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Headed into theaters next summer (June 7, 2013) is M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth, a sci-fi film that'll have Will and Jaden Smith once again teamed up as father and son. The After Earth panel here at Comic Con in San Diego will not only focus on the upcoming movie, but also the comic book After Earth: Innocence, which will introduce Smiths' characters Kitai and Cypher Raige.
Set to appear on the panel are Garry Whitta (screenwriter of the movie), Peter Suschitzky (director of photography), comic book artis Beni Lobel, and writers Robert Greenberger and Michael Friedman. along with Peter David, who's writing the After Earth prequel novel and also helped create the After Earth bible with Greenberger and Friedman.
Here's the official synopsis for the story:
In After Earth, one thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity's escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankind's new home. Legendary General Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (played by Jaden Smith). When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai's craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance.
The panel should be starting at 10:00 a.m. PST so stick around and we'll have updates coming soon!
10:00 a.m. - Moderator says this panel will be a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the world that's the setting for the movie and comic book. They started by showing us a video. Starts with a sequence of scenes, showing Jaden Smith training. Comic scenes of space settings. Will Smith talking while we see him being dressed in a futuristic looking white shirt. Smith talking about how the story is about a father and son that go away and crash-land. "Cypher is the greatest ranger that's ever lived." Jaden's character wants to be a great ranger like his dad. Looks like Jaden has done some serious weapon training (looked martial arts). Glimpses of the costumes, fabrics and (mention of "smart fabric" - fabrics that can change shape and have different uses." Jaden talking about a sword-like weapon. More shots of him training. Glimpse of him wearing a reddish fitted jump-suit.
10:09 - (I'm having some wifi issues.) Earth is "Jurassic planet" in the absence of humans. It's become the most hostile place to humans in the universe. We were evicted by nature because we were no longer welcome There. A thousand years later, earth has built all of these defense mechanisms to keep humans out.
10:10 - Screenwriter says working with Will was interesting. He says Will interested in visual effects, spectacle and action. He's done those things before. He knows the visual effects will be great. But the movie "lives" in the scenes with him and Jaden and the relationship between the father and son. Will would get up and do scenes to become the character.
They're showing us a slideshow. Jaden in a jungle setting. They said they knew it was going to be a tough place to shoot because it's deep in the jungle. Very little light. Next shot is a volcano, though the top is covered in smoke. Next is a shot of a forrest. NExt is a futuristic room. Strange looking walls. Everything is white.
10:17 - Peter David talking about creating the world. Starts by talking about coming up with a plan for the story. Makes a joke about Lost and X Files. Talking about wanting to develop a "full, complete, coherent universe." They want to do a lot with it. Flesh it out with comic books and a whole science fiction universe for books, comics (possibly video games?) Talking about coming up with a bible that would cover from 1908 through a thousand years hence. Their bible ended up starting a billion years BC. They were really thorough. It's over 300 pages long, singled spaced! Every family member. Every major character and their descendants and ancestors. They know how fans appreciate seeing how things fit together. You can't do that kind of stuff if you're doing it on the fly. They're doing something that they'd like to see as fans.
10:22 - They had to work backwards on the bible. Reverse-archeology, working back through the generations until they came back to earth and the disaster that caused mankind to leave the planet. The drew on real-life events for the bible. Created a "secret history" that they were really thorough with. Sounds like 2050 is the point at which humans leave earth in the timeline they have.
The Raige family (Will and Jaden's characters) goes all the way back to a white Polish scientist. Talking about all of the racial blending that would happen over the course of a thousand years. The name Raige has evolved through immigration similarly to how it happened at Ellis Island.
10:26 - Talking about the comic book. After Earth: Innocence - Tells the story of when humans discover that they're not alone in the universe. Aliens in the movie are called the Screll (sp?) The aliens witnessed humans colonizing on their new planet. They're called the Screll because the teen kid Conor featured in the story saw markings on the ship and thought it said Screll.
10:30 - There's a prequel novel in the works. That story is set at a different time, when the Screll first introduce one of their greatest weapons onto Nova Prime. At that time, humans have fought back and the Screll have come up with a new angle to battle human beings. They're also working on six short stories to come out closer to the actual film and published online.
10:33 - Fan questions - There was an early version of the script there were other people on earth "treasure hunting" but they changed it so Will and Jaden are the only two people on the planet. There's a threat that's genetically designed to fight humans and Jaden will have to face it at some point. "This thing is so scary, even we don't want to look at it." It's creepy, they say.
10:36 - Global warming played a part in what happened to earth to drive humans away. Their are other civilizations in the universe. We won't see them in the first film. (Sounds like they're hoping this will be one of numerous films). Worth mentioning that they're giving away cupcakes here for the people with the best questions. So far everyone's getting cupcakes so far.
10:40 - Fan asks how much we're going to see of "old earth." Humanity lives on Nova Prime now (filmed in parts of Utah). Humanity is starting over in many ways. They movie is making a "very positive ecological statement." There's a whole universe to explore (in a possible sequel).
10:43 - Someone asks about M. Night Shyamalan and if there will be a twist. Night came on after the first draft of the script was done. He joined in on the writing afterward.
10:45 - Talking about a rival family for the Raige family. They're in the bible for the story. They'll be in the novellas and the prequel novel and the comic.
10:47 - Talking about how hostile earth is toward humans. There's a scene where Will and Jaden are trying to get water. They put their canteen in the water and it dissolves because the water is so acidic. (Unclear if that'll make it into the movie). Another scene has Jaden's character going blind from touching a tree.
10:49 - The comic and the novel will be out before the film hits theaters. The introduction to Will and Jaden's characters will be the movie. After that, they'd like to see subsequent films go beyond that point (moving forward as opposed to exploring the story on film with prequels).
10:52 - Sorry for the delays on this. Still having wifi issues. They discussed Will Smith being uncertain about starring in the film (he might have only produced it)
10:53 - Someone asks if Eddie Murphy could be an uncle or something in a future movie.
11:02 After all those wifi issues, the panel is now over! Thanks for reading.