SAN DIEGO—Comics and pop culture aficionados will soon descend on San Diego in droves for the Comic-Con International, an annual convention that's long been an economic boon for the city but may move elsewhere in a few years.
About 125,000 people annually attend Comic-Con, which features hundreds of exhibits, celebrity appearances, film screenings and industry panels over four days.
In recent years, the confab has been embraced by Hollywood as one of the premier events to haul out new action, fantasy, science fiction and animated movies and television shows.
This year's sold-out gathering runs July 22-25 at the San Diego Convention Center.
But the future of Comic-Con in San Diego remains uncertain. Other cities such as Los Angeles and Anaheim have been trying hard to lure Comic-Con to their cities, starting in 2013.
According to a recent report, Comic-Con will inject nearly $163 million into San Diego's economy during this year's run.
To keep the show in San Diego, officials have offered Comic-Con organizers a half-million dollars in incentives to stay and are working to possibly expand the Convention Center.
Comic-Con began in 1970 as a one-day convention at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. Since then, the event has become so popular it has outgrown even the Convention Center, spilling out to other venues.
Despite the uncertainty about its future home, the lineup for this year's Comic-Con will be crowd-pleasing.
Industry insiders and a lucky few will get a taste of what's in store at this year's Comic-Con during a preview night on July 21, which will include a behind-the-scenes look at the new television series "Nikita.''
Highlights of opening day include the debut of DreamWorks' animated "Megamind;'' an inside look at Walt Disney Pictures' "TRON: Legacy''; Sony Pictures Entertainment showcasing its new film "Salt;'' Summit Entertainment giving a sneak peek of footage from "Red;'' and an "insider scoop'' of "The Expendables.''
July 23 is " Star Wars'' day, with panel discussions and special programs. Also, Universal Pictures will present an exclusive look at the science fiction thriller "Skyline;'' CBS with showcase its sitcom "The Big Bang Theory;'' comics legend Stan Lee will discuss his work; Sony Pictures will preview its upcoming films "The Other Guys,'' "The Green Hornet,'' and "Priest;'' and the cast from "True Blood'' will take part in a panel discussion.
The 22nd annual Eisner Awards, considered the " Oscars'' of the comics industry, will be given out at a ceremony at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront that Friday night.
The following day, Seth MacFarlane will discuss " Family Guy;'' NBC will premiere "The Event;'' Warner Bros. will showcase the upcoming " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows;'' Matt Groening will discuss creating "The Simpsons''; and the cast of NBC's "Community'' will make an appearance.
Also on Saturday, the cast of "The Vampire Diaries'' will answer fan questions; Universal will present two upcoming films "Paul'' and "Cowboys & Aliens;'' writer- actor Kevin Smith will meet fans; Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage will discuss their show "Mythbusters;'' and Marvel Studios will give an inside look at "Thor'' and "Captain America: The First Avenger.''
The last day of the convention features a cast question-and-answer session on the final season of "Smallville:'' a discussion by the creators of the game "Halo;'' a panel on Marvel's " Spider-Man;'' and an appearance by the cast and creators of the Fox television hit "Glee.''
Among the many celebrities rumored or scheduled to attend this year's Comic-Con are Angelina Jolie, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Liv Tyler, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Seth Rogen, Chevy Chase,
William Shatner, Jon Favreau, Sigourney Weaver and Danny DeVito.