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San Diego Comic-Con 2010
Sony Pictures Entertainment: Priest

by Zac Bertschy,

Priest, the live-action 3D sci-fi action film based on the popular manhwa by Hyung Min-woo, premiered footage at Sony Pictures Entertainment's Friday afternoon panel in Hall H. The panel opened with Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy walking out to talk a little bit about the film's connection to the original manhwa. According to Levy, the film takes place in a far-flung postapocalyptic future and uses the 16-volume manhwa – which spans from before the Crusades to the present – as backstory.

Levy mentioned that he and Min-woo sat down after reviewing the intended plot for the film and wrote an interstitial story – titled Priest: Purgatory – that takes place after the end of the original manga and 20 years before the events of the film, to help fill in the gaps. Tickets were handed out to attendees that could be redeemed for a free issue of Priest: Purgatory. Without further ado, an extended trailer for the film was shown in 3D; while basic elements of Min-woo's story were there (being humanity's war with a race of vampires and a special breed of vampire slayer called Priests) , the film is clearly an ambitious sci-fi/fantasy hybrid bursting with visual elements reminiscent of The Road Warrior, Blade Runner, Dark City and the Underworld films.

Following that, the director Scott Stewart was introduced, along with the film's principle cast – lead Paul Bettany and costar Maggie Q, along with villain Karl Urban and a handful of others. A few quick questions were asked, and then Stewart brought out surprise guest Genndy Tartakovsky, a superstar animator responsible for beloved cartoon franchises such as Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack. Tartakovsky was commissioned by Stewart to provide an animated prologue for Priest that explains – briefly – the backstory of the war between mankind and vampires. Some trace elements of Min-woo's style can be found in the prologue's character designs, but it is definitely Tartakovsky's show, and his trademark “chunky” look is on full display. Stewart said he specifically told Tartakovsky to “go nuts” with the violence, a task he clearly took on with relish.

A brief mention was made of the long production delays the film has had; Stewart mentioned that the chief reason for the delays was the film's transition to 3D, which he assured the audience was being “done right” and they were taking a long time to make sure the film's 3D elements felt natural, as opposed to many “rush jobs” that were in theaters now.

The film is scheduled to open on May 13th; more information can be found at faithworksecurity.com.

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