Cowboys & Aliens co-writer/producer Roberto Orci and director Jon Favreau were in attendance at WonderCon in San Francisco to present footage from the film and answer fan questions. Hit the jump to read my thoughts on the footage and the information revealed during the discussion.

This isn’t the first or second time I’ve seen footage from Jon Favreau‘s Cowboys & Aliens. I was in Hall H  to see Favreau’s presentation at Comic Con last year, and was left confused — it was a much different film than I was expecting (a lot more of a straight western and less the Hollywood camp than the title implies). At Buttnumathon in December, Favreau screened the first two reels, the first 40 or so minutes of the film. While most others at the screening were impressed with what they saw, I thought the opening was a bit too long and slow building. I never reviewed it on the site because it was in very rough early/unfinished stages.

They screened about 9 or 10 minutes of footage from the film, beginning with Craig’s arrival in the old west, the people he encounters, the introduction of Harrison Ford’s character, the destruction of local cows, the big set piece 30 minutes in where the aliens invade the small western town, Craig’s character uses his futuristic looking arm weaponry to shoot an alien spacecraft down in the town’s center, and the alien creature destroys some humans in a small shop (blood hits the windows) before making his getaway. We were then presented with a montage of footage from the remainder of the film, showcasing the chase through the western landscapes, fights with alien creatures in the desert like locations, Craig jumping on top of one of the alien spacecrafts and more. The footage reel ended with the shot of a kid in a enclosed cave-like location hiding, when the alien creature invades through the opening. This was probably the coolest clip of the batch.

I was very impressed with the footage the was presented as it looked more action packed than the 40 minutes screened at Bnat. I’m hoping that Favreau tightened that opening up a bit. Everything I saw looked beautiful, as it should having been shot by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Black Swan, Iron Man). Favreau claims that the alien will not be shown in any of the marketing materials and that the whole end of the movie which involves the aliens on the ground will be avoided in the publicity and television spots.

Here are some of the observations from the Q&A:

  • Favreau says that WonderCon feels a bit like what Comic Con felt when he first started going to Comic Con, that it’s a bit more intimate and less about the parties.
  • Favreau first heard about the project from his Iron Man screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who wrote the first draft for Orci and Kurtzman. Orci claims that they couldn’t afford to have them come back to do a second draft following the success of Iron Man. Favreau then heard more about the project from Robert Downey Jr when working on Iron Man 2, when RDJ was flirting with starring in the film.
  • Favreau cited Layer Cake in addition to the Bond films for the reason he hired Daniel Craig on the project. Harrison Ford was dream casting, and Favreau says he never expected to actually get him on the movie.
  • Jon Facreau cited the Family Guy episode which made fun of him for making cameos in all of his movies for the main reason why he doesn’t appear in the film. He also didn’t want to distract the audience or pull them out of the story.
  • Not going online, not an extended trailer, but footage put together “for this room and this room only.” Favreau claims this is the only time this footage will probably screen before the film is released.
  • Favreau said the movie was “shot on film” and will be released in “glorious 2D”, which got a huge applause from the packed auditorium.
  • While he won’t be directing Iron Man 3, he says he would be up for cameoing again as Happy Hogan, although his very political answer made it sound like it probably won’t happen.
  • The visual effects are being done by ILM and Legacy (formerly Stan Winston studios).
  • Favreau says they shot a few months in New Mexico because of tax breaks, but because of the location. He believes that films should be shot in the locations that are most beneficial to the film’s story not budget.
  • Favreau says you can make a PG-13 very brutal when you’re killing aliens and not people.
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