Studios May Be Starting to Chill on Comic-Con; More Presentations Announced

     June 12, 2011


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.

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-movie-imageBut 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.

  • j jonah jameson

    Comic Con has gotten out of control. The ticketing fiasco of a few months ago proved it is now too mainstream. All 100,000 tickets sold in less than 12 hours to masses of screaming Twilight fans is preposterous.

    • Darren

      Just want to point out a few things

      1) 125,000 tickets are made available for attendees every year
      2) only about 84,000 tickets were a part of that super quick sell out. 45,000 were sold AT Comic Con 2010, and 1000 were sold as part of a test with the new ticket service.
      3) Hopefully with this being the last year for Twilight, tix wont sell as fast for next year

  • victoria

    i remember when comic con never sold out. i miss that.

  • Nick

    God I hope so.

  • raven

    I also miss the days of comic con not selling out.
    I’m not excited for the Twilight group this year…

  • T. Van

    The interesting thing about this is that Comicon attendees probably did go see those movies. The larger reality, however, is that Comicon attendees are more akin to early adopters than to “mavens” and “connectors” (to steal from Gladwell). That said, I don’t know if it would be wise for studios to pull away from Comicon, because it may be wiser to tweak their approach at the event. Compliment the big showcases with smaller focus groups (and use their information tables to get information from fans… not just give things away).

    Granted, they may already be doing much of this already but, if not, a model for this approach currently exists.

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  • Wolstenholme

    Of course Matt says he will bet “your” lives on an Avengers panel, it doesnt matter if he’s right or not…go licka log of horsesh*t Matt

    • Strong Enough

      you are like the corniest person on the net every post i read form you on this site is so stupid smh

  • G

    This is a crap load of speculation. Those movies failed because they sucked (minus kick ass which lacked proper promotional junkets and had a name that was put offish to families).

    SDCC hasn’t been a comics convention since before many attendees were born. It’s too late to go back because if it did it’ll go the way of the pre wizard chicago comicon. It has to vie for the movie studios for the con and the city.

    This is fluff journalism befitting the enquirer at best. At worst this is an excuse for Goldberg to change careers before he finds out he lacks any real reporting skill.

    • Tarek

      Exactly. A good movie doesn’t need a huge promotion to work.
      The word of mouth is the best promotional vehicle. And it’s free.

      Kick Ass was a big good surprise for me. And Tron a big disappointment.

  • SteveMoody
    Basically sums up why Comic-con is awesome. Best footage around.

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  • SPS

    It’s because Sucker Punch flopped why Warner Bros. isn’t showing anything this year. That’s unfair.

    • Tarek

      Snyder is the worst director, near after Shyamalan, Emmerich and Bay.

      300 was a visual torture. I vomited before the ending.
      Watchmen was just a super zeros movie. witha big naked floating smurf.
      Sucker Punch sucks the Hell.

      • Ura Clown

        Not that I’m particularly a fan of the movie, but if you literally “vomited” during 300, it says more about your giant pussy than it does about the quality of the film.

      • Tarek

        Tell me when I am supposed to laugh ultra Clown. ^^

      • Tarek

        My counsellor says that i am special, that all the other boys are mean just because they dont understand me. My doctor says there is nothing that can be done medically and my momma says that i just need to ignore all the negative people in the world, to go out and live the way i want to live….. tbh i dont understand it! Just because i have a pussy instead of a penor doesnt mean im any less of a man!

      • Ura Clown

        But no one can beat me when it comes to say something stupid.
        Ura Clown is the only Clown who is not funny at all. Or maybe I am ? Funny like Ha ha ha!
        I think that I need a new brain. ^^

    • T. Van

      @ SPS

      I agree with your rationale, but I hope you’re wrong about Warner Bros decision-making. At first glance, Sucker Punch clearly had a number of things working against it… and it’s a bit of a surprise that some of the executives actually expected it to do well.

      Fortunately for— and despite— Snyder, Man of Steel is a gauranteed hit.

  • turk 189

    Well, maybe next year Comic-Con could be a con about, you know, COMICS?

  • macca

    What tv shows the thundercats for instance, no news on tv pannels, they have to give me something.

  • Walter S.

    I’ll tell you what Hollywood – please don’t come. Stay home and focus on making better movies. You think that if you promote the hell out of it we’ll come (Tron2). Granted, we’ll acknowledge the film with high hopes, but when it stinks of corporate mediocrity… we’ll just wait to see it on DVD.

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  • Jill Kennedy

    Khan Manka, Jr. gave one of the great keynote addresses at last year’s Comic-Con – and basically said the studios should and would be backing out. Studios just don’t have the power they think they do over the mindset of fans.

  • nickp

    No Comic-Con Appearance For ‘The Dark Knight Rises

    • T. Van

      @ Nickp

      If that’s true, it may be the first comic book movie to assume (safely) that it’s big enough to do without ComiCon. If so, that could be either a good or bad thing.

  • ravenwood

    Fluff piece is right. The NYT has been running negative articles about SDCC the past 4 years about a month out from the big show. It’s nothing but East Coast bias and jealousy. They’re mad that San Diego has become this giant media and promotional event that the East Coast has nothing to rival. Just look at their articles propping up their New York Comic Con. Last year they had an article stating that Comic Con has more misses than hits, citing Kick Ass, yet failing to give an example of such successes like 300, TLoTR Trilogy, Spider-Man, Borat, Twilight (As much as it’s hated by Geeks, SDCC made Twilight into a big event. Before the Con not many people outside the core audience knew anything about it) District 9, and way more. The NYT doesn’t cite any sources, but it doesn’t matter. The piece is designed to chip away at the popularity of the event and hopefully (for them) get the media to stop focusing so much attention to the event.

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