The hits keep coming for Comic-Con International as another Hollywood studio has decided to skip.
Warner Bros.-owned DC Studios — rival to Marvel Studios, which is not coming this year — will also bow out. The studio that produces Batman and Superman films was initially thought by some to take advantage of Marvel’s absence.
James Gunn, co-chief executive of DC Studios, responded to a fan’s question on Instagram Saturday that he would not be at Comic-Con this year but probably in 2024. Additionally, DC has released its initial schedule for the convention, which leaves off a big Hall H appearance.
None of the studios skipping Comic-Con have released statements about why they aren’t coming but industry experts say it is a result of the writers’ strike and possible actors’ strike. The thinking is it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to spend thousands of dollars (or more) on a major Comic-Con appearance if the actors of the films can’t come out on stage.
“Studios are hedging their bets,” said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney and journalist, about actors not attending.
The Screen Actors Guild agreed to an extension of its contract last week, which was due to expire, until July 12. If the actors go on strike, they can’t appear for promotional events. Handel said it’s increasingly clear that actors will not be at Comic-Con because it typically takes the union three to four weeks to ratify a new contract. So, even if a deal is reached July 12, it won’t be done in time for the convention.
However, he said it’s possible the union could approve a waiver to allow actors to do promotions during the voting process. Handel said industry sources say a strike is likely to happen. Yet one possibility for a deal is increasing pressure on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to approve something with the actors because movies at the box office have taken a hit in recent weeks.
Major films expected to be hits in the last few weeks — “The Flash,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Elemental” — all flopped. At least some of the blame for poor performances has been tied to late-night talk shows canceled because of the writers’ strike, preventing actors from promoting films to potential audiences.
Other studios that say they are skipping Comic-Con this year include Sony, Disney-owned Lucasfilm, Universal Pictures, Netflix and HBO. There’s still no word on Amazon Prime and Apple+, which both spent lavishly last year on promotions, especially Apple+, which transformed part of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter into a set from its show “Severance.” Amazon also went all out on its “Lord of the Rings” show, “Rings of Power,” with building wraps through much of the Gaslamp Quarter and an orchestra performing music from the series in Hall H.
Although the studios are skipping the 6,500-room Hall H, which is where most media coverage comes from, they will still be present with spots on the convention floor and in promotions inside the convention and in the Gaslamp Quarter.
For instance, although the DC film division might not be in Hall H, it has said it will have a booth on the convention floor, hold panels from comics creators, preview its animated Harley Quinn show and have a showing of its new feature-length animated film “Justice League: Warworld.”
Several confirmed panels at Comic-Con, which would normally take up smaller rooms, might be candidates for a Hall H upgrade: Lionsgate’s “The Continental,” a show set in the John Wick universe; Starz’s wrestling show, “Heels,” and Paramount Pictures’ new animated film, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.”
It will become more clear what Comic-Con will look like this year with schedules coming out starting Wednesday or Thursday.
There is little sign yet that the Gaslamp Quarter won’t be jammed with events. Some of those confirmed so far are an Adult Swim installation, several events at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, a Sonic the Hedgehog pop-up restaurant, and a “step into Jurassic Park” area on 15th Street that celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary.
The fan hype for this year’s Comic-Con might be on the downswing, but most signs point to little change in crowds. Daniel Kuperschmid, general manager of San Diego County’s biggest hotel at 1,628 room, Manchester Grand Hyatt, said last week that he had yet to get any cancellations.