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‘Fifty Shades’ author delights fans at Comic-Con


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Butler, fellow director Sam Fell and producer Travis Knight said they were aiming to mix a lot of styles, among them the coming-of-age tales of "Breakfast Club" filmmaker Hughes, the wild 1980s youth adventures of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and the zombie horror of "Night of the Living Dead" creator George Romero.

"Originally, it was very much influenced by the kinds of stuff I grew up watching, so it was ‘The Goonies,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ and also a lot of horror movies that I shouldn’t have been watching when I was a kid," Butler said.

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The filmmakers showed off a handful of scenes of the 3-D comedy, including one of Smit-McPhee’s Norman in a graveyard surrounded by growling but goofy zombies rising from their graves.

"ParaNorman" was the third supernatural animated comedy previewed at Comic-Con, along with Adam Sandler’s monster mash-up "Hotel Transylvania" and Tim Burton’s "Frankenweenie," his animated story of a boy who raises his dog from the dead.

Like "Frankenweenie" and "Coraline," "ParaNorman" was shot through stop-motion animation using puppets that are painstakingly photographed a frame at a time.

"What could be cooler than stop-motion and zombies? Two tastes that taste great together," said producer Knight.

Teen-ager Smit-McPhee said his voice started to change halfway through his recording work for "ParaNorman."

"Now when you hear the movie, it doesn’t even sound like me," Smit-McPhee said. "That voice will always be there, and I can’t get it back."

Kendrick plays Norman’s whiny older sister, who spends much of the movie bickering with her kid brother. The "Twilight" co-star, who plays one of Kristen Stewart’s gabby school friends, said she asked the "ParaNorman" filmmakers if they hired her because of her work in the vampire franchise.

"They said, ‘No, we haven’t seen those. We just listened to your voice in interviews,’" the nasal-voiced Kendrick said. "I have a cold right now. Usually, I have a really sexy deep voice."


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Burton recalls his Batman as lighter Dark Knight » Back in the day, Tim Burton remembers critics finding his take on Batman rather gloomy.

Burton’s Dark Knight looked as though he was having fun in the sun compared to where the current Batman series has taken the comic-book vigilante on the big-screen.

"I recall at the time, people worried about our version being too dark," Burton said of his 1989 "Batman" and the 1992 sequel "Batman Returns." "It’s like, well, it looks like a lighthearted romp in comparison. ‘Batman on Ice.’"

Opening next week, "The Dark Knight Rises" wraps up director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy that launched with 2005’s "Batman Begins" and continued with 2008’s "The Dark Knight."

Nolan elevated the superhero genre to grand proportions, with Christian Bale’s Batman becoming a haunted wreck and a hunted fugitive unjustly condemned by the city which he gave his all to protect.

Burton’s Batman, played by Michael Keaton, was a dark soul, too, but the films had a levity and a campier quality that has diminished as today’s stream of superhero flicks take their idols and action more seriously.

"The great thing about what comics have done is that you can take something and look at it in different ways," Burton said in an interview at the Comic-Con fan convention, where he showed off footage of his animated comedy "Frankenweenie," due out Oct. 7.

"It’s like a folk tale or fairy tale. You can kind of revisit things and show things in a different way."

Burton, whose biggest commercial success began a decade after his Batman movies with such blockbusters as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland," is revisiting one of his own early stories with "Frankenweenie."

The tale of a boy who resurrects his dead dog, Frankenstein-style, started at a live-action short film Burton directed in 1984. He has expanded on the story to create a feature-length black-and-white update using stop-motion animation, in which puppets are moved and photographed meticulously one frame at a time.

"I felt quite grateful that I got to do the original in live action, because I was, A., a bad animator, and B., not very communicative, so it really forced me to talk," said Burton, whose "Frankenweenie" voice cast includes past collaborators such as Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. "If I’d done stop-motion at the time, which I don’t think would have happened, I probably wouldn’t have been able to move into live-action like I did."

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