Johnny Depp shocked fans by showing up with filmmaker Tim Burton for the Disney 3-D panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, promoting his new film Alice in Wonderland.
Although the actor didn't answer any questions from the audience, his appearance had the fans in the room on their feet after seeing footage from Burton's new 3-D film due out in March 2010.
"It's all based on the book," Burton said of the new movie. "This material's seen a lot of film versions of it – we tried to take all the elements of it and weave it into a story that had some motion to it and emotion to it and not just a series of events."
During the footage, fans saw Depp's performance as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter's creepy Red Queen. "We don't use every character, but we tried to make all the material new while being true to it as well," Burton said.
The story utilizes several special effects, although Burton said there isn't as much stop-motion animation as his fans might expect. "There are a lot of different ways to do things, and we sort of mixed them all together," he said. "It's mostly computer animation and having the actors do things their own ways."
The panel, which was said to be the first time a Comic-Con audience has seen an entirely 3-D panel, also highlighted Disney's new Tron movie, now titled Tron: Legacy, which is expected in 2011 and reprises Jeff Bridges' role as Kevin Flynn.
"The first Tron, when we made that, there was no Internet," Bridges said. "So what you saw was so new and fresh. I can guarantee you're going to get that same pop with this one. Everything is going to be superized."
The sequel to the 1982 sci-fi film tells the story of how Sam Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund, goes looking for his father, Kevin Flynn, who was the main character in the first movie.
New footage shared by director Joe Kosinski showed Hedlund's character entering a building that will be familiar to fans of Tron – the Flynn's arcade. Filled with old arcade games that are covered in dust, the building comes to life again when Flynn's son fires up the electricity – including the Tron game in the back of the room.
The scene revealed that after Sam Flynn tries to play the Tron game, he finds a hidden doorway behind it.
Kosinski said that Sam finds out "the world of Tron has sat on a server and evolved on its own. It's become darker and more realistic, feeling more like a photo real or photo surreal environment."
The director also showed the 3-D footage that was revealed last year, where Bridges' Kevin Flynn is shown to now be a cold, dark character as he beats an opponent on the Light Cycles.
The director also shared images of the Gladiatorial Games, including the Disc Wars. On the sequel's new player board, all of the battles will be happening at the same time in a sort of tournament bracket, with the game board changing each time a competitor is eliminated so the winner will have to play his next opponent.
Kosinski said the Light Cycles will also return, although they will have gone through several generations. In present day, the fifth generation cycles are used, but fans will get to see other versions.
"There will be a part of the movie that travels back in time to the '80s to see the second generation of the light cycle," Kosinski said, adding that it's a design by Kevin Flynn that is said to be the fastest thing on the grid.
The panel also featured director Robert Zemeckis as he showed 3-D footage from A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey, which is being released in November. The motion-capture animation sees Carrey playing eight different characters, including the old Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
"I think of anyone working today, he's the perfect motion capture actor," Zemeckis said. "He can create a character from the inside of his entire being. He also works with his entire body, whenever he performs."
When fans were given the chance to ask Zemeckis questions, one fan asked if he would ever consider filming a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
"I can neither confirm or deny. But I will tell you this, if that ever does happen, the 2-D animated characters from the movie will remain 2-D," Zemeckis said, smiling, indicating to the audience that a film might actually be in the works. "But who knows?"