My first exposure to Comic-Con’s unique superpower, the ability to launch a pop-culture phenomenon, coincided with the Twilight panel four years back; this year, that saga comes to a close with a Hall H curtain call for Breaking Dawn – Part 2 on Thursday morning, preceded by an industry party the night before, where Michelle (@IMDbMichelle) and I (@IMDbArno) hope to snap some candids for you before the Con officially kicks into gear for 2012.
It’s an expected start to a year that has one major day of movie presentations — with The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and others turning Saturday into the day everyone’s focused on. But let’s acknowledge the two studios who are missing from this year’s roster: Paramount will sit out 2012, and Fox’s barely-here presence has film bloggers wondering aloud if the Con’s special abilities are waning. I wouldn’t say a Hugh Jackman PR stunt to hype The Wolverine would change the prevailing opinion that the industry might be falling out of love with the event, but it would be a welcome surprise in a year that features more than a few notable absences.
Jackman’s Con history is in sharp contrast with someone like Will Smith‘s, who’s no longer Mr. July and isn’t scheduled to appear during the After Earth panel on Saturday. The presentation for the summer 2013 sci-fi flick won’t be graced by Smith’s son and co-star, Jaden, nor director M. Night Shyamalan. The panel isn’t even being held in Hall H. It’s all so curious that I feel as though one, two, or all three of them have to put in a surprise appearance.
Sci-fi fans will be treated to panels with Guillermo del Toro and Neill Blomkamp. The lovable and profane del Toro will unveil bits from his robots-versus-sea-monsters creation, Pacific Rim; Elysium, Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9, could emerge as the buzziest Con revelation.
And if I manage to get a split second with Quentin Tarantino, who will unveil more of Django Unchained, I’m going to ask him if he prefers fast or slow zombies and, since he has some TV experience under his belt, to sound off on “The Walking Dead” since Frank Darabont‘s unceremonious dismissal.