A major staple of San Diego Comic-Con will be sitting out the massive Hall H this year. On the heels of the announcement that Warner Bros. will be hosting an event for IT Chapter Two on Wednesday night during the five-day convention next month comes the news that Warner Bros. will be sitting out Hall H entirely, skipping their traditional Saturday morning three-hour panel. Indeed, in years past the Warner Bros. panel has been a highlight for Comic-Con-goers, as it’s normally where the studio touts a number of upcoming projects—including superhero films. But for 2019, there will be no such panel.
That means no preview of Joker, Birds of Prey, or Wonder Woman 1984, no early look at Dune, and no cast appearances in front of the roaring Hall H crowd. This is a huge surprise, and could be yet another sign that the big movie studios’ infatuation with Comic-Con may be coming to an end.
Indeed, previously Warner Bros. has used its Hall H panel to tease the first-ever footage from Man of Steel, announce the existence of Batman v Superman (which elicited screams and tears from the audience), and play host to filmmakers like Peter Jackson, George Miller, and Guillermo del Toro holding court and teasing what fans can expect from their upcoming films.
Last year, Marvel Studios sat out San Diego Comic-Con entirely but they’re expected to be back with their usual Hall H panel this year, where they’ll no doubt finally announce their upcoming slate of post-Avengers: Endgame films. Normally, fans would enjoy the Warner Bros. panel on Saturday morning and cap the day off with the Marvel panel Saturday night, but this year it appears Marvel may be the only major headliner—although it’s possible/likely that J.J. Abrams returns for a cursory Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker panel.
But yeah, no Warner Bros. It’s a strange absence to be sure, but could simply be yet another indication that San Diego Comic-Con is going through an evolution of sorts. Back in the Twilight heyday, studios globbed onto SDCC as a potential marketing tool and moneymaker. At its height, they were using Comic-Con to tease everything from The Hunger Games to Cowboys & Aliens to Let’s Be Cops. But eventually the studios realized that Comic-Con buzz is no guarantee that a movie will hit big at the box office (see: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and the last few years have seen them scale back their presence while TV takes its place at the top of the heap.
Maybe Warner Bros. will be back in Hall H next year. Perhaps they’re just not ready to commit to their DC slate just yet, with films like The Flash in flux and an interconnected universe on the backburner. Or maybe they just want to see if it really does make a difference whether they showcase a new trailer for Suicide Squad at Comic-Con, or simply hold back something like Birds of Prey until the traditional marketing campaign kicks off.
Regardless, DC will still have a presence on the Comic-Con showroom floor, and this year for the first time ever the DC booth will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Warner Bros. booth. So fans can still get their fix there, and who knows what else besides It 2 will pop up at ScareDiego (they do have Doctor Sleep coming up…). But it’s certainly the end of an era of sorts for WB to be taking a year off from Hall H.