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Fan events create their own digital Hall H
The Future. COVID has fractured the fan convention circuit, possibly kicking Comic-Con off its throne as the most important place to hype up Hollywood tentpoles. Instead, the studios are taking a crack at their own digital versions… and the gambit seems to be working. Unless Comic-Con can prove the “bigger is better” approach, expect fan events to become as varied and siloed as the film festival circuit.
COVID may have shrunk Comic-Con for good.
- After Comic-Con had to move its cultural-touchstone event to a virtual one in 2020, individual studios tried out their own virtual versions.
- Warner Bros. had the DC-superhero themed DC FanDome in August 2020.
- Netflix had The Witcher-themed WitcherCon this past July, and will debut the more evergreen Tudum fan event later this month.
- Disney set Disney+ Day in November to commemorate the 2-year anniversary of the service.
Both press and fans have been extremely pleased with the events so far, which surely makes Comic-Con organizers bristle a bit. The studios are still deciding whether these events are just pandemic-era one-offs or annual traditions.
With how expensive it can be to launch a Comic-Com event (millions of dollars when organization, hall space, travel logistics, etc. are all combined), studios may look at virtual events the same way they do proprietary streaming services — a direct, cost-effective way to reach fans without having to share the spotlight.