Coming to terms with the reality of Hall H

7 AUGUST 2016

Now that we've had a few weeks for our San Diego Comic-Con experience to settle inside us, some of our perceptions have probably shifted a bit. Decisions like: how excited are we really for that new show or upcoming movie? Just how good, or mediocre, was that much-anticipated new graphic novel? How often have we returned to admire our most hard-won exclusive, or did we put it in a display case and forget about it?

(What doesn't get questioned as much: if we're going back in 2017. Most attendees just assume they should, even if they complained to no end about the lines and lotteries and raw deal they got in the Exhibit Hall. If that's you, consider going to another Con - but that's for another post, coming soon.)

Studios and the media are changing their perceptions too: namely of us and our box office power. Are we worth marketing to? How come we act so excited over Hall H trailers for movies that go on to tank at the box office? Why aren't we showing up and bringing all our friends?

Screen Crush noticed that Hall H isn't a surefire guarantee of big ticket sales and put together the above infographic to illustrate this reality. One number that's missing: the fewer than 7,000 seats in that auditorium. It seems a bit unfair to use the small number of Hall H viewers as some kind of cinematic bellweather - especially since, let's face it, we're an enthusiastic bunch who are then further hyped up just being at SDCC and will cheer for pretty much anything. You can't even count a full house as indicating a high level of interest in something, since any given panel probably contains attendees waiting for the panels that come after it.

In that light, it's kind of irritating that anyone even bothered to correlate box office draws with Hall H presence. Are attendees expected to have some kind of social media superpowers that can make every movie a hit? Regardless, it's true that the ensuing dismal performance of some Hall H movies has led some studios to back off. As Screen Crush says: "That's not exactly the sort of success that inspires movie studios to spend thousands of dollars on filmmaker accommodations and specially prepared trailers on top of all the money for booths, staff and the assorted swag Comic-Con attendees have come to expect as part of the San Diego experience." In other words, Hollywood is the date who took us to a fancy dinner and then got mad because we didn't put out.

This article also seems to think SDCC has 160,000 attendees so take its final point with a grain of salt, but here it is: a prediction that more and more studios will host their own events like Star Wars Celebration and D23. To which I say, possibly, but those events are hugely expensive compared to a Hall H panel - so no, I don't think Hall H and Hollywood are breaking up for good. And it's not like Comic-Con is the only place where TV makes a better showing than movies. It's been a few years now that everyone's noticed we're in a golden age of television and ongoing stories get better traction with social media and fan loyalty. So if Hollywood wants to boost their box office, maybe they should stop blaming poor marketing decisions and make better movies.

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