With Comic-Con International less than two weeks away, Variety‘s Brian Lowry looks back 30 years to the convention’s early days:
In those early days, the entire convention of a couple thousand people could be held in a single hotel. One large ballroom functioned as a dealers’ room, where vendors displayed their wares, and an adjacent space housed panel discussions. Gradually, studios began to preview movies there, but as often as not those events were disasters, irritating fans as opposed to whetting their appetites.
Although it was more than 30 years ago, for example, I keenly recall a preview of the 1978 feature Superman, where the studio rep described the campy villain Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman as a real-estate mogul, not a master criminal. He was practically hooted off the stage.
Gradually, the studios started to wise up, hiring publicists specifically trained to handle Comic-Con’s savvy but easily riled audience. When Ridley Scott’s space-horror film Alien was showcased — using little more than a slide show of surrealist H.R. Giger’s jaw-dropping conceptual art — the crowd was blown away.
On that note, the trade paper underscores how important the four-day event has become to Hollwyood.