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Comic-Con expands outdoors

Concerts and screenings featured on stage behind convention center

With Comic-Con having outgrown its convention center home in San Diego, Hollywood is taking more of its presentations outdoors this year.

Warner Bros. Television said Monday that it will host a series of concerts and screenings from an “Extra”-branded stage in a field next to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel behind the convention center.

During the day, the 60,000-square-foot space will be used for tapings of entertainment newsmag “Extra,” while at night, WBTV is offering free entertainment to attendees who can’t score invites to industry parties during the week. More than 130,000 people are expected to attend Comic-Con July 11-15.

Studio has yet to reveal its sked of screenings or confirm musical performances.

But the venue will feature all six Batmobiles from the films and TV show — from Adam West’s 1955 Lincoln Futura to the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Also set to be showcased there are “Guardians of Middle-earth” and “Lego The Lord of the Rings,” the two planned videogames for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” out Dec. 14.

Meanwhile, WBTV will distribute the studio’s Comic-Con-themed edition of TV Guide magazine with collectible covers featuring the casts of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Fringe,” “Supernatural” and “The Vampire Diaries,” while entertainment newsmag “Extra” will tape episodes from the stage.

WBTV’s chief marketing officer Lisa Gregorian called the event an “additive experience of being at the Con.”

“Everyone at Warner Bros. Television approaches Comic-Con as a fan-first experience,” she said. “It’s in our DNA, with everything we do — from panels to signings to our bags, posters and more — carefully curated with our fans in mind.”

In addition to the outdoor activities, WBTV will bring “The Big Bang Theory,” “Vampire Diaries” and “Fringe,” along with newbies “Arrow,” “The Following,” “Cult,” “Revolution” and “666 Park Avenue,” to the Con. And due to TV’s growth at the geekfest, “Big Bang” will be presented for the first time in Hall H, the convention center’s largest presentation room that seats 6,000.

Separately, VH1 Classic will host the confab’s “Dawn of the Con” kickoff party, hosted by Rob Zombie as a free event to all Comic-Con badge holders at the Petco Park baseball stadium.

“We always attended as a news outlet, but this is the first time we have hosted an event,” said VH1 prexy Tom Calderone. “It will offer an opportunity to build momentum for (Comic-Con) in a lavish way.”

Also at Petco, AMC is sponsoring “The Walking Dead Escape: San Diego,” an obstacle course where participants can either flee zombies or be turned into one made up by the show’s f/x guru, Greg Nicotero, and his team.

AMC will be among the companies hosting screenings at area theaters outside the convention center, with the cabler screening the first episode of “Breaking Bad’s” final season at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15 on July 14.

Adult Swim also will host a free concert July 13 on the USS Midway, with a performance by animated death metal band Dethklok, from the show “Metalocalypse.” Tix are available on AdultSwimPresents.com or by playing the Cat Grab game at the Adult Swim booth on the convention center floor.

Show marks the first live performance for Dethklok this year and occurs before the band’s upcoming North American tour co-headlined with Lamb of God and special guests Gojira. Tour begins Aug. 1 in Seattle.

Adult Swim also is hosting panels for “The Venture Bros.,” “Children’s Hospital,” “NTSF:SD:SUV::,” “Robot Chicken,” “Aqua Something You Know Whatever,” “Squidbillies” and “Black Dynamite.”

Also returning to the Con is the Wired Cafe, which has provided a poolside retreat from the crowded show floor and panels at the Omni Hotel for press and industryites over the last few years. After having hosted a “True Blood” bar over the show’s previous seasons, HBO is sponsoring a “Game of Thrones”-inspired watering hole this year.

Additional outdoor activities and promotional stunts are expected after Sony, DreamWorks, Universal, Comedy Central and Relativity attracted throngs to photo opps and events for “Total Recall,” “The Smurfs,” “Real Steel,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Shark Night 3D” in the past.

WBTV’s event space is well positioned considering it’s next to the line where thousands wait to get into Hall H and where many have camped out in previous years for Summit’s “Twilight” panels.

Earlier this year, the San Diego City Council created a special district to finance the proposed $520 million expansion of the convention center. In 2010, Comic-Con organizers agreed to keep the confab in San Diego for another five years, primarily because of the addition to the facility and deals with 64 area hotels to offer discounted rates and meeting space.

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