One of the must talked-about previews at last weekend's Comic-Con in San Diego was Kick-Ass, a satirically violent adaptation of the comic-book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
But will the buzz translate to distribution? The independent movie is still seeking someone to release it, but in light of the film's Comic-Con reception, director and stars are confident.
A preview of footage from the movie clearly wowed the Comic-Con audience, giving any studio executive good reason to want to make a bid.
"We got two standing ovations," director Matthew Vaughn told a group of reporters in San Diego afterward. "I got told no one got a standing ovation today. So we got two of them. Pretty good." (Actually, Iron Man 2 later got a standing ovation as well.)
Vaughn showed clips of 11-year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) slicing and dicing bad guys to a bloody pulp and dodging bullets as a training exercise from her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). A studio would have to be crazy not to want that, but Vaughn takes nothing for granted. "Spend time in Hollywood," he lamented.
"You have to ask the studios," Vaughn added. "Look, were you guys in the room? If they would buy it because of the reaction, then I'll have a deal in about 25 minutes. But I doubt that. I don't know. I mean, the reaction was [unbelievable]. I sat there at first thinking this is going to be a Candid Camera moment, where somebody jeers and throws eggs or something. They loved it. I mean, really, they asked to see the clips again. So it was good."
The film's co-stars felt more confident that their film would hit cineplexes thanks to a kindly studio offering to release Kick-Ass for modest financial compensation. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays the film's Red Mist, said in a separate group interview, "I don't want to just say, 'Oh, yeah, it's going to get it,' but I'd feel very comfortable after what I saw. I couldn't see how if anyone was in there and heard the audience, they'd go, 'No, we don't want to buy that.'"
Clark Duke, who plays Marty, shared his co-star's confidence. "I don't want to jinx it, but I can't imagine it not getting [distribution]," Duke said. "It got a standing ovation, but you never know."
Kick-Ass centers on an average teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who feels compelled to assume a superhero identity. He is so unsuccessful that he is stabbed and run over nearly to death, at least at first. That is not the kind of origin story a big studio usually endorses.
"I'm bored of seeing the same movie made again and again, with a different name and a different actor," Vaughn said. "I just thought, you know, I read the comic, and I just knew that I could make a film that was different, but commercial and fun. So I decided to go do it."
Vaughn, who previously directed Layer Cake and the graphic-novel adaptation Stardust, put his own spin on the Millar/Romita tale. "Well, they made the comic, I made the movie," Vaughn said. "But they're joined at the hip. It was very collaborative. So I think I put a bit more humor into it than ... is in the comic. I definitely put more humor into it than the comic, actually."
If the film gets distribution and becomes a big hit, Vaughn has plans for more Kick-Ass films. "If the film works well, there's a sequel that I definitely want to do," he said.
For now, Vaughn still has a bit more work to do on the first Kick-Ass before he could even deliver it to a potential distributor. "We're doing the final mix in the first week of October, and then it's done," he said. "I think we'll come out first quarter of next year, if we get distribution."