While Hall H is the ultimate Valhalla of nerd lore, it isn’t quite what it used to be. Checking out the schedule this year reveals that the studio pullout is pretty complete, with only Marvel and Warner Bros. duking it out old school with full presentations:
JULY 21 • THURSDAY
10:00am – 11:30am
1Dreamworks Animation Theatrical
11:45am – 12:45pm
1:00pm – 2:00pm
1Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
2:15pm – 3:15pm
1Feral Audio Live with Dan Harmon and his Podcast Pals
3:30pm – 4:30pm
1Under the Radar
JULY 22 • FRIDAY
10:30am – 11:30am
1Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s Con Man Panel
12:00pm – 1:00pm
1AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
1:00pm – 2:00pm
1AMC’s The Walking Dead
2:15pm – 3:15pm
1Game of Thrones Panel and Q&A Session
3:45pm – 4:45pm
1Dark Horse: Conversations with Joss Whedon
5:00pm – 6:00pm
1South Park: Season 20
6:30pm – 8:30pm
JULY 23 • SATURDAY
11:30am – 1:30pm
1Warner Bros. Pictures
2:00pm – 3:00pm
3:15pm – 4:15pm
1Aliens: 30th Anniversary
4:30pm – 5:15pm
1Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass
5:30pm – 6:45pm
7:00pm – 8:30pm
JULY 24 • SUNDAY
10:00am – 11:00am
11:15am – 12:15pm
1Supernatural Special Video Presentation and Q&A
12:30pm – 1:30pm
FOX’s Action Showcase: Prison Break and 24: Legacy
Re-Imagining Reality: Bringing Games into the Real World with Ingress and Pokemon GOThere are a few big must see events in Hall H this year –- an Aliens reunion, Game of Thrones — but let’s get realistic: there are panels for PODCASTS and streaming series here. Back in the day, it was nonstop Angelina Jolie and Hayao Miyazaki, with a stop here and there for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlize Theron.
And now? Unless you’re in a superhero movie, or named Joseph Gordon Levitt, you can pretty much stay home.
This isn’t a sudden thing. Hall H has been de-escalating for a few years now, and TV is certainly king of con. With the TV boom leading to jillions of shows on streaming, on demand, broadcast and cable, they certainly need more of the boost that a Comic-Con appearance can bring. When Fox announced they were pulling out of Hall H this year, it didn’t surprise many people.
Also, as we’ve been suspecting for a while, studios are shifting their shock and awe cast reveals to CinemaCon, an industry only confab that’s held earlier in the year and much easier to control. Disney just rolled out their Star Wars news at their own Celebration event, and next year’s D23 fest will be the weekend before Comic-Con.
If anything, Hall H was TOO successful in showing how to control a news cycle and get fans stoked via social media. And of course, many films flopped outright, or got misleadingly enthusiastic receptions. With Hollywood pretty much clueless about how to market their films these days – once reliable reboots and sequels aren’t cutting it, and soaring budgets make everything more risky – the risks of Hall H long ago outweighed the rewards.
Meanwhile, San Diego itself has become the canvas for the carnival of “activations” and other temporary but exciting installations. It’s the “outside Comic-Con” stuff that really puts SDCC over the top now. People have been wondering when Hall H would “Jump The Shark” and it obviously has. But in a GOOD way. Maybe we can get back to enjoying comics and the people who make them in the biggest comics event on the continent.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.