Jon Favreau at Comic-Con Premiere: Cowboys & Aliens is Like Unwrapping a Christmas Gift

The Comic-Con crowd has always been good to Jon Favreau -- recall the splash he made here in 2007 with Iron Man, a geek director finding his people -- and charmingly (or cunningly, but mostly charmingly) Favreau knows it. So even without a panel to present at Comic-Con this year, he brought his latest film, the sci-fi Western Cowboys & Aliens, to San Diego in a big way: By hosting an enormous premiere filled with cast, crew, hundreds of fans, and a rousing, touching speech that seemed to genuinely come from the heart.

Taking over the San Diego Civic Theater (capacity: 3000), Favreau and Universal brought in an additional sound system and screen for the night with an elaborate red carpet setup out front, complete with an after party so inclusive that Favreau invited fans in attendance to join in. Introducing the film, Favreau acknowledged the fans who have supported him over the years.

"I think it's great to have all the people who worked on the film, mixing with the fans," he began, addressing the cheering crowd. "Both groups are really concerned about one another. These are real people who've been working really hard for two years and they're really sitting on pins and needles to see what you guys think."

"You guys are the most important part of the equation because without you, movies either work or don't," he continued. "To bring it all together and not have people looking at statistics and reports, but to actually hear it from people around them -- I think that's what Hall H means, and it's great to have it here in San Diego at Comic-Con."

"So I want to thank all of you who worked on the movie, who I see amongst, who came in from out of town. Thank you so much for being here. And all the people who won a Golden Ticket... welcome to the chocolate factory."

Favreau brought stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde onstage to join him, as is customary at these things. What's not customary? Bringing your entire cast, supporting cast, screenwriters, and producers onstage for the shared moment of glory. Even producer Steven Spielberg, making his Comic-Con debut this weekend with The Adventures of Tintin, got a humble intro from Favreau. "There's a guy that I think you know who you might enjoy, it's his first time in San Diego for Comic-Con, please make him feel welcome -- Steven Spielberg!"

And then, Favreau dropped a sweet anecdote comparing Cowboys & Aliens to Christmas, poking fun at the fact that, partly thanks to his own secrecy surrounding the film's marketing campaign, fairly little is known about the July 29 release compared to other studio tent poles.

"When I was little, Christmas was a big deal in my house. I'm half Catholic, half-Jewish, and my Jewish grandfather grew up in the Depression and he loved Christmas. I remember I was a pretty spoiled kid; anything I saw on Saturday morning cartoons advertised, I said, 'I want that, I want that, I want that.' And I was an only child, god bless my parents and my grandparents -- I got all the presents. I'd see them all wrapped up and I knew what all the presents were, because I'd asked for them. I could tell by the size of the box and the wrapping paper.

But there was one box that my grandfather would put out there, and it wasn't something I asked for, I didn't know what the hell it was. He would say, 'It's from Santa.' I used to get mad; I knew there was no Santa, and I didn't know what the box was. I would shake the box, and I would look at the box. Finally Christmas would come around and I would unwrap all the presents and finally they'd give me that box.

My grandfather passed away, God bless him, but he'd always find something that I didn't know that I asked for, you know? So this summer, we've had a lot of Christmas presents, and you've unwrapped them all and there have been a lot of good movies this year. But there's one that everybody's been shaking the box, and reading the label, and they say, 'From Santa?! Cowboys & Aliens, what is this?!' Well, you're the first people to unwrap the present. We hope you enjoy it, and thank you for being there for me. I couldn't be right here without you guys."

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