The geeks inherit the Earth for one week a year, and that week is upon us. The 2008 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off with Preview Night on Wednesday, and we’re here to offer you a day-by-day hitlist of the panels and programming worth checking out. So without further delay, here we go.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23rd, 2008
Known as Preview Night, the Comic-Con opens for a short time, 6-9pm, the night prior to its first official day for all pre-registered 4-day passholders. Considering how quickly the 4-day passes sold-out, this year’s Preview Night may not be as wide open as year’s past, but Preview Night is still regarded as the most relaxed of all days at the Con. When you walk, you don’t necessarily bump into anybody. You can see all the booths, all the decorations, a few exclusives… if you’ve got issues with crowds and want a calmer Comic-Con, this is your only shot.

Oh, and lest we forget, this is the first year that Comic-Con is programming anything during Preview Night, so if you’re up to some communal TV watching, the Con is screening the pilot for J.J. Abrams newest television show “Fringe” from 6-7:30pm, and then again at 7:30-9pm in Ballroom 20. The show doesn’t debut until September, so you’ll be ahead of the curve… and potentially a source of positive buzz for the show, which is the REAL reason the studios show anything at these events.

THURSDAY, JULY 24th, 2008
It’s Day One of the Con, and that means panels, booth exclusives and other events. Let’s take a look at the day, starting in the morning, and work our way through one full day of Comic-Con madness.

10:00-11:30, Room 26AB – Comic-Con Film School 101: Preproduction and Screenwriting – Comic-Con has been doing these 4 day filmmaking workshops for the last five years, and the more cinematically inclined of you might want to check them out. Sure, you don’t get to line up before the sun rises for Hall H programming, but you’ll actually learn something that may be useful down the line.

10:00-11:00, Room 32AB – Masters of the Web – If you ever wanted to know what the people behind your favorite movie websites look like, then this panel is for you. Folks like Robert Sanchez (, Garth Franklin (, Mike Sampson (, Erik Davis (, John Campea (, Brad Miska (, Eric “Quint” Vespe (, Devin Faraci (, Paul Christensen ( and Kellvin Chavez ( will all be on display for your reverance and/or scrutiny. As for what you’ll learn at this panel… I haven’t a clue. How to creatively re-word a press release to make it sound like an exclusive? I KID! I KID!

11:30-1:00, Hall H – 20th Century Fox Showcase – The first big Hall H event of the Con involves 20th Century Fox as they trot out stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, plus director Scott Derrickson and producer Erwin Stoff, for an exclusive look at the re-make “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Considering how absolutely tactless some nerds can be (I should know, being one myself), and they all tend to mass together in Hall H during the Con, this may be worth attending just to hear the verbal abuse thrown at Reeves. Just dodge the drool puddles from those more interested in leering at Connelly.

Oh, there’s another film too. Director John Moore will be on-hand to talk all about his upcoming film “Max Payne” with stars “Marky” Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Ludacris.

1:15-2:45, Hall H – Summit Pictures Showcase – There’s more films and more participants on-hand for this showcase than what 20th Century Fox is currently promoting, so expect clips and comments to move quickly. Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Djimon Hounsou, Camilla Belle and director Paul McGuigan will be at the Con to talk all about their film “Push,” director Alex Proyas will be around to talk about his latest flick “Knowing,” and, the real highlight for the misunderstood youngins, director Catherine Hardwicke, author Stephenie Meyer, and the cast represented by Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Cam Gigandet, Rachelle LaFevre, Edi Gathegi, and Taylor Lautner will be talking all about “Twilight.”

Personally, I like what I’ve heard about “Knowing” more than the rest of them. Seems like the kind of mind-f**k Proyas hasn’t been willing to drop on us since his “Dark City” days, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether my hopes are going to be rewarded or dashed.

2:00-3:00, Room 6CDEF – “Red Sonja”: One-on-One – This ought to be interesting from a purely gossip standpoint, as director Robert Rodriguez, star Rose McGowan and Doug Aarniokoski and David White talk all about the possible “Red Sonja” film. I say “possible” because, last I heard, the film wasn’t sitting very pretty on the production slate, along with Rodriguez’s other re-make, “Barbarella.” Might be worth checking out to either get the truth, get the double-speak evading the truth or to get a close-up look at Rose McGowan (or Robert Rodriguez, we don’t judge over here).

3:00-4:00, Hall H – Disney: “Race to Witch Mountain” – These types of Hall H presentations are routinely known as nap times or transitions, as geeks leave so more can funnel in, or they just take some time to rest. It’s questionable how many hardcore geeks want to know what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is cooking when it comes to a Disney kids flick, but he’ll be on-hand with co-star Carla Gugino and director Andy Fickman anyway so… if you’ve camped out in Hall H all day, might as well stick around.

4:15-5:15, Hall H – Lionsgate/Marvel: “Hulk vs. Wolverine” – If you’d have left during the Disney showcase, you probably wouldn’t be able to get back in for this, the animated re-telling of the classic Hulk tale that introduced the world to Wolverine. The film doesn’t find its way to DVD until 2009, so see it well in advance at the Con.

5:30-6:30, Hall H – Dark Castle: “RocknRolla” – Guy Ritchie and Gerard Butler will be talking all about Mr. Madonna’s latest film “RocknRolla,” though this is more than just about them. The entire Dark Castle line-up will be discussed, with producer Joel Silver in attendance and Korean music sensation Rain representing the film “Ninja Assassin.”

6:00-7:00, Room 7AB – Bill Plympton’s “Idiots and Angels” – Bill Plympton’s animation is always a sure-bet for a good time, so if you’re not burned out from a day of wandering the Con floor or listening to celebrities kind of, sort of reveal secrets about their upcoming films, check out the first 20 minutes of “Idiots and Angels,” as well as Plympton’s latest short, “Hot Dog.”

6:25-8:00, Room 26AB – “Independents: A Guide for the Creative Spirit” – This documentary all about comic books and the personalities that create them will be followed by a Q&A with Wendy Pini (Elfquest), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Jim Woodring (Frank), Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man), Keith Knight (The Knight Life), Dr. James Kaufman, and director Chris Brandt. This screening is also part of the San Diego Comic-Con’s annual International Independent Film Festival (which will be running daily through the Con).

7:00-9:00, Room 7AB – “Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist” – With “The Spirit” coming up in 2009, take this opportunity to learn all about the comic book legend behind the story with this documentary about Will Eisner. Followed by a Q&A with director/producer Andrew D. Cooke and writer/producer Jon B. Cooke.

8:00-8:30, Room 6B – Lionsgate and Marvel: “Punisher: War Zone!” – Is it just me, or is this the most loaded Comic-Con Thursday EVER! Seriously, by this time in year’s past I was wandering San Diego looking for afterhours parties. This year, Hell, stay at the Con! Producer Gale Anne Hurd and stars Ray Stevenson and Julie Benz will be debuting exclusive footage from the new “Punisher” flick, so why not stick around?

8:30-9:00, Room 6B – Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures: “Saw 5” – Wow, they ARE making another one! If you don’t believe it, attend this short panel for a talk with director David Hackl and get a first-look at the latest in the “Saw” franchise.

8:30-10:00, Ballroom 20 – “Star Wars” Fan Film Awards – “Star Wars” will never end as long as the fans keep making films, and every year the fans prove how much more capable they are of carrying that torch than George Lucas ever could be. Sad but true.

9:00-10:00, Room 6B – “Repo! The Genetic Opera” First Look – Remember that “Saw” panel I just mentioned? Check in with this panel to find out what “Saw’s” Darren Lynn Bousman has been doing with his non-“Saw” time. Beyond some clips and a new trailer, actors Alexa Vega (“Spy Kids”), Bill Moseley (“The Devil’s Rejects”), and Ogre (the band Skinny Puppy) will be in attendance.

10:00-12:00, Ballroom 20 – Warner Premiere and Warner Home Video: World Premiere of “Lost Boys The Tribe” – Wow, the opportunity to stay up late with a bunch of geeks watching the oft-discussed sequel to the cult classic “The Lost Boys.” And if that’s not enough… wait for it… COREY FELDMAN IS GOING TO BE THERE! Don’t ask about Haim, it’s poor manners…

It’s hard to believe that this was only Wednesday and Thursday, and I focused specifically on film-related events and not all the comics or TV panels and… it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It’s not over yet. Check out Friday and Saturday in Part Two of Film Threat’s Guide to the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con>>>

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