Comic-Con: Lionsgate Panel Impressions

Lionsgate reveals their forthcoming slate

by | July 27, 2007 | Comments

I understand that Lionsgate is a rising star in Hollywood. As Miramax and the Weinsten Company flounder trying to find big box office successes, Lionsgate is on a hotstreak with Saw, and various small successes like Away From Her.

However, this Comic-Con presentation suggests that they may have gotten too big for their britches. While every other studio presentation is hosted by a Comic-Con rep and at least has the veneer of loose improv, Lionsgate opted to hire some guy of Fox News and the O’Reilly Factor. A big mistake. His credentials immediately didn’t sit well with the audience, while his abrasive jokes (each designed to insult the audience in some way) quickly sent convention attendees heading for the exits.

Those who did stick around were treated to Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, who presented us with two clips of Good Luck Chuck. The first was a scene between Dane Cook and Jessica Alba engaging a phone date. You see, Cook is afraid that Alba will break up with him and find her dreamboat lover, so he’s avoiding physical contact with here at all costs. They talk to each other while they’re both soaking in bath tubs, in scenes that seem entirely designed to show off Cook’s chiseled body and Alba’s naked body strategically covered in soap bubbles.

After the scene, the host and Alba engage in a painfully scripted conversation about how much physical comedy this movie involved. It lead into a specially cut convention trailer that highlighted Alba and her stunt double engaging in amazing physical comedy like running into poles, falling against walls, and tripping towards the ground. Eventually, the trailer morphs into a collection of scenes of Alba in various stages of undress, raising the eyebrows of Cook’s character and the collective Comic-Con audience.

I personally found it all vapid, but I’m in the minority as evidenced by the wild female cheers as Cook described how big his penis was, and the adoring yawps from the male audience whenever Alba did … well, pretty much anything.

After Chuck, Lionsgate presented us with two scenes of 3:10 to Yuma. The first showcased Ben Foster’s antagonizing character, Charlie Prince. The scene opens with Charlie locking a deputy in a burning stagecoach, coercing a confession out of him by fire. After the deputy reveals that Russell Crowe‘s character is on the 3:10 to Yuma, Charlie lets the deputy burn in the stagecoach, with his screams piercing the background.

One of the cronies suggests that it was Crowe’s fault that he got caught and is on his way to jail, which Charlie doesn’t take to very well. He knocks the crony down, and pulls his gun on him.

The second scene is a showcase for Peter Fonda. After he puts up a good fight against Russell Crowe (including exploding an entire horse with one well-place shotgun blast), he’s captured by Crowe and the exchange tough guy words.

There’s no reason to dislike Westerns. We’ve grown up with (or rediscovered) the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns. We’ve enjoyed the minor revival it had in the early 90s with Unforgiven, The Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, and maybe even Back to the Future: Part III.

Even though Lionsgate had their emcee directly address that Westerns have a stigma within the contemporary movie market, that doesn’t affect that this appears to be simply a movie that’s set during the Wild West. It doesn’t go for sex appeal like American Outlaws. It doesn’t go for a rigid Americana like Open Range. It’s a Western that just happens to have the kick ass appeal of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe going head-to-head.

3:10 to Yuma is evidence that Lionsgate knows what their audience wants. Get rid of the theatrics and hosts, and just show us what we want to see. Comic-Con may be getting bigger and bigger, but good flick clips always speak louder than some overpaid jerk will.

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