Hunger Games, Divergent pushed aside for new Comic Con fare

A Stormtrooper stands by a display of Star Wars figurines in the exhibitor hall during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Stormtrooper stands by a display of Star Wars figurines in the exhibitor hall during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A zombie character from the TV show The Walking Dead approaches the attendees during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A zombie character from the TV show The Walking Dead approaches the attendees during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Comic fans look at character dolls from Thor during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Comic fans look at character dolls from Thor during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Lori Ouellette, of Cheshire, Connecticut, portrays The Red Queen with the group, League of Hatters, during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Lori Ouellette, of Cheshire, Connecticut, portrays The Red Queen with the group, League of Hatters, during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two year old Ellie Campbell, along with her aunt Jen Pike of Austin, Texas, gets a high-five from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character Donatello during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- P
Two year old Ellie Campbell, along with her aunt Jen Pike of Austin, Texas, gets a high-five from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character Donatello during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Christopher Petrone, of San Diego, CA, towering over attendees in his handmade, to-scale Chewbacca costume, gives a roar to fans during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Christopher Petrone, of San Diego, CA, towering over attendees in his handmade, to-scale Chewbacca costume, gives a roar to fans during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Attendees pass by a dragon figurine during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Attendees pass by a dragon figurine during the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Erien Hodge and his son Adonis Hodge, 13, are dressed as Batman and Robin on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Erien Hodge and his son Adonis Hodge, 13, are dressed as Batman and Robin on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
An attendee dressed as the Disney villian Hades the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
An attendee dressed as the Disney villian Hades the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Linda Tran (left) , dressed as Harley Quinn, poses with her boyfriend Erien Hodge (back, left) dressed as Batman and Hodges son Adonis (back, right), 13, and daugther Alexis (right), 8, dressed as Cat Woman, on the first day of the 45th annual San Di
Linda Tran (left) , dressed as Harley Quinn, poses with her boyfriend Erien Hodge (back, left) dressed as Batman and Hodges son Adonis (back, right), 13, and daugther Alexis (right), 8, dressed as Cat Woman, on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Matthew "Bacchus" Lister poses in costume on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Matthew "Bacchus" Lister poses in costume on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A mother and child pose for a photo with costumed attendees on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A mother and child pose for a photo with costumed attendees on the first day of the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con, in San Diego California on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SAN DIEGO (REUTERS) - 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 audience.

Without the star-studded film panels promoting November's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, the next instalment 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 thrillers.

"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 organise 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 honoured 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 US theatres 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 colour 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."

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