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FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: PUNISHER: WAR ZONE

SAN DIEGO -- Lionsgate debuted the new trailer for Punisher: War Zone on Thursday night during its Comic-Con International panel, following a signing at the Marvel booth earlier in the day.

Panelists included producer Gale Anne Hurd and stars Julie Benz and Ray Stevenson.

Following are highlights:

* Hurd said that Marvel and Lionsgate listened to the fans and wanted the Punisher to be "ruthless, violent vigilante justice" and that Frank Castle is a New York City guy, hence the new film's location. She said that she couldn't think of anyone who looks more like a Tim Bradstreet cover than Stevenson.

* Director Lexi Alexander was on her honeymoon -- she married War Zone's first assistant director -- and couldn't attend.

"She really can kick your ass," Hurd said, noting that Stevenson has a world-class martial arts background. "She can understand the mentality of the Punisher."

* Stevenson said the filmmakers went to the Garth Ennis-scripted MAX series. "They don't shy away from the dark places. There's no light at the end of the tunnel," he said, noting that the character has the right psychological profile for the story.

* The world premiere of the new trailer was then shown, including the first look Jigsaw.

"It's just so exciting. It's the first time I've seen it," Stevenson said of the trailer. "It takes me back to when we were making it. It's not a green screen movie. It's not a special effects movie. So much work by so many people and I'm very, very proud of it.

* Stevenson said he worked with 67-year-old trainer Pat Johnson for the movie, which helped with his fighting and endurance for the film. "He, like Lexi, is a warrior, a kickboxing champion," he said.

* Talking about the film's pallette, Hurd said it was derived from the panels of the MAX series.

* Hurd said there are a lot of Easter Eggs from the comics, and supporting characters such as Microchip, Det. Soap and Budiansky.

* Benz plays Angela Donatelli, a wife of a cop. Benz said "something happens and she's just not very happy."

* Stevenson said while there's quite an arsenal, it's not a "my gun is bigger than your gun" type of movie. He said that's where military training comes in. "We'd like to reflect the honesty of that training," he said.

* Asked about if they read comics as a kid, Benz said she didn't and didn't know anything about the Punisher, but was familiar with the previous film.

Stevenson said he was too busy "fighting in the streets" as a kid in the U.K. to read comics. When he read it, was thought it was an "uber-violent piece" and the more he read it, the more he couldn't put it down.

"You don't want to be Frank Castle, but you're glad he's there and you can't see what he does next."

* Asked about a sequel, Stevenson said he liked it "to run on and on."

"There's a whole lot of world for Frank to him," he said.

* Hurd then presented another clip, cut especially for the Comic-Con audience. "It is our version of a kick-ass music video, directly from the film," she said.



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