Why Major Film Studios Skipping Comic-Con is a Big Deal

If you've ever been to Comic-Con you know about Hall H. The room can induce both epic euphoria for what it can contain and sheer terror at how long you'll have to camp out to get in. Seriously, what other place would you have moms camping out overnight for an hourlong panel (Twilight anyone?).

A NY Times article reports that some heavy hitters are skipping Comic-Con this year. Warner Bros., Disney, Dreamworks, The Weinstein Company and Marvel-yes, that Marvel- are all skipping the show.

Yes, The Dark Knight Rises is due out next year. As is The Avengers. Yet Warner Bros. and Marvel won't be making an appearances. And this is kind of a big deal.

The fanbase at Comic-Con is rabid and even using that word is greatly underplaying it. That said, some studios are getting reluctant to show their films to the same audience that is so fervent about seeing it. It's sort of like asking Bruce Wayne who his favorite superhero is. Of course he'll say Batman.

The thing is, the people generating that crazy buzz typically represent a smaller sample than the audience at large. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was the darling last year, yet the film made only $32 million at the box office. This despite costing $60 million to make and full of awesome. Believe it or not, $32 million is considered a box office failure to Universal, despite the studio being proud of the film.

Studios are getting reluctant to take their films into the sheltered environment that is Comic-Con. Very few audiences in the world can singlehandedly make or break a film like those at Comic-Con. Studios are catching on to this, knowing that if they don't bring their A-game the movie won't stand a chance.

Why is this a big deal? Simple. It means that -hopefully- Comic-Con isn't going to be used at a pop culture dumping ground anymore. The show has been at capacity for a few years now and people that have attended know you can't just walk into a panel. You have to stake out a seat a panel or two before the one you actually want to see.

While it's all good and well that so many people "care" about comics, it also means that the people that really do care about comics suffer. I don't think Comic-Con will ever become a show just about comics ever again. There's too much money to be made and free exposure for publishers, producers and studios.

Likewise, I don't see the video game presence being stripped away either. The thing about that though is that video games go more hand-in-hand with comics than movies and TV. For example, Fox plans to have a big panel about Terra Nova, a new Steven Spielberg show about dinosaurs, among panels for ten other shows.

In this case, Fox is just using Comic-Con as a screentest to see which shows have a chance and which one should probably be killed now. That's not what Comic-Con should be about.

Comic-Con should be about Artists' Alley. It should be about checking out the Image and Aspen comics panels to see what's in store for Witchblade and Fathom. It should be about a large, canvas Dark Horse bag for carrying around comics schwag. It should be about playing new games months before they're released. It shouldn't be about film studios moving in and dominating the show.

Sony Pictures will still be there in Hall H, most likely getting top billing for The Amazing Spider-man. Universal is going back for a big Cowboys and Aliens push. And of course Summit Entertainment will be there with a panel for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1.

Movies won't ever be completely stripped from Comic-Con and it's not something that should even really be recommended. But maybe a softening of their presence will give more attention to, you know, comics? And it'll be hard with no panel for The Dark Knight Rises, but isn't that what New York Comic Con is for?


  1. Interesting post about the movie presence. I think it's interesting to note that films that are absent THIS YEAR. Oddly enough Christopher Nolan's DARK KNIGHT movies don';t have a precedence to screen/hype at SDCC though...

    Great point with Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Box Office disaster but celebrated on the floor of last year's con. Same with Snakes on a Plane a few years back...

    As a comic book retailer with JayCompanyComics.com, and the largest NEW BOOK retailer on the show floor- i realized about 5 years ago or more that this convention wasn't for comic BOOKs, yet a pop culture celebration. I think the genie has left the bottle where Witchblade and Fathom are at the forefront. With that said, with the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people walking through the door, this is the best place to convert the civilians into our own brand of pop coolness that is comics.

    You can read more about this type of stuff at

    Keep up the great articles-
    Your pal-
    Jimmy S. Jay...


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