Monday, April 9, 2012
The Morgan Spurlock Tour Spends Easter in SF
We've been waiting quite some time for Comic-Con IV: A Fan's Hope, the documentary that Morgan Spurlock and Joss Whedon produced. It's supposed to be an inside look at one of the biggest and most popular events anywhere. After seeing it at the Vogue in San Francisco on Easter night, the movie does deliver in some levels. I just wish it was longer. It's just under 90 minutes, but it needed another 15 or 20 minutes. Well, what he couldn't include in the film, it will be in the inevitable DVD. It'll probably be two discs, although three will do, especially the blu-ray version.
So how can you condense 140 thousand fans and four days of Comic-Con 2010 into under 90 minutes? First you have interviews with fans, a lot of them. That produces 700 hours of stuff. I was one of those fans, but I didn't make the cut. I may have had a chance if I was in costume, which I wasn't. I did dress as Dr. Who the 11th last year and will do so again. I just need a fez or something.
The film does have lots of interviews including Joss, Seth Green, Kevin Smith (who plays a part in one of the story lines), Grant Morrison, Kenneth Branagh, and more. It was also the first time I saw Paul Dini's face after knowing his name from the Batman animated series.
To get to the heart of Comic-Con, Spurlock chose several people who have stories that are connected with the event, We have two budding comic book artists who hope to get a foot in the door. We have a couple who met at Comic-Con 2009 who may be taking a big step if all goes well. It also depends on how the guy can get a very special ring for his girl. There's a collector who's there for only one thing: an action figure. There's Holly, a costume designer who hopes her entry in the Masquerade will turn some heads. There's Chuck Rozanski, owner of Mile High Comics, who has personally seen Comic-Con change from a comics-only convention into, as someone once said, Cannes for Nerds. Chuck's hoping to sell an extremely rare comic book that will keep him in business, in case sales aren't that great.
They are the best part of the film, especially Chuck and Holly's stories.
We also get to see Stan Lee, and Sylvester Stallone, Angelina Jolie and other movie stars that have basically taken over Comic-Con. We get comments about how the con is now a focus group for upcoming movies, which is true. It was the con that boosted Shaun of the Dead and Inglorious Basterds, but also exposed the weaknesses of films that use entire hotel buildings as billboards. Skyline, anyone? Hollywood taking over Comic-Con through product placement, and even "borrowing" a couple of restaurants to plug shows, would have been a great documentary all by itself. Again, if we had more on that, and contrast that with what Chuck and other comic book mavens think about how they're getting forgotten, it would have been a stronger film. It's certain this will be part of the DVD, and maybe something about how other people have become stars not exactly through major movies or TV, but through indie horror or internet shows (hey there, Felicia).
The people at the Vogue were nice enough to let me sit in with both question and answer sessions with Spurlock. He's a cool guy, and had some interesting comments about movie distribution. He noted that while he was on late-night TV plugging The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (his take on product placement), less than 20 theaters showed his movie on its first day of release. So, he decided with the Comic-Con movie, it would be shown in a few theaters, but also on Amazon, iTunes and on demand. In fact, you can see this movie at home or on your iPad for seven bucks. People at the screening paid $10.50, but that's because they wanted to see it the way their ancestors did....in a big dark room with popcorn and movie trailers. Having Morgan be there to sign autographs and talk about it was a bonus that they, and I, were happy to enjoy. The theater was actually two-third full for both showings, probably because it was Easter weekend. They also got dinged by a less-than-favorable review by the San Francisco Chronicle.
So what was left out of the movie? He talked about a girl who made a living dressed in costume, and how complex her costumes were. There was also a Colombian man who wanted to own his own comic book company, and hoped exposure at Comic-Con would help. He got a booth there, but not a travel visa. His wife had to go on his place, although she was not as involved in the business as he was. Spurlock said he would have had to use voice over to tell the story, and he didn't want to do that because the movie is without narration. He did say their company is still viable, and it's switching to digital comics. In fact, he said that digital comics could be the wave of the future.
He also talked about how that infamous stabbing during the Resident Evil panel prevented them from getting a very special romantic moment that was supposed to be one of the big story lines in the movie.
Spurlock also predicted that Comic-Con may be longer, maybe five or six days. That'll be great news to the hotel industry, that's for sure. I expect Petco Park will be the new Hall H, but that's just me.
Spurlock will continue his movie tour to the East Coast this week. His website reveals where he'll be, and how people can host a screening of the movie in their hometown. That should include San Diego because the movie is only available OnDemand at Cox Cable, but it should be in theaters. Heck, it should be at Comic-Con!