I am still working on writing up panels from this year’s Comic Con, so maybe the biggest loser is me – or for that matter anybody who relied on the shitty wifi in Hall H this year. And once again, as they do every year, AT&T screwed the pooch so iPhone users found jammed networks that were unable to do much of anything. Because I write in Google Docs, I was silenced for much of Comic Con.
But what about the movies that came to the Con? Who walks out of San Diego with the biggest buzz, and who walks out with the hardest luck story? First, the official winner followed by the official loser, and then some secondary winners and losers.
For the record, I thought this was a generally strong year. Most of the studios came correct, and I think that there were very few real problem panels or campaigns. In fact, most of the Hall H stuff felt like winners, which is nice. While I don’t know that many things knocked people completely out, it was a good Comic Con overall.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
Universal was incredibly savvy this year with Scott Pilgrim. They set up a major presence outside the convention center, setting it apart from the random madness on the show floor. Also, by having a huge spot outside the Con, they could reach more people than the 6 or 7 thousand who can fit into Hall H. At their Scott Pilgrim Experience congoers could have garlic bread, could silkscreen personalized t-shirts, could get autographs, could take pictures and turn them into flipbooks, and could tag a wall along with thousands of other fans.
But the masterstroke came at the end of the official Scott Pilgrim panel on Thursday. Director Edgar Wright, who had been moderating the panel, actually led select audience members to a movie theater where they were shown the entire movie. As the theater loaded Dan the Automator and Kid Koala, two of the most famous and sought after turntablists in the industry, played. And after the screening – which was attended by pretty much the whole cast – the screen raised and the band Metric, who stands in for Clash at Demonhead in the movie, also played. It was a huge moment, trumping the previous audience participation buzz event, last year’s Tron Legacy Flynn’s arcade.
Universal didn’t stop there. They screened the movie three nights in a row to jam packed houses with Edgar Wright in attendance. Forget clip packages or meet and greets – Universal did the best marketing possible by actually showing the movie. Again and again.
This allowed Scott Pilgrim to have a constant presence throughout the Con, always being in people’s face and always being a subject of discussion. It was a masterstroke, and it certainly took the crown for 2010.
The Comic Con programmers.
The movie studios have decided that they want to do everything at Comic Con on Thursday. They want the Friday press cycle, and I think that the surprise Iron Man footage on Thursday in 2007 really turned it all into an escalation. While the biggest day at the Con is probably Saturday, Thursday is often the biggest day in Hall H.
Saturday’s a pretty big day too, and this year Marvel decided to dominate it by putting their Thor, Captain America and Avengers stuff at the end of the day, giving them a Sunday and Monday news bump. But whither poor Friday? It turns out that Hall H scheduling meant that the first group of movies appearing in Hall H were Drive Angry, Skyline and Super - three fairly unknown films without the huge star muscle needed to fill the hall. And as a result, the hall never reached capacity on Friday. People camped out on Wednesday night to get into Thursday morning’s panels, and they camped out Friday night to get into Saturday – but you could have walked into Hall H at any time Friday morning and gotten a great seat.
This means that a trio of smaller films that could have used the buzz from a packed Hall H didn’t play to full houses. That’s too bad, especially as all three look intriguing, with Drive Angry and Super looking flat out great. Someone at Comic Con needs to figure out how to schedule Hall H better, spreading out the crowds across all three days that the hall is open (there’s no programming there on Sundays for some reason).
UPDATE: I want to make it clear that I don’t believe that Drive Angry, Super or Skyline were losers because they were not. They got great reactions, and it’s important to pay attention to the smaller films making their marks at Con. I think that the Comic Con scheduling folks are the losers for not staggering out the smaller and indie films to give them better exposure. They’ve done this in the past, with Kick-Ass last year being an example.
As such I’ve changed who is the specific loser of this so that it doesn’t reflect on the films.
And the rest…
This year GdT and Whedon cemented themselves as The Geek Kings of 2010. Remember the empty Hall H Friday morning? It filled up for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a remake of a movie nobody in the crowd knew directed by a newbie most people didn’t know and produced by a guy who pays my bills. The reason it filled up? Guillermo. And that was just part of his big weekend – he also was announced as producing a new Haunted Mansion movie. I’ve been to Guillermo’s ‘Man Cave,’ and he has an entire room – hidden behind a trick bookshelf! – given over to Haunted Mansion memorabilia. It’s a perfect marriage of sensibility to material, and I can’t wait to see who directs it.