By Josh Rottenberg
Updated July 22, 2011 at 06:21 PM EDT
Tin Tin

Six thousand people packed into Comic-Con’s Hall H broke out in a simultaneous nerdgasm as Peter Jackson made a surprise appearance alongside Steven Spielberg at this morning’s panel for Dec. 23’s The Adventures of Tintin. Jackson, who has been in production on his long-awaited fantasy epic The Hobbit since the spring, had said in recent days that he would not be attending the convention. Spielberg, who was making his own first-ever appearance at Comic-Con like a deity descending from on high, was greeted with a standing ovation as the panel began. He introduced what was supposed to be a clip of an animation test of the CGI dog in Tintin and was instead a clip of Jackson, wearing a sailor’s cap and holding a bottle of booze, purportedly doing his own screen test for the role of Captain Haddock. Then Jackson himself took the stage. “Working with Steven has been amazing,” Jackson said, deadpan. “I think he shows real promise. If he decides to stick with filmmaking, I think he could really go places.”

Early in the presentation, Spielberg asked the crowd at the beginning of the presentation how many in the crowd had ever read a Tintin book and seemed relieved at the amount of applause: “That makes my job easier.” He said he hoped that the film could kick off a new franchise. “It’s up to you. If you all decide it’s worth seeing, then Peter gets to direct the next one,” he said. Jackson quickly jumped in: “So go see it. Because I want to make my Tintin film. Please, please.”

Spielberg, who served as the director on Tintin, and Jackson, who collaborated closely with him as producer, showed the audience several minutes of 3-D footage from the film, which seemed to get a generally enthusiastic reception from the crowd. The two talked about their fondness for the Tintin books (Spielberg said he first discovered them in 1981 after people compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to the series created by Belgian comics artist Hergé) and touted the advances in performance-capture CGI that made them enthusiastic to film Tintin solely using that technology: “The biggest quantum leap ahead [in that technology’s evolution] were the Na’vi in Avatar,” Spielberg said.

Later in the presentation, as the audience question-and-answer session began, there was another surprise when the first questioner stepped up to the microphone, wearing dark glasses and stammering nervously. “Is it true that when you were filming Tintin, that… that Daniel Craig… when he met Clint Eastwood… was he wearing mo-cap tights?” After a beat, Spielberg let the audience in on the joke. “Andy Serkis, ladies and gentleman.”

The panel itself was light on big news, but Spielberg did offer a bit of a scoop when, asked by an audience member about the prospect of a fourth Jurassic Park movie, he revealed that the project is in the works: “We have a story. We have a writer who’s writing the treatment, and hopefully we’re going to make it … within the next two or three years.”