One of the major reasons that the San Diego Comic-Con has become a madhouse is that the studios have made it their own. People camp out in Hall H just to see a little bit of footage from an upcoming film and to see their favorite stars quasi-up-close-and-personal. But while studios try to use the potential buzz from the Con as a spring-board, that doesn’t necessarily carry to the box office. Universal couldn’t have done a better job promoting Scott Pilgrim vs. The World at Comic-Con but it was considered a box office flop. Kick-Ass flew on to people’s radar at Comic-Con with a killer presentation, but again: lackluster box office. TRON: Legacy went to Comic-Con three times and it didn’t cross the $200 million mark domestically (and anyone who tells you that wasn’t a serious goal for Disney is lying). And while box office doesn’t matter to me personally, it matters a lot to studio shareholders and executives. But the studios are starting to get wise to the cost of running a serious campaign at Comic-Con and how the risks are starting to outweigh the potential benefits. Hit the jump for more and to learn who’s coming to Comic-Con and who’s not.
The New York Times reports that Warner Bros. won’t be bringing anything. That means no A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas and no Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The Times also says Disney and DreamWorks won’t be there, but I’ve heard different and I’m fairly certain at least one of their movies will have a presence. Marvel is reportedly on the fence about doing a presentation for The Avengers, but I would bet your life that it will be there, because if it’s absent, then fanboys will assume the worst.
It’s important to note that no schedule has been locked in and Comic-Con doesn’t lock presentations until two weeks before the convention (much to the chagrin of publicists). And last year, they did a really lousy job selecting where to schedule their presentations. Before last year, I was never been able to stroll in and out of Hall H (the 6,000 seat room designed for the biggest presentations), but I could when the room was barely half-full for Skyline. Meanwhile, hundreds of folks were shut out of the TV panels that were going on in a smaller room. Lisa Gregorian, chief marketing officer for the Warner Brothers Television Group says she doesn’t see TV getting into Hall H this year (although Lost and Heroes both made Hall H showings in the past). “That’s a creative decision by the convention,” Gregorian says. I agree. If Comic-Con wants to make poor use of their space, then no one is going to stop them.
But there have been some announcements that certain films will be making a showing at the Con (I guess that two-week issue doesn’t really apply if your movie is big enough). We’ve previously reported that The Amazing Spider-Man and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will be there, and at tonight’s Hero Complex Film Festival, Jon Favreau announced that his Cowboys & Aliens will also make its presence known with a presentation and a serious stunt. If I had to guess, I’m guessing that stunt will be a screening, but I can’t say with total certainty.
NYT reports that the following films are also likely to have presentations: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Immortals, The Raven, Shark Night 3D, and, of course, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
I don’t think the studios will abandon Comic-Con en masse nor do I think they’ll start dropping out at a rapid rate. They see a marketing opportunity, the convention is selling out faster every year, and word of mouth does matter to an extent (release dates and advertising matters more). But I think the days where Disney is willing to transform a building into the End of Line club or Universal is willing to buy the side of a building may be fading.