×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comic-Con stunts hit the streets

Geek meet's punchiest publicity events unfold outside

With 35 films and 80 TV shows competing for attention at Comic-Con Intl. in San Diego this year, studios are eager to find any way to stand out among the 130,000 attendees with their properties.

It can be a tough task, especially for projects that are appearing for the first time and don’t yet have a following — and one that studios have tackled by expanding beyond the convention center that houses Comic-Con itself.

Last year, in addition to promoting “Tron: Legacy” with a traditional panel discussion inside Comic-Con’s 6,000-seat Hall H, Disney hosted a party a few blocks away, re-creating Flynn’s Arcade and the End of the Line Club from the film at a warehouse.

Back in 2007, Warners’ “The Dark Knight” bypassed Hall H altogether, opting to stage an elaborate scavenger hunt outside the convention center.

Similarly, Sony parked the Black Beauty from “The Green Hornet” outside Comic-Con HQ and blew man-shaped bubbles over the building to get people talking about “Skyline.” Fox hosted an outdoor party for Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete,” which featured the taco truck from the pic. For many, the highlight of last year’s Comic-Con was an elaborate carnival-like outdoor fan event for “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” that Universal staged at the Hilton Gaslamp, across the street from the confab’s home base.

Whether any of those stunts have paid off is another matter.

Scott Pilgrim” didn’t strike a chord at the box office; neither did “Green Hornet.” And despite the top dollar Disney spent hyping “Tron: Legacy” at Comic-Con, the studio isn’t rushing to make a sequel just yet.

Still, “The stunts are what people remember,” says one top studio marketing chief. “You have to stand out. Even if you didn’t like the movie, you’re giving audiences a way to interact with your film. And they usually walk away with something free like a T-shirt or button to remember you.”

So it’s no surprise that the stunts are back this year.

The biggest belongs to Universal, with the studio holding the world premiere of “Cowboys & Aliens” at the San Diego Civic Theater, followed by an outdoor afterparty.

For “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which marches into theaters Friday, Paramount and Marvel paired up with Lanmark Technology to produce a music lodge that will host the “Captain America Military Salute,” which will honor the Navy SEAL Foundation and present a special award to iconic comicbook vet Stan Lee.

And Disney Channel is winding down its nationwide tour of the Platy-bus, based on the secret agent Perry the Platypus from “Phineas and Ferb,” to promote the network’s animated TV movie “Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension” and related videogames.

Despite the size of Hall H, marketing strategists have found they can get more exposure catering to the fans that surround the convention center.

The “Scott Pilgrim” and “Skyline” stunts were accompanied by huge billboards covering the sides of downtown hotels — impossible for Comic-Con attendees to miss as they approach the convention center.

Seizing on a similar strategy, Syfy has been taking over the Hard Rock Hotel’s restaurant, turning it into Cafe Diem, to reflect the fictional hot spot from its show “Eureka.” The venue has proved a clever way to promote Syfy’s slate of shows throughout, down to the names of the dishes on the menu. The network will re-create the restaurant again this year, largely because attendees must walk right past the restaurant to head into the city’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Hall H Highlights

THURSDAY

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Addressing the most fervid fans first, Comic-Con kicks of with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” panel.

12:45-1:45 p.m.
Sony presents a look at two Aardman collaborations: CG “Arthur Christmas” and stop-motion “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”

2-3 p.m.
FilmDistrict touts Guillermo del Toro-produced “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and Ryan Gosling starrer “Drive.”

3:15-4:30 p.m.
Fox presents “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” along with upcoming pics “In Time” and “Prometheus.”

4:45-5:45 p.m.
Robert Rodriguez has more than “Spy Kids 4” on the horizon. The helmer will tease the slate of his new Quick Draw shingle.

6-7 p.m.
A conversation with Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro , hosted by EW.

FRIDAY

11 a.m.-noon
Steven Spielberg will give fans a taste of Paramount’s comic-based tentpole “The Adventures of Tintin.”

12:15-1:15 p.m.
The Relativity lineup includes “Raven” (an Edgar Allen Poe-inspired serial killer thriller), “Haywire” and a visit by Steven Soderbergh.

1:30-2:30 p.m.
Screen Gems unveils “Underworld 4,” as well as fest fave “Attack the Block.”

2:45-3:45 p.m.
DreamWorks’ panel for 3D vampire remake “Fright Night” features stars Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

4-6:30 p.m.
Nicolas Cage returns to present “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” during Sony’s timeslot. Other pics include “30 Minutes or Less,” “Total Recall” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

6:45-7:30 p.m.
A special At the Drive-In panel focuses on “Grave Encounters” and “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.”

SATURDAY

11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Francis Ford Coppola and musician Dan Deacon will show footage from the director’s new project, “Twixt.”

1-2 p.m.
Relativity gives auds a peek at “Immortals,” Tarsem Singh’s Greek mythology-based epic.

2:15-3:15 p.m.
Playing to the geeks, IndieVest Pictures presents fantasy role-playing comedy “Knights of Badassdom.”

3:30-4:15 p.m.
Kristen Stewart , Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth discuss “Snow White and the Huntsman” for Universal.

4:30-5:30 p.m.
Summertime Entertainment animated “Dorothy of Oz.”

5:45-7:30 p.m.
Comic-Con fixture Kevin Smith closes out the day with his Q&A.

SUNDAY

10-11 a.m.
TV day kicks off with “Glee,” featuring creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk and a taste of “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.”

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
“Supernatural” graduates to the convention center’s main floor, teasing secrets from Season 7.

12:30-1:30 p.m.
“Doctor Who” stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan make their first trip to Comic-Con.

1:45-2:45 p.m.
Hear from the talent behind “Family Guy” spinoff “The Cleveland Show.”

2:45-3:30 p.m.
Danny DeVito and the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” take questions from their fans.

3:30-4 p.m.
Kurt Sutter , creator of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” appears with cast members Charlie Hunnam , Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman .

4-5 p.m.
Audience participation is encouraged for the closing event, a screening of “Buffy the Musical.”

DARK HORSE COMICS/COMIC-CON 2011
Pulp pics embrace dark side | What’s next for Dark Horse | Studio deal put brakes on slate | Comic-Con stunts hit the streets
Variety’s coverage of 2011 Comic-Con

More Biz

  • Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division nominee

    Justice Department Moves to End Paramount Antitrust Decrees

    The Department of Justice will seek to end the Paramount consent decrees, the landmark agreements that have barred studios from owning theaters for the last 70 years. Makan Delrahim, the head of the department’s antitrust division, made the announcement Monday in a speech to the American Bar Association fall forum on antitrust. He argued that [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets HR and Inclusion Chiefs

    ViacomCBS has named corporate heads of HR and inclusion as the companies prepare for the merger that is set to close early next month. The soon-to-combine Viacom and CBS have tapped Nielsen alum Nancy Phillips to serve as exec VP and chief people officer. Viacom alum Marva Smalls will serve as global head of inclusion, [...]

  • Sony Pictures Studio Culver City

    Sony Pictures Entertainment Buys AT&T's Stake in Game Show Network

    Sony Pictures Entertainment has bought out AT&T’s minority interest in Game Show Network for about $500 million. The deal makes Sony the sole owner of GSN. AT&T had owned 42% of the company, which the telco giant inherited with its purchase of DirecTV in 2015. AT&T has been on a mission this year to pay [...]

  • John Malone

    John Malone Boosts Stake in Discovery With $75 Million Stock Purchase

    John Malone has upped his stake in Discovery Inc. by purchasing $75 million worth of stock on the open market. Malone picked up just under 2.7 million shares in Discovery at $28.03 on Nov. 14, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Malone was already the company’s single-largest individual shareholder who holds super-voting shares [...]

  • the firt Motley Crue books Nikki

    Motley Crue to Tour in 2020?

    Even though Motley Crue signed a legal document confirming that their lucrative 2014-15 “Final Tour” would be their last, the group is plotting a trek in 2020, sources tell Variety. Rolling Stone reported today that Def Leppard and Poison will be joining the group for the tour, which it says will include stadiums; reps for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content