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Comic-Con International: delivering tomorrow's heroes — and possibly some duds

Among the highlights are appearances by Steven Spielberg and 'Tintin,' new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, and directors including Guillermo Del Toro and Jon Favreau.

July 20, 2011|By Nicole Sperling and Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times

Unlike "Spider-Man," many films at Comic-Con have no tie-in to comic-books, graphic novels or video games but appeal to a demographic that typically embraces such things. Relativity Media premiered footage for its Greek mythology action movie "Immortals" at April's WonderCon in San Francisco and will come to this week's San Diego gathering to keep explaining to audiences what the swords-and-sandals epic is all about.

(It doesn't hurt that the film stars Henry Cavill, the British heartthrob who will play Superman in Zack Snyder's upcoming "Man of Steel.")

"We are going to let people in deeper with a scene and a new trailer to show them in 3-D," said Terry Curtin, Relativity's president of marketing. "We have to introduce our mythology and we need to introduce Henry."

Stoking fan interest is just as important for new television properties, and several studios are planning to screen pilots at Comic-Con for projects including J.J. Abrams' "Alcatraz" and "Person of Interest," and Kevin Williamson's "The Secret Circle." Other series — "Terra Nova," "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm" — are also hoping to generate buzz before their fall premieres.

As for returning shows, Warner Bros. TV announced its CW series "Supernatural" will be among of one of several series to nab a coveted Hall H presentation, including "Doctor Who," "Sons of Anarchy," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The Cleveland Show." The latter is one of 13 programs, including the Spielberg-produced "Terra Nova" and musical hit "Glee," that Fox will promote at Comic-Con.

"The biggest difference is, franchise movies notwithstanding, the TV business can be a decades-long business for a show, whereas movies tend to be one-offs," said Twentieth Century Fox Television Chairman Gary Newman. "The ability to fuel that annually and to leak out new information and really excite the most enthusiastic fans, it's an invaluable opportunity."

"TV audiences are so passionate about their shows," added Sharon Allen, vice president of marketing and advertising for Showtime, the pay cable network bringing "Dexter" and "Shameless" to San Diego. "Attendees have a relationship with a television show that's a lot different from a movie or even a comic book. What Comic-Con does — and I don't think I've seen anything quite like it — is it connects fans to the creators, to the stars, to the show. Engaged fans provide consistent viewers. And they spread the word."

Of course, just as with films, a presence at Comic-Con doesn't guarantee a show will find an audience. "The Event" on NBC was unable to sustain the bounce it received from the convention; likewise, 2010 Comic-Con projects "The Cape" on NBC and "No Ordinary Family" on ABC failed to capture the sustained attention of the fanboy crowd.

"Comic-Con is a great way to build a groundswell of support for a pending project," Glanzer said. "But as is true with anything, you can show eight great minutes of a project, but the rest of it has to deliver."

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