I had a huge red circle thrown around this event the second it was announced: Someone at Entertainment Weekly thought it would be a good idea to put Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, Zack Snyder, and Frank Miller on the same panel -- for no other reason than to talk about comic books, movies, and the ways in which comic books are turned into movies. The panel was moderated very well by EW's Marc Bernardin, who asked questions both insightful and silly. Then they got to some internet-submitted queries before opening the floor up to the Comic-Con crowd. I tried to record the event (audio only, of course), but since the panel took place in Hall H (which is a room that could easily house two medium-sized airports), that audio turned out to be a garbled mess of static, frequent laughter, and a few phone conversations with Erik Davis.
Good thing I took a few notes! Early in the panel Zack Snyder (director of 300, Dawn of the Dead, and the upcoming Watchmen) was asked a question he didn't have much of an answer for, and so the always-quick Kevin Smith chimed in with "Dude, it's a good thing your visuals are so strong." The crowd joined Snyder in much chuckling, And when asked about how he uses test screenings to fine-tune his comedies, Judd Apatow remarked "I use test screenings to gauge how much penis I can show in a movie without clearing the room." More laughter.
One of the stranger 'net-submitted questions was directed towards Kevin Smith: He was asked what Seth Rogen (the star of his Zack and Miri Make a Porno) "tastes like." He quickly flipped the joke on its head by implying that Rogen should tell us what Mr. Apatow "tastes like." (Yeah, it was an R-rated panel for sure.) And then Smith followed that up with a quip that was both amusing and respectably honest: When asked about "catering" to his fan-base, Smith replied "Yeah, so? They like my stuff and they buy the tickets. Who (the eff) else should I cater to?" Needless to say, that earned a healthy round of applause. Smith's most popular comment was a simple one: "I think Geek Culture is here to stay. Thank God for Quentin Tarantino."
Later in the panel, Snyder shared a very funny story about how he was once shooting a commercial with Harrison Ford, and as the shoot was winding down, the director approached the superstar and admitted that he owned a "frozen carbonite Han Solo ... like, life-size," to which Mr. Ford replied, "Yeah, you probably shouldn't have told me that." The 323,564 fans in attendance were already swooning over Snyder for his Watchmen footage, but the guy had just added "funny!" to his repertoire.
Unfortunately Mr. Miller was the least vocal of the four participants, but he seemed to enjoy being part of the gang. His brief contributions to the conversation were often met with appreciative chunks of applause -- particularly when he told the aspiring artists to just go out, do their thing, and "make some trouble."
Bonus laugh: While discussing Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kevin Smith commented that "If you're into the Enterprise, that flick is like porn!"
Bonus DVD tidbit: It probably won't be the first DVD to hit the scene, but Zack Snyder promised a massive Watchmen "director's cut" edition that will include some prologue and epilogue material that has already been cut from the theatrical version -- plus it will also have the horrific animated pirate story, which will star the voice of Gerard Butler. Oh, and there will also be a Watchmen video game that centers on the planned assassination of legendary reporters Woodward & Bernstein. Neat!