The Project: Summit Entertainment’s Divergent and Ender’s Game
The Panel: From Divergent: author Veronica Roth, director Neil Burger, leads Shailene Woodley (Tris) and Theo James (Four), Zoe Kravitz (Christina), Ansel Elgort (Caleb), Ben Lloyd-Hughs (William), Ben Lamb (Edward), Christian Madsen (Al), Amy C. Newbold (Molly), Miles Teller (Peter), Maggie Q (Tori) and Mekhi Phifer (Max). From Ender’s Game: Director Gavin Hood, producer Robert Orci, and lead actors Asa Butterfield (Ender), Hailee Steinfeld (Petra) and Harrison Ford (Colonel Hyrum Graff).
Footage screened: Fans of both Divergent and Ender’s Game were rewarded with exclusive Hall H footage. Divergent hit all the sweet spots for fans of the book—Tris and Christina jumping off the train, Tris becoming first jumper (a stomach-dropping sequence where we see Woodley leap off a building), some hard-core looking fighting, knife throwing, and a peek at the ferris wheel scene. The chemistry between Woodley and James is palpable. Likewise, Ender’s fans seemed thrilled by the futuristic landscape which was overwhelming large and detailed. Butterfield appears to be perfectly cast as Ender (very large and in charge in that battle room!) and it’s very satisfying to see Harrison Ford in the role of Graff. Ford pointed out that Graff isn’t Ender’s mentor, he’s his manipulator.
Snap judgment: The audience went nuts for both bits of footage. Unsurprisingly, the first audience question for the Ender’s panel was about the recent controversy over author Orson Scott Card’s stated opposition to same-sex marriage. (You can read Card’s response here.) Orci took the question and very gracefully answered it. He reiterated that everyone involved supported Lionsgate’s response to the issue—read that here—and that they were choosing to take the attention the controversy had brought and to use it as a chance to unequivocally embrace and defend LGBT and human rights. “The message of the book and the movie is tolerance, compassion, and empathy—things that will live on long beyond any statement.”
The Big Revelations: Veronica Roth revealed that the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant (out this fall) will be written from two character perspectives: Tris and Four. Asa Butterfield admitted he took home a “futuristic wash kit” from the set. Also, Gavin Hood is not afraid to tease Harrison Ford (that makes one of us).
Most incisive audience question: One young woman asked the Divergent actors about their physical preparation: this led to the group talking about the great bonding opportunity it was to train and box and work out together. Also, per Neil Burger, Theo James is truly a gifted and fearsome fighter. As for Ender’s Game, we wouldn’t necessarily call it incisive, but one fan asked Ford what would Han Solo and Indiana Jones say to one another if they were able to meet. Ford deadpanned, “Hi. How are you?” and shrugged.
Runner-up: a different audience member asked Ford if Han Solo would be a good soldier for Colonel Graff. Ford replied: “I don’t think Han Solo would be a good soldier in anybody’s army. He’s what we call now an independent contractor.”