Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse was on hand today for Focus Feature’s ParaNorman panel in Hall H but broke some news of his own. Making fans happy, he said Kick-Ass 2 should start shooting in September. In his words: “You heard it from me first, and now I’m probably gonna get my butt kicked.” Deadline reported earlier that Universal Pictures was stepping in to finance the film with Jeff Wadlow directing his script. Matthew Vaughn directed the 2010 original.
As for the business at hand, Focus gave a glimpse of ParaNorman, a 3D stop-motion feature from Laika, the company that brought you Coraline. It won over the crowd, however, with an EPK feature that showcased the large scale of the sets, massive crowd scenes, and some of the elaborate action sequences that made the ’80s-Spielbergesque tone they’re going for a bit clearer.
Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly began by wishing everyone a happy Friday the 13th before introducing animator-producer Travis Knight, co-directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler, and stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, and Mintz-Plasse (sporting a mustache and some facial hair).
Butler said he’d been writing the story on and off for 16 years, with the idea of making a zombie movie for kids, but production proper took three years — it’s “John Carpenter meets John Hughes.” Knight was enticed by the idea of stop-motion zombies, “two great tastes that taste great together.” He described the animation style as “Ray Harryhausen on bath salts.”
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘ParaNorman’
Kodi’s voice has broken, so the movie no longer sounds like him, but he likes fooling people with an American accent.
Kendrick, who described herself as not good with ADR, was intimidated at first by voice-over but loved not having to worry about looking good. She was cast based on the sound of her voice during interviews.
Butler said they did everything you’re not supposed to do in stop-motion – among them, surprisingly, “characters with fat necks.” They used 3D printers to create character heads.
A 3D scene shown was indeed impressive in scale, with a demon-faced tornado turning into a mass of spectral hands that speed across the landscape and reach down into graves to resurrect zombies, while a scene with a zombie trying to break into a moving van showcased some of the comedy, with Casey Affleck as a dumb jock and Tempest Bledsoe as a motorcycle cop. They made it clear that this “kid who talks to dead people” movie isn’t a Sixth Sense ripoff in any way, something the earlier trailers hadn’t maybe made as clear. It’s “Breakfast Club meets The Fog,” in Butler’s words.
Mintz-Plasse treated the crowd to beatboxing and Eminem-style rapping as Kodi did some body-popping, much to everyone’s amusement.
Laika’s next project will be announced in the next couple of months and will be stop-motion, but no other details were given.
(Photo of Christpher Mintz-Plasse by Getty Images)