As Comic-Con continues its light-speed morph into a not-to-be-missed event for the industry, studios and networks plan to promote more TV shows than ever before at next month's conference.
Positive reaction to early footage seen at the San Diego conference (this year from July 23-26) can translate into giant buzz that can influence a fan base months before an official bow.
"What's happening at Comic-Con is the fan community gives you an immediate reaction to your project in a big way," Lisa Gregorian, exec VP of worldwide marketing for the Warner Bros. TV Group, told Variety. "It's live testing."
Warner Bros. is bringing 11 shows including Eastwick, Human Target, Past Life, V and Vampire Diaries, as well as returning series Fringe, The Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Smallville, Supernatural and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Timing this year could be even more fortuitous for new shows as the conference falls a few days before the Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour.
"It's a total game-changer," Chris Alexander, 20th Century Fox TV's senior VP of publicity, told Variety. "Previously, Comic-Con would be the place where you would just interact. Now, it's the place to break news."
Twentieth Century Fox TV has nine shows: 24, Bones, Dollhouse, The Simpsons, American Dad, Futurama, Family Guy and spinoff The Cleveland Show, along with Glee.
The 24 panel will boast Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub and new cast members Anil Kapoor, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Katee Sackhoff.
Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star/producer Eliza Dushku will host a Q&A about what they have planned for season 2.
Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Seth Green and the creative minds behind Family Guy will offer a sneak peek at Something, Something Dark Side, the Empire Strikes Back parody follow-up to Star Wars: Blue Harvest.
ABC Studios is hosting at least seven panels, including one for the final season of Lost, credited as the first TV show to launch at Comic-Con. "We've been working on the Lost panel for literally months," Mike Benson, executive vp marketing at ABC Entertainment, told The Hollywood Reporter. "We want the audience to experience Lost in a fully entertaining way."
Sony will promote The Spectacular Spider-Man.
NBC Universal has at least eight programs, but most are for SyFy and USA, with the studio planning only a Heroes panel for NBC. The studio's apocalyptic midseason drama Day One will not be shown, according to THR.
As the conference has traditionally been seen as a fanboy/girl-centric event – i.e., for genre and mythology-based properties -- the move to include such shows as the musically themed Glee, this year, has met with some skepticism.
However, 20th TV's Alexander defended the move, telling Variety, "We think it's absolutely a fit. The show got an enormous response screening after American Idol, and that kind of passion creates a great crossover between the Comic-Con fan, theater fan and music fan who all like this show."
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