Every year, Comic-Con International: San Diego has become increasingly important to movie studios looking to promote their splashy new genre features. Except maybe this year.
According to The New York Times, Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks and The Weinstein Company are all skipping Comic-Con this year, at least as far as major presentations go. The article states that even Marvel Studios is “on the fence” about their level of involvement, despite The Avengers coming in 2012. (And yes, that would presumably mean no Dark Knight Rises panel, but there wasn’t one for The Dark Knight, and that movie seemed to do OK.)
To borrow a phrase from Norm Macdonald — what the H? The article (while making the customary Ewok cosplay jokes) describes Comic-Con as a “treacherous place” for movie studios. Two main reasons: while good buzz always help, bad buzz from Comic-Con can irrevocably tarnish a product in the early going. Plus, promoting at Comic-Con is expensive, with the article citing the example of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World — a critically acclaimed and beloved by fans film that had a huge presence at San Diego last year, and nonetheless ended up earning $31.5 million domestically off of a $60m production budget.
Of course, there will be solid studio representation this year — Sony and The Amazing Spider-Man, 20th Century Fox and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Universal and Cowboys & Aliens, and in what folks are surely already either lamenting or rejoicing, Summit and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1. So it’s not like Hall H is going to be a ghost town, and given where the event falls in the calendar, it’s still a definite priority for TV networks. But is Comic-Con’s exponential growth and influence starting to taper off a bit? Probably not a question that can accurately be answered for years — certainly it’s a hotter-than-ever prospect in terms of attendance — but will be interesting to see how things play out in the future.