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A Comic-Con without Marvel, HBO gives others a chance to pop

Comic-Con fans know one thing to be true: Where there is fun, there's usually a line that precedes it. And hours before the annual pop culture convention officially kicked off Wednesday night in San Diego, there were lines everywhere — to get onto the convention floor to buy merchandise at the stroke of 6 p.m., to have the life scared out of them at the DC Universe Swamp Thing "experience," to gaze at pretty Laika characters, to get into a Hall H panel Thursday morning and even to take a photo with an Andrew Lincoln lookalike.

Over 130,000 pop culture devotees will come to San Diego's Gaslamp District for the annual four-day comic book convention Comic-Con, the big, bright and very heavily branded confab of costumed superfans and the corporate sponsors vying for their attention — and dollars.

Interested in dining at a working replica of the "Demolition Man" Taco Bell for the movie's 25th anniversary? Or witness a mock court-martial of Star Wars' Poe Dameron for leading a mutiny in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"? How about a wine and beer tasting with Neil deGrasse Tyson? Or a "Ready Player One" experience with retro gaming stations and recreation of Room 237 from "The Shining"? If you like pop culture, it's highly likely there is something tailor-made for you at Comic-Con 2018.

"I'm blown away by everyone, everything," said first-time attendee Jeffrey Potts, of Los Angeles. "It's like an amusement park in the middle of town."

Right outside the convention center, across the train tracks, DC Universe has set up a massive space with props and costumes from various movies and tv shows in DC history, like the giant rubber ducky cart from "Batman Begins," and some elaborately-staged "experiences" like a menacing Harley Quinn-themed escape room in a paint-splattered asylum.

What started as a 300-person event in 1970 has evolved into a massive operation with events year-round. But San Diego Comic-Con is the marquee occasion. Tickets for four-day access plus preview night can set attendees back $276, before hotel, travel costs, food and any souvenirs.

Loicia Ware, a San Diego resident who has been coming to Comic-Con for at least 10 years, likes to venture onto the convention center floor right when it opens Wednesday evening for preview night, heading straight for Artists Alley and Small Collections on the 460,000 square foot space. It allows her to focus on panels for the rest of the week.

As it has grown, attendees have come to expect a lot from Comic-Con, like exclusive merchandise on the convention center floor, newsy announcements from some of Hollywood's biggest studios, and screenings of anticipated films and television shows.

This year Warner Bros. is coming armed with stars and footage from "Aquaman," ''Shazam!," ''Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and "The LEGO Movie 2"; Sony is hyping its Spider-Man spinoff "Venom"; and Universal Pictures will be teasing "Halloween" and M. Night Shyamalan's "Glass." On the television side, fans will get a glimpse of new "Doctor Who" star Jodie Whittaker and have a chance to check out "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Riverdale." And streaming services like Netflix and Hulu will be back with properties like Marvel's "Iron Fist" and the new J.J. Abrams-produced "Castle Rock," based on Stephen King stories.

But a few of the major players are conspicuously absent from Hall H, the 6,500-seat room in the San Diego Convention Center that boasts the highest-profile presentations and attracts an enthusiastic fan base willing to camp out overnight in line to secure a coveted seat — as of mid-day Wednesday there were at least 300 people already in line for panels that don't begin until Thursday morning. Those skipping this year include Marvel Studios, HBO ("Game of Thrones") and Star Wars.

"It's a huge deal when major properties like Marvel, Star Wars or HBO don't show up," says Germain Lussier, an entertainment reporter for io9/Gizmodo who has been attending the convention for 15 years. "For the past decade, Marvel Studios panels have consistently been the No. 1 most anticipated thing for movie fans at Comic-Con. Their panels never failed to disappoint with exclusive footage, huge news and big surprises."

Production schedules are more to blame than anything else, however. Lussier notes that each of the absent brands has a big (and intensely secretive) installment coming in 2019, including "Avengers 4," ''Star Wars: Episode IX" and the final season of "Game of Thrones."

"Instead of showing up and disappointing fans, they're simply bowing out to not bolster expectations," he says.

Also, other brands and properties could benefit from an unusually open runway.

"Every year, there's always one or two things everyone is talking about. And if it's not 'Avengers 4'or 'Star Wars,' what's it going to be?" says Lussier. "I think this is a huge opportunity for Warner Bros. to steal every headline with major news and exciting footage."

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Destiny's Child singer Williams seeks mental health help

Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams says she's seeking help for the depression she has struggled with for years.

Williams said in an Instagram post Tuesday that she has "sought help from a great team of health care professionals."

She gave no specifics on her treatment, and a message left with her manager seeking details was not immediately returned.

Williams' post says that for years she has dedicated herself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to seek help. She says she recently decided to listen to the advice she has given, and wants to lead by example in seeking treatment.

The 37-year-old Williams was a core member of Destiny's Child, the trio with Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland that sat atop the R&B world from 1997 to 2006.

San Francisco bans tour buses from 'Full House' residence

Tour buses will no longer be swinging by a San Francisco house made famous in the popular 1990s sitcom "Full House."

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted Tuesday to ban commercial vehicles from Broderick Street after neighbors complained. Vehicles that seat nine or more people will no longer be allowed on the block.

Spokesman Paul Rose says neighbors complained about double parking and congestion outside the Victorian home, causing traffic hazards.

The exterior of the Broderick Street house was used as the family's residence in the original show and in a Netflix reboot in 2016.

The producer who created the show bought the home for more than $4 million in 2016.

Destiny’s Child star Michelle Williams checks in to mental health facility, reports say

Destiny’s Child star Michelle Williams has reportedly checked herself into a mental health facility, TMZ reports.

Williams posted a letter to her fans on her Instagram page on Tuesday.

“I recently listened to the same advice I have given thousands around the world and sought help from a great team of professionals,” Williams posted.

Sources told TMZ that Williams is receiving treatment at a facility near Los Angeles.

Williams has been open about her struggles with depression, revealing her story in an interview on “The Talk” last year.

>> Read more trending news 

Williams recently reunited with Destiny’s Child members Beyonce and Kelly Rowland at Coachella in April.

It was the first time the group has performed together in several years.

Robin Williams speaks for himself in new HBO documentary

When filmmaker Marina Zenovich sought to make a documentary about Robin Williams, she found that she could do it largely in the late comedian's own voice.

"Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind," uses a wealth of archival footage to put viewers inside his thought process — mirroring a routine Williams used as an up-and-coming comic in the 1970s.

The film, which includes interviews with David Letterman and Billy Crystal, premiered Monday on HBO and is available on its streaming service, HBO Now. Friends and relatives, including Williams' son Zak, also share memories.

"I get sad when I think about Billy and Robin because when I interviewed him (Crystal) you could really feel a sense of loss," the filmmaker said. "I love the line in the movie when he says, 'Everyone wanted something from him. I had no agenda. I just liked him."

The documentary is intended to celebrate the artist, Zenovich said, and her team "handcrafted" the project with love. It was often difficult to choose among the hundreds of clips and routines.

"What's so great is hearing people say the film is so inspiring. It's so joyful. And I don't know, it touches on something deep. I mean, it's about so many things. It's about fame, the effects of fame. It's about talent and kind of someone with an amazing talent, watching his trajectory."

Zenovich said she wants people to have a greater understanding of Williams and what he tried to do "and how generous he was and what a great mind he had."

Williams suffered from dementia caused by Lewy body disease and killed himself in August 2014 at age 63. Williams received four Academy Award nominations and won for 1997's "Good Will Hunting."

Zenovich previously made two documentaries on director Roman Polanski.

World Cup finale reaches 16 million viewers in U.S.

The World Cup soccer final where France defeated Croatia was seen by just over 16 million people in the United States on Sunday.

While that made the Sunday morning telecast on Fox and Telemundo the most-watched program of the week, it represented a significant drop in viewership from the 2014 World Cup finale, which featured Germany and Argentina. That game had 26.5 million viewers on ABC and Univision, the Nielsen company said.

While Croatia was a compelling underdog story, the small country probably wasn't a big television draw. The World Cup in general had to fight for attention in the United States because the U.S. team did not qualify this year.

The Fox telecast of the finale reached 11.3 million, with the remainder watching the Spanish-language station.

The company Eurodata TV estimated that 163 million people in Europe and China watched the World Cup final, with China leading the way with 56 million. Even with two European teams competing, Eurodata said the World Cup final was less popular in that region than the competition four years ago. There was no worldwide estimate of viewership yet.

In France, the final game against Croatia was seen by 19.3 million people — smaller than the audience for the Euro soccer final two years ago, Eurodata TV said.

The 1.6 million people who watched in Croatia represented a nearly 90 percent market share -- meaning 90 percent of the televisions in that country were tuned in, Eurodata said.

NBC was the winner for the week in U.S. prime-time viewing, averaging 4.3 million viewers. CBS had 4 million, ABC had 3.4 million, Fox had 2.1 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.13 million, Univision had 1.05 million and the CW had 900,000 viewers.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.69 million viewers. MSNBC had 1.58 million, USA had 1.48 million, HGTV had 1.4 million and TBS had 1.07 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" led the evening newscasts with an average of 7.7 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 7.2 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.3 million.

For the week of July 9-15, the top 10 prime-time shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.55 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 7.3 million; "Celebrity Family Feud," ABC, 6.41 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), 5.98 million; "World of Dance," NBC, 5.89 million; "Little Big Shots," NBC, 5.84 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 5.83 million; "Hannity" (Monday), Fox News, 5.82 million; "Code Black," CBS, 5.72 million; "The Bachelorette," ABC, 5.69 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

Study finds dramatic increase in 2018 Sundance attendance

Attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival increased dramatically over the previous year, according to an economic impact study released on Tuesday.

Nearly 125,000 people attended some part of the 11-day Utah event last year, a growth of more than 70 percent over the estimated 71,600 attendees in 2017, the study from Y2 Analytics estimated.

However, previous studies likely had failed to count people who only attended the festival briefly, the firm said. Roughly one-quarter of attendees — including 36 percent of Utah residents — attended the festival for just one day, the study said.

Still, the festival had "definitely seen some year-over-year growth in attendance," the report said.

The event generated an estimated economic impact of $191.6 million, spurred in large part by out-of-state visitors who spent millions on hotels, rental cars and meals, analysts said. The report estimated that each out-of-state attendee spent $688 per day.

The 2018 economic impact was roughly 26 percent higher than the $151.5 million estimated in 2017.

The growth in attendance this year was partially due to a new 500-seat theater in Park City as well as an expanded program section focusing on episodic work, organizers said.

Attendance was estimated by anonymously tracking people's cellphones as they moved throughout the festival, which had events in Park City, Salt Lake City and at the Sundance Resort northeast of Provo.

Of the attendants, slightly more than one-third came from outside Utah.

An estimated 72 percent of attendees had been to a previous year's festival and nearly 92 percent said they planned on returning in future years.

The festival was estimated to be responsible for more than 3,300 jobs statewide and contributed $19.2 million in state and local taxes, analysts said.

"Each year the full extent of the economic benefits of the arts has become more apparent, and we're very proud of the role Sundance Institute and our festival have played in demonstrating these benefits and bringing them to Utah," Sundance Institute executive Betsy Wallace said in a statement releasing the report.

Kourtney Kardashian’s Man Isn’t A Fan of Her Sexy Social

kardashian.jpgI feel like it’s part of the job title of “Kardashian” to post sexy pictures wearing barely there clothing, so if you decide to date one of the sisters, you have to be prepared for some scandalous pics. Apparently, Younes Bendjima’s, Kourtney’s man, isn’t a big fan of his chick showing major skin. On Monday, Kardashian, 39, posted a bikini snapshot that showed off her backside and floppy sun hat “Don’t be shady, be a lady,” she captioned the photo that has racked up more than 2 million likes so far. “[That’s] what you need to show to get likes?” he commented, then deleted it, according to The Shade Room.  Kourt’s fans weren’t exactly in favor of the 25 year old’s comments, so in an effoert to defend their favorite KK, began commenting on his shirtless Instagram posts. “That’s too much skin! Stop being scandalous,” barked one person. “Way too much skin shown. Do you have to show all that skin to get likes?” added another.  I’m confused about this, because on her 39th birthday, she posed nude, plus they’re currently on vacation together in Italy, where the picture was taken so I’m just wondering what the aftermath was.

Book by rising Democratic star Kamala Harris coming in 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party who is sometimes cited as a possible presidential contender in 2020, has a book deal.

Penguin Press announced Tuesday that Harris' "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey" will come out Jan. 8, 2019. According to Penguin, Harris will write about "the core truths" in American life and how to learn what they are.

The 53-year-old Harris was formerly California's attorney general. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.

For politicians, books have long been a standard part of developing a national profile, from John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage" to Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope."

Grammy Awards to air on CBS from Los Angeles on Feb. 10

The 61st annual Grammy Awards will return to Los Angeles and air on CBS on Feb. 10, 2019.

The Recording Academy announced Tuesday that the show will take place at the Staples Center.

Nominations for the 84 categories will be announced on Dec. 5. Songs and albums eligible must be released between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30.

The academy recently announced that its four major awards — album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best new artist — would now include eight nominees instead of five.

At this year's show, held in New York City, Bruno Mars won album, song and record of the year, while Alessia Cara was named best new artist.

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