I thought the readers of Screen Rant might want to know a little bit about Comic-Con itself. I’ve rooted around and found out a bit about its past, some info on its present and a little bit of conjecture about it’s future.
The San Diego Comic-Con International event is going to be holding it’s 40th event in the San Diego Convention Center this year. Do you think anyone back in 1970 envisioned what it has become today? I’m not sure, but they definitely hit it out of the park.
The first events in the Con’s history were held in 1970 and had 145 & 300 attendees each, at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The first event that was held in March was a fund raiser and market test of sorts, whose guests included Forrest J Ackerman and Mike Royer. Later on, they held the “real” event in August, which was called San Diego’s West Coast Comic-Con. It’s first guests of honor were Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby & A.E. Van Vogt.
Though it started out at the U.S. Grant hotel in San Diego, it moved to the El Cortez Hotel and then in 1979 to the Convention and Performing Arts Center.
After that, in 1992 it moved to the San Diego Convention Center, where it’s been ever since. Back when it first hit the San Diego Convention Center, they were looking at a humongous number of visitors, where they hosted approximately 22,000 visitors.
Believe it or not, movies, television, books and comic books were the focus of the Con since its inception. With time, they’ve added role playing games, anime, toys and other commerce.
As far as big movie events and previews go, it wasn’t until 1976 when they had a slide show presentation preview of Star Wars that big time movie marketing started to show up. It was around 2001 when Hollywood really recognized the power of the Con and they started to preview the bigger movies like Spider-Man & Star Wars: Episode II.
The Last two years have been an emotional orgy for movie fans as films like Twilight, Iron Man and Watchmen were previewed. We never really knew how loud the fans of Twilight were until we covered that massive panel. I think Vic still has some hearing damage from it!
With the anticipation of this year’s event, it sold out all single and multi-day passes and no on-site “memberships” were being sold. Yet this isn’t the first time it sold out. In 2008, the San Diego event sold out for the first time in its history in advance of the event.
Iron Man armor
It sells out because of the limitation that the convention center has on their visitor capacity.
Every year attendance has grown. In 2004, they had 100,000 visitors while 2006 saw 123,000 souls pass through their doors. In 2008, 126,000 attendees were able to partake in the event and a similar number will be gracing the halls and floors of the convention center this year.
At Capacity, What To Do?
As they’ve hit capacity, it’s been considered what they need to do to accommodate the many visitors.
The San Diego Convention center has the event contractually, through 2012, but the popularity of the event and its ever increasing attendance numbers is not being fully taken advantage of. Last year I heard hear-say that the event might be looking at Las Vegas. But then again, hear-say is usually only as good as the paper it’s written on.
The director of Comic-Con’s Marketing and Public Relations, David Glanzer, says they hope to stay in San Diego forever, but the growth of the event is making that a tough sell. That being because even though hitting capacity has plateaued, which means so has income, costs to run the show will continue to increase.
There’s been talk of the Convention Center expanding, and that would be good. As Glanzer puts it:
“We’ve been approached by other cities, [but] I don’t think anybody wants to leave San Diego. I certainly don’t,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for us. It’s expensive, whether it be paying for the street signs that tell you what streets are closed, or for any police or the hall or any of the myriad things, it’s expensive. But it’s a great city.”
I personally think that San Diego is the perfect location for the event. The weather was perfect last year and downtown where many off-site events are held is a wonderful place with wonderful places to eat and hang out.
If you can stand the massive crowds, you will have a blast as you are surrounded my movie and comic enthusiasts alike. You will be among friends who understand what it is you like.
That, and we’ll be treated to previews of upcoming projects like Iron Man 2, Avatar, 9, District 9 and the like. Comic-Con is a real blast for all involved. Then again, of course I would say that… I took that picture of Amanda Tapping last year.