Continuing a successful marketing strategy of letting the film’s kinetic visuals, visceral violence and black humor speak for itself, Warner Bros. today debuted new footage along with a brand new trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, during the studio’s film panel on the second day of WonderCon. Immediately after: the debut of stunning footage from the upcoming Dwayne Johnson earthquake actioner San Andreas, which showcased that movie’s emphasis on practical effects. Loud applause and audible gasps from the packed room accompanied the presentation, which was followed by a panel discussion of San Andreas, attended by director Brad Peyton, and costars Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario.
We’ve seen a steady trickle of trailers and footage from Fury Road since Warner Bros. Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, yet every time new surprises are revealed, and today was no exception. The first Fury Road footage, taken from about 20 minutes into the film, showcased the meeting between Mad Max (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), as they tentatively take the measure of one another, then engage in a brutal, frenetically-cut fist fight while a captive and unconscious Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is flopped around. In a word, the scene was dry, all bleak desert, shifting sands and stifling heat bleeding through, with only a single line of dialogue – “water,” uttered by Tom Hardy and, so we were told, his first line of the film – throughout. The new trailer on the other hand was essentially a sizzle reel, focusing more on Nicholas Hoult’s character Nux and the line “Oh What A Lovely Day,” as well as the absolutely crazy car chase that makes up the bulk of the film.
As for San Andreas, the footage hit all the Disaster Movie genre beats. The core cast – Dwayne Johnson, Paul Giamatti, Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario – were showcased, as were the characters’ personal foibles and desperate fears. Standard stuff, but what stood out is the visceral, weighty feel as vast swaths of California were laid waste in scenes that call to mind the first half of Roland Emmerich’s 2012. The reason for that, so Peyton said during the panel which followed the footage, is that shooting emphasized practical effects as much as was possible.
“Paul Giamatti, when he came on set, asked ‘where are all the green screens?'” Peyton said. “I told him there aren’t any. [Giamatti said] ‘OK I gotta go to the gym'” While Peyton insisted the production consulted seismologists and geologists to make certain that the film was at least “within the realm of the plausible,” the shoot emphasized the dangers faced by the characters. “The most important thing for me was the honest portrayal of what these people go through,” he said.
As part of this, the actors themselves participated in an unusual degree of stunt work, with Gugino claiming she did more stunts during this film than in any other of her entire career. “Every piece of artifice was taken away,” she told the crowd, adding later that she was told by the stunt crew that she’d done more stunts than any actor they’d worked with. “Maybe I’m just dumb,” she said to big laughs as she noted how risky that could have been.
Mad Max: Fury Road hits theaters May 15 in the United States. San Andreas follows on May 29.