English heartthrob Robert Pattinson wasn’t due to arrive in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center until later in the afternoon, but he was in real danger of being upstaged by the screams that met Johnny Depp’s surprise appearance Thursday morning at the first panel of the day at Comic-Con International.
Depp, dressed in a white shirt and black vest, was on hand to support director Tim Burton, who unveiled a 3-D teaser trailer for his upcoming “Alice in Wonderland,” due out in March. The film draws from a cross-section of Lewis Carroll’s writing, including the Jabberwocky poem.
The footage, which prominently featured Depp’s Mad Hatter, mostly highlighted the variety of the fantastic images Burton has assembled for the movie, created using a hybrid of live-action and animation and other techniques. At the urging of moderator Patton Oswalt, it was shown three separate times. “John and I worked together many times, but he’s never done a character with orange hair,” Burton dryly observed from the stage about the Hatter’s unusual aesthetic.
“We scalped Carrot Top and took his hair….We realized once we got into it that we picked out every image from TV and cinema of red hair and it’s quite a disturbing thing — from Bozo onward,” the director deadpanned.
On Wednesday night, Disney conducted an early tour of “Wonderland” for select journalists — a series of props and sets from “Alice in Wonderland” collected in a downtown San Diego warehouse. Guests enter through the rabbit hole and land in the hall of doors, where a giant replica Alice takes up a portion of one wall. The path then winds around to the Mad Hatter’s tea party — the room features Depp’s original costume (including his hat), designed by Academy Award winner Colleen Atwood. In the film, the character’s jacket changes color to reflect his mood. The tour concludes with props from the Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter, and the White Queen, played by Anne Hathaway. (Visitors who read the descriptions on some of the items, though, should be warned about inadvertent spoilers.
At the panel, Comic-Con attendees were urged to go toTwitter @ImportantDate to get details. Those who followed that bit of advice will likely find their way to Wonderland today. No word on whether Depp will turn up there as well.
Photo of Johnny Depp by Mark Boster/LA Times