With San Diego Comic-Con 2016 happening next week (as of this writing), there are many fans eagerly anticipating the announcements and reveals that will take place at the event. Arguably the biggest attraction at SDCC is Hall H, where several of the major film studios hold panels to promote their upcoming projects. Those lucky enough to be in attendance during one of these presentations are often treated to exclusive footage and trailers, getting a taste of what future tentpoles from Marvel, DC, and Lucasfilm (among others) have to offer.
In recent years, Hall H has been hit by a piracy epidemic, as some viewers illegally record what’s shown on the screens, posting a low-quality bootleg version on the Internet. Though fans are constantly asked not to do this, it’s borderline impossible to keep tabs on the thousands of people in the room. This has had a negative impact on SDCC as a whole; 20th Century Fox is sitting this year out due to security concerns. However, strides are being made, and perhaps any Hall H leaks in 2016 will be minimal thanks to advancements in technology.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn recently posted a photo from the set on his Facebook page. In the comments thread, the filmmaker reiterated his previous statements that fans in Hall H should see a brief teaser, but any official trailer release is a ways off. Touching on the subject of piracy, Gunn implied that it may not be so easy for people to get a hold of the footage:
“Well, you might see something if you’re in Hall H on July 23 with me and the Marvel panel. Or if someone secretly films that – which is less likely to happen because of new technology, but I still know sometimes happens – then you’ll see it right after. If not then, it will be a short while.”
Gunn’s statements call into question exactly what SDCC has planned to combat the piracy problem. The “new technology” he alludes to hasn’t been publicized and remains a mystery. ComicsAlliance theorizes that it could be a version of Apple’s new patent that disables the cameras on smartphones (which they introduced as a way to stop illegal recordings in movie theaters and concerts). It will be interesting to see how the Hall H experience is different this time around, and if the improved methods have the desired effect.
It’s understandably frustrating for studios when their sizzle reels leak online, and in a way it defeats the purpose of camping out in line to gain access to Hall H. At the same time, an argument could be made that leaks can benefit a movie. Last year, when the SDCC Suicide Squad trailer started popping up, Warner Bros. released an HD version that essentially revved up the hype train for the year’s most buzzed-about movie. Of course, each scenario is different, but it goes to show that more people watching a preview (and becoming curious about the project) can raise awareness and pay off in the end. Granted, the official marketing campaigns for Deadpool and Suicide Squad were fantastic, but they both got early exposure thanks to some piracy.
Still, that doesn’t completely justify filming the screens, and it’s easy to see why some would be a proponent of these changes. Footage at any convention isn’t necessarily meant to be shared with the whole world; the visual effects could be incomplete and they’re cut specifically to excite the gathered crowd. If certain studios have decided to bypass the event due to piracy, then the event organizers have every reason to institute whatever improvements they can. Comic-Con is more fun when there’s a plethora of studios showing off footage. This could be the way to ensure a full house in 2017.
San Diego Comic-Con International will run from July 21 – 24, 2016. Preview night is July 20.