After more than three years of hype, millions of dollars in marketing and several incarnations of Flynn's Arcade, TRON: Legacy finally opens in theaters on December 17, 2010.
Jeff Bridges reprises his role as computer programmer Kevin Flynn, who's been missing for the past 20 years. Bridges also plays the main villain, Clu, a program developed by Flynn to perfect the Grid. Bruce Boxleitner returns as Alan Bradley and Tron. Garrett Hedlund stars as Sam Flynn, Kevin's son.
The first taste came at the 2008 San Diego International Comic-Con, when Walt Disney Pictures hosted a panel for Race to Witch Mountain. Stars Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino presented clips and answered questions from fans. At the end of the panel Disney Studios surprised fans by premiering a teaser trailer for TR2N, which featured a pair of Light Cycles and Jeff Bridges, as an older Kevin Flynn. TR2N was billed as the sequel to TRON, the groundbreaking 1982 sci-fi film also produced by Walt Disney Studios.
In 2009, Comic-Con fans flooded Hall H for the Walt Disney Studios panel. Hosted by Patton Oswalt, the high powered presentation featured Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and TR2N/Tron 2.0.
The world learns that the TRON project has been officially titled TRON: Legacy. Director Joseph Kosinski presents concept art, a short 3-D trailer and more concept art. Guests in the hall were allowed to take photos of the TRON: Legacy concept art and fans received Flynn's Arcade tokens. To build up the hype, the viral marketing campaign included TRON jump drives with secret codes, Flynn Lives websites and an actual Flynn's Arcade in Downtown San Diego. Comic-Conventioneers lucky enough to find Flynn's were treated to an 80's style arcade featuring a full-size TRON game console, a life-size Light Cycle, even more TRON concept art and pretty girls handing out Flynn's T-Shirts.
As the 2010 release date nears, the Disney marketing machine shifts into fifth gear.
The 2010 San Diego International Comic-Con featured a 90-minute Comi-TRON - TRON/Disney panel, hosted again by Patton Oswalt. A short film highlights the effect of TRON on popular culture and the actors discuss their experiences with TRON & TRON:Legacy. About 8 minutes of breathtaking 3-D footage from the film was shown. Then Director Joseph Kosinski brought out technicians from Skywalker Sound to record cheers from the Hall H crowd. Excited audience members learn that their chants of "Disk-Wars," "De-Rez" and "Rinzler" will be used in portions of the actual film.
Like an electronic Brigadoon, the 2010 version of Flynn's Arcade returned to the same location near the San Diego Comic-Con. A digitizing laser in Flynn's office transported users to the Grid and the End of the Line Club. USERS were given trade magazines featuring TRON, sets of tokens and Identity Disks.
In addition to Flynn's Arcade, TRON: Legacy banners hung from every light post around the Convention Center and in the Gaslamp District. Clues and messages were left around Downtown San Diego, sending Comic-con attendees on TRON-based scavenger hunts with special prizes. There were more Flynn Lives websites and sites to create ENCOM Badges.
In October 2010, elecTRONica appeared at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim. DCA's elecTRONica featured 3-D TRON: Legacy trailers in the Muppet 3-D Theater. There were TRON-inspired refreshments at the End of the Line Club and several concessions. There was data disc throwing, face painting and even another incarnation of Flynn's Arcade - complete with TRON, Space Paranoids and dozens of classic arcade consoles. And of course, there were tons of TRON: Legacy and elecTRONica merchandise.
After feasting on appetizers, TRON: Legacy has finally been served. Hope that this dish was worth the wait. ♦