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7/1 - 2008 Comic-Con


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2008 Comic-Con: Comic-Con 101 By Greg Ellwood

Special to MSN Movies

125,000 people. That's the estimate Comic-Con International provides as the attendance for last year's massive four-day convention in San Diego. That's more people than the largest college football or NASCAR stadium can hold. Long portrayed as "geek chic" by the mainstream media, Comic-Con has more than evolved. It's exploded and it's gone mainstream. Bigtime.

Over the past decade, the nonprofit convention has grown from its comic book origins into a pop culture happening with as much importance to the movie and TV industries as prestigious American events such as the Sundance or Toronto Film Festivals. Yes, science-fiction, fantasy and action flicks drive the entire show, but when the summers top movies are "Iron Man," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "WALL-E" and "The Incredible Hulk" -- all films that presented at last year's gathering -- we're talking entertainment fueled by Middle America. The convention has moved past its perception as a stereotypical gathering of sci-fi fans that live in their parent's basements (not that there is anything wrong with that) -- and both movie studios and TV networks have noticed. The festival was the launching pad for publicity campaigns for all four of the previously mentioned blockbusters and created major buzz for recent hits such as "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "300" and "Sin City," just to name a few.

What are most important to these previews are, of course, the fans and that's a huge differentiator for Comic-Con compared to other genre events. The Con's takes over the entire San Diego Convention Center (its massive Hall H seats 6,500 people) and is constantly packed with lines around the building of people trying to get in for a chance to ask a question to their favorite star. And for the few hours some of them stand in the hot sun, it's well worth it. Want a taste of some of the big names that have rocked the hall over the past few years? How about Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Edward Norton, Eva Mendes, Jessica Alba, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Andre Benjamin, Andy Samberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Liv Tyler, Milla Jovovich, Rosario Dawson, Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace, Kate Beckinsale, Arnold Schwarzenegger (pre-governor), Jack Black (performing a mini-concert with Tenacious D no less), Jamie Foxx, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, Nicholas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Hilary Swank, Jason Statham, Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Gerard Butler, Elijah Wood, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman, Michael Cera and Seth Rogen. And those comprise just the movie talent that have appeared. The presence of small screen stars has been growing by leaps and bounds since Joss Whedon first brought the stars of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to the Con in 1998. Last year found the entire cast of "Heroes" in attendance with 5,000 people trying to cram into an already packed smaller hall to hear them speak (organizers are smartly graduating them to the bigger Hall H this year).

According to David Glanzer, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Comic-Con International who has been associated with the event for almost 25 years, the Con has had a relationship with Hollywood since it began way back in 1970.

"It's easy to look at Comic-Con in the eyes of 2008 where we've seen guests like Ben Affleck or Angelina Jolie, but we're the same people, for the most part, who were here at the beginning," Glazer says. "So, for us, Frank Capra [attending] or Lucasfilm taking a booth to promote 'Star Wars' in 1976, that was a huge thing for us."

But according to longtime studio consultant Jeff Walker, the industry's love affair with the conveniently situated event south of Los Angeles didn't really begin until the simultaneous release of the "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter" and "X-Men" trilogies over the past decade -- properties that all had genre origins, but cast a much wider net.

"After the last 10 years, more filmmakers, directors and actors are coming down and participating," Walker says. "A lot of them are fans that came of age and made films and wanted to share them with fans they grew up with. And that's particularly true of people like Bryan Singer and Peter Jackson. These are all fans themselves."

And as fans, they understand the enthusiasm of previewing material of an anticipated movie for the first time or making casting announcements in front of a captive audience. It's probably an exaggeration to say the studios have it down to an exact science, but they rarely misjudge the appetite of the fans. Paramount, in particular, had a smashing line up last year with the buzzworthy first footage of "Iron Man" and a "live" cutaway to the set of "Indiana Jones" where Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf, the latter only weeks after the success of "Transformers," chatted with the spectators.

That day was also a keen reminder of how much the festival has changed. As many members of the press noticed, the hall was filled with families, a growing segment of the convention.

"We went out and looked at the line to come into that that room and you would have seen probably 30-40% under 15," Walker recalls. "There were families with kids in strollers. There were young teenagers and preteens in line there."

Glazer adds, "When someone makes a disparaging joke about Comic-Con attendees it's a lot less funny then it used to be, because our attendees are a very diverse group of people"

The convergence of Hollywood's marketing machine and the broadening of the convention attendees may hit a tipping point this year. The expected influx of Hollywood talent is why this year's four packed days have been the subject of rumor and conjecture for months and should lead to the convention's most star-packed line up ever. Here's a quick run down of who is tentatively scheduled to appear ... the key word is "tentatively," as Comic-Con loves to keep the element of surprise intact:

"Twilight" -- The stars of the latest Internet and literary phenomenon, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, greet their fans.

"Max Payne" -- Mark Wahlberg makes his first Comic-Con appearance to promote the upcoming adaptation of the popular videogame.

"RocknRolla" -- Gerard Butler, Jeremy Piven, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and director Guy Ritchie. Can anyone say, "boys' club"?

"Race to Witch Mountain" -- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson knows how to work the con crowd like no one else. You can also guarantee a fan will ask him: "When are you returning to the WWE?" for the millionth time (the answer is "no time soon").

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" -- Hugh Jackman is back as everyone's favorite self-healing mutant.

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" -- The popular franchise returns with Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello stepping in for Rachel Weisz.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" -- Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly are scheduled to chat about their remake of the '50s sci-fi classic.

"Death Race" -- Jason Statham, action-star extraordinaire, pitches this late summer thriller.

"Push" -- Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans promote next spring's sci-fi thriller. And yes, that's not a misprint. Dakota Fanning will be taking fan questions!

"Pineapple Express" -- Seth Rogen returns to the convention floor after last year's hilarious "Superbad" panel to pitch his latest (and greatest) comedy with co-star James Franco and the rest of the cast.

"Watchmen" -- Zack Snyder brings his cast down for next March's highly anticipated adaptation of the legendary comic series. Patrick Wilson, Javkir Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Billy Crudup, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan scheduled.

"Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins" -- He keeps denying it, but Christian Bale is set to appear along co-stars Sam Worthington (Hollywood's next "it" leading man), Bryce Dallas Howard, Anton Yelchin and director McG.

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" -- George Lucas and the voice of C-3PO, Anthony Daniels, will discuss the franchise's first animated cinematic endeavor.

Also this year, the TV contingent is going to come close to eclipsing their big screen brothers. As previously teased, for the first time ever, the casts of "Lost" and "Heroes" are scheduled to great the fans in the massive Hall H, a venue previously only reserved for movies. And proof that the convention is continuing to evolve beyond genre, Rainn Wilson is scheduled to moderate a panel on "The Office" (no word on if Steve Carell will also attend) and the casts of "24," "Prison Break," "Bones" and the comedy "The Big Bang Theory" will also have their own panels.

New shows looking for love are J.J. Abrams' and Whedon's latest, "Fringe" and "Dollhouse," respectively. "Knight Rider" and "Life on Mars" are also set. Returning favorites include "Ghost Whisperer," "Battlestar Galactica," "Chuck," "Pushing Daisies," "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Kyle XY."

And, as always, the fest never continues to surprise. Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton have "graced" the convention with their presence in the past and this year Tori Amos -- yes, that Tori Amos -- will appear to promote her new anthology book "Comic Book Tattoo." So, to recap: the convention will have Amos, Dakota Fanning and Ludacris all in attendance. Clearly, July's biggest party will be in San Diego.

Stay tuned, true believers. MSN Movies, MSN TV and MSN Video are teaming with Xbox this year and invading Comic-Con. We will provide daily updates, blogging and video coverage from the convention beginning Wednesday, July 24.

Are you interested in Comic-Con? What film or TV show excites you the most? Write us at heymsn@microsoft.com subject="Comic-Con 2008"

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Guest greyeyegoddess

Not that it matters to most here, but I had a feeling that my other guy, the guy who brought me to Gerry, would be there, being that his movie is going to be released within two weeks.

I am looking forward to getting out of town to sunny San Diego.

~alice

:music:

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Guest DonnaKat

If anyone is even contemplating going to this, I would suggest buying tickets now. The four day passes are already sold out, as is Saturday. The only days left are Thursday, Friday and Sunday...and they're half sold out already too.

I started contemplated going to this last fall and have wanted to go for about three years running, but every year something prevents me from it. This year it's the new job and other priorities, so it just isn't going to happen...at least not this year. Gerry or no Gerry, those of you going have fun...at a con this size, there is always something to do, whether or not he shows up.

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I've had my 4-day pass for months, and made my hotel reservation back in January or February so now I just have to cross my fingers that the big panels aren't on Thursday because I don't think I can get off that day. I will be there Friday through Sunday though!! Wooo hoooo!!! And my #2 favorite guy (Hugh Jackman) is supposed to be there too. I don't know if my heart can stand it!!!! I've NEVER seen Hugh in person so I'm actually (shock) more excited that he might be there than Gerry. (I know flog me now for such blasphemy).
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Wow what a line up.....

I wish I could go with you Alice but I am still trying to get my attacks under control.

Menopause sucks!!!!

Have fun and take plenty of pictures and video.

The tickets sure went fast I remember in 2006 I still was able to get my Sat ticket 2 weeks before the

event......damm it even if I decided I could go the best days are gone....

Next year I am signing up early !!!!

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Guest greyeyegoddess

If anyone is even contemplating going to this, I would suggest buying tickets now. The four day passes are already sold out, as is Saturday. The only days left are Thursday, Friday and Sunday...and they're half sold out already too.

I started contemplated going to this last fall and have wanted to go for about three years running, but every year something prevents me from it. This year it's the new job and other priorities, so it just isn't going to happen...at least not this year. Gerry or no Gerry, those of you going have fun...at a con this size, there is always something to do, whether or not he shows up.

Donna, and anyone else. Comic con is just one of those things you just plan on going to as soon as you can find a way. You don't wait for last minute, because BIG guests are never known until two weeks beforehand. Maybe because of the economy, they are hinting guests earlier.

You kind of figure out what kinds of movies are going to be released, and when, and figure out if they are going to be there at the convention.

I knew Mummy 3 panel was going to be there, by the release date. I was pretty sure at least one of Gerry's films would be there, too.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the Rock again. He was wonderful last time.

Awww...Bea! I hope you are getting better.

~alice

:music:

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Re: Comic-Con Please remember to pre-register on Wednesday night if you have a 4 day pass. If you don't you have to wait until doors open (at 9:00 or 10:00?) on whatever first day of your attendance, register and then get in line for your event/events. Last year the line on Saturday was sooooooo long by 9:00 it wrapped around the building and then some. In 2006 I had a one day ticket, registered on Saturday, got in line, saw Gerard and the '300' panel, without too much trouble...but I think that day changed Comic-Con forever!!!! Wonder why? Hah!! Hope he remembers the warm..(HOT) reception he received that day and will be convinced to attend this year..... If you come to San Diego I hope you enjoy my beautiful city and I hope it won't be as hot as the last 2 years!!

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Re: Comic-Con Please remember to pre-register on Wednesday night if you have a 4 day pass. If you don't you have to wait until doors open (at 9:00 or 10:00?) on whatever first day of your attendance, register and then get in line for your event/events. Last year the line on Saturday was sooooooo long by 9:00 it wrapped around the building and then some. In 2006 I had a one day ticket, registered on Saturday, got in line, saw Gerard and the '300' panel, without too much trouble...but I think that day changed Comic-Con forever!!!! Wonder why? Hah!! Hope he remembers the warm..(HOT) reception he received that day and will be convinced to attend this year..... If you come to San Diego I hope you enjoy my beautiful city and I hope it won't be as hot as the last 2 years!!

Wednesday night is preview night for 4-day pass holders too--looking forward to getting a sneak peek. And really looking forward to spending few days in San Diego before CC too--if it's too hot I guess I'll just have to do more shopping inside! ;)

Lesley

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I just want to blow my brains out . . . I cannot believe I waited too long . . . and now I can't go with my friends. No more Saturday tickets. And of course, that's when he would be there . . .

I can't tell you how hurt and upset I am . . . at myself. :tantrum:

Lisa

Edited by phoenixgirl
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Guest greyeyegoddess

Last year wasn't as hot last the year Gerry was there, and I was in some of those long lines.

They did have vendors selling water to those in line and they tried to keep most people in the shade, but it's probably a good idea to bring a stool, something to keep the sun away from your face, a personal fan, and water to last you the waiting hours.

~alice

:music:

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Guest DonnaKat

Donna, and anyone else. Comic con is just one of those things you just plan on going to as soon as you can find a way.

Oh, I know...I just had too many conflicting priorities and not enough vacation this year. With this new job, my vacation has been cut in half.

I had already decided a while ago that it wasn't going to happen...again. :lol: One of these days!

ETA: Lisa, don't beat yourself up. He's tentative, so you don't know even for sure he'll be there...much less what day. I'd say if you get a chance to go, just go. At the least, you can meet up with some GALS and enjoy the experience of just being there (it's BIG). Be thankful you live close enough you even have the chance to go at all. I have to fly to just about everywhere these things are held, so I can't afford to just take chances anymore. But I would like to just experience Comic Con, just once...whoever is or isn't there. I'm a sucker for these types of things anyway. ;)

Edited by DonnaKat
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I've had my 4-day pass for months, and made my hotel reservation back in January or February so now I just have to cross my fingers that the big panels aren't on Thursday because I don't think I can get off that day. I will be there Friday through Sunday though!! Wooo hoooo!!! And my #2 favorite guy (Hugh Jackman) is supposed to be there too. I don't know if my heart can stand it!!!! I've NEVER seen Hugh in person so I'm actually (shock) more excited that he might be there than Gerry. (I know flog me now for such blasphemy).

Susan ~

Have a great time at CC. I hope you get to meet Hugh. He is so amazingly nice to his fans. Just the sweetest guy. I'm not going to make it this year (even tho it's soooooo darn close LOL) Just too many other commitments.

Hugs and have fun everyone!

Jenn

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ETA: Lisa, don't beat yourself up. He's tentative, so you don't know even for sure he'll be there...much less what day. I'd say if you get a chance to go, just go. At the least, you can meet up with some GALS and enjoy the experience of being there (it's BIG). Be thankful you live close enough you even have the chance to go at all. I have to fly just about everywhere these things are held, so I can't afford to just take chances. ;)

I know . . . you're right. I've seen him in the flesh twice now, got his autograph once. I shouldn't complain. I just can't get enough . . .

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Guest DonnaKat

Hey, if I were close enough to drive, I'd be making a at least a day trip there myself. But I'm not, so it's out of the question.

*hates living in the Midwest*

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Do you know it is always something I have wanted to do since 2006 as I have heard so many good things about Comic-Con but with not being a driver San Diego for a non driver is probably not the easiest of places to get to.

I guess in my case with being in the UK I have to pick and choose what I come to as I am not made of money and I have already been to the US 3 times so far this year - 2 Gerry related(Cut and GALS LV) and I did see him at Nim's but didn't get a chance to speak but at least I got my first tasting of him in the flesh.

It really is the luck of the draw and I guess for future Comic-Cons because the tickets go quickly you really need to snap up the 4 day passes quickly and just hope for the best. Going by recent year's it really seems to be the place to showcase alot of new big and up and coming films with alot of major celebs so I can't imagine you wouldn't have a good time even if Gerry was not going to be there. I guess it is better to have the pass and sell it on if you know he aint going to attend. Even though he did not attend last year I am sure it was this event that he sent a specially recorded video when they were promoting the DVD of 300 so it shows how much the industry respect this event.

Have a fabulous time to all who are going. Susan I hope you get a chance to speak to Hugh as he is such a lovely bloke.

Moira

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I might think about going in 2009 and give CUT a miss as I have had a look and being a non driver does not seem to be an issue going by the website. Out of curiosity from those who have been before do most celebs turn up on the Saturday or is it just a popular day as I wonder why only the Saturday passes are sold out on the single day passes. As the schedule of big names is not normally announced too far in advance I appreciate why the 4 day passes sell out and to be honest that is what I would imagine most would go for as you would not want to take any chances. If you are coming from any great distance you would want to experience everything as it just looks so much fun.

How bad would you feel if you had say only a Sat/Sun pass and you found out the people you would have really liked to have seen possibly Gerry included was attending and it ended up being the Friday he appeared. That would be worse than not going in the first place.

I cannot see a price for the 4 day pass this year but I imagine it is around the $120 mark going by the individual day prices. The prices on ebay are currrently ranging from $385 to $500 if you buy now - is the thought of Gerry being there worth paying well over the odds?????. The single day Saturday passes were roughly at the $100 - if you have money to spare go for it but as they say there are no guarantees he will attend.

I bet the RocknRolla panel will be a riot as Guy Ritchie has a cracking sense of humour too. I am so jealous.

Moira

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Everyone have a great time! I hope to one day go to this thing. This year seems to have all the cuties I adore like of course.... GERRY, Hugh, Keanu (OMG.....my twins look just like him), Brenden, etc...

Susan.... I hope you get to meet Hugh. Can you imagine? Ahhhh, I really, really hope you get to meet him. :pointy:

I will be staying put for a while. I was just recently hit in a lay-off this past Monday. Until I find a job, I'm grounded for a while.

I will live vicariously thru the stories and photos all of you share.

Keep cool GALS and ENJOY!!!! :music:

Hugs,

~ Donna Lee

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Last year wasn't as hot last the year Gerry was there, and I was in some of those long lines.

They did have vendors selling water to those in line and they tried to keep most people in the shade, but it's probably a good idea to bring a stool, something to keep the sun away from your face, a personal fan, and water to last you the waiting hours.

~alice

:music:

I remember in 2006 how HOT it was. OMG I was roasting waiting in that line. We got there at 5am which was nice but by 7:30 or so it was getting pretty hot. I was a naughty girl and went to the security crew and claimed I was pregnant and had to go sit down. They let me in and I sat there w/this cheesy smile on my face looking at everyone sweat. :p Who knew that if I went this year it would be legit! Oh I wish I could go. Dangit!!!! :tantrum: Oh well, things happen for a reason I say. So, to all that are going have a great time and if Mr. G happens to show up (I think he will :pant: ) take LOTSof pics and share them please.

Cassie

Edited by Cassie
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Hey, if I were close enough to drive, I'd be making a at least a day trip there myself. But I'm not, so it's out of the question.

*hates living in the Midwest*

Me too! We're seriously contemplating a move to San Diego. Of course we have been "seriously" contemplating this move for about 5 years now and we're still in the suburbs of Chicago so who knows if or when it will happen. Still, something we're still considering and if you consider it there's hope.

Cassie

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