BY SANDY COHEN
AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
SAN DIEGO (AP) — If anticipation for this year’s Comic-Con had a soundtrack, it would be John Williams’ instantly recognizable, Oscar-winning “Star Wars” theme.
The latest take on the beloved space opera was top of mind for fans Wednesday night as the annual pop-culture convention opened for a preview of its colorful showroom floor. Comic-Con officially begins Thursday.
“Everyone loves `Star Wars,'” said Kristen McLaughlin of Los Angeles. The 23-year-old, wearing a Captain America costume, said she plans to spend Thursday night waiting in line for Lucasfilm’s Friday afternoon presentation on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
More than 130,000 fans are expected at the San Diego Convention Center over the next four days for autograph signings, TV and film presentations, toy shopping, costume contests and other artistic engagements inspired by comic books and superheroes.
“Star Wars” has a major presence in the massive showroom, with a mini-mall of booths dedicated to its characters. There are Chewbacca rugs and Storm Trooper sweaters, limited-edition Darth Vader skateboard decks and Yoda backpacks, plus Sith Lord pet outfits and Ewok stuffed animals.
A life-size replica of Rey’s Speeder Bike from the new film is on display.
“To a certain extent, it’s a giant commercial,” Shane Morrison, 34, of Glendale, California, said of the annual convention. “But we pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to be part of it.”
He was most interested in the latest collectible figurines. “Just seeing all the new toys – that’s a lot of what Comic-Con is about,” he said, surrounded by his purchases.
Wayne Wadler amassed more than 15 giant bags of exclusive toys within minutes of Comic-Con’s doors opening. He expects to sell them all in one weekend at his comic-book shop in Riverside, California. The most popular collectibles right now? “Star Wars,” he said.
A line snaked through the convention center for a toy booth selling translucent Darth Vader dolls and oversized Boba Fett figurines.
For the ninth year in a row, Dave Jamer, 46, came to Comic-Con dressed as Boba Phat, his 1970s approach to the “Star Wars” character. His buddy Daniel Enlow, 67, was clad as “Pirate Pimp Vader.” He paired a Darth Vader helmet with a brocade smoking jacket.
Even entertainment competitors are excited about the seventh “Star Wars” installment.
“I’m excited that `Star Wars’ is coming here. We love JJ Abrams and have his shows,” said Lisa Gregorian, chief marketing officer for Warner Bros. Television Group, which is premiering its new “Supergirl” show at Comic-Con.
Other anticipated properties at the convention include “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2.”
As crowds passed by the convention center, a lone busker stood across the street in the grass. In front of her was a music stand. Charise Zablotsky, a 26-year-old who performs with the La Jolla Symphony, chose a special selection for this night.
She plugged her violin into a tiny amp, and played the opening notes of the “Star Wars” theme.