Gaggle of geeks gabs at confab

36th annual Comic-Con comes to California

With visions of “Fantastic Four’s” $56 million opening weekend in their heads, Hollywood execs and talent are heading to San Diego to court the geeks.

Today marks the opening of the 36th annual Comic-Con Intl., and nearly every studio, along with numerous broadcast and cable nets, has big plans to woo the nearly 100,000 attendees — fans that marketers consider key to building good buzz.

Despite flops like this winter’s “Elektra,” comicbooks continue to be hot in Hollywood, with both “Four” and “Batman Begins” among the summer’s few bona fide hits.

Comic-Con has grown into a pop culture event encompassing not just comics but genres including sci-fi, horror and fantasy as well as animation.

That means most big-budget pics, as well as an increasing number of TV hits like “Lost,” may appeal to Comic-Con attendees. As a result, numerous nets and studios are shipping their stars to San Diego to unspool exclusive clips and answer questions.

Most anticipated by fanboys in attendance: Universal’s “King Kong” and Warner Bros.’ “Superman Returns,” both of which have a solo hour in a cavernous hall on Saturday, the confab’s most heavily trafficked day. Other pics will be featured as part of a studio’s multifilm presentation or in smaller rooms.

Having undoubtedly learned a lesson from last year, when fans were outraged that WB touted “Batman Begins” without any footage and only a video postcard from helmer Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, studio is taking “Superman” helmer Bryan Singer away from production in Australia with a presentation specially made for Comic-Con.

Peter Jackson is not coming in from the New Zealand “Kong” shoot but is also expected to send a series of clips for Comic-Con attendees to see first.

Other projects aimed right at the Comic-Con core aud include WB’s “V for Vendetta” and “Corpse Bride,” Sony’s “Ghost Rider,” Paramount’s “Aeon Flux” and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup.

But in a sign of how broad the Comic-Con aud has become, less geeky fare will be promoted as well, such as New Line’s “Tenacious D” pic, UPN’s “Veronica Mars” and new Fox procedural drama “Bones.”

Only studios not making major presentations are Fox and DreamWorks.

Also in attendance will be vidgame publishers and toy manufacturers.

Comicbook publishers such as DC and Marvel will be there as well, but they take up less and less space and time at an event that is now about them more in name than substance.

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