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Thursday, Dec 1, 2022
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The Big Five-0

After taking a break from San Diego Comic-Con International last year, Walt Disney Co. came back in a big way at this year’s event, which marked its 50th anniversary. The Burbank entertainment and media giant’s Marvel Entertainment division was well represented in film, television and comics at the July 18-21 event at the San Diego Convention Center. The company’s other big franchise, “Star Wars,” was in abundance as well, primarily in the panel discussions. Also getting plenty of exposure at the convention was DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, in Burbank. Warner Bros. had by far the largest booth of all the studios on the exhibit floor, which hosted autograph signings by casts of Warner television shows and an exhibit of costumes from Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. Disney Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, outlined in a presentation the upcoming slate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Projects include film versions of “Black Widow,” starring Scarlett Johansson coming in 2020; a sequel to “Dr. Strange,” with Benedict Cumberbatch in 2021; a fourth “Thor” film in 2021 starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman; and new Marvel movie franchise “The Eternals” bowing in 2020 and featuring Angelina Jolie. For the small screen a bunch of spinoff series are coming to the Disney+ streaming service, including “The Falcon and Winter Soldier,” featuring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan; “WandaVision” with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their “Avengers: Age of Ultron” roles; and “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston. Warner Bros. The studio showed the pilot for the CW TV show “Batwoman” followed by a question-and-answer session with the cast and producers. Presenting special videos were the Warner Bros. Television shows “Arrow” “Supergirl” and “The Flash.” Other DC-related programming included a screening of the 1989 version of Tim Burton’s “Batman” for its 30th anniversary and a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Warner Bros. Animation series “Batman Beyond.” Non-DC programs involving the studio included a session with the cast and producers of “Riverdale” and “Supernatural” and the world premiere of Warner Bros. Animation production “Scooby Doo! Return to Zombie Island.” Beyond big studios Returning for its eighth year for a panel discussion were representatives of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the Tarzana company that handles the licensing of Burroughs characters, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. The company had two major announcements at the show. One was that a virtual reality video game base on Tarzan would be released later this year. Fun Train Media LLC is publishing the game being developed by Stonepunk Studios, in Newport Beach, for major VR headsets, including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S and PlayStation VR. Doug Nabors, chief executive of Fun Train, said the game would be tied into the style of comic books and be presented as five issues rather than episodes. “We want fans of Tarzan to feel like they are stepping into the pages of the comics,” Nabors said. Jason Morris, principal and founder of Stonepunk, said that in designing the game, the company created a bright and colorful world where the player will wield weapons and meet jungle animals. “We can do everything that Tarzan would do – swinging, climbing, jumping,” Morris added. The second announcement was about the launch of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe, a new series of books that function as stand-alone novels but also have a continuous story line. Christopher Paul Carey, director of publishing for Burroughs Inc., explained that Burroughs, while not the first author to do crossovers with his various characters, was the most expansive in terms of doing it. “He crossed over four major series and in that universe he has a pantheon of heroes and heroines,” Carey said. “You have Tarzan of the Apes, John Carter of Mars, Carson of Venus, David Innes of Pellucidar, Diane the Beautiful. He created all these amazing worlds.” The new books will pair a classic Burroughs character with a new one, with publication dates starting next year. The first one is “Carson of Venus: The Edge of All Worlds,” by Matt Betts to be followed by “Tarzan: Battle for Pellucidar” by Win Scott Eckert. Collectibles In the film, television and comics collectible industry, the Valley region was well represented at the con by Sideshow in Thousand Oaks and Entertainment Earth Inc., the Simi Valley distributor. Brandon Swanson, content marketing manager for Entertainment Earth, gave an overview of the exclusives and debuts the company was presenting at the convention. Among them are collaborations with national retailer Target Corp. on vinyl pop figurines from Funko Inc. that include “The Little Mermaid,” Washington Crossing the Delaware, late “Muppets” creator Jim Henson with Ernie and Target mascot Bullseye the Dog with a gold collar. Other Funko exclusives the company was offering at the show include the shark from “Jaws” swallowing Captain Quint. “It is such an iconic scene from the movie that we thought it had to be in pop form,” Swanson said. Other debuts and exclusives offered by Entertainment Earth were “Star Wars” related Geeki Tiki mugs; wooden Pinmates figurines of Wonder Woman and the villain Cheetah, as well as the 1966 version of Batman and Robin complete with wooden Batmobile; and action figures based on the members of rock band Kiss that comes in a replica of the group’s 1977 album cover “Love Gun.” Cartoonist Matt Groening celebrated Comic-Con’s 50th year by participating in a Ballroom 20 panel previewing the 30th season of “The Simpsons” (a Disney-acquired Fox property) and celebrating the animated sitcom’s history as the longest-running prime time show currently on the air;  and launching new imprint Bapper Books, devoted to comics based on new Netflix series “Disenchantment,” after shuttering his long-running Bongo Comics (“Simpsons,” “Futurama” comics) in 2018.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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