AMC, WBTV show as much drawing power as studio counterparts

Comic-Con’s preview night, on the eve of the fanboy confab’s Thursday open, was just the latest indicator of television’s steadily tightening grip on the San Diego gathering, with enough large-scale, intensely mobbed TV-related booths and events to rival their movie-studio counterparts.

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” gory photo op was once again a major draw, this year inviting fans so pose with the hooded, sword-wielding femme fatale — and her armless pet zombies on chains — who appeared in last season’s finale.

Warner Bros.’ Stage 16 setup mixed its movies with TV shows, including the floor’s only conspicuous presence for “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Hobbit”; but also including “Person of Interest,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Children’s Hospital.”

And one of the tightest crowds gathered around BBC America’s booth for fan-favorite “Doctor Who.” The Brit net also used its space to promote Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana’s lastest skein, “Copper,” sell wares for “Sherlock” and “Who,” and — in a bold turf-move on Showtime’s lanyard monopoly — offered its own badge tethers with the mantra “Be Calm at Comic-Con.”

Marvel/Disney assembled “The Avengers” in displays and toys only, but its still-shooting sequel “Iron Man 3″ was a popular shiny object just few booths away, with a life-sized display of all seven of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armors arrayed on a massive stage.

Warner Bros. television got a head start on the footage wars by setting up camp in Hall H, showing off their latest wares from the upcoming fall schedule, including “Revolution,” “Arrow,” “666 Park Avenue” and “Cult.”

The “Twilight” crowd came in force, but you wouldn’t know it from the low-key vibe at the Summit/Lionsgate goodies booths. That’s because everyone who showed up was in line — a queue that quietly overstuffed the display area, spilled into the main thoroughfare and stacked up for at least 100 yards.

In fact, the floor was more crowded overall than preview nights past, making the going painfully slow. One of the toughest spots to cross was beneath a trio of lifelike, 20-foot trolls from “The Hobbit,” erected by Peter Jackson effects house Weta Workshop. And right across the way was Cartoon Network, who offered a folks the chance to step into the smallscreen of the net’s latest toon “Regular Show TV,” easily spotted on the floor by the large blue jay that hung from the rafters.

And as usual, G4 ruled the roost on the convention floor with their production booth, from which they’ll broadcast live for all four days of Comic-Con, which wraps up Sunday.

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