SAN DIEGO — He's the man who gave us all the "Lord of the Rings" movies, "King Kong" and "Dead Alive." In all the world, there may be nothing geekier than a fan of his surreal 1989 Muppets spoof "Meet the Feebles." So how, in the holy name of Gandalf the Grey, has Peter Jackson never attended a Comic-Con until now?
"Well, I've sent a digital representation of myself," apologized the visionary filmmaker, finally at this year's Con to promote "District 9," a dazzling aliens-are-among-us flick already being hailed by many here as an instant classic. "For several years, I couldn't make it because I was shooting. 'Lord of the Rings' had a really long shooting schedule, 'Kong' did as well, and the schedules of shooting the movies and releasing them meant I was usually busy in July.
"I was usually on the set, so I'd record a little greeting and say, 'I wish I could be at Comic-Con, but I'm shooting in New Zealand,' " he remembered. "But this time I didn't."
Instead, Jackson spent the earlier part of this week playing the part of a good daddy at Disneyland. And on Thursday and Friday, he's been taking the stage to rapturous applause from Comic-Con attendees, many of whom are dressed as iconic characters from his films. "I'm not shooting anything, and 'District 9' is a film I'm really proud of," grinned the affable filmmaker, who oversaw the sci-fi flick directed by his young protégé Neill Blomkamp. "It's weird — it's the first time I come here, and it's not for a film I've directed, but produced. Which is fine, it's a good thing to do."
Jackson is part of an even bigger trend at the convention this year: massive names in filmmaking who've never attended, or haven't been in years. These folks include James Cameron, Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis.
"I haven't seen any of them at Comic-Con yet, but they're all geeks," grinned Jackson, wearing the "g-word" badge with pride. "The thing you have to realize is that all those names are like us — they're geeks.
"They're a slightly older generation," he said of his fellow filmmakers, in town to present the eagerly anticipated flicks "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland," "9" and "A Christmas Carol." "But Bob Zemeckis grew up on EC Comics, Jim Cameron read science-fiction as a kid. These guys, if they weren't filmmakers, would be walking the floor of Comic-Con wearing Stormtrooper outfits."
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