The Rock was missing, but explosions were plentiful at Warner Bros. WonderCon presentation, which kicked off Saturday’s lineup in the Anaheim Convention Center’s 9,100-seat arena.
The studio showed footage from the upcoming Dwayne Johnson disaster flick “San Andreas” as well as George Miller’s much anticipated “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
“San Andreas” director Brad Peyton (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”) was on hand to discuss the film, along with cast members Carla Gugino (“Watchmen,” “Sin City”) and Alexandra Daddario (“Percy Jackson & the Olympians”).
Absent was Johnson — a force of nature in his own right — who stars as a rescue helicopter pilot who sets out to save his ex-wife (Gugino) and daughter (Daddario) after a massive earthquake and resulting tidal wave leave the California coast decimated.
It’s a big-budget action movie, but during the panel, Peyton emphasized the film’s “raw and honest” emotional aspects.
“I knew we were going to have a lot of spectacle… but the most important thing for me was the honest portrayal of what these people are going through,” Peyton said. “It’s hard to keep the big action and have emotional value in action.”
And “San Andreas” features more than a little action. A trailer screened during the panel showing skyscrapers toppling, downtown Los Angeles destroyed and a tidal wave roaring through San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Despite the story’s massive scale, Peyton aimed to film as much as he could without green screens, he said.
“One of the things for me was making it as real as possible,” Peyton said. “We had a saying on the movie — ‘Let’s build a ride and put the actors on it.'”
For Gugino and Daddario, that meant lots of stuntwork. One scene, which sees Johnson’s character trying to rescue his daughter when she is trapped underwater, required Daddario to film in the world’s biggest water tank, according to Peyton.
“I’d go and look underwater, and you’d have basically a whole crew setting up as if they were on land but completely underwater, and it was fascinating to watch. It was incredible,” Daddario said. “I like doing very physically active roles and playing these touch characters. Anytime you do a movie, there’s going to be a day where you get overwhelmed, and you try to use that in your performance, in your character.
For Gugino, who said she “tried to do every stunt they would let me do,” one scene found her falling four stories and landing on her face. Stunt workers helped break her fall using wires strung from each of her limbs.
“I was literally a marionette,” she said.
But the challenging physical aspects of the film are part of what drew her to the role, she said.
“That’s what’s so exciting about anything worth its salt is that it should be challenging,” she said.
“San Andreas” is due in theaters May 29.
Warner Bros. also screened two clips from “Mad Max: Fury Road,” George Miller’s upcoming reboot of his 1979 cult classic. Tom Hardy takes the reins as Mad Max Rockatansky — the role that served as a launchpad for Mel Gibson’s acting career.
The bass-pounding video clips, one of which screened at Austin’s SXSW film festival last month, showed Hardy in full-throttle action mode, with plenty of driving, shooting and fighting.
Tom Hardy as Max in a scene from "Mad Max: Fury Road." (Jason Boland / Warner Bros)Link
From left, Riley Keough as Capable (Brainy), Courtney Eaton as Fragile (Cheedo), Charlize Theron as Furiosa, Nicholas Hoult as Nux, PHS-4, and Abbey Lee as Dag (Smiley), in a scene from "Mad Max: Fury Road." (Jason Boland / Warner Bros.)Link
George Miller at Comic-Con International in San Diego. (Michael Yarish / Waner Bros.)Link
The film, slated for a May 13 theatrical release, also stars Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Nicholas Hoult as Toast and Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, among others.
WonderCon, which continues through Sunday, is expected to draw some 60,000 sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comic book professionals and enthusiasts. It’s the fourth year in Anaheim for the annual pop culture expo, which was began in the Bay Area 29 years ago.
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