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Comic-Con Movies 2011: Pirates! and Arthur Christmas

Thursday's second Hall H presentation came from Sony Animation Studios and its new partner, Bristol-based Aardman Animations. While Sony was unable bring out their big voice stars, they had a man with real talent and passion leading the panel, director/producer Peter Lord (Chicken Run).

Aardman Animation is best known for “Wallace and Gromit,” the beloved stop-motion family films. Their two upcoming features, Pirates! Band of Misfits and Arthur Christmas have two different animation styles, traditional stop-motion that Aardman is famous for and more "traditional" CGI animation.

The panel started with an exclusive first look at Morgan Spurlock’s documentary about Comic-Con, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, set to come out next year, before heading into Lord’s discussion of his movies.

The first film was 
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, featuring a top British cast: Hugh Grant, David Tennett, Martin Freeman, and American Jeremy Piven (Entourage). Lord, by himself, gave the low down of all the characters and premise of the movie as The Pirate Captain (Grant) does everything he can to be Pirate of Year, but ends up facing the wrath of Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). As well as debuting the trailer in 3D, Lord talked about the filmmaking process, which involved using models of the characters that he had with him. He showed how they moved with a skeleton within them to help with movement and showed some behind the scene footage. As an Aardman fan, I will be going to see this film.

The other movie presented was the CGI Christmas feature,
Arthur Christmas. James McAvoy stars as the title character, a Christmas fanatic who goes to the North Pole. Exclusive clips showed how Santa really runs his massive operation every year, using a giant sleigh that looks like a UFO and millions of elves. Pixar is the only other studio that could get away with this plot. The most recent trailer is available on our very own Trailer Tracker.

Arthur Christmas will be out on Nov. 23 and Pirates! Band of Misfits will hit theaters next spring on Mar. 30.



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