Who was there: The Tron: Legacy press conference was a straightforward Q&A session with a baker's dozen of cast and crew from the upcoming movie, including stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, and Michael Sheen; director Joe Kosinski; writers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis; producers Sean Bailey, Jeff Silver, and Justin Springer; original Tron director Steven Lisberger; and Eric Barba.
What they talked about: The nostalgia-inducing Tron is one of the more marketable movies ever made about game developers. While the competition for that title isn't exactly intense (Grandma's Boy, How to Make a Monster), the Disney sci-fi story of a developer sucked into the world of his own game has endured for nearly 30 years. This holiday season, fans not only get an oft-demanded sequel in the form of Tron: Legacy, but also a gaming prequel, Tron: Evolution for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
Any doubts of the excitement surrounding the film could have been easily quelled by a single glimpse at the line for the Tron Comic-Con panel, which was open to all attendees of the show and scheduled to start half an hour after the press conference finished. The line for that event had already snaked its way off the San Diego Convention Center property, across the street, and down the road hours before it was set to begin. Attendees of the press conference were a little more fortunate, not quite filling a conference room at the nearby Bayside Hilton.
The first question for the panel was directed to Wilde, Sheen, and Hedlund and asked them what their first memories of the original film were. Wilde confessed she was born two years after Tron came out, so she didn't have much a specific memory of the movie. Rather, she said it was always part of the cultural zeitgeist, something she knew people loved and something that was, in her opinion, cool.
When asked what took so long for the sequel to get made, Bridges said it had been tried before, but there were problems both with the script and the would-be directors. Once they had a script and Kosinski lined up, Disney went to Bridges and the actor said he signed on without hesitation.
Lisberger talked a bit about making the original film and how the filmmakers had come from a traditional animation background and didn't originally realize what it would entail making the 3D special effects. Bridges noted that the pioneering nature of the original meant the special effects process wasn't as streamlined as it is today, saying it was shot in 70mm black-and-white in a room with black velvet and white tape instead of a bluescreen.
Just as advancing technology has changed filmmaking, so too has it irrevocably altered everyday life. Lisberger said the public reaction to things like the Internet and social networking played a role in the new movie's creation.
"Technology is all about bringing people together, supposedly," Lisberger said. "And now there's a sense that technology has a dark side and keeps us from connecting with each other. And I think this film examines that problem."
Kosinski said he hooked up with Daft Punk for a pancake breakfast over which they discussed the group's love of Tron and their score for the film. He had the electronic artists on board early on, with music being recorded for the movie even before shooting had started. Wilde said it was really helpful in finding the tone of a scene to be able to listen to the music they had recorded for it.
When asked about wearing the Tron suits, Wilde simply said, "It was amazing." The suits were form fitted and packed with luminescent technology that would be turned on just before each take. Sheen said that for a particularly crowded shot, the effect of everyone's suits lighting up at the same time was so cool and distracting that it took him a few seconds to remember he had to start acting.
After hearing the new cast swoon over the suits, Boxleitner (who played the titular character in the original Tron) quipped, "All we had were spandex tights with magic marker on them."
Quote: "I just always knew it was cool. And we just made it cooler."--Wilde, on what she knew about the original Tron growing up.
"Isn't 3D without glasses coming up? Or holograms? Or maybe you just take a pill."--Bridges, on the next step for tech-driven film presentation.
The takeaway: Tron is back, but it was never really forgotten by the fans or the filmmakers.
Who knew?: After Sheen joked about a Tron musical (A "Tron-sical," he called it), Lisberger suggested there actually had been talk of a project along those lines at some point. Watch your back Young Frankenstein!