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    A Sternberg Report sponsored message

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    The Sternberg Report ©2018

    October 2018 #50

    Comic Cons Provide Strong Marketing Platforms for TV and Movies By Steve Sternberg

    Originally, comic cons focused primarily on comic books and the surrounding culture, where comic book fans could meet creators, artists, experts, and one another. Comic cons have come a long way since the first “official” comic book convention took place in New York in 1964 with just over 100 attendees. Today, most of them are multi-day events that include numerous pop-culture and entertainment elements, including comic books, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, manga, toys, animation art, collectibles of every stripe, card and video games, graphic novels, and cosplay (costume play, where fans dress up as a fictional character from a movie, TV show, comic book, or video game). The biggest and most well-known annual comic cons are in San Diego (July) and New York (October). In addition to being a marketplace to buy and sell comic books and other pop-culture items, these have also become major marketing events – TV and movie stars and producers join panels geared to generating buzz among hardcore fans, which their publicity machines try to make sure will spill over to the general public. Anything related to superheroes or sci-fi tend to have a significant presence at these events. On the TV front in recent years, Netflix shows (such as Stranger Things and Marvel’s street-level heroes – Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Punisher) have been prominent at the San Diego and New York events, as have some shows from Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and CBS All Access (Star Trek Discovery). Ad-supported and premium cable sci-fi/fantasy hits (such as The Walking Dead, Legion, Game of Thrones, and Westworld) have also been receiving strong buzz at these events.

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    __________________________________________________________________________________________The Sternberg Report ©2018


    Comic Con International, more commonly known as San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), was founded back in 1970 as The Golden State Comic Book Convention, and drew around 300 people. It has since grown into a four-day, multi-genre, mega event. Originally a convention designed to showcase comic books and sci-fi/fantasy, studios did not see it as having any value for marketing their upcoming projects. Attendance steadily grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and generally stabilized at around 30 or 40,000. There were numerous other annual conventions that were contained in their own universes – Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, etc. – which probably limited the growth of the San Diego show. The early-to-mid 2000’s saw the Star Wars prequels, the expanding Marvel movie fan base, the emergence of edgier original scripted cable series, premium cable shows, and Netflix. As movie and TV studios provided sneak peaks of upcoming projects and major stars began attending panel discussions, attendance started to grow dramatically. In 2004, SDCC took over the entire San Diego Convention Center, and by 2006, had reached its 130,000 capacity. In 2015, the year the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie debuted, SDCC drew its highest attendance ever, at 170,000. Since then, it has slipped a bit, and most counts place its annual attendance at 130,000+. But it remains the most publicized and influential event of its kind. Here’s a brief rundown of the major TV show related panels and presentations at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. While the production studios typically host these events, I’m listing them based on the network or streaming service that airs them:

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    San Diego Comic Con 2018 TV Panels CBS Big Bang Theory, Magnum P.I. CW Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lighning, Supergirl, The Flash,

    Arrow, Riverdale, Charmed (new), Legacies (new) FOX The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, The Gifted, The Orville NBC Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Good Place, Midnight, Texas, Manifest (new) ADSM Robot Chicken AMC Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad (10th anniversary), The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking

    Dead, Preacher Audience Mr. Mercedes BBCA Dr. Who Freeform Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger, Siren FX Legion, Mayans M.C. (new) FXX Archer History Vikings, Project Blue Book (new) SYFY Krypton, The Magicians, Nightflyers (new), Deadly Class (new) TBS American Dad USA Mr. Robot, The Purge (new) HBO Westworld Amazon Prime The Man in the High Castle, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (new), Video Previews (new) CBS All Access Star Trek Discovery, Twilight Zone (new) Hulu Castle Rock Netflix Marvel’s Iron Fist, The Defenders, Lost in Space, Disenchantment (new)

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    __________________________________________________________________________________________The Sternberg Report ©2018


    New York Comic Con (NYCC) started in 2006, and was initially much smaller than the San Diego convention (and took place in February). Initially just the main exhibition hall of the Jacob Javits Center, with a capacity of 10,000 was booked for the event. Many more attendees than anticipated showed up, and it was kind of a mess as fire marshals had to lockdown admissions until people left. Over the next few years, the event took over more space in the Javits Center. Attendance started to grow, but it was still nowhere near SDCC levels. In 2013, when single-day passes for Thursday (the first day of the four-day event) were available for the first time, attendance topped 130,000, putting it on par with the San Diego show for the first time (in attendance, but not yet in the number of all-star panels or influence). In 2014, attendance hit 151,000, making it the largest show in North America. In 2017, it drew 180,000 attendees. Since the SDCC takes place in California, it’s had a much larger presence of Hollywood studios and all-star panels. But that has been gradually changing. While the SDCC is in July, the NYCC is in October, just as the fall TV season is getting underway, and right before any holiday blockbusters. The NYCC also became a viable option for many (not on the west coast) who were not able to obtain the nearly impossible to get SDCC attendee badges. Panels are presented in various locations in Manhattan, with the main show continuing at the Jacob Javits Center. Here’s a brief rundown of the major TV show related panels and presentations at this year’s just ended New York Comic Con:

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    __________________________________________________________________________________________The Sternberg Report ©2018


    New York Comic Con 2018 TV Panels CBS Seal Team CW Riverdale, The 100, Charmed (new), Roswell, New Mexico (new), Legacies (new) FOX The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Gifted, The Orville, Gotham, The Passenger (new) NBC Blindspot, Midnight, Texas, Manifest (new) Adult Swim Rick and Morty AMC The Walking Dead BBCA Dr. Who Cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars (moving to Disney streaming service in 2019) Comedy Central Drunk History Freeform Siren FXX Archer History Project Blue Book (new) NatGeo Mars Nickelodeon Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Syfy The Magicians, Happy, Nightflyers (new), Deadly Class (new) TBS American Dad TruTV Impractical Jokers IFC Stan Against Evil HBO Watchmen (new) Starz Outlander, American Gods Amazon Prime Video The Tick, The Boys (new), Good Omens (new) CBS All Access Star Trek Discovery DC Universe Titans (new) Hulu The Handmaid’s Tale, Marvel’s Runaways, Future Man, The Man in the High Castle Netflix Big Mouth, Marvel’s Daredevil, Tales of Arcadia: 3 Below, The Umbrella Academy

    (new), The Haunting of Hill House (new), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (new), Dark Crystals (new), The Age of Innocence (new), She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (new)

    Shudder (AMC) Creepshow TV, The Last Drive-In, A Discovery of Withes (new) YouTube Prem. Origin (new), Cobra Kai

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    __________________________________________________________________________________________The Sternberg Report ©2018


    Other Comic Cons There are several other large annual comic-con-style events throughout the U.S. Here are just a few of the bigger ones: Dragon Con is a multi-genre convention that takes place every year over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia (which draws roughly 80,000 attendees); WonderCon is a comic book, science fiction, and film convention held in the San Francisco Bay area, usually in March or April (and typically gets 60,000 or so attendees); MegaCon is speculative fiction convention (which includes sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, horror, dystopian, and supernatural fiction) taking place in Orlando, Florida – it has varied from February, March, and May and has drawn 100,000+ attendees; The Emerald City Comic Con takes place in Seattle, Washington, in March or April, and has drawn close to 100,000 attendees. Wizard World produces between 15 and 20 smaller, multi-genre conventions across the U.S. throughout the year. In 2018 there were 17 conventions – New Orleans, St. Louis, Cleveland, Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, Boise, Idaho, Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin, Oklahoma City, Austin, Texas, Biloxi, Mississippi, Montgomery, Alabama, Peoria, Illinois, Springfield, Missouri, and Winston-Salem, N.C. Stars of returning and new series also show up at these comic cons (although more stars from cable than broadcast series attend these), but there are few all-star panels at these smaller conventions.