Comic-Con 2011: Winners and Losers

10:54 PM PST 07/27/2011 by Borys Kit, Lesley Goldberg
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Spider-Man swings and "Twilight" whiffs as THR appraises the geek carnival.

The annual Comic-Con International circus in San Diego ended July 24 with Hollywood again spending millions courting obsessive fans with A-list talent and exclusive panels and presentations, some of which went over better than others. Here's THR's take on who connected with the geeks and who failed to hit the nerd bull's-eye.

WINNERS

The Amazing Spider-Man The trailer that leaked online before the Con wasn't strong enough to convince anyone that Sony needed to reboot the franchise. But the footage shown at the studio's July 22 panel, combined with star Andrew Garfield's earnest stumping (Spider-Man saved your life? Really?), sure did. And since the movie comes out two weeks before next year's Comic-Con, this was Sony's last chance to get it stuck in fans' minds in a big, splashy way. Consider that web spun.

Steven Spielberg The filmmaker didn't have to do much more than show up for the screaming hordes to make his first Comic-Con visit successful, but he strategically made sure to gild the lily. Spielberg was charming and candid ("You don't love me all the time," he told the packed Hall H. "You love me sometime"), and the panel he and Peter Jackson hosted might have finally sold audiences on just how good the motion-capture work is in their big-budget adaptation The Adventures of Tintin. He also shared the stage with fan favorite Jon Favreau on July 23 to kick off the premiere of Cowboys & Aliens, which he produced, and that went over like a posse's worth of six-guns fired into the air.

Warner Bros. Television On the most competitive night for parties, the studio's July 22 bash drew the best of the Geek TV lot, including Chuck Lorre, Conan O'Brien, Michael Emerson, John Noble, Jorge Garcia, Kevin Williamson, Bill Prady, the casts of The Big Bang Theory and The Vampire Diaries, plus DC Entertainment's Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, David Finch and others. Billed as a "reception," it was way hipper and rocked past the cutoff time. Having nearly naked body-painted women done up as fairies probably helped.

Game of Thrones The July 21 panel proved as epic as the fantasy series. With source-material author George R.R. Martin on hand to moderate, the panel was both informative -- producers including David Benioff shared that Jason Momoa's dancing wound up being the deciding factor to cast him as fierce warrior Khal Drogo -- and entertaining. Stars Momoa, Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage held court, chiming in with often funny and timely remarks -- including Dinklage's suggestion that the series end with a "dance number" and Martin going to bat for lead Sean Bean, suggesting that he was "robbed" by the TV Academy and should be up for best actor.

Zackary Levi The Chuck star used the launch of his show's final season as an opportunity to pitch for charity at his Nerd HQ a few blocks from the convention center. The actor organized access to yet-unreleased video games as well as "Conversation for a Cause" panels that raised $25,000 in donations for Operation Smile in the first two days alone. "I think we'll do it again," Levi told THR. "It's been really successful."

The Avengers Eyebrows went up and arms were crossed when Marvel declared its intention not to bring any Avengers talent or footage to the Con. But an early July 21 fan screening of Captain America complete with free T-shirts and posters, an appearance by star Chris Evans and an Avengers teaser after the credits got fans pumped for the climactic all-star outing anyway.

LOSERS

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Parti I  Or was it Breaking Yawn? Sure, the Twi-hards dutifully brought their screams to Hall H on July 21, but the stars seemed bored, and the panel was forgettable. Rather than show clips from the film's violent childbirth scene or anything cool, Summit unspooled the honeymoon sequence, pictures of which have been online for months. Perhaps the blood has drained from the franchise at Comic-Con (if not at the box office).

Fans of Bones Fox canceled its July 22 panel for the series just three days before creator Hart Hanson and stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz were set to appear in Ballroom 20 -- a giant no-no given that international fans had made plans to attend long before and many who hadn't heard the news still stood in line at the convention center. Hanson and the network tried to make good by showing the trailer, but for a series with such a fervent fan base, the letdown was deadly.

NBCUniversal The studio made a big show of filling its July 23 premiere for Cowboys & Aliens with regular fans (which went over like gangbusters), only to whisk off its execs and talent to a private lounge on the Andaz rooftop rather than have them circulate among the great unwashed at the official afterparty. Nor did the talent engage in company synergy by showing up at the Syfy/E! party at the Solamar. Mixing with the fans only goes so far, apparently.

Glee Executive producers Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan used their July 24 panel to contradict showrunner Ryan Murphy's earlier declaration to THR that Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer would graduate and leave the show after the coming season. A confused Gleek blogosphere responded by questioning who's actually running the show. Why can't these guys get their stories straight?

Relativity's Snow White See story The Two Snow Whites.

The I.T. Guys Whoever was in charge of setting up web access at the convention center ought to be deep in hiding right now.          

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