OPINION – STUDIOS ABANDON COMIC CON?

For years, Comic Con International in San Diego has been more about movies, television, video games, and toys than it is about comic books. Fans lament the days of back issue scrounging, all the while waiting in a twisting line for a panel on the next Tim Burton movie. But are the days of the entertainment industry’s blind obsession with fanboys, fangirls, and comic book material coming to an end?

The New York Times is reporting that a number of high-profile film studios are benching plans to showcase their upcoming releases at Comic Con this year. Warner Brothers utilized Comic Con to launch films like Sherlock Holmes, 300, and Sucker Punch, but aren’t buying up booth and exhibition space this year. Walt Disney Studios marketed Tron: Legacy last year, but has no plans for the convention in 2011. Likewise, DreamWorks (Megamind) will be nowhere to be found.

The New York Times signals the Comic Con alarm with Sucker Punch, Buried, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, three flicks that failed to reach an audience after being pushed by their studios at Comic Con last year.

Is the entertainment industry leaving Comic Con behind? I doubt it. The reality is that Hollywood’s obsession with comic book properties has yielded some extremely successful releases as well as some unsuccessful releases. But until Hollywood starts coming up with more than one or two fresh big ideas each year, we are destined for a continuous stream of adaptations, comic book and otherwise.

But Hollywood is right to question Comic Con as a marketing opportunity. Comic book fans are tastemakers, but 130,000 fickle attendees do not a successful marketing venture make. I’m glad to see the studios rethinking past marketing mistakes.

What do you think? Should Comic Con return to the good old days of back issue scrounging or is today’s marketing festival the way to stay?

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