Kicking off on Thursday, this year's four-day
Comic-Con gathering of nerd and pop culture fans will see fewer
films being marketed by movie studios, which are instead
focusing more narrowly on projects that tie directly into the
interests of the convention's fandom.
Meanwhile, numerous hit sci-fi television shows have garnered
avid viewers and Emmy nominations, and can drum up buzz for
upcoming seasons with an already engaged fanbase.
Drawing more than 100,000 attendees, Comic-Con has become an
increasingly important tool for Hollywood to generate interest
in upcoming projects.
Yet this year, only three major Hollywood film studios - Fox,
Warner Bros and Disney - and newcomer Netflix will hold panels
for upcoming movies, a vast difference from five years ago when
movies dominated the buzz from the convention.
Warner Bros will bring its sci-fi sequel "Blade Runner 2049,"
virtual reality thriller "Ready Player One" and its DC movie
franchise of superheroes, while Disney will bring its Marvel
"Studios are eyeing more quality than quantity at Comic-Con,"
Entertainment Weekly's senior writer Darren Franich told
"There are less films debuting now, but there's high stakes for
the ones that are, as studios are thinking 'if we do well here
then that can create buzz over a year,'" he added.
On Thursday, Fox hosted a panel on upcoming British spy comedy
sequel "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," with Colin Firth and Halle
"You really feel like (Comic-Con) is owned by fans," Firth told
Reuters Television. "I don't think I've been in an environment
where it's more about the passion for the material."
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The fandom of Comic-Con attendees is what drove organizers in 2012
to give medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones," zombie drama "The
Walking Dead" and nerd comedy "The Big Bang Theory" a coveted spot
at Comic-Con's prestigious Hall H.
The 6,500-capacity hall is usually reserved for movie studios
bringing in A-list talent, and fans often sleep outside overnight to
Hall H is where Netflix's 1980s-set supernatural mystery series
"Stranger Things" will make its Comic-Con debut on Saturday, almost
a year after it became a breakout hit "largely thanks to the passion
of the fan base," producer Shawn Levy told Reuters.
"Comic-Con is such a hub of fans and passionate fanhood, so it feels
like an organic match to the 'Stranger Things' franchise," he said.
But celebrity panels alone aren't enough for engaging fans.
This year, Warner Bros has a virtual reality experience of its
upcoming "Blade Runner 2049" sequel, HBO has installations of the
futuristic theme park of "Westworld" and "Stranger Things" fans can
experience the dark, evil "Upside Down" world from the show.
"It's no small thing to get yourself to Comic-Con and spend money
and time in a high-intensity environment, and we want to reward that
interest level and commitment with something special," Levy said.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Chris Reese)
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