Cast and Producers Discuss Amazon’s ‘Man in the High Castle’ at Comic-Con Ahead of Oct. 5 Third-Season Debut

Streaming viewers, used to the immediate gratification of binging, will have been waiting nearly two years to see the third season of Amazon’s original series “The Man in the High Castle” when it debuts on Prime Video this fall.

“The anticipation is great,” said producer Isa Dick Hackett, who is also the daughter of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, who wrote the book.

Hackett, producer Daniel Percival and cast members spoke at Comic-Con about the epic science-fiction drama.

The third season, which debuts Oct. 5, will feature more about the resistance, some reunions and more romance, Hackett said.

“We wanted to offer some sort of hope because it’s an awfully bleak world,” she said.

Set in 1962, “The Man in the High Castle” explores an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II. The Nazis rule over the Eastern part of the United States and the Japanese the West, with a neutral zone in the middle. The theme of fascism is particularly resonant in light of current events, producers noted.

“We’re on a slippery slope to fascism,” said Percival.

“It’s not even a slow roll. It’s like a jog,” added Hackett. “My father really feared fascism.”

Rufus Sewell plays Nazi leader John Smith, who is rising in the Reich despite some family secrets. Smith’s vicious actions and Nazi membership don’t make him an archetypal villain, Sewell said. He is a human reacting to circumstances as did many Germans who supported the Nazis in World War II.

“The reason he made the decisions he made was to protect his family,” Sewell said. “People are on to the genetic problem in his family. It’s not patriotism that makes him climb. It’s survival.”

“I hope that people are able to connect with these characters,” said Alexa Davalos, who plays Juliana Crain, a woman on the run and caught up in the resistance. Even Smith has elements of humanity, she noted.

Jason O’Mara is joining the cast for the third season as an Irishman in the neutral zone.

“He and his family have been persecuted by the Nazis,” O’Mara said. “Essentially he’s a good person, but we’re not sure whether to trust him or not.”

Hackett noted she spent years trying to get the “High Castle” project off the ground, until Amazon stepped in.

“It was impossible to get it sold on a network, I think because it’s very subversive,” she said, noting the show is also expensive to produce.

Though streaming viewers have been known to binge an entire season at once, “I also think people like to go through it at their own pace,” she said.

The streaming format allows for a less episodic feel, Percival noted.

“We don’t have to create false climaxes to bring you in and out of commercial breaks,” he said.

Producers have had to make a few plot adjustments because of the state of current affairs, Sewell noted. A plotline about a wall, for instance, had to be scrapped.

Amazon Studios has greenlit a fourth season of the series.

Filmmaker and Comic-Con Mainstay Jon Schnepp Dies

Filmmaker, writer, animator and larger-than-life YouTube personality Jon Schnepp passed away July 19 from the effects of a massive stroke suffered a week earlier, according to a statement from his fiancée and partner of 16 years, Holly Payne. He was 51.

Schnepp was a longtime editor and director in television, particularly in animation, and was a major creative force behind the 2006-13 Adult Swim series “Metalocalypse,” a parody of the culture of heavy metal music.

In 2015, Schnepp debuted the documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, in which he chronicles the production history of a Superman film that was supposed to be made in the 1990s by Tim Burton and starring Nicolas Cage, and why it was ultimately scrapped. The film was produced by Schnepp and Payne and received major funding through crowdsourcing.

He was often seen at conventions around the country greeting fans, selling Blu-rays of the documentary and promoting his other endeavors. Schnepp also wrote comic books, and in 2017 authored a comic book based on the band Slayer.

An ardent proponent of geek culture, Schnepp would often refer to himself and his fellow enthusiasts of genre entertainment as “Sweaties,” a reminder of his creed that it was OK to sweat over something you love (and also perhaps a reference to the perspiration such fans would often endure as a result of waiting in long lines during the hot days of Comic-Con to see their favorite actors and creators in panels and autograph sessions). This earned him the moniker “King of the Sweaties.”

In recent years, Schnepp was a major presence online, frequently seen on the Collider YouTube channel’s daily “Movie Talk” show and as host of the channel’s “Heroes” show, which was devoted to movies and TV shows based on comic books. He also made several appearances on the “Movie Fights” show on the Screen Junkies YouTube channel.

On July 9 Schnepp tweeted that he had been “super sick” the previous week, but felt good enough to host the July 9 and 11 editions of “Heroes,” though his voice was noticeably raspy.

Schnepp tweeted July 12 that he had checked into the hospital, apparently to combat the lingering effects of his illness. Scheduled appearances at the July 13-15 Wizard World convention in Boise, Idaho, and at San Diego Comic-Con International were subsequently canceled.

Payne July 13 tweeted that he was in critical condition, and in a statement released July 18 she revealed he had suffered a stroke on July 12, was unconscious and on life support.

In the July 20 statement announcing Schnepp’s passing, Payne stated that he had a blood clot removed from his left carotid artery, but doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding, causing him to experience irreparable brain damage. He died shortly after being taken off life support.

In addition to Payne, Schnepp is survived by his sister, Deborah, and his parents, David and Miriam.

The announcement of his death triggered a wave of condolences from celebrities and fans alike. Collider devoted its YouTube channel to a 24-hour live feed of Schnepp highlights, and Comic-Con’s Trailer Park exhibition July 20 in Hall H showed the trailer to The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? to tremendous applause.

Payne also tweeted that she will be working to complete some of Schnepp’s unfinished projects.

A page set up to raise $150,000 to cover Schnepp’s medical expenses had reached more than $130,000 in donations by the end of the day July 20.

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ to Return on Disney Streaming Service

The popular “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series will return with 12 new episodes to debut on Disney’s upcoming steaming service.

The announcement came July 19 during a 10th anniversary panel celebrating the show at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Set during an intergalactic conflict taking place between the “Star Wars” films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, “The Clone Wars” followed the adventures of young Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and their allies as they defended the Galactic Republic against the evil droid armies of Count Dooku.

Beginning with a theatrically released film in 2008 (distributed by Warner Bros.), the series originally ran for five seasons from 2008 to 2013 on Warner’s Cartoon Network, but was canceled not long after the Walt Disney Co. purchased Lucasfilm. A sixth season was released in 2014 on Netflix. All the seasons were also released on DVD and Blu-ray. However, several episodes remained unfinished despite the dialogue having already been recorded; assembled storyboards and rough animation from these unfinished episodes have released over the years online and shown to fans at conventions.

In addition, some story arcs were not completed, although the fates of certain characters were alluded to in other media, such as novels, comic books and the “Star Wars: Rebels” TV series, as if the episodes existed.

Supervising director Dave Filoni will continue in that role on the new episodes.

“I honestly didn’t think we would ever have the opportunity to return to The Clone Wars,” says Filoni. “Thanks to the relentless fan support and the team behind Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming service, we will now get to tell more of those stories. We feel a tremendous responsibility to make something that lives up to the legacy that George Lucas created with the original series and I think our team, many of whom worked on the show from the beginning, has risen to the challenge.”

Streaming Services Sundance Now and Shudder Acquire ‘A Discovery of Witches’ Based on Best Seller

Streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder July 19 announced at San Diego Comic-Con the joint acquisition of the Sky production, “A Discovery of Witches.”

The original drama series will premiere in the United States and Canada simultaneously on both services, marking the first partnership of this kind for the two SVOD services, according to a press release. The release date has yet to be announced.

Sundance Now is AMC Networks’ direct-to-consumer SVOD service featuring dramas, comedies and crime thrillers, and Shudder is a premium streaming service for thriller, suspense and horror.

SundanceTV has also acquired second window linear rights to the series.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Deborah Harkness, “A Discovery of Witches” stars Matthew Goode (“The Crown,” “Downton Abbey”), Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge), Alex Kingston (“ER,” “Doctor Who”), Valarie Pettiford (“Being Mary Jane”) and Owen Teale (“Game of Thrones”). Filmed in the United Kingdom at Wolf Studios Wales and on location in Oxford, the contemporary love story begins against the backdrop of Oxford academic life, in a world where small numbers of witches, vampires and demons live and work, hiding in plain sight. Palmer plays the brilliant historian Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch denying her heritage. The discovery of a bewitched manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library throws her into the heart of a dangerous mystery — and into the path of the enigmatic vampire and geneticist, Matthew Clairmont (Goode), who hides a dark family secret.

“This captivating story is filled with intrigue, romance and magic and set in spectacular locations that underscore those very qualities,” said Jan Diedrichsen, GM, Sundance Now, in a statement.  “We are thrilled to see Deborah Harkness’ books brought to life in such an inspired way with such a charismatic cast and talented crew. The result is binge-worthy television at its best and we know that ‘A Discovery of Witches’ will appeal to both the premium drama fans at Sundance Now and the genre fans at Shudder.”

“‘A Discovery of Witches’ is a big, bold series with witches, vampires and daemons caught up in an all-too human drama that’s enthralling from the opening minute. It’s unlike anything else on TV and we’re excited to bring it to Shudder members as part of this unique partnership,” added Craig Engler, GM, Shudder, in a statement.

“We’re delighted that ‘A Discovery of Witches,’ a Sky Original production, will make its debut in the U.S. and Canada on Sundance Now and Shudder,” said Gillian Rose, SVP, U.S. sales and acquisitions, Sky Vision, in a statement. “It’s a moving, modern day love story, set in a world where a handful of witches, vampires and daemons secretly live and work alongside humans, and I’m sure it will be a huge success for them.”

Laika Animation Studio Exhibits During Comic-Con

Celebrating the film’s 10th anniversary, Teri Hatcher, voice star of Coraline, stopped by July 18 at “Laika Live,” the stop-animation studio’s exhibit running July 13-22 in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and coinciding with Comic-Con. Laika also created ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and the upcoming Missing Link, due April 19. The free exhibit features props, puppets and sets from Laika’s films; merchandise for purchase; and technology demos, among other attractions.

Fox Planning Major ‘Deadpool 2’ Blu-ray Push at Comic-Con

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con will feature a huge Deadpool 2 presence to promote the home video release of the superhero comedy — which will be available through digital retailers Aug. 7 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Aug. 21 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Fox, which is releasing an extended “Super Duper $@%!#& Cut” of the film, will promote Deadpool 2 with a Hall H panel at 5:15 p.m. June 21, and a world premiere screening of the”Super Duper Cut” at 9:30 p.m. June 21 at the Horton Grand Theatre in San Diego.

In addition, Fox will set up Booth 3529 for the July 18-22 run of the show as “Deadpool’s Super Dance Party,” featuring an animatronic band and a different Comic-Con exclusive T-shirt given to the first 1,200 attendees each day Thursday through Sunday.

Booths 4229 and 3529 will also be giving out trucker hats with preorders for the Deadpool 2 Blu-ray, and fans can win a set of 18 Fox catalog Blu-rays with limited edition box art photobombed by Deadpool. The special covers will be available to purchase at Walmart stores begenning Aug. 7.

Finally, Fox and Walmart’s Vudu have decorated a suite at the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel to look like Deadpool’s apartment and is holding a sweepstakes for one Comic-Con attendee to stay in “Deadpool’s Dream Suite” on the Saturday evening of the convention. Those planning to be at Comic-Con can enter to win at from July 11-19, and the winner will be announced at Comic-Con July 20. An additional 15 winners will be allowed to tour the attraction.

After Comic-Con, Vudu will host a giveaway of select loot from the suite, with signups at the sweepstakes site beginning July 20.