| SAN DIEGO, July 24
SAN DIEGO, July 24 Young adult film franchises
have dominated the conversation at San Diego's annual Comic Con
gathering in recent years, but as the buzz-building convention
kicked off on Thursday, the absence of established blockbusters
has allowed studios to push new fare targeting a similar
Without the star-studded film panels promoting November's
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," the next installment in
the series starring Jennifer Lawrence, or next year's
"Insurgent," the sequel to this year's "Divergent" film,
convention-goers will fill up on a new crop of dystopian
"It does feel strange that there's no big young adult panel
at Comic Con this year, but what's interesting is that there are
some young adult-orientated panels that are going to pick up the
slack," said Dave Karger, chief correspondent of Fandango.
The "Twilight" series, "Hunger Games" and "Divergent" have
all been highlights at Comic Con's main Hall H, where audiences
are shown exclusive footage and studios organize promotional
panels with stars and filmmakers.
The Weinstein Co kicked off the first new film in the
dystopian young adult genre this year with a panel on
forthcoming sci-fi drama "The Giver," in a bid to draw "Hunger
Games" and "Divergent" fans.
"We'd be honored for the fans and fan base of those
properties be excited about our film," said Stephen Bruno,
president of marketing at The Weinstein Co.
"The Giver," based on Lois Lowry's 1993 book of the same
name and out in U.S. theaters on Aug. 15, is about a boy, Jonas,
who lives in a seemingly utopian society that is devoid of pain.
When Jonas meets the Giver, the keeper of memories played by
Jeff Bridges, and inherits his role, he finds his understanding
of the world turned upside down.
"The (Comic Con) audience is correct for the film and the
book is a huge beloved entity," Bruno added. "Many have said
it's the originator of the young adult dystopian story."
At the panel, audiences were shown an extended trailer
featuring key scenes that transitions from black-and-white to
color as Jonas begins to better understand the world around him.
"The Giver" comes ahead of the Friday panel for 20th Century
Fox's young adult film "The Maze Runner" starring Dylan O'Brien,
and "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe is also expected to
draw an avid young crowd for dark fantasy "Horns."
Although there are no panels for "Hunger Games" and
"Divergent," fans will still get surprises such as a trailer for
"Mockingjay" to be released at a Comic Con event on Friday, and
appearances by "Divergent" stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James
over the weekend.
But the absence of the blockbuster series also harkens to
Comic Con's roots as a welcome home to creative content with
fringe and cult audiences.
"Thanks to 'Twilight' and 'Hunger Games,' Comic Con had
become in the last six or seven years, a haven for these young
adult franchises," Karger said. "But this year is a return to
the Comic Con of years ago."
(Editing by Eric Kelsey)