Last week, Sony previewed some early footage of their new 3D animated feature, Hotel Transylvania. (Though, the footage we saw was not in 3D.) Slated for a September release, Adam Sandler voices Dracula - who, in this incarnation, runs a hotel for ghouls while, at the same time, tries to be a loving father to his young, 118-year-old daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). The film's director, Genndy Tartakovsky, and producer, Michelle Murdocca, were in attendance to answer some questions. Here is what I learned about Hotel Transylvania on that day.
1.) The team of Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg may not be box office poison after all.
Sure, it turned out to be box office poison in regards to Sandler's latest live action offering, That's My Boy, but that doesn't mean that the two SNL alumnus aren't going to keep trying. In Hotel Transylvania, Samberg voices Jonathan, a human who, after accidentally discovering the hotel, (A) falls in love with Mavis and (B) becomes a foil for Dracula. From the early footage, this sort of relationship may work better with audiences than what we saw already in That's My Boy. (And these two will hit the trifecta with next summer's Grown Ups 2.)
2.) Don't compare That's My Boy to Hotel Transylvania in front of producer Michelle Murdocca.
At a post screening lunch, I inquired with Murdocca if the box office failure of That's My Boy affected the marketing for Hotel Transylvania. At least in the respect that if That's My Boy had been a success, it could have been pegged as another team up between Samberg and Sandler. This inquiry was met with a very definite, "no."
3.) Skeletons scare children.
There's a scene in which Samberg's Jonathan encounters a sentient skeleton. This caused the young child next to me to scream. Loudly. It's interesting because, up to that point, he seemed to be enjoying most of the footage. But it appears there will be at least some imagery that young children will find disturbing.
4.) Adam Sandler does a good Dracula impression.
Perhaps I was just impressed with the fact that - at least in the footage that I saw - there was no patented Sandler child-like garbling. I mean, look, Sandler's Dracula isn't great in the sense that it actually sounds like Dracula, but, for this animated feature, it feels about right.
5.) Never order a beverage with dry ice.
Yes, it makes your drink look "spooky," but everyone will stare at you and point.
6.) Hotel Transylvania has a Star Wars homage.
OK, I'll admit, even I thought that I might have been reading too much into this. But, in a scene in which Dracula peruses Jonathan while they are both riding on flying dinner tables, Dracula summons two additional tables to escort him as wingmen. This sets up a scene that's very reminiscent of Darth Vader, flanked by two Tie-Fighters, chasing Luke Skywalker's X-Wing in the trenches of the Death Star. A point that Murdocca confirms was in fact a homage. Though, considering Tartakovsky's Clone Wars background, perhaps this isn't too surprising.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He can find a Star Wars homage in anything. You can contact him directly on Twitter.