Hits keep coming at Comic-Con International as another Hollywood studio decided to skip the show.
Warner Bros.-owned DC Studios — rivals to Marvel Studios that aren’t coming out this year — will also pull out. Some originally thought the studio that produces Batman and Superman films would take advantage of Marvel’s absence.
DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn responded to a question from a fan on Instagram on Saturday that he won’t be at Comic-Con this year but likely in 2024. Additionally, DC has released its first schedule for the convention, which includes a major performance in Hall H.
None of the studios canceling Comic-Con have issued an explanation as to why they aren’t coming. However, industry experts believe this is a result of the writers’ strike and a possible actors’ strike. It’s believed that there would be little point in spending thousands of dollars (or more) on a big Comic-Con gig if the films’ actors couldn’t make it onto the stage.
“Studios are playing it safe,” said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment industry lawyer and journalist, of the cast’s absence.
The Screen Actors Guild last week agreed to extend her expiring contract through July 12. When the actors go on strike, they cannot attend promotional events. Handel said it’s becoming increasingly clear that actors won’t be at Comic-Con because the union typically takes three to four weeks to ratify a new contract. So even if an agreement is reached on July 12, it will not be in time for Congress.
However, he said it was possible the union could agree to an exception allowing actors to take promotions during the voting process. Handel said a strike was likely, according to industry sources. One possibility for a deal, however, is that pressure mounts on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to approve anything with the actors as films’ box offices have taken a hit in recent weeks.
Big films that were expected to be hits in recent weeks — “The Flash,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and “Elemental” — all flopped. At least part of the blame for the poor performance is being pinned on late-night talk shows being canceled because of the writers’ strike, preventing actors from getting their films in front of potential audiences.
Other studios saying they are canceling Comic-Con this year include Sony, Disney’s Lucasfilm, Universal Pictures, Netflix and HBO. There’s still no word on Amazon Prime and Apple+, both of which spent heavily on promotions last year, most notably Apple+, which turned part of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter into a backdrop from its show “Severance.” Amazon also did its best on its Lord of the Rings show, Rings of Power, with building skins running through much of the Gaslamp Quarter and an orchestra playing music from the series in Hall H.
Although the studios will lose the 6,500-room Concourse H, where most of the media coverage comes from, they will still have a presence with spots in the convention area and for promotional activities within the convention and in the Gaslamp Quarter.
For example, while the DC film department may not be located in Hall H, they have announced they will have a booth in the convention floor, hold panels with comic book creators, preview their Harley Quinn animated show, and their new one Screening feature film “Justice League: Warworld” animated film.
Several confirmed panels at Comic-Con that would normally occupy smaller spaces could be candidates for a Hall H modernization: Lionsgate’s The Continental, a show set in the John Wick universe; Starz’s wrestling show Heels; and Paramount Pictures’ new animated film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
It’s becoming clearer what Comic-Con will be like this year as dates are revealed starting Wednesday or Thursday.
There’s little sign yet that the Gaslamp Quarter won’t be overloaded with events. Projects confirmed so far include an Adult Swim installation, multiple events at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, a Sonic the Hedgehog pop-up restaurant, and a Step into Jurassic Park area on 15th Street that will house the The film celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Fan hype for this year’s Comic-Con may be on the wane, but most indications are that the crowd is little changing. Daniel Kuperschmid, general manager of the 1,628-room San Diego County’s largest hotel, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, said last week that he had yet to receive any cancellations.