Jay West is a devoted fan and student of the 1982 film “Tron” and he has written a series of guest columns on the viral marketing for the film’s sequel, “Tron: Legacy,” due this December. Today, on the 28th anniversary of the original film’s release, West talks about the legacy of the film, looking both forward and back, with emphasis on Comic-Con International 2010.
Twenty-eight years ago today, “Tron” arrived in movie theaters and made movie history — not that everybody actually noticed. Like “Blade Runner“ and John Carpenter’s “The Thing,“ “Tron” was overshadowed that summer by media frenzy surrounding Steven Spielberg’s “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial” and its mega-success with moviegoers. Still, ”Tron” did connect with a devoted core audience and its influence continued to echo through the years as it was ”rediscovered” by subsequent generations.
The original “Tron” film was groundbreaking in its use of computer generated imagery and, while today’s fans might chuckle at the Reagan-era visuals, they set the stage for today’s movie marvels. “Without ‘Tron,”‘ Pixar guru John Lasseter has said, “there would be no ‘Toy Story.’“
This December, moviegoers go back into the machine with ”Tron: Legacy,”the sequel from Disney that will be one of the major projects-to-watch at this month’s Comic-Con International. At 11:15 a.m. on July 22, the film will be promoted with a star-studded panel in Hall H, the 6,500-seat room that is the standing-room-only hub of Comic-Con’s Hollywood programming. The panel will consist of director Joe Kosinski, producers Sean Bailey and Steven Lisberger as well as cast members Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen and Bruce Boxleitner. Patton Oswalt will moderate and there will be new footage from the film and, according to Disney, some special surprises.
It was at the 2008 convention that the vision of a 21st century ”Tron” film was born. When test footage was shown to a packed hall of incredibly surprised convention attendees, it was met with such an overwhelmingly positive response — the “it” moment of the convention — that the studio gave the still-tentative film a bright green light to move forward.
Director Kosinski recalls: “When we made the teaser, we envisioned it as a sneak peek at the potential of this project. We set out to stay true to the characters, the vehicles, and the world established in the first film — then show its evolution. When it took off with the fans, we knew we were in the right place. Because they’ve been key to getting this story told, we’re back to keep them involved, and excited to finally present actual footage from the film to the audience that made it all possible.”
This year the San Diego expo will provide the latest chapter of the “Flynn Lives” ARG (alternate reality game) for “Tron: Legacy” that has been the centerpiece of Disney’s ambitious viral marketing campaign for the sequel. (You can check out my guest-contributor coverage of the ARG, which will continue through Comic-Con, right here at Hero Complex.)
Disney will also showcase an interactive ”Tron” booth on the convention floor (Booth No. 3712), giving fans a first look at the all new “Tron: Legacy” merchandise launching this fall. The display will spotlight toys, electronics, collectibles, apparel, accessories, publishing and the “Tron: Evolution” video game from Disney Interactive Studios. Comic-Con exclusive products will also be on sale. Disney will also revealing tie-in mobile content at the event.
Expect a lot more “Tron” in the months to come. The acclaimed music duo Daft Punk, for instance, is not only providing the musical backbeat of the digital world on screen, there are rumblings about major music events that will take the “Tron” universe to new live-event frontiers. Today, on the 28th anniversary of “Tron,” the digital fantasy’s glow has not faded at all — far from it,”Tron” and its future are becoming brighter every week.
– Jay West
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