I love San Diego Comic Con. I love running around like a madman, handing out my card, scoring interviews and bugging publicists for info. I love the parties and the free booze. I love running into all the fun people I have met on set visits or at junkets and having a chance to shoot the shit with them. I love running into cool creators from the worlds of comics and movies and having some chill moments with them, outside of the usual publicity rigmarole. And I love seeing the fucking freaks jam-packed into the convention in their weirdo costumes and their funktastic body odor.
Comic Con’s been changing, even in the few years that I’ve been attending, and this year it looks like it’s changing even more. The movie studio presence has been growing, and changing – in the past the studios would bring their fanboy properties to the Con, mostly just the sci fi and comic book pictures. But Comic Con has been exploding not just in attendance (probably partially because of the presence of studios and stars) but also in terms of media exposure – the Con shows up on Entertainment Tonight and the like, and not just as a throwaway ‘Look at the fat guy in the Boba Fett outfit’ way. I do press events at Comic Con surrounded by reporters from People, US Weekly, and national newspapers.
That explosion seems to be making the studios spread their wings a bit at this event. In the past I’ve looked at the summer and fall slate of fanboy movies and wondered what films would be coming to Con; this year I thought the pickings were a little slim. It turns out I was wrong, since there are some movies showing up at Con this year that I would have never guessed. Sweeney Todd’s going to be there – will this be the first time the crowd in Hall H will sit through a musical number?
Universal seems to be the folks going most outside the regular Comic Con comfort zone, bringing both The Bourne Ultimatum and American Gangster. Warner Bros, meanwhile, has Fred Claus and the aforementioned Sweeney Todd. Of course each of these films have a strong geek component, but they’re all much more mainstream than Alien vs Predator: No Peace on Earth (that is seriously apparently the subtitle of the film). And of course there’s no telling in what capacity these films will be at Con – Sweeney Todd could just be a sizzle reel or something. Or it could be something bigger, like a Johnny Depp or Tim Burton appearance.
I for one welcome our new mainstream movie overlords – to an extent. I think that Comic Con is a great way to get some grassroots word out about films. And I’m excited to see studios really coming out of the ghetto philosophy – just because people who read CHUD like the X-Men movies doesn’t mean they aren’t also interested in something weightier, like American Gangster. On the other hand, Con is already a massive clusterfuck of planning (especially, again, if you’re like me and don’t book hotel rooms far enough in advance), and adding more mainstream content is only going to increase the mainstream presence – which means I’m jostling for position against more and more standard newspaper and magazine outlets, just like I do at every shitty junket. Con was fun because it was a pasty white FUBU event – For Us By Us – where the genre and online press were kings for a weekend.
Despite all that grousing, I do hope that more mainstream movies start heading to Comic Con in the next couple of years. Hell, I’d love to see Fox Searchlight have a performance by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once – just because a guy likes movies with rampaging alien beasts doesn’t mean he wouldn’t love a movie like that as well. And honestly, going to Con is an easy and fun (even for the talent, believe it or not) way to reach out to an audience you might otherwise not get.
Here’s the preliminary list of movies coming to Comic Con. Expect additions… like The Dark Knight, which is weirdly missing:
Alien vs. Predator 2: No Peace On Earth
Balls of Fury
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Golden Compass
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
I Am Legend
The Incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones 4
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Resident Evil: Extinction
30 Days of Night
Trick ‘r Treat
Where the Wild Things Are