8:15am PT by Graeme McMillan
Comic-Con: Which Movies Could Benefit From Panel Buzz?
The effect that San Diego Comic-Con can have on a movie is a strange thing; the excitement generated from footage seen at the show can turn a project into a must-see — within a certain demographic, at least — or, alternatively, into a target for derision and snark, should the Comic-Con hive mind decide that it's not something that lives up to their collective expectations.
This year, there are a couple of high-profile projects that run the risk of disappointing fans, and thus watching their buzz go sour: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of those, it's almost impossible to imagine Star Wars disappointing anyone at Comic-Con, especially based on the trailers released to date — the only realistically conceivable disappointment would be if no new footage is revealed, and even then, that's arguably a good disappointment in the longer term — but Batman v. Superman's buzz to date has been a more mercurial thing, with some comic book fans unhappy with the tone of the trailer and, more importantly, the tone of Man of Steel. Even with a blowout presentation, it's possible that enough of the audience will be turned off enough to spoil the buzz as it spills out from the show.
(There's also a movie that, at this point, feels buzz-proof, one way or another; Thursday sees a panel for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, and by this point, audiences will have made up their mind about the series. Like Twilight and Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit by the end of their runs, it's a franchise that's essentially immune to Comic-Con, for better or worse.)
There are, however, a number of projects that could find themselves benefiting from a good Comic-Con performance; Duncan Jones' adaptation of Warcraft and the movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are both movies that have been treated with some suspicion by the nerd faithful since their announcement, and winning over the Comic-Con crowd with the first footage would go a long way to silencing the grumbles that have surrounded both to date. Similarly, if 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four could win over the doubters during Fox's Saturday panel, that would likely make many involved with the movie breathe easier as its release approaches.
The other big movies announced to present can only gain from a successful Comic-Con performance; both The Hateful Eight and Crimson Peak are likely to find an audience that goes beyond those eagerly checking in on the buzz or lack thereof from Comic-Con, meaning that such a thing would only be additive. The same is likely true of Pan and The Man From UNCLE, both of which will share stage time with Batman v. Superman at the Warners panel on Saturday morning. These movies can all benefit from making the Comic-Con attendees excited, but don't rely on such a thing for their success.
This year, as almost every year, it's likely that the movie that will enjoy the greatest Comic-Con bump isn't any of those named as being showcased; they're already on enough people's radar as it is. Instead, it'll be something new announced, or something unexpected making an appearance. Warners is hinting at surprises for its Saturday panel; if the casts of Justice League or Suicide Squad make an appearance, we'll have our winner. Otherwise? Expect the unexpected.