Hollywood an­i­mates San Diego’s Comic-Con

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN 360 BETS - By Sandy Co­hen

LOS AN­GE­LES — “Tron,” “Harry Pot­ter,” “The Green Hornet” and Brangelina?

This year’s Comic-Con has some­thing for ev­ery­one, and might even be graced by Hollywood’s first cou­ple.

No longer strictly the do­main of nerds and fan­boys, San Diego’s four-day pop-cul­ture fes­ti­val prom­ises film and TV fod­der for fans of all kinds, plus video games, toys, col­lectibles and cos­tumes ga­lore when it kicks off to­day.

“I can’t wait,” says filmmaker Kevin Smith, an an­nual reg­u­lar con­sid­ered roy­alty at the con­ven­tion. “Comic-Con for me is — Mus­lims like to go to kneel, what is it, three times a day to­ward Mecca and what­not. I do the same thing for San Diego and that mas­sive build­ing. … It’s a real good source of kind of State of the Union for me, be­cause I dwell in the world of pop cul­ture.”

What be­gan 40 years ago as a hum­ble comic-book fair has grown into a barom­e­ter of cool pow­ered by the ar­dent en­thu­si­asm of more than 100,000 fans — and the Hollywood stu­dios who want a piece of the ac­tion.

Among the hot prop­er­ties this year: “TRON: Legacy,” Dis­ney’s mod­ern re­vamp of the ’80s hit; a first look at “Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hal­lows”; Seth Ro­gen’s su­per­hero turn in “The Green Hornet” and yes, a pos­si­ble Brangelina ap­pear­ance.

The cou­ple isn’t of­fi­cially on the guest list, and stu­dio reps are stay­ing mum about whether they’ll at­tend, but A-list sur­prises of­ten hap­pen at Comic-Con, where Johnny Depp and Hugh Jack­man pre­vi­ously showed up unan­nounced.

Brad Pitt voices one of the lead char­ac­ters in the an­i­mated “Megamind,” and his co-stars Will Fer­rell, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill are ex­pected at the Dreamworks An­i­ma­tion panel Thurs­day to in­tro­duce the film.

An­gelina Jolie stars in “Salt,” which will be fea­tured at Sony’s panel on the same day.

Other movies look­ing to build fan buzz at Comic-Con in­clude “The Ex­pend­ables,” fea­tur­ing Sylvester Stallone and a cast of tough guys that in­cludes Dolph Lund­gren and Steve Austin; “Drive An­gry 3D” with Nicolas Cage; “RED,” fea­tur­ing Bruce Wil­lis, Helen Mir­ren, Mor­gan Free­man and John Malkovich as re­tired CIA agents; “Bat­tle Los An­ge­les,” with Aaron Eck­hart sav­ing the city from a vi­cious at­tack; the su­per­hero tale “Green Lantern,” star­ring Ryan Reynolds; and “Scott Pil­grim vs. the World,” based on a graphic novel and star­ring Michael Cera.

“Comic-Con is all about these shows con­nect­ing with the kids who are go­ing to go back home and tell ev­ery­one — get on the com­puter, send e-mails, put on their Face­book ac­count, tweet about it and build a buzz,” says Todd Gold of the web­site Fan­cast.com.

TV shows have a big pres­ence at the Con, too. Stars from pop­u­lar pro­grams in­clud­ing “Dex­ter,” “True Blood,” “The Big Bang The­ory,” “The Vam­pire Di­aries,” “Fam­ily Guy,” “Com­mu­nity,” “Fringe” and “The Simp­sons” will an­swer fan ques­tions dur­ing panel pre­sen­ta­tions.

Reach­ing a pas­sion­ate au­di­ence that will not only talk up their fa­vorite flicks to friends but also buy tick­ets on open­ing night is too im­por­tant an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dios to miss, says box-of­fice an­a­lyst Paul Der­garabe­dian of Hollywood. com.

“That’s the au­di­ence you want to get ex­cited about your movie,” he says. “If they get on board, you get in­stant cred­i­bil­ity.”

An­drew Schwartz

An­gelina Jolie might be on hand for a panel on her film ‘Salt.’

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