SDCC: ‘Legion’ and ‘District 9’ Stir Crowds

district9_bigposter2Hoping to drum up support for the lesser-known fantasy horror film, Legion, Sony Pictures paired it with the highly anticipated District 9 at Comic-Con on Friday. They then upped the ante by having producer Peter Jackson on hand to make sure the crowds showed. Variety is reporting that the daring move might just pay off.

The panel opened with Legion’s director, Scott Stewart, presenting the film’s clip, after commemorating the experience on his iPhone. Legion is the story of a band of strangers in a post-apocalyptic world, one of whom is a pregnant diner waitress who just happens to be carrying the new messiah. The film is exciting and visually compelling, juxtaposing hyper-violence and religious imagery to slightly campy effect.

Stewart was joined by actors Adrianne Palicki, Doug Jones, Tyrese Gibson and Paul Bettany, who talked about the joys of making their “angels with machine guns” film and the film’s religious subject matter. Stewart said that Legion was “not a religious movie,” but more of a cross between Terminator and The Exorcist. When the panel concluded, you could almost hear the collective increase in heart rates. Legion opens in theaters January 22, 2010.

The crowd was then treated to about seven minutes of footage from District 9, with Jackson sharing the stage with director Neill Blomkamp and star Sharlto Copley. Jackson explained that the creation of District 9 had been an “unusual experience” because of Blomkamp’s decision to do the film in a highly improvised manner without strict adherence to a formal script.

“I wanted the sci-fi to feel as real and grounded as possible,” Blomkamp said. Both Blomkamp and Copley also drew upon their South African roots to relate the film’s theme of oppression.

During the panel, Jackson represented himself as the film’s mentor and advisor, keeping his responses minimal so Blomkamp and Copley could make their impressions on the fans. He also professed his desire to make more low-budget pictures like the horror films of his early career. He claimed that big studio budgets made filmmakers too “safe,” and afraid to take chances.  District 9 will be released on August 14.

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