NYCC: Disney Kicks Things Off with First Look at Tomorrowland

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The New York Comic Con kicked off at the Jacob Javits Center on Thursday, October 9, with the very first panel being Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures Animation’s presentation for Big Hero 6 and the mysterious Tomorrowland.

There was a lot of excitement for both movies leading into the start of the panel, but especially for Tomorrowland, being that very little has been released or shown. New York Comic Con would be the very first chance for anyone to see or learn anything, and it promised a lot of surprises. The “hype man” for Comic Con’s Main Stage kept the audience entertained while they waited for the talent to arrive, asking audience members what they knew about the movie as they were teased by the theme from Disney World’s Tomorrowland theme park subdivision.

Moderated by Chris Hardwick, the panel started off with Big Hero 6, but we’ll get to that soon, because we know you all want to know more about Tomorrowland, right?

Producer Damon Lindelof and director Brad Bird were brought out to a huge standing ovation, but they were obviously still trying to keep a lot of the movie under wraps, so Hardwick asked innocuously how the project came together.

Lindelof told him about having a meeting with Sean Bailey, the President of Disney, about what a Disney movie should be and bringing up “Pirates of the Caribbean” as an example. Lindelof thought that a movie called “Tomorrowland” would be cool if it was directed by Brad Bird and he got an introduction through Entertainment Weekly‘s Jeff Jensen, as they started developing the idea of the box full of interesting objects (which we’ve seen before online). They didn’t care where the box came from but they wanted to write a story about the different objects inside the box. Lindelof ended up doing some writing on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and brought up the idea he had been developing with Jensen to Bird.

They then showed the first poster for “Tomorrowland” which is essentially the logo from the pin and showed the first teaser, both of which you can see here.

After the teaser, Lindelof explained that they were thinking of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and how it was a “discovery movie” and that Tomorrowland was also a story about a character discovering the place through the pin.

They showed an exclusive Syd Mead poster that the creators will be signing later, before bringing out some of the cast including Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and Hugh Laurie.

Hardwick, trying to get some idea of who they played, first asked Cassidy about whether his character was good or bad and she said she wasn’t a bad character but wasn’t “very good,” and isn’t “very thoughtful of other people’s feelings.” Apparently her character also knows karate. When Laurie was asked the same question, he gave a blank stare saying he was a “good character” but giving a menacing look when saying so. Laurie said he was interested in what the filmmakers were doing, because he really liked that they were doing something “uplifting” which goes against his normal nature being British. He went back to read the script that was on black paper as they watched him.

Robertson coyly said that she plays a 17-year-old high school student, a “dreamer” that is recruited by someone to explore Tomorrowland. The three actors talked about working with George Clooney and the two young actors talked about how he always had everyone dancing while on set. Hugh Laurie then started saying all sorts of bad things about Clooney, complaining about how everyone says nice things about the actor but no one ever mentions his “drinking problem” or the fact that he lies about his age – he’s really 75. As he started going on, Clooney came out from backstage unannounced to surprise everyone and pretended to throttle Laurie.

“It’s not lost on me that I’m spending my honeymoon at Comic Con,” Clooney joked as he sat down, and then added, “If you have any questions about Tomorrowland, ask me. Everybody dies at the end.”

After being asked about playing Bruce Wayne for the critically-panned Batman & Robin, Clooney responded that he had read a lot of the internet comments and knows what people thought of it.

Clooney mentioned wanting to work with Damon and Brad to help them play in this toybox, and he ended up filming with Laurie all over the world including the Bahamas, noting that it was “two former television doctors.”

“I was just watching this teaser trailer from backstage,” he said and then asked, “That’s it?”

The filmmakers suggested that “less is more” but Clooney got the crowd going by suggesting that they didn’t stand in line for two hours just to see a teaser trailer, and they finally relented by showing a fairly complete sequence from the movie involving Casey first encountering Clooney’s character John Francis Walker, and essentially leading the enemy right to his doorstep.

After an establishing shot of a large remote area in the middle of nowhere, we see Casey walking through the area and jumping over a fence as she approaches an old, decrepit house covered in ivy as we see that there are hidden cameras watching her approach. She walks up to the front door and knocks and is told over an intercom by a grouchy voice (obviously Clooney) to “Go away.” Casey tells him that she wants him to take her there. “Take you where?” and she responds by holding up the pin and saying, “The place I saw when I touched this,” at which point she’s thrown back away from the door roughly ten feet by a mysterious force.

We then see our first glimpse of Clooney as Walker as he opens his door and approaches Casey lying on the ground and tells her she should go back to wherever she came from, but she pleads with him to take her to Tomorrowland. Walker growls that she thinks she’s special but she’s not and as he goes back into the house he gives her a sneer, just to rub it in.

We then see Casey camped out in the doorway of Walker’s doorway as the rain pours down around her, a camera watching as she slumps there. We then go inside the house where we see Walker watching her on one of his many surveillance monitors and he then spots something on a monitor, a large flaming object, and he runs out the door with a high-tech fire extinguisher to see a tractor-trailer on fire barreling across his yard towards him. He points the extinguisher at it and it releases an enormous spray that covers the entire tractor in a casing of ice. Before he has a chance to ponder what it was, he suddenly realizes that it was a distraction and he turns back to see Casey inside his door as she slams it shut and locks him outside. He goes back to the door but then he’s thrown back ten feet just like Casey was.

Casey then walks through the house, entering a room full of computers and sees that Walker has monitors showing every news channel with what’s going on in the world as well as a large clock that seems to be counting down. As she surveys it, Walker sneaks in through a secret door under the stairs and she asks him what the countdown represents and that she demands answers. Walker says that he knows she was in Tomorrowland but he thinks she’s been followed and sure enough, the alarm sounds and there’s a man in a black military outfit, kind of FBI meets SWAT, standing on the lawn stating that Walking is “housing a fugitive outlaw” and that he has one minute to comply.

Walker pushes a button and shutters comes down all around the house to try to keep the “agents” out, but he sees that one of the agents put their foot under one of the shutters and proceeds to pull it up. Apparently they’re super-strong agents. But other agents managed to get in and they start walking through the halls with guns with laser pointers and Walker proceeds to use different methods of taking them out. It turns out that Walker’s house has a lot of secrets including many booby traps for unwanted visitors such as the agents coming after him and Casey.

As one of the agents walks through a doorway with his gun, he hits an electric field that catches him and zaps him so hard his head pops off–in a totally Disney PG-13 way i.e. no blood–our first sign that these agents are actual robots. Other agents come in and start shooting their laser guns at them.

Walker gets into a tussle with another one of the robot agents and we see them knock over an object that seems to be some sort of glowing object. It turns out to be some sort of dimensional portal, so Casey picks it up and drops it over the agent Walker is fighting so his upper torso disappears into it and Walker gets an object and knocks off the agent’s hand, which has wires protruding from it, making it obvious that it’s a robot. More agents start using a laser to cut through a door, so he hits another switch that releases a trap door from beneath them.

The two of them run upstairs chased by more agents including one that is sliced into bits by a trap that has lasers running across the walls of a hallway and then Walker hits another switch with a magnet that grabs another agent and pulls him onto the wall as he continues to squirm and shoot. Walker is then grabbed and picked up by another agent who tells him that he’s been authorized to execute Walker but then his face dents in and we see Casey with a baseball bat as she starts hitting the agent over and over again violently. It’s almost brutal to watch, because she just won’t stop until Walker pulls her away.

Walker then leads her into the bathroom and gets her to sit with him in the bathtub which she doesn’t think is a good idea. He has a remote in his hand and as more agents start hitting on the wall to break in, he pushes a button and the floor opens up underneath the bathtub and as the agent gets in, a metal shell closes in over the top of the tub as the agent tries to stop it. The entire bathtub tilts upwards making it obvious what it is and fire pours out of the back as we realize that it’s a rocket which shoots straight up through a skylight that’s opened up in the wall of the bathroom.

That was pretty much it for the footage, but it was a great sequence that gives us some idea what Walker is about without really showing much about Tomorrowland or what happens there, something we expect to be saved for next year at either CinemaCon or WonderCon or both.

Look for our write-up for Big Hero 6 soon and take a look at a number of photographs from the panel itself in the gallery viewer below!