con2008-header_logoThe phone rang early Friday morning, informing founder and Webmaster Calisuri that there was a line of around 150 people waiting to get into the 10 a.m. speculative panel on ‘The Hobbit’. Lines at the convention, which expects over 130,000 visitors each day of the event, are not uncommon. What was unusual Friday morning was that the San Diego Convention Center hadn’t even opened yet and there shouldn’t have a been a way for the people to get there at all, much less in line.

But there they were. As Slave Boy Films assisted TORn in preparing for its first big movie presentation at the event in several years by placing LOTR t-shirts and decks of cards on every chair, it became apparent that the 300-person capacity room just wasn’t going to cut it.

By the time the panel started every seat was filled and by the time it ended, security and convention staff had arrested or detained one angry individual who didn’t have a chance to make it inside the event. All signs indicate: Fans are excited for the Hobbit, to the point of nearly inciting riots. After the panel was over, Con staff informed TORn that “at least 400” people had been turned away.

Inside the room things were much friendlier as TORn staffers Calisuri, MrCere (your servant and writer) Quickbeam and author Kristin Thompson (The Frodo Franchise) joined forces to present an early, unofficial look at the Hobbit films currently planned for December releases in 2010 and 2011.

Most of the information wasn’t brand-spankin’ new but much of it was greeted with cheers and whoops of joy such as the announcement that Ian McKellen, although not officially signed, was expected to reprise his role as Gandalf. Casting rumors and speculation made the rounds of the room with several suggestions drawing cheers and few even drawing jeers, along with a few bits of humor both planned and surprising.

TORn staff stationed throughout the room observed that at least one executive from New Line Cinema was on hand as well as representatives from Warner Bros. (You didn’t think you escaped our notice did you WB?) And the result from our spies observing the spies: Nobody looked terribly displeased with the phenomenal demand for information about “The Hobbit” that was impressive in both numbers and in dedication.

Admittedly, those of us from TORn in attendance were also pleased to see our fellow-fans show such passion about a project that is yet a significant amount of time away.

It didn’t hurt that websites and newspapers highlighted the panel as one to watch (and sorry our special guests didn’t materialize this year). See the San Diego news featured RIGHT HERE.

Meanwhile at Slave Boy Films booth (#5424) T-shirt sales for the shirt designed by Weta Workshops and with the shared TORn and Weta logo is still for sale but with some sizes selling out quickly and others already completely gone. These particular shirts will not be offered elsewhere so if you want one, call, text or e-mail your friends that are at Comic-Con and have them pick up one of these little beauties. Click to see the shirts.