As you may know, last week I lamented that San Diego Comic-Con isn’t fun anymore. From what I heard on the ground there this weekend, many, many of you feel the same way. I’ll tell you right now, my opinion hasn’t changed. It doesn’t belong in San Diego anymore. However, something else has been changing over the past few cons that I have some issues with: exclusives.
For those of you who haven’t been down there, the big panels happen in Hall H or Ballroom 20. Big movie and TV studios bring many of the cast and some exclusive video for the fans who wait for hours — sometimes days — in line to be there. A new trailer, or a clip, or sometimes even part of the pilot.
Over the past few years, however, studios have been releasing these things online minutes after the panel. Heck, the “Doctor Who” Season 9 trailer was released 15 minutes before the panel started! It’s great that fans everywhere will get to see these things, but what, exactly, is the point of standing in line for hours then? Sure, you meet cool people, but it’s 90 degrees and there’s no bathroom. Sometimes J.J. Abrams orders donuts for you, but that is pretty rare.
The other side of this is that studios like Warner Bros., try to give fans exclusives and get bitten in the ass. One example is that trailer for “Suicide Squad” that was leaked online. The president of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution at Warner Bros., Sue Kroll, at first said they wouldn’t be releasing the official version, saying she was disappointed that a “long-standing trust” with their fans had been broken. Oh, come on now. Long-standing trust? With 6,000 of your close, personal friends? That’s like filling a room with kids and cookies and saying, “Don’t eat those.” You really didn’t think anyone was going to leak this? That’s just naive. They did, of course, release the official trailer the next day.
The thing is, you really can’t win here. You can’t make fans spend hours in line and release the same things online before it’s shown at the con. You can’t show something to a crowd full of people with phones and cameras and not expect it to leak. We need a different model. Maybe we have fewer fans and let them get closer to the celebs instead of watching them on a screen because they’re so far away. Maybe we broadcast the trailers to the entire con. Maybe we tell fans that they’re getting this a day early, but that it’s going out tomorrow anyway, so their YouTube hits are going to have a shelf-life. I’m not saying I have the answers, but I’m definitely asking the question: Isn’t there a better way?
In the meantime, there are plenty of other cons around the country. It’s worth checking those out and getting a chance to meet people and find great comics/toys/games/friends without the insanity of SDCC.