Mid-size movie studios weren't the only beneficiaries of the big Hollywood powers' scaled-back presence at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. By the time the gathering wrapped Sunday afternoon, the TV networks had matched and often surpassed the movie studios for buzz and panel attendance, pumping up crowds for shows like "The Walking Dead," "Vampire Diaries" and "Game of Thrones."
Ad Age roamed the panels, exhibit halls and parties with 130,000 other attendees, and teamed up with social-media analytics firm Webtrends to determine who won and who lost at Comic-Con 2011.
Warner Bros. Television While Warner 's movie division stayed home, the studio's TV department cleaned up, claiming half of the week's 10 most talked-about shows, according to Webtrends' social-media analysis (six if you count sibling network HBO's "Game of Thrones"). The TV studio's CW made a big splash with panels for its shows "Vampire Diaries," "Supernatural" and fall drama "Ringer," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, while "Fringe," "Chuck," "The Big Bang Theory" each had a big presence (including a Friday-night Nerd HQ event hosted by "Chuck's" Zachary Levi.)
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" No surprises here: Summit's fourth "Twilight" movie, out this November, was the No. 1 most talked-about movie of Comic-Con, Webtrends said, thanks to a Thursday-morning panel that had "Twi-hards" waiting to get into since Wednesday night and new footage that kept fans tweeting for days.
Sony Pictures With Disney, Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. all sitting out this year's Comic-Con, the door was wide open for a major studio to promote its upcoming slate. Enter Sony, which had the week's second most talked-about movie with "The Amazing Spider-Man," and also plugged its films "Underworld: Awakening," "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" and "Attack The Block" through various panels and outdoor ads. Its installation for next summer's "Total Recall" reboot was a popular photo opp for fans outside the Convention Center.
(Speaking of buzzed-about pics, "Captain America," which opened as the top film this weekend, was No. 3 and "The Avengers" was No. 4, which is curious as Disney's Marvel unit didn't have any official presence at Comic-Con. But despite the buzz, our heroes might be in trouble. See below.)
"Snow White & the Huntsman" Universal Pictures is releasing the second of two Snow White movies in 2012, trailing Relativity Media's March release "Snow White" (starring Julia Roberts) by three months. So the studio hosted a panel on Saturday and smartly debuted pre-production stills of the film before shooting begins next week, featuring stars Kristin Stewart (Snow White), Chris Hemsworth (the Huntsman) and Charlize Theron (the evil queen) in costume -- beating Relativity's film, which quietly released a picture of "Snow White" star Lily Collins on Wednesday. "Snow White & the Huntsman" was the fifth most-talked about movie at Comic-Con, according to Webtrends' social-media analysis.
"The Walking Dead" Last year's breakout TV hit was this year's most talked-about TV show, logging over 11,000 mentions on blogs, social media and news sites. Footage from the series' upcoming second season, premiering this October on AMC, was a huge hit online, while "Walking Dead"-inspired zombies were seen staggering throughout the Gaslamp District well into the weekend.
Entertainment Weekly The Time Warner magazine scored the year's most talked-about party, featuring guests from the casts of "True Blood," "Glee," "Community" and "Vampire Diaries" and on-site previews of sponsor "Batman: Arkham City," one of the week's most talked-about video games. The event stole attention from EW's former party partner Syfy, which co-hosted its event this year with new Comcast sibling E! and rounded up a celebrity guest-list that consisted almost exclusively of Syfy talent such as the "Warehouse 13," "Eureka" and "Sanctuary" casts.
IGN The video-game blog was the week's most-mentioned media brand, with more than 7,000 online references, according to Webtrends. The site's streaming updates coupled with a popular party on Thursday (sponsored by THQ's "Saints Row: The Third") kept IGN top of mind among many attendees.
"The Adventures of Tintin" Paramount scored a huge coup by hosting the Comic-Con debut of Steven Spielberg on Friday and the surprise appearance from "Tintin" producer Peter Jackson. But what movie captured even more attention from the blogosphere than Paramount's computer-animated, Spielberg-helmed holiday tentpole? "Jurassic Park 4," a previously confirmed sequel that Spielberg discussed briefly during Friday's "Tintin" panel. The mention stole media attention from the movie he was there to really promote , capturing 4,137 mentions vs. "Tintin's" 3,971, according to Webtrends.
Jon Favreau. The "Cowboys & Aliens" director's Thursday panel, also featuring director Guillermo del Toro, was overshadowed by a competing "Game of Thrones" panel upstairs. The movie, which hosted its world premiere Saturday at Comic-Con, also received a lukewarm fan response, trailing movies such as "Captain America" and even "Snow White & the Huntsman" for buzz at No. 6 in Webtrends' movie-buzz analysis.
Superheroes. Just as Comic-Con formally kicked off Thursday morning, Susquehanna Financial Group media analyst Vasily Karasyov issued a report to investors proclaiming "The Death of Superheroes." This year has seen the disappointing performance of films such as "X-Men First Class," "The Green Lantern" and "The Green Hornet," while next summer brings only two major superhero titles, "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Avengers."
"We are at the tail end of another IP re-monetization cycle," Mr. Karasyov wrote, noting that 16 superhero films have been released since 2000. "Just like CDs enabled record companies to re-sell their catalogs once again and DVD did the same for film studios, computer generated imagery (CGI) technology helped IP holders monetize pre-existing properties, including comic book characters. As is usually the case, the highest quality properties such as 'The Lord of the Rings' tend to be monetized earlier in the cycle. The more properties are monetized, the more limited is the appeal of each new one coming to market."