Hollywood studios cater to comic convention's savvy fans

Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:00pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Once a hotbed for avid fans of cult comic and fantasy genres, San Diego's Comic-Con has become an important stop for film studios and directors looking to gauge the responses of the convention's savvy audience.

Gareth Edwards, director of Warner Bros.' 2014 film "Godzilla," who made his first trip to Comic-Con last year to discuss possibly rebooting the monster movies, said audience reaction helped get the film approved for production.

"I hadn't really comprehended how significant it was going to be for the film. I thought some people might clap and they'd get on with the next film, and the reaction ... I was so knocked out by it, there was so much love for Godzilla for that room," Edwards said.

"The film was going to happen, but they pushed it over the finish line to get a green light, so I'm very much indebted to everyone in Hall H last year."

Film studios, including the makers of "Godzilla," "The World's End," and "Gravity" are hoping to win over the Comic-Con audience in the convention's coveted Hall H, where more than 6,000 fans wait for hours to hear directors and actors speak, or catch a glimpse of upcoming films.

Edwards' experience highlights how Comic-Con, an annual pop culture convention in central San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, has become an important stop for studios wanting to showcase new films and television shows, as well as resurrecting old favorites.

Actor and director Andy Serkis is a fan favorite at Comic-Con for his performance as Gollum in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films. He attended this year's convention to promote 20th Century Fox's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Serkis said he has seen the convention change in size, but not in its core audience.

"Comic-Con is an incredibly fantastic melting pot and passionate center for people who love cult pop movies and pop culture experience. There isn't another place in the world that tops it," he said. "You meet people who are genuinely appreciative that you've taken the time to come."   Continued...

A bus with an advertisement for the movie "Kick-Ass 2" drives past the San Diego Convention Center a day before the start of the 2013 Comic-Con in San Diego, California July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Greaves