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Comic-Con 2011: What the Film Studios Are Planning (List)

Turns out that reports of the studios' turning their backs on the Con were premature.

August 19: "Conan the Barbarian"
Lionsgate

Enough with the hand-wringing, already.

The last week or so has been stuffed with suggestions that the major studios are backing away from Comic-Con this year. The approach is always the same: Commentators pose the big question and then proceed to undercut the drama of the hypothesis by pointing out just how flabby it is -- or ignore it all together.

Yes, the failure of Universal's Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World after last year's CC push spooked a lot of people, and it's noteworthy that Marvel is not bringing The Avengers to San Diego (so it says), but otherwise it all comes down to scheduling -- of talent and filmmakers, productions and release dates. But that's hard for drive-by commentators to hang a headline on, and thus begins the slippery slope toward hyperbole.

Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone that it also comes down to... bluffing. And a caginess on the part of studio marketing crews that is meant to leave room for genuine surprise and discovery. Just ask yourself: How many more attendees will suddenly rush to the Con if Marvel and Disney announce beforehand that the cast of Avengers will join writer-director Joss Whedon on stage in Hall H? None. Because they'll already be there.

Besides, events are still leaking as they are nailed down by studio organizers and sniffed out by reporters. As an example, Heat Vision broke the news that Paramount and Marvel are doing a special Captain America event with star Chris Evans that salutes the soldiers. And Legendary Pictures just unleashed a deluge of projects heading to Comic Con.

So below is HV's current rundown of what's happening, what may happen and what ain't happening. But... SPOILER ALERT: This list will change in the next two weeks...

DISNEY / DREAMWORKS

In Full Effect:

Fright Night (DreamWorks, August 19) fits the right promotional window and talent (Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin) is available.

Unh-Uh:

The Muppets (November 23) -- wrong crowd. Though Zoot from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem may just be there on his own.

Don't Be So Sure:

Both John Carter (March 9, 2012) from co-writer-director Andrew Stanton, with Taylor Kitsch starring, and Whedon's The Avengers (Marvel, May 4, 2012) could sneak something in, no matter what Disney is saying now. And DreamWorks' Real Steel (October 7) could punch its way in to play up the fighting robots from its family drama.

Not Yet:

Frankenweenie (October 5, 2012) from director Tim Burton and writer John August, The Lone Ranger (December 21, 2012) from director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny DeppOz the Great and Powerful (March 8, 2013) from director Sam Raimi and Iron Man 3 (Marvel, May 3, 2013) from co-writer-director Shane Black are too far out to have footage. Although that doesn’t mean Depp couldn’t show up in character as Tonto the way he did at Disney’s own fan convention, D23, last August. (He also turned up as Captain Jack Sparrow two years ago to hawk the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie even before shoting had begun.)

FOX

Highly Likely:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5) needs the momentum and fits the window perfectly. Unfortunately, star James Franco won't be there because he's filming (younger brother Dave will be, though, for Fright Night), but the studio isn't going to miss this opportunity. Andrew Niccol's In Time (October 28) is an equally likely candidate -- for its young cast (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Wilde), its sci-fi concept and its need to overcome the fact that the film's had three different titles before landing on the weakest and vaguest.

Unh-Uh:

The studio says Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22, 2012) won't be making an appearance. Though they have footage already, we believe them.

Don't Be So Sure:

George Lucas' 3D conversion of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (February 10, 2012) and Ridley Scott's Prometheus (June 8, 2012), co-written by Damon Lindelof, seem like sure things for this crowd and could sneak in. Lucas definitely needs the goodwill, and the shrouded-in-mystery Scott project is primed for a nice tease to pump up curiosity (he just plugged it a bit at CineEurope). Speaking of CineEurope, James Cameron previewed 15 minutes of his 3D conversion of Titantic (April 6, 2012) there, so he could slip the same or more into San Diego.

LIONSGATE

In Full Effect:

Conan the Barbarian (August 19) from director Marcus NispelWarrior (September 9) from director Gavin O’Connor and Abduction (September 23) from director John Singleton will all show up in force. Taylor Lautner will now be on hand to shill for Abduction and Twilight, and Dominic Cooper will be in San Diego to plug his violent Sundance drama The Devil's Double (July 29).

Don't Be So Sure:

Writer-director Boaz Yakin's Safe (October 28), which stars Jason Statham, could be there, as could Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods, which the studio picked up from MGM a few months ago. And even though the studio is denying that The Hunger Games (March 23, 2012), starring Jennifer Lawrence, will show, let's just say we find that decision very dubious.

PARAMOUNT

In Full Effect:

The Joe Johnston-directed Captain America: The First Avenger (Marvel, July 22) will be waving the flag around San Diego. And Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (December 23) will have a big presence since it has a lot of convincing to do (the studio is keen on explaining just how 3D motion capture was advanced for this project).

Unh-Uh:

Puss in Boots (DreamWorks Animation, November 4) isn't a great fit, even though DWA brought Megamind (which had a superhero plot) last year. Plus, they hawked the claws out of it at Cannes and CineEurope already. And the studio is saying that Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (March 2, 2012) from director Tommy Wirkola and with Jeremy Renner starring is sitting CC out.

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