Comic-Con is back, masks and all, as fantasy streaming projects take center stage
While movies remain a centerpiece, this year streaming and linear TV will cast a larger shadow over the four-day convention that officially begins July 21, reflecting both the major-league bets made by streamers in the hunt for subscribers and the way the balance of power has subtly shifted in their direction as the film industry rebounds from the shutdown that hobbled theaters.
Movie studios will still be represented at Comic-Con, once a gathering — as the name would suggest — originally devoted to comic books, which has grown through the years and seen those properties become the driving force in theatrical attendance.
Not to be outdone, Netflix will weigh in with “The Sandman,” a series version of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed graphic novel, after years of speculation about when or if that concept would ever reach the screen. And AMC — a major player thanks to “The Walking Dead” — will be back touting not only the final season of that show and an anthological spinoff, but a new series version of Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire.”
The underlying goal is building enthusiasm and word of mouth for these projects with these carefully curated previews, hoping to turn their most avid fans into marketing ambassadors to the world at large.
Several other major panels will have a familiar ring to them, including “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” “Teen Wolf the Movie” — heading to Paramount+ — and “National Treasure: The Edge of History,” a series based on the movies heading to Disney+.
As usual, nostalgia and anniversaries will also be a major part of this year’s convention. That includes celebratory panels devoted to the 100th birthday of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz; 100 years of the pulp-turned-comics-turned-movie character Conan the Barbarian; and 40-year anniversaries for the movie “The Rocketeer” and the debut of the “Masters of the Universe” toy line.