By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer
From Ben Affleck to Jamie Lee Curtis, J.J. Abrams to Geena Davis, there was no escaping Palisadians at last weekend’s Comic-Con sci-fi festival in San Diego.
Start with Conan O’Brien. His cartoon image loomed large over the convention hall and could be seen plastered all over downtown San Diego.
O’Brien moderated several of Comic-Con’s biggest panels and events, including the world premiere of “Star Trek Beyond” and Warner Bros. presentation of its upcoming DC superhero blockbusters at Hall H—the biggest room at San Diego Convention Center.
The opening of the third in the Abrams’ rekindled Star Trek movie franchise hit its share of somber note in the aftermath of the recent freakish passing of co-star Anton Yelchin, 27.
He was killed by his own Grand Cherokee Jeep when it rolled down his driveway and pinned him to a fence.
The Studio City actor’s parents were in the audience.
Director Abrams, who last year also enjoyed a massively successful relaunch of the Star Wars universe, today produces “Star Trek Beyond.”
The latest episode was directed by action franchise favorite Justin Lin.
U.S. domestic box office was down about 15 percent from its predecessor, which was expected.
However, Abrams did appear with the “Beyond” cast to present the movie before an always-enthusiastic Comic-Con crowd.
The DC Entertainment showcase on Saturday, highlighted by appearances of the cast of August’s “Suicide Squad” and next year’s “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” movies, exploded with the surprise appearance of Ben Affleck.
Affleck played to the crowd, pulling out his phone camera to shoot a video of a roused audience.
“It’s just not ever going to happen for me like this again,” Affleck said. “It’s such a cool moment! Thanks!”
“I think this very well could happen for you again,” O’Brien interjected.
“Suicide Squad” and “Justice League,” in which Affleck continues to play Bruce Wayne/Batman, arguably made the biggest splashes at this year’s event.
Elsewhere in the convention center, “Spider-Man” and “Darkman” filmmaker Sam Raimi (a Palisades resident since 2008) returned to Comic-Con for another jocular round of rapier wit-sparring with his childhood buddy Bruce Campbell at the “Ash vs. Evil Dead” panel, promoting the second season of the Starz horror-comedy series, starring Campbell and Lucy Lawless.
On the TV front, actress Geena Davis, known for the David Cronenberg remake of “The Fly,” was in attendance to promote a different kind of horror franchise: the upcoming TV quasi-sequel to “The Exorcist.”
Following a screening of the pilot, which is set 40 years after the events in the classic 1973 William Freidkin horror film, Davis joined her cast mates and showrunner Jeremy Slater to kibbitz with the crowd about the new Fox Television series.
“I’m a huge fan of the movie, which scarred me for life, just like everybody,” Davis said, explaining why she signed up for this series.
When the moderator asked Davis if she took on a maternal vibe to the actresses playing her daughters on the show, the perky longtime Palisadian replied, “Yes! I dyed my hair blond so I could look like their mother!”
Even on the convention floor, it was a local mob as “Scream Queens” star Jamie Lee Curtis, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and “Hollywood Treasure” host Jonathan Mankuta circulated.
Groening, who currently resides in Santa Monica Canyon, could be found checking out new books at the Fantagraphics booth, only a few steps away from iconic independent comic book creators Daniel Clowes and The Hernandez Bros. Mankuta, meanwhile, a Marvel comic book collector who recently appeared in “Veep” alongside Huntington resident and Emmy nominee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, was on the prowl for some interesting works in the Small Press Pavilion.
And they all expected to be back next year for the 47th annual Comic-Con.
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