COMIC-CON 2010: ‘Tron: Legacy’ poised to take center stage in San Diego

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Jay West is a devoted fan and student of the 1982 film ‘Tron,’ and he has written a series of guest columns on the viral marketing for the film’s sequel, ‘Tron: Legacy,’ due this December. Ahead of the highly anticipated film’s presentation at Comic-Con International 2010, West unlocks some secrets of what fans can expect in San Diego.

Ram: ‘They’re going to make you play video games.’

Kevin Flynn: ‘No sweat. I play video games better than anybody.’

-- Dan Shor as Ram and Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, in the original ‘Tron’ (1982)


The countdown for ComiTRON (that’s what Disney is calling Comic-Con International as a hopeful nod to its major promotions for the movie at the San Diego expo) has begun ... literally! In recent weeks, postcards that depicted illustrative artwork of a few of the fictional video games created by Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) circa the time of the original ‘Tron’ movie in 1982 were sent to those following the Flynn Livesalternate-reality game in a promotion for ‘Tron: Legacy’ -- which is to be released Dec. 17.

At first, the postcards came off as common promotional fare in the mail, but then, after reviewing the addressee side, a black strip was conspicuous. Using a black light (an element that has been used prior in the ARG), a series of random dots placed in the black-stripped areas on each postcard were evident. Many posted their findings online -- and ultimately, when these dot formations from a variety of cards were superimposed -- the location of a new website appeared: ENCOM Japan -- with links to a new retro-styled light-cycle-style game: ‘Circuit Cycles,’ the previously released online gaming version of Space Paranoids, and a link to the home site for ENCOM (the fictional computer and software company that was featured in the original ‘Tron’ film, as well as in the upcoming sequel).

When playing the ‘Circuit Cycles’ game, players were able to garner badges at various levels -- with the final badge stage revealing yet another page of the ‘Flynn Lives’ website: -- on this site. A multiple ‘Tron-disc’ countdown clock is now running -- which is set to run out Thursday, July 22 at 11:30 a.m. -- precisely the time that the ‘Tron: Legacy’ Hall H panel presentation will be occurring at Comic-Con in San Diego.

In the midst of the postcards received -- some of the latter ones had a small sticker that read: ‘Don’t Miss FLYNN’S ARCADE 7/22 - 24,’ confirming anxious rumblings that the re-creation of ‘Flynn’s Arcade,’ which many considered to be the highlight of last year’s Comic-Con, will once again appear during Comic-Con in the Gaslamp District of San Diego. In addition to evoking the look and style of Flynn’s/Jeff Bridges’ arcade as seen in the first ‘Tron’ film, last year’s event is where the now famous touring life-size replica of the new ‘Tron: Legacy’ light cycle also made its debut, and where many heard the first-ever track from Daft Punk’s score for ‘Tron: Legacy.’

Here’s a bit of a inside scoop for Hero Complex readers: One can be assured that new surprises await those who enter ‘Flynn’s Arcade’ this time ...

To view the debut of ‘Flynn’s Arcade’ during last year’s Comic-Con, you can view a video I shot of it here.

Comic-Con attendees will also be able to to delve further into the gaming world of ‘Tron’ by going to Disney’s interactive booth in the exhibitors’ area of the Convention Center (Booth No. 3712). Here you will find playable, work-in-progress versions of the new ‘Tron: Evolution’ video game, with the final versions due for release in November on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii. These games serve as ‘middle acts’ in the story line between the original ‘Tron’ film, and ‘Tron: Legacy’ -- and will introduce characters and situations that actually weave into the ‘Legacy’ plot.

I played each version of the game at the recent E3 Electronics Expo in Los Angeles -- the scope and action were very impressive, all the while taking the iconic ‘Tron’ elements of light cycles and disc battles to new and exciting levels. I also had a special sneak preview of the PS3 3-D version of the game -- the 3-D imaging was stunning, on the level of quality with watching ‘Avatar’ in theaters.

You can see footage of the game play, the latest trailer for the game and the ‘Tron’ interactive booth that will appear at Comic-Con by viewing the following footage I shot at the E3 Expo here -- and by the way... here’s another scoop for you: There will be a new, life-size vehicle from ‘Tron: Legacy’ making its debut at this booth at Comic-Con!

For those who may have missed last year’s ‘Tron: Legacy’ panel presentation at Comic-Con in the Convention Center’s 6,500-person-plus-capacity Hall H (think a rock concert meets a movie promotional panel and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like there), here’s a couple of video links that showcase the panel in its entirety -- with director Joseph Kosinski, producers Sean Bailey and Steven Lisberger and, from the cast, Garrett Hedlund (Sam Flynn), Olivia Wilde (Quorra) and of course, Kevin Flynn himself ... Jeff Bridges: ‘Tron: Legacy'/2009 Comic-Con panel part one and part two

Finally, for those wanting to revisit how it all started, and celebrate the film’s recent 28th anniversary, there will be a screening of the original ‘Tron’ at the Marriott Hotel (located directly next to the Convention Center) on Thursday in the Marina Ballroom D, scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m.

Keep checking back at Hero Complex for my continuing guest-contributor coverage for all things ‘Tron: Legacy’ -- and look out for my special ComiTRON coverage soon to come!

-- Jay West

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Upper photo: A promotional image for ‘Tron: Legacy.’ Credit: Walt Disney Co.

Second photo: The ENCOM Japan website home page.

Third photo: The disc countdown clock. Credit: Walt Disney Co.

Lower photo: The ‘Tron’ interactive booth with light cycle Credit: Jay West