Marvel at Fox SDCC: 20th Century Fox Will Skip Hall H. Who’s Next? written by Sean Gerber April 28, 2016 San Diego Comic-Con has long been credited as a key factor in the conversion of geek culture to mainstream pop culture. More specifically, Hall H has been the SDCC venue where studios brought exclusive material to the audience most eager to see it. Hall H is where Marvel Studios started its grass roots campaign before taking over the superhero movie world. It’s where Warner Bros. told us Batman and Superman would appear on the big screen for the first time. Today we are learning that one studio may have already set foot in that hallowed hall for the last time and others could follow. 20th Century Fox will not be presenting its biggest upcoming releases in Hall H at SDCC this year. According to The Wrap, the studio believes piracy is a problem without a solution at the convention. Last year, almost every piece of exclusive footage shown in Hall H wound up online later that day via pirated video. Fox’s Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse were included in the leaks, so while the studio will not officially say piracy is the reason it’s skipping Hall H this year, it’s not hard to imagine it being a major motivator in the decision. The questions now are which studios, if any, will follow suit and what does this all mean for the future of SDCC? It might be a few weeks before we learn which studios will or will not be putting on Hall H presentations, but there are really only two to watch. Along with 20th Century Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. represent the three pillars of intellectual property that prop up Hall H. Yes, other studios have big properties, but nothing that fills Hall H like Disney’s Marvel Studios and Star Wars or Warner Bros.’ DC and, perhaps, Harry Potter. Fox has its own Marvel brand with X-Men and Deadpool. Sony has Spider-Man, but that’s probably going to be wrapped into Marvel’s presentations for Disney, or at least it should be. If Disney and Warner Bros. show up, then all will be well in Hall H. For Disney, Marvel Studios could offer panels and debut footage for November’s Doctor Strange and next May’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which should have wrapped production by then. It might be too early to show anything from Thor: Ragnarok or Spider-Man: Homecoming, but casting and director announcements for Captain Marvel would have the Hall H crowd and those following along at home buzzing. Marvel has been a fairly consistent presence in Hall H for the past decade, only skipping 2011 and 2015. Those were both years in which Disney had its biannual D23 Expo in Anaheim. The only year in which Marvel did both SDCC and D23 Expo was 2013, leading many to believe that going forward, Marvel may only consider SDCC during D23 Expo’s off years. We can probably rule Marvel Studios out of Hall H in 2017 since D23 Expo takes place just a week before SDCC. This year is still a possibility, though. Disney also has Lucasfilm at its disposal, which means panels for Rogue One and Star Wars: Episode VIII could be in play, if the studio is so inclined. Keep in mind, though, that Disney already has its own Star Wars Celebration in London just days before SDCC this year, so that could make a trip to San Diego feel a little redundant and very expensive. Warner Bros. has plenty to promote at SDCC this year, if the studio so chooses. A panel for Suicide Squad (plus an advanced screening during the convention, please?) could make for a nice last minute marketing push. Wonder Woman would be very likely to get a panel and perhaps a teaser debut while there could also be some way too early footage or photos from Justice League. For the Harry Potter crowd, WB could also bring the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for a panel. The issue, of course, isn’t really whether or not these studios have movies to promote since they always do, but rather their ability to promote in an environment that is equally prided on exclusivity and prone to piracy. For all the outrage over leaks last year, it’s worth noting that leaks of Hall H footage have been going on for almost as long as anyone’s cared about the phrase “Hall H.” From the first Iron Man footage in 2007 to the first clip of Batman v Superman in 2014 to last year’s Suicide Squad footage, leaks from Hall H have been par for the course. The differences now are how fast the leaks spread and how easily available they become. Before, fans had to hunt down leaked footage through phony YouTube titles or track down links on message boards. The proliferation of mainstream social media has eliminated the need for any kind of hunt and no one really seems to mind that they’re watching pirated material. Mainstream media outlets including Hollywood trades certainly don’t mind posting it and collecting the hits, as we saw with the Suicide Squad footage last year. When footage intended to be exclusive leaks, there’s no stopping it. This gives SDCC and the studios two choices: find a way to prevent footage from being recorded in Hall H, or not give the audience in the hall anything worth leaking. With over 6,000 people coming into Hall H, many of whom stay from open to close, the thought of checking all those phones and other recording devices is a nightmare. Disney came up with its own solution to this problem last year. At Star Wars Celebration and D23 Expo, Disney handed out bags in which attendees had to seal their electronics for the duration of a presentation in the big hall. It’s an efficient solution for a crowd of over 6,000 people since no one has to go get their phone back. They just open their bag and go on about their day, enjoying the rest of the convention. The bags are fairly loud when opened to alert security if someone is trying to get their phone out. Someone can always muffle the sound or sneak in a device not inside the bag, but the main point is that any phone or recording device that is seen out on the floor is a red flag and grounds for the person holding it to be removed from the hall. The only exceptions are pre-approved employees and press in designated areas. That is an option I hope SDCC at least tries once before all studios take the second option of not giving fans anything that could be leaked, especially if that means not showing up at all. Yes, every fan wants to see new footage just as soon as anyone else sees it, but that does not entitle anyone to anything. The exclusivity of Hall H is part of what makes the experience special and worth camping out overnight to see. Panels are fun and seeing celebrities is great, but for most people in Hall H, they are seated so far away from the stage that they still only end up watching the stars on a big screen. It’s not all that different from watching the stars on television. The great equalizer to the experience for all Hall H attendees has been exclusive footage. The main reason studios are even willing to show the typically unfinished footage is because it’s supposed to only be seen by a relatively small audience. It is not intended for mass consumption like trailers. Less exclusive footage will mean less footage overall. If piracy of Hall H footage is indeed unpreventable, studios could still premiere whatever footage is truly ready for mass consumption at SDCC and post it online immediately after. It would certainly be less incentive for people to go to SDCC or Hall H, but shorter lines and less crowds would not necessarily be horrible for the already overcrowded convention. This, by the way, is in no way an endorsement of piracy for the sake of shorter lines to get into Hall H or buy a cookie at one of the Mrs. Fields concession stands. Pirating the footage is bad behavior, plain and simple. Even though exclusive footage may be on the way out, there is an alternative solution to this problem, which we saw in 2015. When Disney-owned Lucasfilm had its Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel last year, the only footage the studio debuted was a behind-the-scenes reel that was posted online right after. The “you had to be there” experience came by way of an exclusive Star Wars concert conducted by John Williams for all of the panel’s attendees. Without question, it was the signature event of SDCC 2015, even if it didn’t produce the most clicks from people who weren’t there. Not every studio has a concert-worthy property like Star Wars, but many of the properties that are brought to SDCC could offer something exclusive for the people who are there. Most fans are also collectors on some level so exclusive swag would help compensate for seeing less footage, all of which will be seen by the rest of the world moments later. If the studios can find something cooler than that, like Tom Hiddleston walking out in costume as Loki in 2013, all the better. The point is that studios, if they attend, should still make SDCC a one-of-a-kind experience for attendees, even without exclusive footage. The problem with putting on more of a show or handing out swag is that it adds to the expense for Hall H presentations that are already expensive. This is why studios may not even bother with that solution or at least not on an annual basis. In the past few years, there have already been questions as to just how valuable of a marketing tool SDCC really is. The same social media that spreads pirated material is also a direct vehicle for studios to reach potential audience members. Buzz can be built on Twitter in seconds, so why put so much time and money into getting studio employees and stars to San Diego for one hour-long (or less) presentation? Plenty of movies have “won” SDCC while not claiming more important victories at the box office. The world may have been buzzing about Batman v Superman in July 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, but that didn’t translate to a billion dollars at the box office in March and April 2016. Did Warner Bros. really get a return on its SDCC investment? Probably not, as BvS‘ $850 million likely had more to do with the marketing efforts done closer to the film’s release. Plus, Warner Bros. gets really strong social media buzz whenever Ben Affleck or Zack Snyder tweet anything about the DC Extended Universe, so again, the need for SDCC and Hall H is diminished. Disney has the aforementioned D23 Expo and Star Wars Celebration, which it can use to promote while simultaneously generating revenue. Marvel had its own satellite Hall H presentation at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre to announce Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in October 2014. Disney could always set a biannual Marvel convention for D23 Expo off years to promote Marvel’s content, generate revenue, and eliminate the need for and expense of sending Marvel Studios to SDCC every other year. Questionable returns and fear of piracy may be the one-two punch combination that knocks Hall H to the mat. If that ends up being the case, any fans who ever pirated or watched pirated footage from Hall H will have to accept their own share of the blame for destroying or diminishing the thing they loved. It’s always a bummer when the behavior of a few ruins the experience for many. It will undoubtedly stink that they have only been made possible for the wrong reasons, but there are upsides to the studios leaving SDCC or at least passing on Hall H presentations. Hard as it may be to believe, SDCC is not all about Hall H. That’s a major part of it, but there’s still a huge convention going on outside of the big hall. Many people have a fantastic time at SDCC without ever setting foot in Hall H. You can actually see more of the convention and attend more panels that way. One day, you might end up doing those things at a significantly less crowded convention that gets to put more focus on, of all things, comics! Television will still be there for a while and it’s too early to really say that any studio is gone for good, no matter how many of them pass this year. Perhaps Warner Bros. and Disney will still be there this year and Fox will return in 2017. We can’t close the doors on Hall H yet, but the best way to make sure we get more of that unique experience is to make sure we behave ourselves every time the doors open. SDCC: 20th Century Fox Will Skip Hall H. Who’s Next? was last modified: April 28th, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related SDCC 1 comment 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post Weekly Ratings Roundup: April 17 to 23, 2016 next post Marvel’s THE PUNISHER To Get His Own Netflix Series pud333 It’s a shame if the big studios decide to pas on Hall H, but really, I don’t think superhero movies need that boost anymore. The hardcores that fill the hall will go see anything regardless, and I think marketing is more important closer to the release date than a comic con almost a year out. It was good when these movies needed all the help they could get, but this genre is in the zeitgeist now. It’s a genre that isn’t going away anytime soon. Hall H has done its job IMO. Personally, I enjoyed waiting to hear news and read descriptions and yes, hunt out leaks, because that’s how I shared in the fun that is SDCC, but I was never someone to complain if something didn’t get released. It’s a treat to go there. I love that there are exclusive toys, and exclusive experiences. Sure, I haven’t ever been able to score tickets, but there are plenty of other cons to go to and I like that there are some experiences and exclusives that not everyone can have. If we all had the same experiences and collections, that would be boring. That said, none of this is surprising. These studios will eventually run their own shows or not bother at all. In the end, what matters is a movie that connects to people. I love BvS and could go on and on about how wrong everyone else is, but what’s the point? I don’t think winning Hall H did anything for BvS in the end. Or very little. Plenty of movies do great without Hall H. Time to move on I guess. On the flip side, maybe I’ll finally be able to go to SDCC if it reverts back to being a regular comic con.