Disney unveiled the first footage from "Tomorrowland" at New York Comic-Con on Thursday afternoon, thus pulling back the curtain on one of 2015's most secretive summer movies, and interrupting George Clooney's newlywed status in the process.
"It is not lost on me that I'm spending my honeymoon at Comic-Con," joked Clooney, who was a surprise guest during the Disney panel inside Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Center. The 53-year-old actor married Amal Alamuddin on Sept. 27 in Venice, Italy and had been vacationing with her in England following the nuptials.
Perhaps the mystery surrounding "Tomorrowland" was justification for the actor's surprise visit. Directed by Brad Bird, the Disney film has been in development since 2013, and rumors have simmered about its hush-hush plot since the project was first announced. The newly released teaser and the film's plot description shed some light on the proceedings: In a world gone mad -- eagle-eyed trailer viewers will notice a television chyron about rioting on the East Coast -- a curious teenager named Casey (Britt Robertson) and a former "boy genius" named Frank Walker (Clooney) "embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as 'Tomorrowland.' What they must do there changes the world -- and them -- forever." Hugh Laurie and Kathryn Hahn are among the film's co-stars.
"If you guys need to know anything about the plot, just ask me," Clooney said about the top-secret storyline, before adding with a deadpan charm: "Everybody dies in the end."
That's unlikely, but co-writer Damon Lindelof did allude to an unconventional denouement.
"One of the movies we talked about was 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and the fact that it was essentially a discovery movie," Lindelof explained about "Tomorrowland." That 1977 classic from Steven Spielberg famously ends with its lead character, played by Richard Dreyfuss, leaving his family behind for a life of space exploration with the alien visitors. ("I would never have made 'Close Encounters' the way I made it in '77, because I have a family that I would never leave," Spielberg has since said about the film's conclusion.) But whether something similar happens in "Tomorrowland" is wild speculation: the Comic-Con panel was mostly devoid of answers about the film's plot, beyond what was revealed in the teaser trailer and also second piece of footage, which showcased Frank and Casey fighting off humanoid robots inside Frank's home.
"It was larger than most things I've ever been around," Clooney said of making the film. "The beautiful thing about it is that Brad Bird has a real vision of the film he wants to make. It was fun for all of us to play in this giant toy box, and help him realize what he wants."
According to Clooney, production on "Tomorrowland" took the cast all over the world. "Hugh and I got to get in trouble in the Bahamas," he said. "Two former television doctors." Clooney, of course, rose to fame thanks to his performance on "ER"; Laurie played Dr. Gregory House on "House M.D." for eight seasons. "Bring on that McSteamy guy," Clooney said, referring to Eric Dane's character on "Grey's Anatomy." "We'll take them all on, TV doctors."
This was Clooney's first ever appearance at Comic-Con, and the actor joked he was "disinvited" from the annual gathering of geek culture because of his role as Batman in the infamous 1997 flop, "Batman and Robin."
"I met Adam West back there, I was like, 'Hey, I'm really sorry,'" Clooney said as the audience roared with laughter. "We fist-bumped and I was like, 'Yeah, just hit me. Sorry about the nipples on the suit. Freeze, freeze! I apologize.'"
It goes without saying that Clooney has come a long way since that film, but he was happy to acknowledge the fact anyway.
"I'm so barely in the teaser," he said to Bird and Lindelof about the "Tomorrowland" trailer. "I don't want to say anything, but I'm a big star."
"Tomorrowland" is due out on May 22, 2015.