Well, this is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. All the speculation comes to an end, as Comic-Con officially unveils their 2011 schedule of events. Today saw the announcement of Wednesday’s preview night event, and Thursday’s schedule. Who will be in Hall H? Will Hollywood really be sitting out on this year’s con? And which events are the ones that have us most interested? Click through the jump to find out more.
Wednesday, July 20 (Preview Night)
Just like how Warner Bros. had Nikita on infinite loop during last year’s preview night, they are once again holding court on the Con’s Eve to debut several eagerly-awaited new shows and releases. From 6-9PM, stop by Ballroom 20 to see the premieres of J. J. Abrams’ Alcatraz, Person of Interest, The Secret Circle and Supernatural: The Anime Series. The bad news – you’ll need a ticket with Preview Night access to partake in the activities. Damn those early ticket buyers!
Thursday, July 21
So let’s start with the big one that people have already started to camp out for, and the most controversial among the true con die-hards. You know this as Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which will be the first panel of the day in the big hall starting at 11:15 AM. We’d venture to guess that the Hall will clear out after that, so if you aren’t on Team Edward or Team Jacob, you’ll probably have a good chance at a great seat for the rest of the panels. And not to hold anything against the following panel, Animation Showcase at 12:45PM, but like last year’s Megamind, it’s probably not going to attract huge crowds. Two family films will be showcased during the Animation Showcase panel – Arthur Christmas from Aardman and Sony Pictures and The Pirates! Band of Misfits starring Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven.
The rest of the day, to us anyway, is filled with can’t-miss events. Next up is the FilmDistrict Studio Panel at 2PM, where host of awesome guests – Guillermo Del Toro, Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks to be precise – will be on-hand to discuss and show exclusive footage from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Drive. The panel with the most buzz thus far is the 20th Century Fox film panel at 3:15PM, which had no mention of any specific films or guests. What could the mystery film(s) be? Our guess – we’ll find out more about the Fantastic Four and Daredevil reboots, both coming from the house of Murdoch.
Coming in at 4:45PM is Robert Rodriguez’s Quick Draw Productions, which will cover its “new slate featuring special guest collaborators” as well as “also show exclusive material from his latest top-secret project” [read: Spy Kids 4 – ed.] And last but not least, Entertainment Weekly’s annual Visionaries panel at 6PM will this year feature an interview with con-faves Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro.
Our advice? Skip the Twilight panel (sorry, Twi-hards), hit the show floor and grab some lunch, then get in line during the Animation Showcase. And get comfy, because you’ll be there for the rest of the day.
If you’re a TV fan, there’s no better place to be than Ballroom 20 during the con. And if you’re both a TV and a movie fan, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. Judging from just the Thursday schedule, this will be a welcome problem to have. Starting at 10AM is a bit of a disappointment as it’s a Burn Notice panel, but again sans the regular cast besides Bruce Campbell and creator Matt Nix. And it’s not technically a Burn Notice panel, because they’re calling it The Fall of Sam Axe, which debuted on USA a couple of months back. Bruce and Matt put on a good show last year, but when are we going to get that proper panel with the complete cast of regulars? The USA Network continues to parade their schedule at 11:15 AM, with Covert Affairs, and then at 12:30 PM with the return of Psych.
At 1:45 PM, Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to Comic-Con with her new fall show, Ringer. Following at 3PM is HBO’s Game of Thrones, moderated by author George R. R. Martin. Undoubtedly these two will be the day’s most popular in the Ballroom.
At 4:15 PM is TV Guide’s Annual Fan Favorites panel with an all-star guest list – Nestor Carbonell (Ringer), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory), Jorge Garcia (Alcatraz), Leslie Hope (The River), Zachary Levi (Chuck), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Julie Plec (Vampire Diaries), Matt Smith (Doctor Who ), Kevin Williamson (Vampire Diaries), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), and others. Kinda like Circus of the Stars, only with more stars and less cheese. Then from 5:30PM – 7:30PM is Showtime’s panel entitled Tired of Ordinary Television? with Dexter, Shameless and an exclusive look at their new series, Homeland. After hours, the Ballroom will host the Star Wars Fan Movie Awards at 8:30PM
Our advice? Skip the Burn Notice and Covert Affairs panels, get in line for the always-entertaining Psych panel, and stay there through the Showtime panel. Grab some dinner and squeeze back into the Ballroom for the Star Wars Fan Awards for some entertaining evening programming.
Shall We Play A Game?
If this is the year Hollywood skips the con, it might also very well be the year video games move in. Day 1 has an unprecedented 13 video gaming panels. Starting right at 10AM, you’ll have to decide whether you want to learn more about Jenova Chen’s (Flower) new PSN game Journey, or LucasArts’ new Star Wars game for the Xbox Kinect. At 11AM, you can catch a behind-the-scenes look at G4’s X-Play or find out more about the writing behind the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution. At 12PM, Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios will follow-up their 2010 unveiling of Kingdom of Amalur RPG from Todd McFlarlane and R. A. Salvatore with a look at how the game’s development has progressed a year later. If RPGs aren’t your thing, skip on over to The Darkness panel with the comic’s creator Marc Silvestri for a look at the FPS sequel.
At 1PM, Blizzard will break their long-standing exclusive to BlizzCon and hold the World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft Swag Show. Legendary Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono will join Katsuhiro Harada of Tekken for the Street Fighter X Tekken panel at 2:15PM. Slotted at 4:30PM is a look at the future of NCSoft’s City of Heroes MMO, and maybe here’s where you can score a ticket to their Meet & Greet at the Hard Rock, too. 4:45PM is host to another MMO, but this one is the long-awaited Star Wars: The Old Republic from BioWare. At 5PM take your choice of attending the Batman: Arkham City panel with Mark Hamill, Jim Lee and Paul Dini, or check out Sony’s Resistance 3. An easy choice? We think so. Then at 6PM, check out Cliff Blezinski’s Gears of War 3 moderated by G4’s Adam Sessler, or run over to the Hilton Bayfront to see what Voltron games THQ has in store.
Our take? You’ll win any which way you look at it if you’re a gaming fan. Most of these should be playable on the show floor as well, so if you miss out on the panels, you’ll still be able to go hands on with them if you want.
Best Of The Rest
Which panels should you still try to catch? Well, there’s the 10AM TheOneRing.Net Hobbit Talk panel, which guarantees “the street-level latest (authorized and unauthorized) as well as spy reports, rumors, and even informed opinions. Surprise guests are a possibility; audio and visuals are a given with a Q&A and all sorts of fun.” Sounds like a great way to go back to Middle Earth.
At 1PM, the Marvel Digital Media Group will be on hand to talk about “Marvel digital comics, casual games, original streaming video productions, social media outreach, and the future of Marvel’s ever-expanding digital endeavors”, which definitely sounds interesting to us. And heck, it’s about comics, so it gives us some street cred. It’s Comic-Con, after all! If you’re a DC fan, check out DC Comics: The New 52 at 2PM about their new line of “number one” issues coming in September.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network, catch a sneak peak of season four with supervising director Dave Filoni at 4:45PM. At the complete opposite of the spectrum, the fellow-animated classic comedy Beavis & Butthead will be making a return to television, and MTV is bringing creator Mike Judge and new footage to share at 5PM, while FX’s oddball comedy Wilfred starring Elijah Wood will be on-hand for a Q&A at 6:15PM.
Comic-Con will be releasing a schedule each day – tomorrow be on the lookout for the Friday schedule!
Are there any panels you are most excited to see? Any we missed? Let us know in the forums below.