Every summer, the Hollywood Santa leaves the North Pole for San Diego. He slips down the Convention Center chimney for four very special days, leaving good geeks exclusive treats, never-before-seen footage and movie-star encounters. They call it Comic-Con, and it is Christmas for movie lovers.
Once again, your MTV Movies team is getting ready to cover the Con like no one else can. From preview night until the last stormtrooper turns out the light, we'll be providing extensive coverage across our Web site and blogs. To give you a peek inside our planning, here are the top 10 panels we're eager to see — be sure to keep it here July 23-26 for the latest news. (Keep in mind that all times are PT, and if you see MTV there be sure to give us a Vulcan salute, OK?)
[movie id="414921"]"New Moon"[/movie] (Thursday at 1:45 p.m., Hall H) — As anyone who owns the DVD has seen in the bonus features, "Twilight" mania erupted last year at Comic-Con, as the seemingly little-known film inspired die-hards to line up in record numbers. Now, San Diego is ready for "New Moon" mania, and our own Hollywood Crush will even be embedding a reporter to camp out with the Twilighters, providing up-to-the-minute experiences while waiting in line. As your home for all things "Twilight," you can trust MTV to be all over this panel like Jasper Hale on Bella's bloody finger. The cast of "Astro Boy" and "Sorority Row" will also be participating in the panel, answering such probing questions as "When will Robert Pattinson walk onstage?"
"Disney: 3D Panel" (Thursday at 11:00 a.m., Hall H) — The first-ever 3-D presentation to be held at the Con, this panel features Robert Zemeckis presenting footage from "A Christmas Carol," Tim Burton bringing us goodies from "Alice in Wonderland" and the "Tron" sequel returning triumphantly to the place where it made such an impact last summer. As if all that isn't enough, funnyman/ movie buff Patton Oswalt will moderate.
"Avatar" (Thursday at 3:00 p.m., Hall H) — The single most-anticipated panel at Comic-Con not including Robert Pattinson has legendary filmmaker James Cameron finally presenting footage from the top-secret December flick that marks his first proper film since 1997's "Titanic." Joined by his producer and castmembers likely to include Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana and others, geeks will finally get a peek at the developing technology Cameron has been touting for more than a decade.
"Sony Pictures" (Saturday at 2:45 p.m., Hall H) — "2012" is promising to end civilization as we know it. "Zombieland" has, well, zombies. What more do you need?
[movie id="390378"]"Iron Man 2"[/movie] (Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Hall H) — Director Jon Favreau loves Comic-Con so much that he cut a spellbinding clip reel together for the San Diego geeks, ran it multiple times to rapturous applause and built a buzz that led to more than $300 million at the box office for last year's "Iron Man." Now, Favs is hard at work on the sequel and will be bringing the cast back to the Con. Geeks will be betting their limited-edition phaser guns that he'll show a lot more than a promotional still. Be sure to keep an eye on our Splash Page blog, where we'll be posting up-to-the-minute updates on such comic-based flicks as this one, "Kick-Ass," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "Dead of Night."
"Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" (Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Room 6DE) — You haven't seen a die-hard fan until you've met the loyalists who kneel at the feet of this 1999 cult classic. Now, the Saints are back — and unpredictable writer/director Troy Duffy is sure to have some choice words for Hollywood.
"Warner Bros." (Friday at 10:00 a.m., Hall H) — WB has a strong slate of upcoming films including "Where the Wild Things Are," "Jonah Hex," "Sherlock Holmes" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Oh, and did I mention that Megan Fox might get the geeks' attention by dressing up like slave-girl Princess Leia?
"9" (Friday at 2:30 p.m., Hall H) — Produced by Tim Burton and "Wanted" director Timur Bekmambetov — and from the studio that brought us the eye-dazzling "Coraline" earlier this year — this 9.9.09 movie could be something special. Stars Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly will be at the panel, along with a ton of new footage.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (Thursday at 2:00 p.m., Room 6BCF) — It's a movie aimed primarily at kids, but the trailer looks cool in a Pixar sort of way. And with Anna Faris, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg appearing in person, something tells us that the panel will become riotously R-rated very quickly.
"The Visionaries" (Friday at 6:30 p.m., Hall H) — They see the cinematic world unlike anyone else, and in this geek-tastic discussion sponsored by Entertainment Weekly magazine, Peter Jackson and James Cameron will give us a sneak peek at the future of film. The directing duo behind the "Lord of the Rings" and "Terminator" franchises — as well as so many other classics — will engage in a rare conversation about the cutting-edge technology, narrative breakthroughs and home-entertainment options that will transform Hollywood in the years to come. Believe it or not, it's the first time Jackson has ever attended the world's greatest Con.