Although it’s still overwhelming and nuts, there is a genera sense among the exhibitors, cab drivers and con vets that the massive show biz whirlwind has, if not contracted, at least stayed the same this year at Comic-Con. From conversations with many insiders and observing some of the Preview Night behavior, it seemed that the giant exhibits and lavish giveaways of long ago are just memories, like the olden days hanging around the pool at the El Cortez or the medium days partying under the sales at the Wednesday retailer conference.
It seems that the combination of local greed and Hollywood budget cuts may have reigned in some of the more lavish expenditures. As The Beat walked around the Gaslamp last night there was no fair at the Hilton Gaslamp (Although it had been branded as Terminus from The Walking Dead — watch out for the barbecue!), no set-up in the vacant lot on Island and Fifth, and several other places usually overrun by con excess stood lonely and silent.
Now don’t get me wrong, the PetCo Carnival includes Sin City, Hello Kitty and everything in between, there are theme parks for both The Simpsons and Assassin’s Creed—and it was only Wednesday. Maybe some wonders will be set up as the show progresses.
Booths on the show floor have also been scaled back—or held down—since the glory days. Booth height has been restricted because of safety concerns. here are a few legacy booths like Fox’s TV monitor display and Warner’s observation deck, but no more soaring pirate ships and glowing UFOs of the past. Givaeawys are mostly bags. The Alien masks and 300 shields of days of yore have become expensive exclusives you must stand in line to achieve.
As for the world of the con, I made a slo-mo video last night and one virgin con-goer exclaimed “That’s early how it feels on the show floor!”
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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.