SDCC ’18: The party’s nearly over for San Diego’s dwindling schedule of extravagant bashes

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Outlander Cast at the Entertainment Weekly’s Annual Comic-Con Party 2017 at the Float at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego at Comic-Con 2017 Photo: Bigstock/CathClick

Okay, now I do know it’s true: San Diego Comic-Con is shrinking to normal size. The proof is in this pudding: THR’s annual list of parties is startlingly modest. Where once every rooftop around town would boast a competing bash or five every night Weds-Friday, this year you’ll barely scuff your Blahniks sashaying from fete to fete.

True the Wired Cafe is back for a full three days (in recent years it was scaled back to one day) but that’s about it. A boat with Kevin Smith here, a single soiree at Float on Thursday. EW’s big Saturday night celebrity affair is still on but SyFy’s one time competing bash is now a fan thing open to anyone!

Even THR says the party has moved on:

The late-night scene at the fan confab continues to shrink as more film and TV outlets opt to skip pricey parties and the event as a whole. Meanwhile, Amazon, Hulu and USA, among others, look for eyeballs beyond the convention center with elaborate activations. 

A Hollywood/comics veteran confirmed that the bloom is off the rose for SDCC as the big bash of the year. “For most of Hollywood, it’s switched back to being a show you want to avoid/send a junior to,” they told me.

It turns out just having a great party won’t make Sin City II or Blade Runner 2049 a hit. Studios have to watch their pennies because those streaming shows are getting expensive.

The emphasis for 2018 is definitely on the activations which are more social media friendly and buzzworthy at this point.  I’m a little sad, because I’ve still never been to a party at Float…but I’ve been to plenty of other showbizzy bashes at Comic-Con and I’ll stick with my tribe.

Despite the rollback, in con week, San Diego real estate is still being priced at premium levels. Some venues command six figures for those installations. But as with a lot of real estate, it’s getting to be a buyer’s market.

Maybe it’s time to reclaim Horton Plaza. The once vibrant mall not too far (as the crow flies) from the con is now a homeless-haunted wasteland.

Horton Plaza tried to keep up but it lost three of its four original department stores, one of which was demolished to expand Horton Plaza park. The Gap has announced its closing and other retailers are said to be on their way out as their leases expire. The top-floor food court only has five eateries.

“For Westfield, it was clear for years that it didn’t work,” Deutsch said. “It ended up being a fortress because it didn’t work otherwise (when it first opened). Now it’s ready for a revision and crack it open to the city.”

The “fortress” is made of two huge parking garages on the south and west side, built not only to house shoppers’ cars but also to make access difficult for the riffraff that populated the Gaslamp Quarter in the 1970s and ‘80s. That defensive wall now discourages Gaslamp revelers from venturing into Horton.

It’s gotten so bad that one of the few remaining tenants is suing the mall owners for lack of business. Activate that!

 

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