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by Bryce J. Renninger
July 22, 2009 4:09 AM
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"Wild Things," Superheroes, Burton, Jonze, "Twilight" and Freaks Ready for 40th Comic-Con

San Diego, California takes a bow this weekend as the Comic-Con International will draw the world's anime, comic book, and superhero aficionados once again for its 40th event, taking place July 23 - 26 (with a "preview day" tomorrow, July 22). The LA Times' Hero Complex blog is anticipating the convention with the voice of an insider. Anne Thompson has provided her primer on her Variety blog, stating this year's event is "front-loaded" with heavy hitters taking spots in the first two days of the increasingly popular event.

Thursday morning, web-based film journalists from such sites as Ain't It Cool News, CHUD, ScreenRant, Latino Review, AOL Black Voices, and more get together to discuss the effects of new media on filmmaking. Robert Zemeckis and Tim Burton will screen unseen footage from their respective Disney films, "Disney's A Christmas Carol" and "Alice in Wonderland." This particular panel will also screen footage from a "Tron" sequel. Producers Sean Bailey and Steve Lisberger will be there to field questions and create excitement for an update to the canonical nerd film.

In the afternoon, "Road to Perdition" comic scribe Max Allan Collins will join other crime fiction writers for a panel on the genre. And later, Bill Plympton, the Oscar-nominated animator, will present a new short from his charming "Dog" series along with other new shorts and a glimpse at his new in-progress feature film, "Hanky Panky." Plympton's screening will go up against a preview of James Cameron's "Avatar." Later, there will be a sneak peek at Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." And not to be outdone in the Thursday mix is a preview of the new "Twilight" film.

A scene from Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass." Image courtesy of the filmmaker.

Friday morning, Warner Bros.' sneak peaks will include a look at Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are." The makers of Focus Features' "Coraline" will be on hand to talk about the making of the animated feature that premiered this year to excellent response. Jim Caviezel ("The Passion of the Christ") stars in an update to the cult-classic TV series "The Prisoner," premiering on AMC this season, which will preview at Comic-Con. Disney's animation panel will include a rare appearance in the United States from Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, who will be in San Diego to talk about the English-language release of his hit film "Ponyo." As the New York Times pointed out last week, Miyazaki did not even attend the Academy Awards ceremony that gave him his best animated feature win for "Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi" (2001) . That article goes on to quote UC Berkeley professor Duncan Williams explaining his aversion of the States by saying, "I think he has an image of the United States as a culture that isn't that helpful to the world." The afternoon will include an inside look at Focus Features' animated film "9," directed by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov.

Saturday gets underway with "Lost" creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse will hold a discussion on the final installment of "Lost," while in the afternoon, Miramax will provide a first look at their new Mike Judge film, "Extract," which stars Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig. In the evening, Kevin Smith will address the masses. There will also be a panel for Sundance alum "Black Dynamite," which will be getting a release from Sony Pictures October 16.

All day Sunday, the San Diego International Children's Film Festival will be presented in conjunction with Comic-Con. Overture Pictures' "Paper Heart," another Sundance alum, will have a panel in the afternoon with the film's star Charlyne Yi. Sunday will end with a screening of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" musical episode.

The entire Comic-Con schedule can be found on the event's website.

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