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comic-con 2013

Comic-Con: Yes, the Anti-Gay Controversy Came Up at the Ender’s Game Panel

HARRISON FORD (center) and ASA BUTTERFIELD (right) star in ENDER'S GAMEPhoto: Richard Foreman Jr., SMPSP© 2012 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.  Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield.

Since the new movie Ender's Game is a sci-fi adventure story based on a classic 1985 novel, you won't be surprised to learn that the film's new trailer, shown off at Comic-Con this evening, was filled with action and explosions. Still, the most suspenseful moment wasn't on the screen: It's when the Q&A portion of the panel began, and the first audience member to the microphone asked about Orson Scott Card, the author of the book and today's big elephant in the room. You may remember that Lionsgate/Summit, the studio behind Ender's Game, sought to minimize Card's role in promoting the movie due to his vocal homophobia; studio executives countered growing calls for a boycott with a promise that once the movie comes out in November, they'll hold a screening that benefits gay rights organizations. Still, if that statement wasn't enough to neatly put the issue to bed before Comic-Con — this is a big tentpole movie starring Harrison Ford, and the studio would like to start focusing on that — at least producer Roberto Orci was ready to tackle the question when it came up during the Q&A.

"You never want to invite controversy," Orci replied. "Obviously, we were first concerned by anyone who might be hurt by anything that comes up with anything that we're associated with, but we decided to use the attention on us to completely and unequivocally support Lionsgate/Summit's statement in defense of LGBT rights and all human rights. A lot of people worked on this movie, and a lot more people are working to get this movie out and to market it. I would hate to see the efforts of all these people thwarted by the opinions of less than a percentage of people behind this movie, particularly because the message of the book and the movie is tolerance, compassion, empathy."

Continued Orci, "So rather than shying away from the controversy, we're happy to actually embrace it and use the spotlight — no matter how we got here — to say we support LGBT rights and human rights." Though there was some grumbling at first when the questioner took the microphone (not all Comic-Conners want a political discussion to mar their fanboy sneak previews), after Orci finished his answer, the audience burst into loud applause. Will Card react as charitably when he learns that he's been described as "less than a percentage" of the movie's makers? Stay tuned.

Photo: RICHARD FOREMAN JR SMPSP/Summit Entertainment