SAN DIEGO – Warner Bros. today announced what has been suspected and rumored: the studio is bringing “The Hobbit,” to the San Diego Comic-Con in a big way. Most surprising is just how big as director Peter Jackson, producer and co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens, actor and director Andy Serkis along with featured actors Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage are all expected at the Saturday, July 14 Comic-Con panel hosted by Warner Bros. The film sharing the three-hour slot with “The Hobbit,” is none other than “Hobbit” co-writer Guillermo del Toro‘s “Pacific Rim.” The director is also expected to be in attendance. TheOneRing.net’s team of 13 staffers (a lucky 13 that works nicely with the source material) will be reporting from the scene as much as possible, bringing the emotions, news, photos, video and quotes to the online audience.
The studio has been relatively quiet on the publicity front considering the budget and cultural size of the two films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” (celebrating its 75th anniversary in print this year) releasing a single trailer, a series of character photos and letting Peter Jackson’s own production diaries on his Facebook page function as pre-film publicity. That seems to be changing in a single moment as WB drops an atomic bomb of Middle-earth star power at the central event of the popular-culture calendar.
The SDCC comes at a good time for “The Hobbit,” production, which holds a wrap party on July 7 after shooting both films in three distinct blocks. Principal photography will be over for the main actors and crew, seemingly just in time for the participants above to recover for a day or two and then to be whisked away to San Diego — almost as if it was planned from the beginning. Pickup shots are expected to follow soon after the Comic-Con wrap and it seems likely the group will leave the convention and return to Wellington, New Zealand. Jackson certainly has a movie to finish in time for its Nov. 28 world premiere in his home town.
TheOneRing.net will photograph, film, report and tweet about the panel and surrounding press opportunities as they become available. (Follow us on Twitter @TheOneRingNet and on like us on Facebook the same way. Topics #SDCC, #Hobbit and #TORn will be heavily used by our staff and our official accounts).
TheOneRing will be in two locations on the dealer’s floor and still bring coverage from the Con as much as possible. We are interested in film and book news, “Hobbit,” and “Lord of the Rings,” products, costumes (Middle-earth and not), celebrities, news and the quirky fun that is Comic-Con. Find us with Badali Jewelry at booth #530 & #532 and with Weta Workshop #3513B. We will have a variety of t-shirt designs available, purchase of which helps the not-for-profit website to attend events like Comic-Con. This year we are adding some fun button designs (very limited amounts) for $1, with a new design available each day of the convention Thursday – Sunday.
Hall H, the San Diego Convention Center’s largest auditorium, holds 6,500 and has been a tough place to get a seat the last few years. “Twilight,” fans started camping out for the panels for those films (free with convention pass) and now the hall is subject to long lines and plenty of waiting. That is likely to be the case Saturday, July 14 as Warners and other big Hollywood studios trot out their hottest properties to give them buzz, spread from the fervent fans attending the event.
James Cameron brought his “Avatar” film to Hall H a few years ago where 3D glasses were provided and where fans in attendance (including this writer) were mostly “wowed” with the footage.
Jackson and Warners may opt to do the same in 2012 for the first “Hobbit” film which is not only in 3D but was shot at 48 frames-per-second, creating a much more realistic cinematic experience that raised some controversy among a select screening audience of journalists. It is not known if Comic-Con’s technology can accommodate 48fps but it could be the first time the public is allowed to see footage from the film in that format.
Part of the international appeal of Comic-Con, July 11-15) is its full coverage in both genre and mainstream press from the likes of the New York Times and USA Today. The first film, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” is set for release in theaters Dec. 14.