Family focus knocks studio out of confab

This article was updated on July 20, 2007.

Hollywood’s gearing up to make its annual trek down to San Diego’s Comic-Con to court the geeks with its wares– but count Fox out.

Just one week before the confab kicks off Thursday, the studio has decided to cancel its presentation at the show, saying that footage it wanted to show for several of its pics next Friday just isn’t ready.

Company’s homevid division and genre arm Fox Atomic will still be present at the confab.

Studio had planned to push “Alien vs. Predator 2,” “Hitman,” “Jumper,” “Babylon A.D.,” “The Dark Is Rising” and “City of Ember.”

Studio sources said the real problem is that Comic-Con organizers considered planned montages from “AVP” and “Hitman” too violent to show to the increasing number of families and children that show up for the convention these days. Filmmakers were told the same thing.

“AVP” and “Hitman” are both R-rated pics, and if Fox wasn’t going to be able to impress young males — the target demo for both — with violent material, then it didn’t want to show anything at all, sources close to the situation at the studio said.

But one senior level Comic-Con organizer said the confab had not viewed any footage. In fact, none had been submitted. Event also does not have a hard police against showing R-rated material.

Last year’s Comic-Con featured a presentation of “300,” with plenty of graphic imagery. This year’s show won’t be much different, with New Line expected to highlight its upcoming “Shoot ‘Em Up,” packed with shootouts and sex scenes.

Last year, the studio produced a panel for “Borat,” during which it showed footage with nudity from the film. Studio received flak for the move and opted not to tone down what it would have shown this year.

What’s more, the pics Fox wanted to promote are all f/x-intensive, with many of the money shots not yet complete.

Nearly 120,000 people are expected to attend Comic-Con over its four-day run. The confab has established itself as a place where studios unveil the first looks at projects they want fanboys to buzz about among their friends and online.

But while it traditionally catered to young men, the event has recently become more family-friendly — and so have the pics the studios are hyping there.

This year’s panels include comedies “Superbad” and “Get Smart” and fantasy fare such as “The Golden Compass,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and Pixar’s “Wall-E.”

“We want to make sure when we show something, we can go forward with our best foot,” one source said. “We’ll serve no wine before it’s time. You only get one chance down there in a room with 6,000 fans to say, ‘Here we are.’ You want to blow them away.”

Organizers are still trying to figure out what to do with Fox’s timeslot. Studio could still use it for some sort of announcement, but as of Friday, nothing had yet been decided.

Fox’s last-minute pullout from the confab is a rare move for studios. But while every other major in Hollywood is represented, not every major project will be.

Warner Bros. won’t use Comic-Con to present “The Dark Knight” or its highly anticipated “I Am Legend,” for example.

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