Previews started last night for San Diego Comic-Con, which officially kicks off today. Over the years, SDCC has grown from a smaller meeting of the nerds to a massive and unwieldy crowd of entertainment-hungry consumers (and costumers). The convention has topped 125,000 attendees for the past five years, as the focus has shifted away from comics to mainstream movie and TV panels.
There are still plenty of superheroes and comic books to go around, but there’s no question that Hall H dominates SDCC. People camp out for days before the event in hopes of getting a glimpse at the latest news and sneak peeks at upcoming films. That kind of enthusiasm is great for studios trying to create buzz for their films.
Here are the top five stocks looking for a big show at Comic-Con.
The Walking Dead dominated ratings last season, and AMC (AMCX) is shooting for a repeat performance. The first step toward that goal is an appearance at Comic-Con, where the original comic celebrates its 10th anniversary with a zombie party.
The stars of the show, along with some of the crew, will take center stage on Friday to talk about third season’s success, and tease fans with talk of season four. And in a brilliant marketing move, Norman Reedus — the actor behind fan-favorite character Daryl Dixon — is taking over The Walking Dead’s Instagram account for the duration of the convention.
Twenty-First Century Fox
Fox (FOXA) has a few projects that it’s trotting out this year, most notably the upcoming film The Wolverine. The movie follows everyone’s favorite X-Man on a lone adventure to Japan, where he encounters old friends and new foes. Hugh Jackman stars again, in a role that he’s been playing for fourteen years. The movie will be a focal point of Fox’s Hall H panel.
As for projects that don’t have the promotional benefits of Hugh Jackman’s ridiculous physique, there’s Fox’s prequel-sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That film takes place after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and follows a group of people resisting their new damn dirty overlords. Rumors are also spreading that someone involved with X-Men: Days of Future Past will make a surprise appearance during Fox’s panel.
Fox also previewed its upcoming TV show Almost Human during preview night, last night.
Sony (SNE) didn’t have a lot of time to celebrate its E3 dominance before preparing for Comic-Con this year. Sony’s Hall H panel will give fans new info about next summer’s follow up to Amazing-Spider Man, which rebooted the web-slinger and took a darker look at his high school years. The first film made decent money, especially considering it was sandwiched between blockbusters The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
Friday’s panel will cover a few other films as well, including the upcoming Robocop remake, which leaves us dangerously close to depleting our resources of ’80s films to remake. The cast of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 will show up, as will the cast and crew of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which Sony hopes is a franchise-in-the-making.
Disney’s (DIS) Marvel Studios already built on the success of last year’s box office leader The Avengers with Iron Man 3, which could very well be the top-grossing movie of the year. Next up for the studio is Thor: The Dark World, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. An ancient evil awakens to threaten Thor’s homeworld and ours, so expect lots of magic and battles and hammers.
After taking audiences to The Dark World, Marvel will take Captain America into the present with Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. No word yet if Joss Whedon, King of the Nerds, will make an appearance to talk about 2015’s The Avengers 2, but fans (and shareholders) can always hope.
Lions Gate (LGF) is bringing a few big properties to Comic-Con this year, none bigger than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The series’ first film ended last year in the No. 3 position (beating out James Bond, The Hobbit, and Twilight), and the star power of Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence looks set to propel this sequel to similar heights. Expect lots of hype going into Saturday’s panel.
The Hunger Games panel will split time with another Lions Gate film, I, Frankenstein, which brings Mary Shelley’s monstrous creation into modern times. The studio’s subsidiary Summit Entertainment has a panel featuring Ender’s Game, the long-awaited adaptation of the young adult sci-fi novel about a young boy tasked with saving humanity via space battles. The film is generating a lot of controversy due to its author’s social and political views, so good buzz at Comic-Con could go a long way for the film.
Adam Benjamin is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. However, he was long Jennifer Lawrence on the Hollywood Stock Exchange.