Hollywood turns on the starpower for Comic-Con

Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:10pm EDT
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By R.T. Watson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Heading into this year's giant Comic-Con International pop culture convention in San Diego, media watchers believed Hollywood might play a smaller role because some heavily promoted movies there in 2010 fizzled at box offices.

But as Thursday's opening day nears, the 2011 gathering of comic book readers, sci-fi lovers, fanboys, fangirls and pop culture watchers -- many costumed as space aliens or invaders -- appears bigger, glitzier and more crowded than ever.

Forecasters predict anywhere from 130,000 to as many as 200,000 people will invade San Diego over the four-day convention, although numbers are difficult to track given the volume of people who come just to be part of the scene.

Perhaps the most accurate indicator of the show's growing popularity in recent years is that while it took six months for four-day event passes to sell out in 2009, and two months in 2010, this year those passes were gone in a mere seven hours.

And rabid fans likely won't be disappointed with the number of events and starpower at the show nicknamed, "The Con".

There are numerous panels for directors and stars to talk up films such as "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," as well as several science-fiction TV shows. Even the cast of hit musical "Glee" will be on hand.

Although, similar promotional events in 2010 failed to have a big impact on the commercial prospects of some films and TV shows hyped here, such as "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," Hollywood's studios and networks are back in force.

"I don't think there is a direct relation between box office and what you do at Comic-Con," Marc Weinstock, president of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures, told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>An attendee arrives in costume for the third day of the pop culture convention Comic Con in San Diego, California July 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>