In a bold but risky move, "Captain America: The First Avenger," will be shown in a sneak preview at San Diego's Comic-Con Thursday, the day before its official release in theaters.
There will be a free 10 a.m. fan screening with star Chris Evans attending, followed by 10 ticketed shows from noon to 11:45 p.m. The venue is the UA Horton Plaza 14.
The previews give Paramount Pictures a chance to prove that it has faith in "Captain America," a movie that has been getting lost in an unusually crowded summer.
When "Captain America" makes its debut this weekend, the final chapter of "Harry Potter," which has been breaking box-office records right and left, will still be going strong.
"Captain America" could also fall victim to super-hero fatigue, coming after a long line of so-so performers like "X-Men: First Class," "Thor" and "Green Lantern." What's more, "Captain America" is based on a lesser-known hero from the Marvel stable and is set in the past (World War II), a conceit that doesn't often engage fans (witness the so-so performance of "Watchmen" and the aforementioned "X-Men").
By showing the movie to fans, Paramount clearly wants to excite a core audience. But if the movie disappoints, Paramount could endure a day's worth of negative Twittering and Facebooking.
In related news, a bootleg video of a one-minute trailer for Joss Whedon's upcoming "The Avengers," which has accompanied some "Captain America" preview screenings, has appeared online. If it hasn't been taken down yet, you can watch it here.
Photo: Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger."