Some Studios Skipping Comic Con

While the San Diego Comic Con successfully launched the online buzz for films like “300” and “Iron Man”, studios have learned the hard way in recent years that sometimes even a big success story in San Diego can have little impact on sales.

High profile film launches from last year like “Tron: Legacy,” “Sucker Punch” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” didn’t exactly set the box-office on fire, though to be fair “The Green Hornet” and “RED” came out of it looking not too shabby.

Part of the problem is simply over crowding. The convention itself has expanded to the point that in recent years it has painfully struggled to cope with the sheer amount of people in attendance. The studios themselves have been jockeying with each other for prime placement and it has lead to a lot of films which have nothing to do with comics getting pushes at the convention.

With such a glut it’s extremely difficult to get noticed at the convention and the ones that do are usually preaching to the choir as such (like “Twilight”) which isn’t going to help ticket sales or buzz. The ones that do come off well are the surprise hits which can build buzz, but again it doesn’t necessarily mean big box-office (“Kick-Ass” is a text book example of that).

Now, an interesting article in The New York Times reports that Warner Bros. Pictures, Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios, DreamWorks Pictures and The Weinstein Company will all be no shows this year at the San Diego Comic Con.

The minor surprise here is Marvel. The studio is said to be “on the fence” about attending this year after their “Thor” and ‘Avengers’ casting line-up last year. With “Avengers” having only begun shooting recently, they likely won’t have time to stop production and get the cast shipped over to San Diego. The footage on offer would be very rough – not the best introductory material.

Warners has “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Man of Steel” coming next year. Chris Nolan never bothered with the convention for his previous two Batman films so it’s no surprise it’s skipping out here, while ‘Steel’ will still be a long way from even beginning to shoot so it’s likely Warners will simply wait until next year when they can show a bunch of completed footage from the movie six months ahead of its release. It also means no “Dark Shadows” for the Tim Burton fans and no “Sherlock Holmes” sequel.

Despite the absences, there’s still plenty expected to be on offer.

Universal Pictures
The studio is expected to make a big splash with “Cowboys & Aliens” and will premiere the film at the event. Perennial con favourite Jon Favreau will be on hand for a panel and will probably talk some “Iron Man 3” as well. Universal may also show some stuff from “The Thing,” “Battleship” or “47 Ronin”.

Paramount Pictures
The obvious choice here is “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn”. The studio should have some great footage in the can and it needs to pitch the property to a U.S. audience that’s mostly unfamiliar with it. There’s even talk Spielberg himself might show up for the panel of this. If it goes well, it could be a Con highlight. If it doesn’t work, it will bode ill for the film’s chances States-side. Beyond that they’ll likely do “Hugo Cabret” and maybe (though unlikely) some “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”.

20th Century Fox
“Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” is the obvious big push from Fox here, though there may be some “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” stuff as well. Ridley Scott will likely not allow a “Prometheus” panel to keep his project top secret, but they may plug “In Time”.

Sony Pictures
“The Amazing Spider-Man” will no doubt get prime late Saturday placement and will probably be the biggest film panel of the convention outside of “Breaking Dawn”. Sony will also likely plug “Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance”, the fourth “Underworld”, and might do some “Men in Black III”. “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is unlikely due to the darkness of the material.

Summit Entertainment
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One” will do big business here and pack out Hall H. The company will also certainly give plugs to “The Three Musketeers” and sci-fi alien tale “The Darkest Hour”. Action thrillers “Man on a Ledge” or “The Cold Light of Day” may also get a look in.

Others
“Conan the Barbarian,” “Immortals,” “Shark Night 3D,” “Straw Dogs” will likely get plugs. I would not be shocked at all if “Fright Night” and “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” do potential screenings there.