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San Diego Comic-Con Officially Kicks Off

Jose Davalos of the Cinema Makeup School walks through the convention floor c...

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Above: Jose Davalos of the Cinema Makeup School walks through the convention floor crowd dressed as the "Haunted Mansion" character "Hatbox Ghost" during Preview Night of the 2017 Comic-Con International on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

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Halle Barry, Colin Firth and Will Smith will be among the big-screen stars appearing at the San Diego Convention Center Thursday on the opening day of Comic-Con International, an annual celebration of pop culture.

Berry and Firth will take part in a panel discussion of the upcoming film, "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," along with Jeff Bridges, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum and others. The production is a sequel to 2014's "Kingsman: The Secret Service." The series is based on the comic book "The Secret Service."

Special Coverage: Comic-Con International San Diego

Berry portrays a technical expert for the Statesmen, the Kingsmen's allies, while Firth stars as a mentor for an agent played by Egerton. The panel on the film, which opens Sept. 29, is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the largest convention center venue, Hall H.

Smith and his co-stars will take part in a panel on the action-thriller "Bright," as online streamer Netflix makes its Hall H debut this year. In the film premiering in December, he plays a cop tasked with working with a mystical creature to find a weapon everyone is willing to kill for. The panel takes place at 3:15 p.m.

Other sessions during the day include a last look at "Teen Wolf" as the series is about to end, a conversation with "The Walking Dead" and "Invincible" creator Robert Kirkman, and a "Battlestar: Galactica" reunion.

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The opening Comic-Con sessions are scheduled for 10 a.m. and will continue through midnight at the convention center, Central Library, Hilton Bayfront Hotel, the Horton Grand Theatre and the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Marina. The event will be attended by 130,000 people through Sunday.

Among other things to look for, the San Diego Blood Bank will conduct a blood drive through Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Coronado Ballroom, located at One Market Place. The event runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donors will receive an exclusive Guardians of the Galaxy T-shirt.

UC San Diego plans to take advantage of the huge crowds by promoting its recent scientific discoveries. The university's "Science Nonfiction" campaign will include trolley advertising, billboards, posters, t-shirts and street teams wearing sandwich-boards and aluminum foil hats.

Outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, the FX networks will offer interactive experiences based on their programming, while AMC will host its "Deadquarters" at the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, across Harbor Drive from the convention center.

With wall-to-wall people at Comic-Con venues and the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter, organizers strongly suggest using public transportation.

A free shuttle bus service will begin operating 24 hours a day beginning at 4:30 a.m., stopping at 63 locations in downtown, Mission Valley, Harbor Island and Shelter Island through Sunday evening.

The Metropolitan Transit System announced that Green Line trolleys will run every 7 and 1/2 minutes between Qualcomm Stadium and the 12th and Imperial Transit Center through Sunday. Blue and Orange line trains will increase in frequency during peak travel times, according to the MTS.

The transit agency said passengers can use its new Compass Cloud mobile app to purchase ride tickets in advance. The MTS also has 22 bus routes with downtown stops.


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