Five things I think I know about Hall H at Comic-Con International in July:
* You know how you keep reading that Disney won’t fly the flag in Hall H? That’s not quite right. The Mouse will be taking DreamWorks‘ “Fright Night” and I suspect that Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin will be on the panel (not sure about former Time Lord David Tennant). It is a pretty big shocker that “John Carter,” the massive sci-fi project from Andrew Stanton, won’t be presented in Hall H — until you consider the fact that Disney is hosting its own Comic-Con of sorts in August with the D23 Expo in Anaheim. You think the studio is taking a risk by missing out on the spotlight of San Diego? Maybe, but it’s in for the long haul and wants to carve out its own tradition with D23 and knows that won’t accomplish that by undercutting its own event. Also, the “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” premiere was a reminder that Disney can plug in a worldwide media megaphone all on its own.
* The “John Carter” absence, given the D23 subplot, isn’t nearly as shocking as the apparent retreat of “Man of Steel” from the program. I assumed that this would be the year that the new faces of Metropolis paraded in front of the cheering masses. That would certainly make it easy for the mainstream press (or at least the non-geeky members of the mainstream press) to zero in on the take-away story of the weekend. If you carry that thinking to the next logical candidate, the big winner of ink in Hall H this year will be Sony and their new Spider-Man project.
* Television show panels will be the defining memory of this Comic-Con. One reason is the diminished Hall H roster, but just as important is the fact that the long weekend is powered by tribe love. A preview of some far-off feature film is great for the Hall H hangar show; but, really, the sweet moments in recent years have been the ballrooms where small-screen ensembles get face-time with fans who are still humming the theme songs on the way out. The Hall H presentations are about the stars; the TV panels are about beloved mythologies and the fan confederacies. The hot ticket this year: HBO’s “Game of Thrones” panel, and don’t be surprised if a certain author is the moderator.
* Studios are looking for ways to make noise away from Hall H. Nobody understands the circuitry of Comic-Con better than Jon Favreau, and it’s interesting to note that he is taking “Cowboys & Aliens” away from the chaotic Hall H rodeo and staging a huge world premiere over at the San Diego Civic Center. I hear Marvel Studios is doing something along the same lines, which is especially smart since really there’s no way they could top the all-star parade that became the signature moment at Comic-Con last year. I have to laugh when people say that Marvel has to do Hall H — as if t’s impossible to mint a fan-boy hit without a trip to the big podium. Remember, Christopher Nolan has never set foot in Hall H, and he seems to be doing OK.
* On that topic, I don’t think this is the year that Nolan goes to Comic-Con. But it just might be the year that Steven Spielberg does. Who would I most like to see in Hall H? I could say Ridley Scott and “Prometheus” but instead I’ll go with a sentimental pick: I’d like to see Neal Kirby and the other heirs of the late Jack Kirby up there getting the standing ovation they deserve, not just from the fans but all of the filmmakers who have cashed in on his staggering imagination. It wouldn’t take but five minutes. What do you say, Comic-Con?
— Geoff Boucher
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