In a now famous piece in The New York Times last month, the focus has been on the major pull back from Hollywood to this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. That would seem understandable during the Great Recession. Not at the party in any significant way this year: Warner Brothers, Disney, Dreamworks, The Weinstein Company and Marvel Entertainment. No panels for “Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” or “Hunger Games.”
However, as expressed in a nice piece from CNN, at the end of the day, with 120,000 attendees and all the media coverage, Comic-Con has hardly been abandoned by Hollywood. A draw down by Hollywood is relative. Should any studio spend over $60 million on a movie like, “Scott Pilgrim v. The World,” that common sense would tell you will likely make about $30 million? The thing is, $30 million is a lot of money. Did Universal expect to make $100 million? Come on, it is a quirky offbeat comedy. Maybe Universal should have followed what Sony did with “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and make a movie for $10 million and earn $30 million. That’s $20 million profit, not bad. Instead, they took a genuine and fun story by cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley and turned it into a bloated monster, with a poster that covered the whole side of the Hilton nearby Comic-Con last year, that did not earn but lost money. Is that Comic-Con’s fault somehow? This year, that same Hilton has another poster, this time it’s for “Cowboys and Aliens” and it’s smaller.
Hollywood can, or should, learn how to be more resourceful, just like the cartoonists and various geeks that are at the heart of what Comic-Con is truly about. There is supposed to be some sort of strong presence on the convention floor for “Hunger Games.” And there are viral campaigns for “Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” That sounds resourceful.
Sony rolls out the first footage of “The Amazing Spider-Man” at this year’s Comic-Con. Of course, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1” is in Hall H. “Cowboys and Aliens” premieres at Comic-Con. “Captain America,” “Fright Night” and “Attack the Block” all have screenings too. It is hardly a cold shoulder from Hollywood. It is more of a sensible approach. With any luck, it will save money, maybe enough money to support yet another quirky offbeat comedy based on a genuine and fun comic book.