December 11, 2023

Posters for visitors and cosplayers at San Diego Comic-Con.

Ulstein Images | Ulstein Images | Getty Images

San Diego Comic-Con is back to square one this weekend, with Hollywood A-listers skipping the billboards and taking to the picket lines in Los Angeles.

Actors went on strike last Friday, effectively shutting down the film and television industry.

As part of the strike, actors are not allowed to promote any work related to television or theatrical contracts with studios. That means no interviews, premieres, social media posts, and no meetings.

“The timing of these strikes has had a major impact on important promotional events like Comic-Con,” said Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at “This is often used as a launching pad for marketing machines that The machine is behind some of the most anticipated fan-driven content to come in theaters and across the medium.”

That means no Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya hyping Dune: Part 2, no Quinta Brunson talking about all things Abbott Elementary, and no Keenan Thompson and Kyle Mitchell arrives to preview the long-awaited Good Burgers 2.

But even without top talent, SDCC kicks off on Thursday.

“Comic-Con is not going away,” said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor and pop culture expert. “The show can still go on in San Diego. Comic-Con is so big, even bigger than the biggest stars.”

As the weekend rolls around, many Hollywood studios have decided not to participate in the SDCC festivities.

Both Marvel and DC have shared their upcoming comic book movies and TV shows, leading to their exit from the big showcase in Hall H this year. For the first time since 2011, neither franchise studio will host a panel discussion in the coveted 6,500-seat marquee space.

Now, more than two dozen groups have been canceled due to actors unable to promote their projects.including from Amazon’s ‘Wheel of Time’, Freevee’s ‘Jury Duty’ ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” and “That ’70s Show” 25th Anniversary Panel.

Typically, actor-focused panels make up 25% to 30% of regional Comic-Con programming. At San Diego Comic-Con, that could be as high as 40 percent, industry experts told CNBC.

Representatives for San Diego Comic-Con did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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Even though he wasn’t scheduled to attend the group meeting, he said he would still go on the trip.

“There’s a lot of events that still happen that I’m interested in outside of movies and TV,” he said, noting that the Hellfire Gala, a show based on the popular X-Men comics, is of particular interest, he said. Adapted Dress Up Party.

Many attendees at the upcoming convention told CNBC that despite the canceled panels and fewer celebrity appearances, they still plan to attend. After all, manga creators are still able to participate and promote their creations.

San Diego Comic-Con, held in 1970, started with just 300 attendees, including top comics and science fiction authors like Jack Kirby and Ray Bradbury. Over the decades, it has grown beyond comic books to encompass the broader pop culture genres of horror, fantasy, anime, toys and video games, and now has more than 130,000 annual attendees.

Fewer lines, more congested

“I used to be able to walk into Hall H in 45 minutes,” said Jason Chau, a 46-year-old sales audit manager from Forest Hills, New York. “The popularity of Marvel, Twilight, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead has driven the demand for badges like crazy.”

Chau has participated in SDCC since 2008. He usually spends most of his time at the convention filming cosplay, attending comic panels and getting an autograph or two. Chau’s visit to San Diego and the convention cost similarly to Wilder’s, but $285 more for four-day badges.

When the convention started getting more attention from Hollywood, he said, he avoided presentations in Hall H, which typically required attendees to line up all night to get a seat. So far, only one Hall H panel has been canceled following the actor’s strike, and Legendary Entertainment also pulled out of the booth.

Still, with more than two dozen panels left unfinished, SDCC will need to contend with increased foot traffic. Part of the planning process for such meetings is to have a certain percentage of attendees always line up somewhere.

“I worry about how all those big panels are being removed and how that’s going to affect traffic flow in the showroom,” Wilder said.

Wilder is no stranger to comic-con, having attended New York Comic-Con, Rhode Island Comic-Con, Terrificon, and Wicked Comic Con.

“With SDCC, I just want to stay positive,” he said.

Those selling in showrooms were more optimistic about the possibility of more crowds.

“I think it’s going to be great for fan engagement,” said Ashley Anderson, community and social director at collectibles company Super7. “I mean, you’re going to be able to emphasize fans a lot more than before.”

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Combined with the potentially bad publicity, the studio also lost some big publicity opportunities at the convention. Sure, the companies can still run trailers, hang billboards and sponsor interactive fan events, but many of the viral social media moments come from actors being interviewed on set and publicly hyping shows and movies while engaging with fans and each other.

“Comic-Con is a big promotional TV spot for the big studios and streamers,” Thompson said. “

Studios need this kind of marketing, especially after the summer movie season was weaker than expected.

“We’ve seen several adult-oriented blockbusters underperform this summer when some outlets, like talk shows, didn’t air or invite guests to promote ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ etc. Movies, perhaps no coincidence. ‘ and ‘The Flash,'” Robbins said.

Upcoming potential blockbusters such as Warner Bros. ‘ “Barbie” and generic “Oppenheimer,” which ran a strong marketing campaign ahead of the strike, likely won’t feel the pain of a cast walkout, but others may not be so lucky.

“Studios and theaters are relying on a lot of content for strong box office results in the coming months and next year,” Robbins said. Companies will all experience a period of revenue decline that could lead to a domino effect of delayed releases, rushed or unfinished productions. These are consequences beyond the control of theater owners. … However, unlike the new crown epidemic, Hollywood high-end But it did.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is a member of the Film and Television Producers Union.