Variety Dishes on Comic-Con

Variety came out with an article on what the major studios plan to present at the annual International Comic-Con in my hometown of San Diego, and I found it to be a very interesting article, considering that I love spending my time in Hall H to see what the studios plan to bring out this year.  Usually, the studios are not one to miss this sort of hoopla, but this year, there might be more than the usual number bowing out of Hall H for one reason or another.

Here’s who’s in:

Disney and Marvel will return, however, after sitting out Comic-Con last year in favor of the Mouse House’s own D23 fanfest. Having tubthumped “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” at Cons past, a look at “Iron Man 3,” which only recently began production, is firmly expected during the confab, which runs July 12-15. Disney is also sure to showcase toon “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” and possibly a presentation on “The Lone Ranger.”

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, please.

I’m very happy that Disney and Marvel have decided to rejoin us this year as I was sincerely disappointed they chose to skip last year.  From what’s listed to come, I’m actually excited to see their showcase on Wreck-It Ralph, although since it’s animated, I’m not sure what else they can show besides more scenes from the movie (and I’m becoming very wary of how much is shown these days as I’m starting to realize how much it really does affect the viewing pleasure of a movie).  I always try to be somewhat neutral about sequels, but I’m definitely interested in seeing what’s going on with Iron Man 3, especially hearing that Tony Stark is going international.  Will the Asian community actually have more of a presence in this blockbuster?  Or will they be given cliched roles that never amount to much?

Warner Bros. has reserved a three-hour block Saturday and is likely to anchor its presentation with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” out in December.

This will by far likely be the highlight of the whole weekend.  Peter Jackson is no newbie in the Comic-Con community and I hope he continues to grace us with his presence, and hopefully have some, if not all, the key players of the films tag along with him.  No doubt I will be camping out on Friday night in the Hall H line for this, and I won’t be the only one.

Plans include first-look footage from next summer’s “Man of Steel,” not a surprise given helmer Zack Snyder’s love for the Comic-Con crowd when he presented “300” and “Watchmen” in previous years. On the other hand, the studio has never taken one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman pics to the Con, and there are no indications that this year will be any exception.

Zack Snyder was given much accolade after what he did with 300, but neither Watchmen (which I liked) nor Sucker Punch (which I didn’t like at all) were great at the box office, and I wonder if fans are going to be as accepting of him as past years.  Sure, the clips that he showed at the Con for those movies were fantastic visually, but fans want more than that, and if he keeps coming up with visually exceptional films with crappy storylines, eventually people are not going to be so enthusiastic of his presence.  Hopefully, and I really do mean it, Man of Steel will be more in line with 300 than Sucker Punch.

Sources tell Variety that Legendary Pictures plans to join distrib partner Warners with a preview of Guillermo del Toro’s tentpole “Pacific Rim,” though the studio would not confirm those plans.

I really don’t know much about this film, but its presence is definitely appropriate for the Comic-Con crowd.

Sony teased “Total Recall” last year, and may give Hall H an extended look at the Aug. 3 reboot next month. Although the studio has not confirmed any specific plans, it has several other Comic-Con possibilities in the pipeline, including bike-messenger actioner “Premium Rush” (Aug. 24); Kevin James martial-arts comedy “Here Comes the Boom” (Oct. 12) and the Will Smith post-apocalyptic sci-fier “After Earth” (June 2013), which just wrapped production. Studio is not expected to do anything involving “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which will opens July 3.

I’ve been interested in Total Recall since they introduced it last year, so bringing the cast on again wouldn’t be as exciting unless they bring in more of the cast and more clips, again, something I’m not sure I want to see more of.  Now if they showed something that will never be in the movie, but more as viral videos much like the Peter Weyland TED Talk 2023 or the Happy Birthday David ones that popped up on the internet for Prometheus, then I’m all for it.

Premium Rush has really 5% interest for me, with that 5% being Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I love JGL, but I’ll get my fill of him in TDKR.  Comedies don’t normally go well with us Comic-Con-ers unless there’s sci-fi mixed in with it, so I don’t expect much from that.  And anything with Will Smith and sci-fi is always a fun treat.  I don’t believe he’s been to Comic-Con before, or if he has I wasn’t in that panel, so I’m hoping to get a glimpse of this seeing as this movie somehow skipped my notice.  One movie that wasn’t mentioned was Resident Evil: Retribution, which was in a panel at Wonder-Con earlier this year, and I would be surprised if Milla didn’t show up as she does love coming to these things.

Summit’s “Twilight” franchise has never missed the show – which has had fans camping out annually to secure a seat in the same room with their beloved thesps – and they’re expected back for the Comic-Con finale. Lionsgate will bring “The Expendables 2” to the Con, where Sylvester Stallone charmed the finicky masses two years ago. No other Lionsgate titles have been confirmed, though its September release “Dredd” would seem to fit the bill.

I will probably be there for the final Twilight panel, as I have many friends who will be in attendance for that.  Believe me, my interest in the Twilight movies is limited.  I have no interest in the main cast at all, but I’ve already read the books and seen the movies, so I might as well finish it out.  All I can say is hopefully they’ll bring in actors that were brought in specifically for the finale, because there are a couple I would love to see.

Not surprisingly, nothing has been mentioned of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which isn’t scheduled for release until November 2013, but still, it would warm the cockles of my heart to the nth degree if they did a surprise number on us and presented the main cast and some of the new additional cast members that play some significant supporting roles on the stage of Hall H.  Nothing would please me more, well, unless I actually met them.  But just being there if that were to happen would be as thrilling as being chosen to attend Hogwarts.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Universal would show this year, though it does have the Dark Horse Comics property “R.I.P.D.,” which wrapped in January, to begin promoting ahead of its June 2013 release. If U chooses to participate, it could also draw crowds with “The Bourne Legacy” (Aug. 3) and its samurai epic “47 Ronin” (Feb. 8), which has yet to tip any images or clips.

Aaron Cross.  Jeremy Renner.  That is all.

Here’s who’s out:

Relativity Media brought three titles to Comic-Con last year, but won’t be back for 2012, as the studio has nothing on its slate that makes sense for the confab. DreamWorks Animation is eschewing the big hall in favor of a Thursday animation panel hosted by chief creative officer Bill Damaschke; toon studio is also presenting booths and other special events. Meanwhile, the live-action DreamWorks, whose fanboy-targeted “Robopocalypse” was recently pushed to a 2014 release date, is sitting out this year.

The absence of Fox and Par would leave quite a hole on opening day as both studios have traditionally held down Thursday slots. Paramount could still change its mind before the convention announces its full lineup in the coming weeks, but if no plan comes together, that means no Comic-Con push for its delayed “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” no sneaks of zombie apocalypse Brad Pitt vehicle “World War Z,” “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” Tom Cruise actioner “Jack Reacher,” and – in a development sure to disappoint the Con crowd – no first look at “Star Trek 2,” which has wrapped lensing.

Kind of disappointing with “World War Z”, “Hansel and Gretel” and “Star Trek 2” not showing, but the first re-imagined “Star Trek” didn’t show up either.  I’m just really glad I’m not a huge Trekkie.

Fox’s upcoming slate is light on fanboy fare, so the studio’s first absence since 2007 makes sense. It could have presented “The Watch” (July 27), “Taken 2” (Oct. 5), “Life of Pi” (Nov. 21) or “A Good Day to Die Hard” (Feb. 14), but none of those pics are squarely genre-oriented enough for the studio to make the trip to San Diego. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” will already have bowed.

This makes sense.

Though the Fox and Par movie divisions won’t have a Hall H presence, the TV side of Fox will be well represented elsewhere in the Convention Center – as is expected with all of the major studios. TV has all but overtaken movies as the driving force behind the confab – in large part because of the appetite for genre fare like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” – and with so much content exploding outside of Hall H, convention organizers are by no means worried about a few movie studio no-shows.

TV seems to be continually rising, which is odd because I’ve been watching less and less of it as of late.  But that’s not to say there aren’t TV shows out there worth promoting at Comic-Con.  On the contrary, and I’m happy for those fans.  I know I will still be going to my annual bon bon feast panel called Supernatural. There’s no surprise then that Hall H is going to be in use for the popular TV shows, including Supernatural, on Sunday.

In the past, studios have opted not to present at Comic-Con when footage of R-rated films proved too risque for the more family-oriented crowd that has embraced the confab over the years. Organizers have limited studios from playing certain violent or graphic clips to appease the changing demo over the years. Comedies also haven’t played well with the 6,000 attendees that pack Hall H.

I remember when it wasn’t such a big issue, showing the graphic violent scenes at the Con, which is part of the appeal of Comic-Con (much like going into an R-rated film when you were only 15 or 16 years old).  But yes, the past few years have been toned down, and even the panelists have been cautioned to watch what they say during the panels because of the youth in attendance.

Well, that’s it.  Comic-Con is coming ever closer and I am not prepared, but I will still be there to see the good and the bad of it all.  Mostly it’s all good, though.  Fandoms unite!

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