Will Twilight Ruin This Year’s Comic-Con?

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Update: Comic-Con has partly responded to fan concerns by moving the Avatar panel until after the Twilight presentation. Unfortunately, the Disney 3D panel (Tron 2, Burton’s Wonderland) remain before the Summit panel.

I’m not a Twilight hater. We wrote about the first film a few times, and received a ton of extra traffic as a result. But I learned quickly that it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Not only that, but it isn’t something most /Film readers are interested in. That’s why we generally don’t cover the Twilight films (aside from some trailers or page 2 items). Unlike others, I don’t feel threatened by the books, films, or insane fandom. Why should I? Twilighters can do their own thing, and it really doesn’t affect me at all… except for when it does. And the one time it might is at a place called Comic-Con.

Probably the most anticipated film at Comic-Con this year is James Cameron‘s Avatar. But only second to Tron 2, a film almost 30 years in the making which was the surprise sensation of last years con. For those who don’t know, they have retrofitted the main hall at the San Diego Convention Center, Hall H, for 3D presentations this year — a Comic-Con first. What this means is that the first two panels in Hall H on Thursday are in 3D (Disney 3D and Avatar). I assume they did this so that they could easily pass out 3D glasses to those entering the hall in the morning. If they had held the 3D presentations later in the day, distribution of 3D glasses could have been complicated. Sounds logical, right? But not when you add Twilight into the mix.

Summit Entertainment’s panel takes place 15 minutes after the close of the Avatar presentation. Anyone who attended last year’s Comic-Con can attest to how much of a cluster-fuck was caused by Twilight‘s presentation in Hall H. Hundreds of tweens and Twilight Moms/Dads camped overnight to be the first ones into Hall H. By the time the “normal people” began to line up hours before doors were set to open, thousands of Twilighters were already in line.

Hall H fits 6,000-6,500 people , yet many people were shut out of the opening 20th Century Fox panel, and when the Summit panel began you couldn’t even hear yourself think as four or five thousand Twilight fans screamed in unison. It was a bit sad seeing a 50-year-old Twilight Mom asking a 22-year old Robert Pattinson if he wears boxers or briefs, but Im not writing today to talk about that. When the Summit panel ended, Hall H rapidly emptied, as more than 80% of the people exited the building. The rest of the day/weekend became a lot less stressful. But a lot of the people that wanted to attend the early morning panel missed out.

By placing the Summit panel (AKA The Twilight Saga: New Moon panel) as the third panel of the day, they are forcing thousands of movie fanatics out of Hall H. Unless you’re willing to brave the crowds and show up 4-5 hours before HALL-H opens, the seats will be taken by Twilight fans. Twilight fans who probably aren’t interested in Avatar. Many of those people who want to see previews of A Christmas Carol, Alice In Wonderland, Tron 2 and Avatar will be left out. A huge chunk of the audience that Disney and Fox had hoped would attend their 3D presentations will be unable to enter the Hall.

Even Industry trade newspaper The Hollywood Reporter recognizes the potential problem:

Apart from the high-level interest in Avatar and Tron, Hall H might also see a repeat of last year’s female fan frenzy with Summit’s presentation of New Moon. In the program lineup unveiled Thursday by Comic-Con International, the “Twilight” sequel panel takes place after the “Avatar” session.

I’m not complaining for myself (I might be able to get into Hall H through industry connections or what-not). I’m complaining for the 4,000-6,000 people that will likely be shut out of these awesome Hall H presentations in order for Twilighters to save their seats for the Summit panel.

What could be done to avoid this potentially disastrous situation? I would suggest that they move the Twilight panel to the beginning of the day and clear out the hall afterwards. If Comic-Con did this, it would solve everything. But we’re only two weeks away from show-time. The event schedule is live on the official Comic-Con website, and I’m sure the programs have already printed, so I’m not sure any schedule shifts would be possible.

Another potential solution would be to publicly announce that Hall H would be cleared out following the Avatar presentation. This would create a separate Twilight line for the Summit presentation, which would allow the non-Twilighters to see the two 3D panels.

Studios spend tens of thousands of dollars flying out talent for panels and preparing breathtaking clips for these massive presentations, which are specifically designed to get the positive word out on upcoming films. It would be a shame for Disney and Fox if their failure to anticipate Twilight madness cost them a precious opportunity to reach their target audience. Then again, similar oversights have happened before.

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