched all the old TV and radio shows, and incorporated some elements from those, but tried to make them feel organic in the update. Rogen: “This guy’s dual identity is a subservient one.” Liked that idea, that Kato has all the strength.
Gondry says he was attracted by the relationship of the characters, but also because he had some tricks in mind he could only do with a big budget. Gondry has been a fan of 3D since his grandfather was doing it with split-screen VHS years ago. The 3D is post-converted, but the release date was pushed back so that it could be completed properly, and not look bad.
And now, a 3D clip; “something we think is beginning to look awesome,” says Rogen.
First, the old hornet logo, which looks scary coming out of the screen, even in retro style. The action starts in a graveyard (I think), where a drunken Rogen is using a blowtorch to cut the head off a statue of his late father in retaliation for when dad ripped the head off one of his son’s action figures. He then sees a gang of muggers assaulting a woman, and calls them out. They chase him, while Kato, sitting in the car, simply says “shit.”
And then: Kato-vision. The camera zooms in close on his eyes, as we go into Robocop mode, and he starts targeting his foes’ weak points with red lines. Then he starts kicking ass in sorta bullet time – different characters move at different frame rates – and some scenes start stretching, i.e. one car will suddenly become multiple cars stretching to infinity as a bad guy flies over it. Hard to explain, but it’s cool. This is Gondry getting artsy.
Clip plays well – this is the first sense we’ve gotten of a directorial vision for the thing. Fans seem to like it.
Now audience Q&A:
Fan tells Rogen he looks really badass in the movie; did he do his own stunts? Rogen: “I think you answered your own question, kid. I look really badass because I did NOT do many of my own stunts.”
Would Rogen consider doing standup again? “As long as there’s guys like Louis C.K. out there, you don’t need me doing stand-up comedy.”
Next question is from Bob Stencil, commenting on a scene in the clip where the Green Hornet’s car blows up a red-light camera with a missile. He argues that a missile cost more than a ticket. Rogen says the character is rich and can afford it.
How did they get Christoph Waltz? Waltz says, “I wanted to work with them, and they wanted to work with me. Perfect!” Rogen: “He hadn’t won the Oscar yet when we got him; that’s how we tricked him.”
On writing versus acting, Rogen says, “Writing’s fun, because you don’t have to shave and lose weight. It’s hard to deny good writing. It’s easier to deny good acting.”
Fan in Kato costume asks how they fought in uncomfortable masks. Rogen: “It was a sweaty, gross experience. I’d hose down my mask every night.”
Gondry says he was a fan of the old radio shows, and it wasn’t a burden to adapt to an existing style. They got lots of designs from car companies for the vehicle, and half the companies went bankrupt while they were filming. None were as cool as the old 1965 Chrysler, fitted out with existing technology. Gondry thinks they’re the first superhero movie not to change the car.
How is this different from Rogen’s other characters? He “becomes more and more responsible and heroic than most of my other ones; it’s a little like OBSERVE AND REPORT, but not much.”
Waltz was not familiar with the Green Hornet. “I’m sorry. Out there I might not be, but in here I am. I’m not really a comic type.”
Gondry says the difference with working with a large budget is that you think about the audience a little more.
Rogen likes action because he likes to see things explode, but “action and comedy go well together, as the movie TANGO AND CASH illustrates.”
Final question, from a little kid: How does Waltz explain to his kids about playing a bad guy onscreen? Waltz: “Why would I tell them?”
End panel. Movie looks a bit better than it did before, and that 3D clip was solid. But I still wouldn’t bet on huge grosses.