×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV shows loom at Comic-Con

At least 80 series will be promoted in 2011

Films may have hogged the spotlight at Comic-Con Intl. over the years, but TV shows now far outnumber movies at the fanboy fest.

At least 80 series will be promoted this year through panels, press conferences or other promo events, easily a record for the San Diego confab. Studios, by contrast, will have around 35 films at the confab, which begins July 21.

Networks are looking to reconnect with the fanbases for returning shows, so as to keep auds hooked for upcoming seasons. But for their frosh crop of shows launching this fall, the nets are borrowing from the promotional playbook that studios have used to hype their films, hoping to entice eager early fans.

Among the roster of new shows being tubthumped at Comic-Con this year, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC will screen pilots of “Person of Interest,” “The Secret Circle,” “Supernatural: The Animated Series,” “Awake,” “Alcatraz,” “Terra Nova” and “Grimm.” And although Fox passed on the spooky drama pilot “Locke & Key,” creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez and exec producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci will screen the pilot for the show, penned by “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” creator Josh Friedman. Show is based on the IDW comicbook, and positive buzz could help get the project be revived down the road.

With the convention taking place just eight weeks before the traditional start of the TV season, Comic-Con proved an important launch platform for NBC’s “Chuck” and “Heroes” in years past and built momentum last year for AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead.” Ubiquitous signage, booths on the show floor, screenings, promo handouts and panels helped generate buzz that resulted in strong ratings.

Comic-Con also wraps up just a couple days before the Television Critics Assn.’s summer press tour kicks off, a scheduling move that began in 2009.

“The timing of Comic-Con is perfect for television,” said Lisa Gregorian, Warner Bros. TV’s chief marketing officer. The studio will bring 16 shows to San Diego, up from 11 last year. “It’s the end of upfronts and the beginning of the new season. The end of July is the best time to promote to the consumer.”

In addition to screenings and panels, Warner Bros. TV will also hype “Person of Interest” and “Alcatraz” on 40,000 hotel keycards handed out at 36 area properties (which will also promote “Smallville’s” DVD, the “Mortal Kombat” Web series and the “Lord of the Rings: War in the North” videogame). Company’s new animated “ThunderCats” and “Green Lantern” series will also appear on oversized WB bags handed out to the confab’s 130,000 attendees.

In its fifth appearance at the Con, Showtime will again blanket San Diego with ads for “Dexter,” “Shameless” and the upcoming “Homeland” on the sides of shuttle buses, and it sponsors the lanyards that every attendee will wear, to guarantee exposure for the “Showtime Saves!” tagline that it’s using to tie into superhero fare at the confab.

Other cable nets have found Comic-Con to be fertile ground for promoting genre fare.

AMC’s senior VP of marketing Linda Schupack said “The Walking Dead” was a perfect match for the nerd herds that wander the halls of the San Diego Convention Center because of the show’s roots in Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. The network is back this year to promote the show’s upcoming second season.

“Comic-Con is important as a launch platform for ‘The Walking Dead’ because it ignites the fan base,” Schupack said. “The panel allows the creators (including Frank Darabont) and talent to interact with the fans. It marries so perfectly with Comic-Con because of its origins. The heart of Comic-Con comes from these genre shows.”

But not every show going to the Con is a genre property. Among those joining the fray:

• ABC will promote new dramas “Charlie’s Angels,” “The River,” “Once Upon a Time,” and returning show “Castle.”

• ABC Family has “The Nine Lives of Chloe King.”

• Adult Swim is promoting Web series-to-TV comedy “Children’s Hospital.”

• BBC America is pushing “Bedlam” and “Doctor Who.”

• Cartoon Network is bringing “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” “ThunderCats,” “MAD,” The Looney Tunes Show,” “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “Young Justice.”

• CBS will promote nerd-friendly “The Big Bang Theory” and “Person of Interest.”

• Comedy Central is bringing “Workaholics.”

• The CW has newcomers “Ringer” and “The Secret Circle,” along with “Nikita,” “Vampire Diaries,” and “Supernatural,” with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles making their first Comic-Con appearance.

• Discovery Channel is back with “Mythbusters,” and is pushing “Penn & Teller Tell a Lie” and “Reign of the Dinosaurs.”

• Disney Channel will roll out heavy onsite promotion for “Phineas and Ferb,” while Disney XD has “Kick Buttowski” and “Fish Hooks” reps the Disney Channel.

• Fox is selling new series “Awake,” “Alcatraz,” “Terra Nova,” “The Finder,” and animated shows “Allen Gregory,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “American Dad,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy,” “Futurama,” and fan favorites “Glee,” “Bones” and “Fringe.”

• FX is taking “Wilfred,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and animated series “Archer.”

• HBO has its first panel for “Game of Thrones,” while “True Blood” is marking its fourth showing.

• MTV will promote “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Good Vibes,” “Death Valley” and “Teen Wolf.”

• NBC is bringing back “Chuck” for its final season, along with laffer “Community” and new fantasy drama “Grimm.”

• Nickelodeon has “Power Rangers: Samurai,” “Fanboy and Chum Chum,” “The Penguins of Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Supah Ninjas” and “T.U.F.F. Puppy.”

• Starz has “Spartacus: Vengeance” and “Torchwood: Miracle Day.”

• Syfy is taking freshman show “Alphas” plus “Being Human,” “Eureka,” “Lost Girl,” “Warehouse 13” and “Sanctuary.”

• TNT has “Falling Skies,” fresh off its first season.

• And USA Network is taking “Covert Affairs,” “Psych” and “Burn Notice,” marking the network’s third year at Comic-Con.

With the sheer number of shows being tubthumped to fans at this year’s Comic-Con, TV now has the same problem as film: how to mount an effective presence at the confab without getting lost in the clutter.

“The way we look at it is Comic-Con is a community,” said Warner Bros. TV’s Gregorian. “We are fans as much as they are fans. There can be a lot and not all of it is clutter. Also, when we bring a show to the community there, we don’t just bring it once, we bring it back again and again.”

WB’s laffer “The Big Bang Theory,” for example, is returning for its fourth year at the gathering.

“We debated if ‘Big Bang’ was a good fit,” said Gregorian. “It was a healthy debate. In the end, we decided the characters reflect the love and joy of the people who usually attend Comic-Con.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

  • Kristen Stewart

    French Director Olivier Assayas Pays Tribute to Kristen Stewart at Deauville

    French director Olivier Assayas paid tribute to Kristen Stewart, whom he directed in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper,” at the Deauville American Film Festival on Friday evening. Stewart received a honorary award in Deauville before the French premiere of Benedict Andrews’s “Seberg” in which the actress stars as Jean Seberg, a French New [...]

  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was

    Film Review: 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was'

    Liam Gallagher is nearly as fascinating a rock ‘n’ roll figure as he thinks he is … which is saying a lot. After the breakup of Oasis, one of the most self-avowedly arrogant stars in pop culture found himself severely humbled, fighting to become relevant again without the help of Noel, his ex-bandmate and, for [...]

  • The Vast of Night

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Vast of Night'

    It’s the first high school basketball game of the season and all of Cayuga, N.M., population 492, is cheering on the Statesmen at the gym. Except for the town’s two brightest kids, Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick), who are strolling through the empty darkness to their respective jobs as a radio DJ and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content