Tchotchke-seeking crowds, bloggers dutifully covering every announcement, surprise Johnny Depp appearances, the first expanded “Disney Con”, D23 was a success and paved the way for Disney’s own version of Comic-Con.
After hitting the road to court fans at Comic-Con in San Diego this summer, Disney has found a way to do the same thing in its own backyard.
Over the past four days, Disney touted pretty much everything the company has to offer — especially its films and TV shows, theme parks and various merchandise lines, from wedding dresses to collectible pins — at the D23 Expo, the Mouse House’s answer to Comic-Con, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from Disneyland.
The crowd, between 10-20,000, was a bit smaller than hoped. Big news included a new Guillermo Del Toro run animated shingle, a new Muppets movie, the title of the fourth PIRATES film, and a new and expanded 3D Star Tours that will include characters from the prequels. While certainly D23 is not a substitute for Comic-Con, it is the first sign of studios splitting off and doing their own thing. Variety points out that economically, D23 is pricier, which may have contributed to the smaller crowd: a single day ticket was $37, four days $111, $81 for a child.
Geoff Boucher has more analysis of the D23/Comic-Con comparison, pointing out that Disney is the only studio that has the resources to put on such an elaborate show:
The event feels very different than Comic-Con International and not just due to size. This Expo started with Disney’s polish and intense appetite for control (which, it must be said, has served the company well at times) which makes its sensibility very different than the scruffy, fan-ruled Comic-Con. You won’t see fans sitting on the floors during presentations, and you certainly won’t hear Kevin Smith or Samuel L. Jackson dropping F-bombs from the main stage. On Friday, even press weren’t allowed to bring their laptops, cell phones or cameras into the presentation by Disney Studios chief Dick Cook which is major departure from the digital freewheeling spirit of Hall H at Comic-Con. Comic-Con wants to be everywhere via You Tube; D23 wants you to know that if you weren’t in the room than you missed something special. Comic-Con is like Grateful Dead encouraging fans to swap bootlegs, D23 is more like, well, a Hollywood studio gripped by piracy concerns and the fear of seeing amatuer-quality versions of its product.
Also, it occurred to me today, there’s a big track-meet quality to Comic-Con with so many competing studios, companies and dreamers looking to win over the audience. That creates a kind of lovely chaos that’s missing from the one-company show here in Anaheim. The “surprises” at D23 will be elaborate stage moments that are carefully choreographed, such as the delightful Muppets musical number on Friday. The surprises at Comic-Con feel more like a rock concert where the crowd is more actively involved in the ultimate fate of the show.
Of course, if you’re gonna talk about Comic-Con….next year, Disney will have Marvel!