It's only the second day of Comic-Con, but can anything top the surprise appearance of Peter Jackson? The crowd went nuts when Jackson -- who'd already announced he'd be a no-show at this year's Con -- walked on stage to join Steven Spielberg at the 'Adventures of Tintin' panel.
We were in geek nirvana with those two sharing a stage and, just like any good Spielberg movie, this panel wrapped with a warm, fuzzy happy ending: The last fan to ask a question let his T-shirt speak for him: "I just want to shake Steven Spielberg's hand and say thank you." Within seconds, he was whisked up on stage where he shook the legend's hand, as Peter Jackson photographed the proceedings. The crowd, needless to say, went wild.
The first fan to ask a question, by the way, looked very familiar. Sure enough, it was Andy Serkis, who asked if it was true that Daniel Craig first met Clint Eastwood while wearing his 'Tintin' motion-capture tights.
We'd already had a pretty good geek buzz going before the Jackson reveal: Spielberg got a standing ovation on his entrance to Hall H, then we were wowed with the amazingly life-like animated clips from 'Tintin' that promise to finally give mo-cap a good name. Spielberg mentioned that before he made the decision to make 'Tintin' an animated film, he had asked Peter Jackson's company, WETA, to do a test animating Tintin's dog in scenes with a live actor. The audience was delighted to see that the "live actor" was none other than Jackson, doing his best Captain Haddock impersonation on a waterfront as the dog frantically tries to get his attention in the background.
The segue to the introduction of the real, live Jackson has to be THE moment of this year's convention.
Once things died down enough to discuss the film at hand, Spielberg said he first learned about Tintin when a French review mentioned that 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' was surely inspired by it, while Jackson revealed he was thumbing through Tintin books before he could even read. "They're like silent movies or storyboards," he said of the illustrated series.
The love between directors (and rapt audience) was palpable: Spielberg said that Jackson is "like his brother" and that 'Tintin' was "the best collaboration of my life," excepting that of best friend, George Lucas. Jackson shared that without 'Jurassic Park,' there would be no WETA, as that giant Tyrannosaurus was his inspiration to begin dabbling with FX.
Speaking of dinosaurs, Spielberg announced that there's now a story and a writer for 'Jurassic Park 4,' and that we can expect it within the next two or three years. And if this 'Tintin' movie goes well, Spielberg wants Jackson to direct the sequel they're clearly both dying to make.
As for 'Hobbit' news,' sadly, there was none, other than that the production is on a hiatus while star Martin Freeman fulfills his BBC 'Sherlock Holmes' commitment. The break allowed Jackson to make the trip to San Diego. He also said that he's "reenergized" by having some time off from the epic shoot.
During the panel, both directors insisted they're both still kids at heart (no surprise there). Another warm fuzzy revelation: After being asked by a small boy what his favorite movie was to make, a clearly sentimental Spielberg answered that it was 'E.T.,' because it was the film that made him realize he wanted to have his own children. "And now I have seven," he said, beaming.
This was Spielberg's first trip to Comic-Con, but with this much love in the room, we're sure he'll be back.
*First Spielberg/Jackson photo courtesy of AP, second courtesy of Getty
*'Tintin' photos courtesy of Paramount