Comic-Con “Hopeful” That San Diego Fanboy Show Goes On In COVID-19 Era, But Are Studios & Networks?

In a SXSW déjà vu, San Diego Comic-Con continues to stick to its guns that their fan confab, which draws close to 135,000 people, remains on track for July 23-26.

The news comes at a time when other major events around the world are being delayed due to the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 climate, and how we’ll come back en masse from it, i.e., this summer’s Olympics was pushed to July 2021, and the Democratic National Convention is now expected to take place in August.

On Wednesday, the official Comic-Con Twitter account released a statement saying: “To our amazing Comic-Con and WonderCon fans: We understand how difficult the current climate has been for all of us and appreciate your continued support through these trying times. No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July.”

They continued, “As we continue to monitor the situation with local authorities, we will post updates on our social channels! Until then, remember: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” — Christopher Reeve.”

At stake for the city of San Diego is the near $150 million that SDCC rains on the city in regards to its financial impact, with attendees shelling out close to $88M according to the city’s CIC research. Hotel and sales tax revenue alone racks up $3M. Through yesterday, the number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County are at 849, with 15 deaths in a population numbered at 3.3 million.

According to Deadline sources at studios and networks who are involved in Comic-Con planning, their mind-sets aren’t currently focused on whether to attend the confab or not. There’s too much concern right now surrounding when movie theaters come back, and how, as well feature and TV productions resuming. We heard that there was a recent extension of an internal SDCC deadline for studios and networks to get their deposit money in for hotel and yacht reservations, the date moving from mid-March to later this spring. This, from what we hear, is a measure to give studio and network partners time to breathe.

Still, should the COVID-19 pandemic calm down in Southern California by July, questions remain.

If film and TV production is back up and running, will showrunners, cast and talent even be available to attend SDCC? Even if SDCC gets pushed into August or the fall, conflicting production schedules become an even greater concern.

Then again, will talent even feel safe attending the sweaty bowels of Hall H which holds 6,500 attendees? The mind boggles in regards to how San Diego convention and SDCC security will execute social distancing crowd controls, plus the truckloads of hand sanitizer that will need to be dispensed during the conference.

Will studios and talent reps want their stars to go? A few weeks ago when CinemaCon was digging its heels in about keeping its Las Vegas exhibition-distribution conference on course for March 30-April 2 (before they canceled), buzz swirled that talent reps weren’t keen about their stars attending, with word flying around that studio presentations would be pared down to a string of trailers and an exec’s opening remarks. Should such a lineup come to fruition at SDCC, that will be hard to justify to those adults who’ve shelled out $304 for a five-day badge. And is that alone worth waiting in line overnight for? Already, given the large stay-at-home quarantine being enforced by the state of California, SDCC’s sister spring fanboy conference, WonderCon in Anaheim, was postponed due to COVID-19.

Then again, if the coast is clear from the coronavirus and we ultimately feel safe, then there’s no better time than SDCC to stunt a late-summer movie schedule with Paramount/Nick’s SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run on July 31, Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984 on August 14, Par’s A Quiet Place 2 on September 4, with Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow and The Eternals on the horizon, and Sony’s Venom 2 on October 2.

Should SDCC remain unchanged, and studios and networks curb their attendance, then maybe the fanboy love-in goes back to being what it’s always been about: The comics.


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