It’s official: TV shows, not movies, dominate the most and biggest panels at Comic-Con International in 2013. The event takes place from July 17 to July 21 in San Diego. Most of the panels, exhibits and other activities are at the San Diego Convention Center.
On July 4, 2013, Comic-Con began officially announcing the schedule of panels at the event. And one thing is very clear: TV shows have taken over from movies by having the most panels to offer in the biggest rooms at the convention center.
(Click here for the latest updates on the movies and TV shows that have panels at Comic-Con in 2013, as well as what to watch on demand before going to these panels.)
1. TV shows have increased their presence and popularity at Comic-Con, while major movie studios have scaled back on their Comic-Con panels.
The two biggest rooms where Comic-Con panels are held are at the San Diego Convention Center — Hall H (which has a seating capacity of about 6,000 people) and Ballroom 20 (which has a seating capacity of about 4,900 people).
At past Comic-Cons, Hall H used to be exclusively for panels for the biggest movies, while the biggest TV shows were relegated to Ballroom 20 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. TV shows wouldn’t have panels in Hall H until Sunday, the least-attended day at Comic-Con.
However, over the past few years, many of the panels for TV shows have been so popular that they clearly have outgrown Ballroom 20 and should have been held in Hall H. In 2010, the lines to get into Ballroom 20 panels for “True Blood” and “The Big Bang Theory” snaked around several blocks, while Hall H panels for movies “Drive Angry” and “Skyline” didn’t come close to filling half of Hall H. (Both of those movies ended up being flops.)
This trend of certain TV shows attracting Hall H-size crowds for the Comic-Con panels continued. And in 2012, Comic-Con finally started putting popular TV shows (such as “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Big Bang Theory”) in Hall H.
In 2013, for the first time in several years, the Hall H panels on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are about about evenly divided between movies and TV shows. That was unheard of just a few years ago, when Hall H was exclusively the domain for movies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Despite the increase in high-profile panels for TV shows at Comic-Con, the panels for the most highly anticipated blockbuster movies still seem to draw bigger crowds than the most highly anticipated panels for hit TV shows. It’s just that there are fewer of these blockbuster movie panels at Comic-Con in 2013 than there have been in past five years.
2. Marvel Studios dominates superhero movies at Comic-Con.
Marvel’s “Spider-Man,” “Iron Man,” “Thor,” and “Captain America” have all had massively popular panels at Comic-Con. ‘The Avengers” cast was first introduced in public together at Comic-Con in 2010, although “The Avengers” cast members have not yet done a discussion panel together at Comic-Con in San Diego. The “Ghost Rider” panels, though not as well-attended as other Marvel superhero panels, still drew some interest. The panel for “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is expected to be a huge attraction at Comic-Con in 2013.
Meanwhile, movies based on DC Comics characters have either not had panels at Comic-Con or were overshadowed by the Marvel panels in recent years. DC superhero movies directed, written and/or produced by Christopher Nolan (his “Batman”/”Dark Knight” movies and “Man of Steel”) have not had panels at Comic-Con due to the secretive way that Nolan makes movies. In 2010, “Green Lantern” was overshadowed by the Marvel panels at Comic-Con, and the movie ended up bombing with critics and audiences.
Outside the Marvel and DC universes, “The Green Hornet,” which was showcased at Comic-Con in 2009 and 2010, got a slightly better reception at Comic-Con than “Green Lantern” did, but still fell short of expectations at the box office. “Sucker Punch” was sort of a female superhero movie, but its fate was doomed when writer/director Zack Snyder could barely explain the movie’s messy plot when “Sucker Punch” was showcased at Comic-Con in 2010. “Watchmen,” also directed by Snyder, polarized fans and was a box-office dud when the movie came out in 2009, although the “Watchmen” trailer got a lot of positive buzz when it premiered during the “Watchmen” Comic-Con panel in 2008.
3. Major movies based on non-mainstream books or graphic novels are a tough sell outside of Comic-Con.
In 2010, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (the movie based on the graphic novel) was a big hit at Comic-Con, but the movie flopped at the box office. Universal Pictures even splashed out a ton of Comic-Con money for a gigantic ad that took up the entire side of the high-rise Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego, which is right next to the San Diego Convention Center and where many Comic-Con activities are held.
Although there are different theories about why the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” movie bombed, it certainly wasn’t due to lack of marketing. Some people think that the movie bombed because it didn’t have major stars and it was based on graphic novel that’s not very well-known to mainstream movie audiences. A typical Comic-Con attendee might have heard of “Scott Pilgrim,” but a typical moviegoer who has no interest in Comic-Con would not have heard of “Scott Pilgrim.”
“The Adventures of Tintin” panel in 2011 featured director Steven Spielberg’s first-ever Comic-Con appearance. But the movie didn’t do very well in theaters in the U.S., where the “Tintin” graphic novels are not very well-known. By contrast, “The Adventures of Tintin” was a huge hit in Europe, where the “Tintin” books are more well-known in pop culture.
4. Movie remakes/reboots tend to flop.
Movie remakes/reboots such as “Fright Night,” “Total Recall,” “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and “Let Me In” had Hall H panels at Comic-Con in recent years, but these movies all bombed at the box office, which indicates that fans of the original movies are very hard to please and are reluctant to embrace any remakes. There are exceptions (“Tron: Legacy,” 2009’s “Star Trek” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”), but they are few and far in between.
5. The rise of action/fantasy movies based on young-adult novels.
“Twilight” kicked off this trend. “The Hunger Games” continued it. In 2013, there are no less than four movies based on young-adult novels that are being showcased in Hall H: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Divergent,” “Ender’s Game” and “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.”
Based on Internet buzz, these movie panels at Comic-Con 2013 seem to be among the most highly anticipated (in alphabetical order), based on the panels that were announced as of July 5, 2013:
- “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
- “Ender’s Game”
- “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
- “Kick-Ass 2”
- “I, Frankenstein”
- “Thor: The Dark World”
- “Veronica Mars”
- “Metallica: Through the Never”
- “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
- “The World’s End”
- “X-Men: Days of Future Past”
Based on Internet, buzz, these TV panels at Comic-Con 2013 seem to be among the most highly anticipated (in alphabetical order), based on the panels that were announced as of July 5, 2013:
- “Almost Human”
- “The Big Bang Theory”
- “Breaking Bad”
- Entertainment Weekly’s Brave New Warriors
- “Game of Thrones”
- “How I Met Your Mother”
- “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
- “Once Upon a Time”/”Once Upon a Time in “Wonderland”
- “The Originals”
- “True Blood”
- “The Vampire Diaries”
- “The Walking Dead”
- “The X-Files” (20th Anniversary Panel)
As previously mentioned, don’t expect director/writer/producer Christopher Nolan, who guards his movies with strict secrecy, to make a Comic-Con appearance anytime soon. Therefore, Nolan’s movies that are huge with the Comic-Con crowd (“Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception” and “Man of Steel”) were not showcased with their own Comic-Con panels.
Director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams has been to Comic-Con, but not for 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness.” It’s too early to know if he will be at Comic-Con in 2014 to promote 2015’s “Star Wars: Episode VII,” but given the secretive way that the movie is being made, fans should not get their hopes up too high that it will get a Comic-Con panel. (The “Star Wars” movies that were released from 1999 to 2005 didn’t get Comic-Con panels with the filmmakers and stars either.)
“Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James was at Comic-Con in 2012, but she tweeted that there is no truth to the rumor that the cast of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie will be announced at Comic-Con in 2013. James tweeted: “I dunno where this rumour started that the cast would be revealed at Comic Con…but it is just that – a rumour. (Sighs)” The movie arrives in theaters on Aug. 1, 2014, so it’s possible the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie will have a panel at Comic-Con in 2014.
Pixar has continuously snubbed Comic-Con for its feature films, despite Pixar’s movies being among the top animated films every year. Animated films are hit and miss at Comic-Con: A lot of animated films from major studios skip Comic-Con. Animated films that tend to get showcased at Comic-Con are those that appeal mostly to teens and adults.
“The Transformers” movies have not had any Comic-Con panels, even though the “Transformers” TV series and action figures are fixtures at Comic-Con.
Any horror movie franchise that is widely criticized for the movies being too similar to each other will get passed over for a Comic-Con San Diego panel. That’s why there have been no Comic-Con panels for the “Paranormal Activity” movies or the “Saw” series.
And speaking of Comic-Con snubs in the horror genre, there seems to be no reason publicly given for why the TV series “American Horror Story” still has not gotten a panel at Comic-Con.
There have been some other famous Comic-Con snubs over the years. The “Harry Potter” film series, for the most part, bypassed Comic-Con panels during the series’ nine-year run. There was a “Harry Potter” panel in 2010, but Tom Felton (who played bratty villain Draco Malfoy) was the only star from the movie who was there. The three main stars of “Harry Potter” (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) were no-shows.
Some other stars from major sci-fi, action or fantasy films that have yet to be at Comic-Con include Brad Pitt (“World War Z,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Fight Club”); Will Smith (the “Men in Black” movies, “After Earth,” “Hancock,” “Independence Day”); Tom Cruise (“Oblivion,” “War of the Worlds” and the “Mission: Impossible” movies); Jim Carrey (“Kick-Ass 2,” “The Number 23,” “Batman Forever”); and Julia Roberts (“Mirror Mirror,” “Hook”).
Johnny Depp made his first trip to Comic-Con in 2009, when he made a very brief appearance to promote “Alice in Wonderland,” but Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies have yet to be showcased at Comic-Con.
And rumors are swirling over whether or not George Clooney and/or Sandra Bullock will make their first appearances at Comic-Con in 2013. They star in the sci-fi film “Gravity,” which is due out in U.S. and Canadian theaters on Oct. 4, 2013. “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuarón is already announced for Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries panel at Comic-Con in 2013.
July 20, 2013 update: Bullock but not Clooney made a “surprise” appearance for the “Gravity” panel a Comic-Con. Berry also made her first appearance at Comic-Con in San Diego during a “surprise” all-star panel that featured several cast members from “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Tom Cruise also made his first trip to Comic-Con in San Diego during a “surprise” appearance for “Edge of Tomorrow” (formerly titled “All You Need Is Kill”).