Hollywood turns up hype for Comic-Con

Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:11pm EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of pop culture fans will descend on the Comic-Con International event this week in San Diego that in recent years has changed from a convention of comic book lovers to a Hollywood movie bazaar.

Comic-Con begins its 40th year on Wednesday night with a preview of new comic books, graphic novels, science-fiction and action movies, television shows and videogames.

More than 125,000 people -- many dressed as their favorite comic superheroes, "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" characters and even "Ghostbusters" -- are expected to swarm the convention that runs through July 26. It's a far cry from the 300 comic book fans who first congregated at the U.S. Grant Hotel in 1970.

"Years ago, when Comic-Con was in its infancy, the attendees were 99 percent teenage fans," said comic book great Stan Lee, who will be showcasing a new Activision videogame "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2" game at this year's convention.

"The Con was all about comic books, their artists, writers and editors. Today, it's still about comic books, but the major emphasis is on movies, TV shows and videogames ... It has become a huge 'entertainment' Con rather than just a comic book Con."

Several Hollywood movie studios will screen new films and host elaborate question-and-answer panels with actors and directors of major upcoming releases including Paramount Pictures' "Iron Man 2," Walt Disney Pictures' "Alice in Wonderland" and 20th Century Fox's "Avatar."

"I make movies for the 14 year-old in me, and I know they're going to dig this stuff," said "Titanic" director James Cameron, who unveils his highly anticipated new 3D sci-fi film, "Avatar" and Ubisoft's "James Cameron's Avatar" 3D videogame.

HOLLY-CON?   Continued...

<p>Attendees dress as characters from Battlestar Galactica at the 39th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego July 24, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>