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Comic-Con Gets Entertainment Heavyweights

24 Jul, 2003 By: David Ward

What started out as a convention for hard-core comic-book readers has suddenly become the hot spot for a variety of media as film studios, game companies and anime creators and distributors flocked to the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif., early this month to showcase their wares at Comic-Con.

Hollywood stars such as Halle Berry (Gothika), Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life), Robert Englund (Freddy vs. Jason), Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill) and Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) were on hand to pitch their upcoming projects to the early adopters who can often make or break a film's opening weekend.

Hollywood Loves Comic Books
Hollywood has been on a bit of a comic-book binge lately and not just with high-profile films such as Spider-Man, The Hulk and Daredevil. Even lesser-known comic books such as From Hell and Ghost World are proving to be decent foundations for movies.

This Hollywood interest in all things comic-related is unlikely to end soon, said Lee Nordling, executive editor for Platinum Studios, one of the companies that looks for comic-book properties with potential to be turned into films and DVDs. Nordling explained that one of the major reasons for the increased studio interest is that they can pick up film rights to many comic books fairly cheaply.

Game Company Presence Up
This year's Comic-Con was also marked by an increased presence of video game publishers looking to steal a page from the movie industry by using comic-book fans to generate some good early buzz about their upcoming games.

“The crossover between the comic-book audience and hard-core gamers is really high,” said Scott McCarthy, Atari brand manager for the Terminator 3 and Magic the Gathering: Battleground games. This year marked his company's first appearance on the show floor.

Activision brand manager Michael Chiang said next year's Spider-Man 2 game will launch day and date with the movie's July 2 theatrical release.

Anime Seeing Surge
Central Park Media managing director John O'Donnell said he's looking at expanding the supplier's line of mid-priced $19.99 titles and adding a line of lower-priced entry-level discs to take advantage of the increased number of more casual anime fans. O'Donnell pointed out that even mass merchants like Costco, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart are boosting their selection of anime discs.

Chad Kime, Pioneer Entertainment marketing manager, said the shift to DVD has created more distribution opportunities.

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