Franchise fans eager to see how J.J. Abrams wrapped up a saga more than 40 years in the making.
By Leith Dunick
THUNDER BAY – Jawas, stormtroopers and BB-8 were out in full force on Thursday night, as Star Wars fans celebrated the release of the Rise of Skywalker.
Fans flocked to Thunder Bay’s SilverCity Cinemas, eager to see how director J.J. Abrams handled the end of the nine-movie franchise.
Darren Cano was among the first to arrive on Thursday night, joining dozens of others in full costume in anticipation, an event he helped organize in celebration of all things Star Wars.
“We have tons of people excited for this movie. As you can see, we have lots of costumed people behind us from the 501st Legion,” Cano said.
“We’ve been pumped about this movie for quite a while, to kind of close out the franchise. We love seeing other fans come out and dress up. It’s going to be an awesome event tonight and we’re really looking forward to the turnout.”
The Rise of Skywalker hits the silver screen more than 42 years after Star Wars’ initial 1977 release.
Die-hard fans, who complained about the ending to the previous installment, The Last Jedi, were hoping for a storyline that stuck more to the Star Wars universe canon, relying less on surprises, like the death of Luke Skywalker. They also hit the theatre looking for answers to several questions, most notably the origin of Rey, the female Jedi poised to keep the order alive. The movie’s multiple trailers created a whole new batch of questions, notably Rey apparently turning to the dark side of the Force and C-3PO declaring he was looking at his friends for the last time.
Heather Dickson, the chair of the annual ThunderCon event, was also on hand for Thursday’s opening night.
It’s exciting, she said.
“This is the premiere for Thunder Bay. Everybody’s got the energy. We’re all jazzed about it and I think the whole city is turning out over the next few days. It’s bringing back your inner child. You get to be that kid again, that fan,” Dickson said.
Being one of the first to see the film is also pretty cool, she added.
“I think there is something about a premiere, or a first showing of anything, right? Because you’re on the cutting edge and there’s an energy – it’s not be out two weeks and everybody’s seen it and they’re going back to see it again, which is still fun,” Dickson said. “But that opening night, there’s an energy, that red carpet thing. We don’t really get that in Thunder Bay, but at SilverCity, you get that.”
According to Box Office Pro, The Rise of Skywalker is expected to gross up to $190 million domestically, down from the $220 million collected by The Last Jedi two years ago. The Force Awakens, the first movie in the final trilogy, grossed $247.9 million on opening weekend.
Read the Article on TBNewsWatch HERE
Tony Amendola's credits include Annabelle, The Curse of La Llorona, World of Warcraft
A veteran actor with more than 125 film, television, and video game credits has been announced as the first guest of this year's ThunderCon fan convention.
Tony Amendola's film credits include the role of Father Perez in two films set in the Conjuring Universe: 2019's The Curse of La Llorona, and 2014's Annabelle.
Amendola also boasts a long list of TV credits, including Shooter, Training Day, Star Trek: Voyager, Dexter, Netflix's Castlevania series, and Seinfeld.
He's also voiced characters in a number of video games, including Final Fantasy XV, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Hearthstone.
Heather Dickson, ThunderCon's media director, said Amendola was originally booked to appear in 2018.
"He had a work commitment that changed their filming schedule, so he had to cancel, sort of at the last minute," she said, adding that Amendola said if he could appear in 2019 instead, he would.
"We contacted his agent, and she was like 'yep, absolutely,'" Dickson said. "We're so happy to have him back."
Dickson said Amendola will be appearing on at least one panel while at ThunderCon.
"Our theme is sort of heroes and villains," she said. "Tony's had a hand at playing both, so we'll just see how that rolls out."
Dickson said more guest announcements will be rolling out over the coming weeks.
This year's ThunderCon is scheduled for September 21 and 22 at the CLE grounds.
THUNDER BAY - A prolific actor who has travelled the stars, fought evil, and has been both a hero and a villain will share his extensive experience in film and television during the city’s popular sci-fi and gaming convention later this year. ThunderCon announced actor Tony Amendola will be one of the special guests at this year’s convention next September.
“We are really excited to have him. He is a pretty big name guest,” said Heather Dickson, ThunderCon media director. “He is that guy everybody recognizes, he’s been in amazing movies and great TV shows. He plays heroes, he plays villains, he’s just a very versatile actor, voice acting, stage, the guy does everything.”
“Tony was booked for last year but then he had a work commitment that changed his filming schedule on him so he wasn’t able to come,” Dickson added. “So we thought, ah man, we lost a really good one, but he said he absolutely he was happy to come back this year.”
Amendola has more than 125 titles to his credit, including the role of Father Perez in Annabelle and The Curse of La Llorana in the Conjuring series, The Legend of Zoro, and Lone Star, as well as popular television series such as Stargate SG-1, The X-Files, Seinfeld, Dexter, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Beyond his work on the big and small screen, Amendola has also voiced characters in several big video game franchises including World of Warcraft, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Final Fantasy XV.
Dickson said it’s really important for ThunderCon guests to offer such a diverse set of skills and experience because the convention caters to so many different people and fans of different genres.
“It just shows that we want to bring up somebody who is going to represent everybody’s fan base,” she said. “If you are interested in video games, this guy can talk you through it, if you are interested in movies, voice acting, he’s the man. He’s got all the answers.”
Programming has not been finalized yet but Amendola will be participating in panels throughout ThunderCon. Dickson said there will also be more big name guests announced in the coming weeks.
ThunderCon will be held on Sept. 21 and 22 at the CLE Grounds. For more information visit the ThunderCon website.
by Doug Diaczuk
(For the full TBNewswatch article, click HERE.)
Thunder Bay's popular fan convention has found a new home.
ThunderCon is moving to the CLE grounds for its 2019 installment, the event's media manager Heather Dickson said Wednesday.
"On the fifth year, we're deciding to kind of switch it up a little bit," Dickson said. "We have clearly outgrown our previous space."
ThunderCon's former home was the Valhalla Inn.
"It was lovely, very luxurious, wonderful to have everything under one roof," Dickson said. "But we are growing too fast and too big to keep staying there."
Dickson said current plans involving running ThunderCon out of the CLE's Heritage and Coliseum buildings. Some outdoor events will also take place.
"Everybody's super excited to have it more downtown, more central, very accessible, and with lots of outdoor space, lots of parking," she said. "We're kind of really excited to see what's going to happen here."
This year's ThunderCon will take place on September 21 and 22, 2019.
Dickson said guests will be announced over the coming months.
Link to Article HERE
Check out the great article on page 49 of this month's Walleye Magazine!
Media Release – October 3, 2018
ThunderCon and The Hunger: When Worlds Collide!
One night – Two Events, One Remarkable Hallowe’en Partnership! Two of the city’s most notable festivals – The Hunger and ThunderCon are proud to announce a spectacular partnership on Saturday October 27th, 2018! They are combining forces to rock the downtown Waterfront District, in a celebration of all that is creative, musical, theatrical and just plain Out of This World!
The Hunger 2018 is celebrating Lucky 13 – 13 years as Thunder Bay’s largest music and performance spectacle, presented by Definitely Superior Art Gallery. It is also the gallery's major annual fundraiser for the contemporary arts. What's in store for people this year? ... On one night – Saturday, October 27th, between 8:00pm and 2:00am, the streets of Port Arthur’s downtown core become a Hallowe’en delight, with The Foundry, El Tres, Black Pirates Pub, The Sovereign Room, Red Lion Smokehouse, Atmos and the Paramount Theatre, playing host to over 54 performance acts – including 42 live bands / DJ's and 12 specialty performers. A popular 19+ Halloween festival event, 3,000 people attended last year. One cover charge of $20, gains you access into 8 venues/stages for your spooktacular pleasure. Patrons show their photo ID and pay at the door of any participating Hunger venue, and receive a "multi-pass" wristband and program with times/locations for acts. The Hunger also offers thousands in prizes to be won, with exciting Best Costume Contests at each participating venue.
ThunderCon is Thunder Bay’s premiere fan pop culture convention, this year celebrating its 4th year on Oct 27th and 28th, two days of featured panels, performances, celebrity guests and a bustling geek/nerd marketplace for all ages. This year, ThunderCon is also super-excited that The Hunger will be designated as the convention's official affiliated "After-Dark" Halloween event for the 19+. Spend your day in Valhalla, your evening at their VIP event at Sleeping Giant Brewery, and cap off your night in devilish style with the Hunger - Lucky 13.
Both events feature Montreal nerd-rock band, Double Experience, who made such an impact at ThunderCon last year, that they were asked to return as part of the Hunger’s eerily sensational 54 act evening line-up. As a 19+ Halloween festival event, The Hunger also offers costumed Cosplayers another opportunity to strut their stuff and compete to win thousands in prizes, with Best Costume Contests at each location around midnight, rewarding some of the most creative costumes being paraded around the downtown north that evening, and there are many!
“ThunderCon is a family-friendly, all ages weekend,” says Media Director Heather Dickson. “But many of our attendees have been asking for a 19+ event. The Hunger approached us with the idea of a collaboration – a sharing of talent, as it were, as well as co-promotion, and we jumped at it.”
“Two unique and creative entities are coming together, as we both produce and present large-scale events that feature the newest creations of artists, musicians, performers and entrepreneurs,” says Renee Terpstra, Development/Administrator of Definitely Superior Art Gallery. “This year, by joining forces, we will be offering our respective audiences even more, ratcheting up the excitement for thousands of enthusiastic costumed attendees!”
“We share a common adult 19+ demographic,” says Dickson. “So cooperating allows us to offer more to our patrons and attendees. And it’s just great for the arts/culture communities that make up our organizations. It’s a win-win-win situation!”
For more information, check out ThunderCon at http://thundercon.org and The Hunger athttp://www.definitelysuperior.com/the-hunger-lucky-13 or Facebook event page:https://www.facebook.com/events/312281422911680/.
Brian Muir has worked on 70 films, including Alien, the Harry Potter series, and Guardians of the Galaxy
Brian Muir, a sculptor and artist who has worked on some of the most iconic sets, costumes and props in film history, will be appearing at this year's ThunderCon, organizers said Thursday.
Muir is perhaps best known for sculpting the original Darth Vader mask and armour from designs by Ralph McQuarrie. It wasn't his only contribution to the Star Wars series, however: Muir also sculpted the stormtrooper armour, and worked on the C-3PO suit.
Heather Dickson, ThunderCon's media manager, said Muir approached the event's organizers about taking part this year.
"He had heard that we had got [comic book writer and artist] Jim Starlin just a couple of weeks back," she said. "He had gone on our website and looked at what we had done last year, and the way that we really focus on cosplay and props, and just celebrating the look of pop culture and movies and stuff, and he thought it was something he really wanted to support."
"I almost hit the floor when I got his email," Dickson said. "It was really sweet to actually be contacted by somebody of his level."
He's also worked on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, several James Bond films, the Harry Potter series, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Princess Bride, Sleepy Hollow, and the Dark Crystal.
Muir has also written two autobiographical books — In the Shadow of Vader, and Beyond the Shadow.
"He'll be doing autographing, obviously, several panels," Dickson said, adding that organizers hope Muir will run a workshop at ThunderCon, as well. Details of his appearance are still being worked out, she said.
Voice actor Vic Mignogna has also been confirmed as a guest at this year's ThunderCon, and Dickson said more guest announcements will be coming soon.
This year's ThunderCon is scheduled for October 27-28 at the Valhalla Inn.
CBC Newswatch Link HERE
TBT NEWSWATCH, THUNDER BAY - The creative brain behind well-known comic works such as Marvel’s Thanos, DC’s Darkseid and Epic’s Dreadstar has been officially confirmed as a special guest for ThunderCon 2018.
Jim Starlin, comic writer and illustrator, is best known for revamping the Marvel Comics characters Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock and creating or co-creating Marvel characters Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. His career dates back to the early 1970s.
“It’s amazing that we are able to bring a legend in the comic industry,” said ThunderCon executive Toller Madsen. “An amazing writer, penciller, inker and artist; I’m excited that Jim Starlin will be our first comic artist for ThunderCon.”
Having had a role in the creation of Marvel universe villain Thanos, Starlin’s appearance in Thunder Bay comes at a relevant time for movie fans. Thanos will be a prominent character in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, which is expected to have its theatrical release in May 2018.
Organizers put significant effort into attracting internationally recognized keynote guests, including Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager; Stargate), along with making other event improvements for 2017. Those efforts led to a significant increase in out-of-town and local attendance, and put ThunderCon on the convention circuit map. Those same efforts continue into 2018.
Keep an eye on ThunderCon’s Facebook page, where more special guests will be revealed leading up to the October event: https://www.facebook.com/TBayThunderCon/
See article HERE.
A comic book writer and artist who's written or drawn some of the industry's most famous characters is coming to Thunder Bay, Ont. this fall.
Jim Starlin is appearing at the 2018 edition of ThunderCon, which is scheduled for October.
Starlin's career as a writer and artist stretches back to the 1970s. He's written or drawn major characters like Batman, Superman, the Punisher, Daredevil, the Hulk, Captain Marvel and the Flash. Starlin also co-created Marvel supervillain Thanos, and created Gamora and Drax of Guardians of the Galaxy film fame.
Heather Dickson, ThunderCon's media manager, said Starlin will be appearing on panels, and signing autographs while in Thunder Bay.
"When he's here, he just wants to be meeting fans, chatting, autographing," Dickson said.
Dickson said the support ThunderCon has received from Thunder Bay and its residents is allowing the festival to take more risks and book bigger names.
"That gives us a safety net," she said. "It's not like we're going out on a limb, because we don't have business backing. We're not an expo — we're fan run, and nobody gets paid. It's just all volunteers."
"We're just doing this because it's an awful lot of fun, and because we would have loved to have gone to something like this in Thunder Bay when we were young."
More announcements comingVoice actor Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist, Star Trek Continues, Dragon Ball Z) has also been announced for this year's ThunderCon, and Dickson said more guest announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
ThunderCon will take place Oct. 27-28, 2018, at the Valhalla Inn.
LINK to the CBC article
One-year-old Elliot Koski reached up from his stroller to tug on the Predator’s dreadlocks and pet his face while the alien creature scowled into the camera and looked generally intimidating.
“Nice Predator,” said Elliot’s dad, Cory Koski, with a laugh.
It was Elliot’s first time at ThunderCon, the local pop-culture convention that took over The Valhalla Inn this weekend and hosted characters of all kinds.
“I love how it’s improved over the years, there’s just more,” said Cory. “This is a really good draw and there’s a lot of people really participating. There’s a lot to look at and people dress in great costumes, I also like bumping into people I know that are all dressed up.”
The event, which is in its third year, seemed to attract a lot of families.
“It gives families the opportunity to come out and express themselves as the inner nerds that they are and I love seeing the kids dress up in their costumes,” said Crystal Koski, Elliot’s mom.
Cory agreed that he loved seeing all the little kids getting into the fun of the day, dressing up and meeting some of their favourite characters.
“I grew up as a geek and this culture was despised by most people except the subculture,” said Cory. “Now geekdom is everywhere and everyone loves it.”
Deciding to make ThunderCon weekend an event, Thunder Bay resident Noah Daniels and his son Callum, 8, stayed at the hotel so they could attend both days.
“It’s a staycation,” said Noah. “We wanted to make a weekend of it. It’s nice to see it getting bigger every time.”
“It’s really fun,” said Callum. “I just like all of it, I like seeing R2-D2.”
The Luc family has attended ThunderCon every year, said mom Danielle who was dressed like Poison Ivy from Batman.
“We usually choose a theme and all dress up like that,” she said. “We let (the kids) pick what they want and then we decide from there what we will be.”
The family of Batman villains featured son Malcolm dressed like The Joker and daughter Shailyn as Harley Quinn. As part of her costume, Shailyn carried a huge mallet, but when she saw the Predator coming she turned and walked quickly in the opposite direction.
Inside the Predator costume, David Biscardi said what he loves about events like ThunderCon is the creativity it inspires.
“It’s an outlet to see what you can do,” said Biscardi, who spent a-year-and-a-half accumulating all the parts for his Predator costume. The legs and torso, he said, were just a latex skin that needed to be painted after he got them.
“The mask was made by a Thunder Bay artist, the hands were made by a Thunder Bay artist,” said Biscardi. “I sourced them from all different people who have different talents and it all gets put together.”
A lot of the details Biscardi added himself, including designing the animatronics and sound system for the cannon on his shoulder.
“It was a lot of late nights,” he said. “But you build it and get the response. When people say ‘oh wow!’ that puts a smile on my face.”
Another pair of aliens who were turning heads this weekend were Klingons Peter Hutchison and Pierre Ouellette, both from Timmins. The were invited to attend the convention as part of the Klingon Assault Group, an international cosplay club focused around the Klingon empire and Star Trek fandom.
“We’re trying to build a community of Star Trek cosplayers here in Thunder Bay,” said Hutchison. “We’ve got a number of people who have expressed interest. There’s a new ship that’s been founded here called the Imperial Klingon Vessel Shadow Lord, so Klingons are going to be a regular presence here in Thunder Bay from now on.”
The Klingon Assault Group, said Hutchison, is based on the principle of having fun. There are very few rules and everyone is welcome.
“We do accept other races,” said Ouellette. “As long as they’re not human, and they pledge allegiance to the Klingon Empire.”
See full news article HERE