Pending retirement and 20/20 hindsight can do wonders for the printed page.
With his departure from The Walt Disney Co. set for 2021, CEO Bob Iger has already authored a memoir on his long-running stint heading the world famous brand.
The book, “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company,” is available everywhere Sept. 23, including Amazon.
In excerpts disclosed on Vanity Fair’s website, Iger delves into his relationship with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and how he was stunned to find out 10 minutes before announcing Disney’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006 that Jobs’ cancer had returned.
Iger suggests that had Jobs lived (he died in 2011), he believes — surprisingly — that the two would have facilitated a merger of sorts between Disney and Apple.
It’s an interesting revelation, if not unrealistic considering who Jobs was.
The mercurial executive was a majority shareholder of Pixar and a member of Disney’s board. He was also notoriously self-centered in his vision for Apple and the world revolving around it — not the other way around.
While fighting a return of terminal cancer (despite being one of the richest people on Earth) would cloud anyone’s judgment, when it comes to streaming video and content IP, Jobs’ insolence toward the emerging distribution model and owning content was glaring.
Despite pioneering music, TV show and movie distribution through iTunes, Jobs infamously dismissed Apple TV as a “little hobby,” to be re-evaluated in the distant future.
That attitude contributed to Apple (with more than $200 billion in cash) sitting on the sidelines as Iger-led Disney swooped in to buy Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) — the latter two properties for a combined $8 billion.
Disney has made more than $18 billion on its Marvel investment. The first four Star Wars movies produced by Disney-owned Lucasfilm have already paid for that acquisition. And Pixar’s Toy Story 4 is the fourth film from that studio to top $1 billion at the global box office.
It seems doubtful that had Jobs lived, Apple would have jumped into content ownership. Jobs’ successor Tim Cook has only now decided to push Apple TV into the SVOD ecosystem.
Indeed, Iger, in his book, said Jobs had grown frustrated dealing with the Disney culture and former CEO Michael Eisner.
“Among his many frustrations was a feeling that it was often too difficult to get anything done with Disney,” Iger wrote.
Yet, today Apple has ratcheted up original content, spending Netflix-like billions on programming featuring ‘A’-list talent such as Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The move has generated headlines but comes as Disney, AT&T/WarnerMedia, Comcast and Viacom all bow separate and competing over-the-top video platforms.
Instead of being an innovator as it was with the PC, iTunes, smart phones and tablets, Apple is chasing the competition, a reality noted earlier this year by Netflix’s Ted Sarandos.
“We’ve been competing with 500 channels of cable and penetrated nearly every household in the world for a long time,” Sarandos told the media in March. “So, it’s the same stable of competitors [Apple, Disney, AT&T, Viacom]; just very late to the game.”
Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, distributed by Disney, was No. 1 on the top 10 list of combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales for August 2019 according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.
The superhero movie was released to disc Aug. 13, and in just over two weeks sold enough copies to become the top-selling movie on disc for all of 2019 through the end of August.
No. 2 for August was Warner’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu, which was released in the first week of the month.
Another Warner release, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, was No. 3 for the month with just a few days of sales following its Aug. 27 release.
Likewise, Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, another Aug. 27 release, was No. 4 for the month.
Disney’s Descendants 3, a DVD-only release of the Disney Channel TV movie, was No. 5 for the month after an Aug. 6 release.
The previous month’s top seller, Warner’s Shazam!, was No. 6 in August.
Another late-month release, Paramount’s Elton John biopic Rocketman, entered the monthly chart at No. 7.
Disney’s Captain Marvel was No. 8 for the month, while Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel dropped to No. 9, after debuting as the previous month’s second-best seller.
Warner’s direct-to-video animated movie Batman: Hush, released Aug. 6, was No. 10 for the month.
With Avengers: Endgame taking over the top spot on the yearly chart, the year’s top titles each move down one spot from the previous month, except for Captain Marvel, which overtook Bohemian Rhapsody to stay No. 3 for the year, with the Queen biopic dropping two spots to No. 4.
Warner’s Aquaman, which had been the year’s top seller most of the year, slipped to No. 2.
According to NPD, the August 2019 top 10 by units sold were:
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel)
Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Warner)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Warner)
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (Universal)
Descendants 3 (Disney)
Captain Marvel (Disney/Marvel)
Alita: Battle Angel (Fox)
Batman: Hush (Warner)
Year-to-date Top 10 (through August 2019):
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel)
Captain Marvel (Disney/Marvel)
Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner)
Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame held the top spot on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Aug. 24.
The Disney-distributed superhero blockbuster had debuted in the top spot on both charts a week earlier.
Warner’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu held onto the No. 2 spot on both charts in its third week, selling about 16% as many copies as the top title.
The top newcomer of the week, at No. 3 on both charts, was Sony Pictures’ Brightburn, a superhero-themed horror movie. It earned $17.3 million at the domestic box office.
Universal Pictures’ A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, debuted at No. 4 on both charts. It earned $22.6 million at U.S. theaters.
No. 5 on the overall disc sales chart was the Universal comedy The Hustle, a female-centric remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels that earned $35.4 million at the domestic box office. It was No. 6 on the Blu-ray sales chart.
Disney’s Captain Marvel was the No. 5 Blu-ray seller.
The disc debut of the all-time worldwide box office champ dominated the national home video sales charts, and it wasn’t even close.
Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame easily debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Aug. 17.
The Disney-distributed superhero film, the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the culmination of several storylines developed throughout the franchise over the past 11 years, earned $858 million at the domestic box office and nearly $2.8 billion globally.
Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 80% of first-week Endgame sales, with a whopping 25% of its total unit sales coming from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc.
At retail, Avengers: Endgame sold more copies than the combined total of the rest of the top 20 by a more-than 3-to-1 margin, and the top 50 by more than 2-to-1.
The previous week’s top seller, Warner’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu, slid to No. 2 on both the overall sellers and Blu-ray Disc charts, selling 7.6% as many total copies as Endgame.
No. 3 on both charts was Warner’s Shazam! in its fifth week, selling few than 3% as many copies as Endgame.
No. 4 on the overall sales chart was the DVD version of the Disney Channel TV movie Descendants 3.
Another Disney-owned superhero movie, Captain Marvel, landed at No. 5 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart in its 10th week on disc.
Rounding out the top five Blu-rays was Warner’s animated Batman: Hush, which was No. 9 on the overall sales chart.
The home video arrival of Endgame heralded a number of other MCU films climbing back up the charts, with last year’s Avengers: Infinity War jumping back up to No. 10.
Disney also released the three “Iron Man” movies and the first two “Thor” movies on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray to coincide with the disc release of Endgame. As a result, the 2008 original Iron Man was No. 17 for the week and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart. And the No. 12 through No. 15 Blu-rays were, respectively, Thor, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.
A boxed set of all four “Avengers” films, available as a Steelbook Blu-ray at Best Buy, was No. 17 on the Blu-ray chart.
On the Media Play News rental chart for the week, however, Detective Pikachu held onto the top spot for a second week, with Endgame debuting at No. 2. This reflects both Endgame‘s strong demand in the sales market, and the murky distribution of Disney titles at Redbox kiosks.
The Lionsgate political comedy Long Shot held onto the No. 3 rental spot, while Warner’s The Curse of La Llorona dropped two spots to No. 4. Sony Pictures’ The Intruder slipped a spot to No. 5.
As part of Marvel’s “We Love You 3000” tour celebrating the home video of Avengers: Endgame, several Best Buy stores across America will be hosting events tied to the Aug. 13 Blu-ray release of the film.
Events will feature signings with Marvel Studios filmmakers or other Marvel Cinematic Universe talent; a special digital photo booth; specialty promotional giveaways, including MCU Funko Pop! yinyl figures and exclusive Avengers posters; and more. Fans can also buy Best Buy’s exclusive Avengers: Endgame 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook edition. The first 100 in line with proof of purchase of the Blu-ray at each location will receive a wristband for an autograph.
The tour kicked off at San Diego Comic-Con in July.
• Aug. 13, Los Angeles — Actor Sean Gunn will be on hand at the 3675 Pacific Coast Highway location in Torrance from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign Blu-rays and distribute special gifts including “We Love You 3000” pins, customized prints and MCU Funko Pop figures. Film props on display include the Infinity Gauntlet, a Rocket Raccoon maquette and Star-Lord’s Walkman.
• Aug. 13, Chicago — Director Joe Russo will be on hand to sign Blu-rays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the 2100 N. Elston Ave. store. In-store displays will include Thor’s Stormbreaker axe, Captain America’s shield and Iron Man’s nanotech ARC reactor props from the film. Special gifts include “We Love You 3000” pins, customized prints, MCU Funko Pop figures and vouchers for a free McDonald’s Happy Meal with an Avengers toy. (while supplies last).
• Aug. 13, Miami — Executive producer Victoria Alonso will be the special guest from 6 to 7 p.m. at the 4001 W. 20th Ave. store in Hialeah. The in-store prop display will include Thor’s hammer, Iron Man’s Endgame helmet and Captain America’s shield. Special gifts include “We Love You 3000” pins, customized prints and MCU Funko Pop figures.
• Aug. 14, Minneapolis — Director Anthony Russo will visit the Eden Prairie store at 11600 Leona Road from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to sign Blu-rays and hand out pins, prints and Pop figures. Prop displays will include Thor’s Stormbreaker axe, Captain America’s shield and Iron Man’s nanotech ARC reactor.
• Aug. 15, Cleveland — Anthony Russo will be at the 7400 Brookpark Road location from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to sign Blu-rays and hand out pins, prints and Pop figures. The in-store prop display will include Thor’s hammer, Iron Man’s Endgame helmet and Captain America’s shield.
Higher operating income was due to an increase in theatrical distribution results and lower film cost impairments at legacy operations. These improvements were partially offset by a loss from the 21CF businesses and lower TV/SVOD and home entertainment distribution results.
The increase in theatrical distribution results was due to the performance of Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Captain Marvel and Toy Story 4 in the current quarter compared with Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Black Panther and Solo: A Star Wars Story in the prior-year quarter.
Operating results at the 21CF businesses reflected a loss from theatrical distribution driven by the performance of Dark Phoenix, for which Disney also recorded a film cost impairment, partially offset by income from TV/SVOD distribution.
Direct-to-Consumer & International revenue for the quarter increased from $827 million to $3.85 billion and segment operating loss increased from $168 million to $553 million.
The increase in operating loss was due to the consolidation of Hulu, the ramp up of investment in ESPN+, which was launched in April 2018 and costs associated with the upcoming launch of Disney+.
Results for the quarter also reflected a benefit from the inclusion of the 21CF businesses due to income at the Fox and National Geographic international channels, partially offset by a loss at Star India.
Starting on March 20, 100% of Hulu’s operating results are now included in the Direct-to-Consumer & International segment as a result of Disney’s acquisition of a controlling interest in SVOD and online TV platform.
Previously, Disney’s ownership share of Hulu results was reported as equity in the loss of investees.
Regardless, Disney’s acquisition of Fox resulted in the revenue elimination increase from $148 million to $737 million and segment operating income eliminations went from income of $6 million to a loss of $133 million driven by eliminations of licenses of ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox Television programs to Hulu.
Street Date 8/13/19; Disney/Marvel; Action; Box Office $857 million; $29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD; Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language. Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglass, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Josh Brolin.
A satisfying ending is a beautiful thing.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe began as one of the boldest gambits in movie history: a comic book company financing its own movies, based on relatively unknown characters, with the hope of someday uniting them in a crossover.
While no one could have predicted that 2008’s Iron Man would be as big a hit as it was, the other early films of the MCU were much more modestly received, and it wasn’t until the first Avengers film in 2012, the sixth in the MCU canon, that the true potential of what they were trying to pull off came into focus.
With Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in the MCU, that effort has resulted in the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. Say what you will about the corporate structure of Hollywood and the surging dominance of all things Disney, which owns Marvel, but the industry-shattering creative forces of producer Kevin Feige and his team simply have to be admired for their shear audicity.
Avengers: Endgame brings together just about every notable character to play a role in the previous 21 MCU films to close out a number of storylines that have been weaving through the films for 11 years.
Foremost among them was the aftermath of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which ended with one of the biggest cliffhangers in the history of cinema, as the villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin) assembled all six Infinity Stones and caused half of all life in the universe to disappear with a snap of his fingers.
Like the best series finales, Endgame manages to capture the essential elements of what fans love most about these films, providing both a feeling of nostalgia and a sense of how far things progressed from the beginning to now, all while giving the characters a sense of closure that honors who they are and what they’ve fought for.
And yet, Endgame is not the end of the MCU. The currently in theaters Spider-Man: Far From Home provides a nice little epilogue to it, and Feige at Comic-Con showed off a roadmap of the MCU’s next phase. However, Endgame is certainly a well-earned conclusion for several chapters of it.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Avengers: Endgame is a testament to narrative efficiency despite its three-hour running length.
The Marvel movies have hit upon a winning formula of consistency, and Endgame is really no different. There are certain things the audience expects of it, but that’s not to say it approaches these goals in expected ways. The screenplay manages to defy expectations in its plot twists but remains true to the characters and provides a number of emotional payoffs that will particularly hit home for fans who have managed to follow the story arcs through all the films. This is simply a level of catharsis that stems from a 20-film journey that simply cannot be matched by most other cinematic achievements.
Endgame perfectly balances its sense of seriousness and tension with appropriate levels of humor and fun, resulting in a brisk pace that keeps the viewer eager to see what comes next. The film also warrants multiple viewings just to absorb the level of detail layered into the film.
The story is something of a love letter to the fans in the way it ingeniously re-visits some of the previous MCU films from a new perspective, deepening those films in small ways retroactively. Yet it wouldn’t be an “Avengers” film if it didn’t also culminate in what has to be the ultimate big-screen superhero battle.
The Russos have become masters of visual storytelling, which is a rather important quality to have when the goal is to adapt a comic book. Endgame is perhaps the biggest comic book movie ever made in terms of its scope, and the Russos are especially adept at framing their shots for maximum impact. It comes as no surprise that the film looks great on Blu-ray, with bright colors and sharp visual effects.
Another challenge brushed off with aplomb is balancing the sheer number of characters involved in a story of this magnitude, especially given the assemblage of performers of the magnitude the MCU has the clout to get. The closing credits of Endgame include the names of at least eight Oscar winners, and five of them appeared together in one of the film’s key scenes. Needless to say, the performances all around do not disappoint.
The film’s effectiveness is also given a huge boost by a phenomenal musical score by Alan Silvestri, who is perhaps the greatest living film composer who has yet to win an Oscar. Unlike Infinity War, in which the primary musical identities were Thanos and the Avengers as a group, Endgame revisits several character themes from the previous films, resulting in a deeply satisfying musical narrative. This approach only heightens the emotional connection between the audience and the characters, particularly when it comes to Captain America (unsurprising, since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger was Silvestri’s first MCU effort).
These are details that, when combined, make it easy to overlook those parts of the film (and the MCU) in general that probably shouldn’t be thought about too much, and instead appreciate what the film has managed to accomplish.
The Blu-ray provides a great feature-length commentary from the Russos and the screenwriters as they reflect on their long MCU careers, analyze the various moving parts of the franchise, and provide some great insights on the making of the film and the challenges of cleanly telling a story that is complicated by its nature. The Russos also offer a short introduction to the film.
There are also 36 minutes of featurettes, many of which shine a light more on the history of the MCU and how things evolved into this particular film. There are spotlights on the story arcs of Captain America, Black Widow, Thor and Iron Man (the latter also including Robert Downey Jr.’s screen test for the role). The Russos and their impact on the MCU is the subject of another featurette.
There’s a vignette that celebrates the many female heroes of the MCU. Also, the disc includes a seven-minute tribute to Stan Lee and a look back at his many cameos in the MCU movies.
Other extras on the Blu-ray include a funny two-minute gag reel and six deleted scenes, which offer a mix of fun and poignancy, especially the ones that make light of perceived plot holes from earlier movies. The excised footage features unfinished visual effects and runs about five minutes.
Digital versions available at Movies Anywhere and many digital retailers, such as Vudu, offer these extras as well as a six-minute featurette about the relationship between Captain America and his true love, Peggy Carter.
To celebrate the home video release of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios and directors Anthony and Joe Russo will launch the nine-city “We Love You 3000” Tour as a way to thank the fans who have followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it began 11 years ago.
Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in the MCU, arrives at digital retailers July 30 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Aug. 13.
Tour stops will feature meet-and-greets with fans, plus a variety of giveaways. A total of 3,000 MCU Funko Pop Vinyl Figures will be distributed to fans throughout the tour. Other giveaways will include exclusive Avengers: Endgame prints, vouchers for free McDonald’s Happy Meals, and MCU-inspired sundaes and recipe cards from Ben & Jerry’s.
The tour will kick off from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Saturday, July 20 at San Diego Comic-Con International. The Russo brothers, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and other special MCU guests will gather at the IMDboat behind the convention center in the 5th Avenue Landing Marina, slip 5B. Costumed guests will be welcomed aboard to participate in a special cosplay photo, and fans will be gifted with free ice cream while supplies last.
It continues July 30 at Funko Headquarters in Everett, Wash., with a fan experience from 1 to 4 p.m.
Oracle Park in San Francisco will host a Marvel Night during the Aug. 8 baseball game between the Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.
Best Buy will serve as the location for five “We Love You 3000” Tour stops, hosting in-store fan events to mark the Blu-ray release. Events will feature signings with Marvel Studios filmmakers; a special digital photo booth; and specialty promotional giveaways. Best Buy will also be selling an exclusive Avengers: Endgame Steelbook-edition Blu-ray. Aug. 13 will feature the Russo Bros. at a store in Chicago, with Best Buys in Miami and Torrance, Calif., holding events the same day. The Russos will be at a Minneapolis store on Aug. 14 and in Cleveland Aug. 20.
The tour concludes at the Aug. 23-25 D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
In a simpler time, a comic book convention was little more than a humble gathering of comic book fans. But in today’s age of franchises and big-budget blockbusters, the largest of these conventions have become a major destination for the Hollywood hype machine.
The modern concept of a fan convention dates back to the late 1930s, with various gatherings of science-fiction fans in Philadelphia and New York, which attracted a few dozen attendees. The 1939 World’s Fair in New York saw the first World Science Fiction Convention, an annual event now known as Worldcon.
Subsequent years saw hundreds of local and regional conventions spring up to celebrate science-fiction and, eventually, related genres. Among them was the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon) founded in 1948.
In early September 1966, Gene Roddenberry attended the Tricon World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, to promote his new series called “Star Trek” a week before its premiere on NBC. Guests were treated to a few early episodes, including the original pilot. By the time “Star Trek” was canceled in 1969, it had built up a loyal fanbase that only grew once the episodes were syndicated. While “Star Trek” had become a presence at various sci-fi conventions, typical sci-fi fans at the time were mostly focused on literature and looked down on TV and movies, which weren’t taken as seriously. As such, a group of “Star Trek” fans believed celebrating their favorite show merited its own event.
Many historians consider the first dedicated “Star Trek” convention to have taken place in March 1969 — a low-key meeting at the Newark Public Library that attracted about 300 attendees, but no one associated with the show. The first major “Star Trek” convention took place in January 1972 at New York’s Statler Hilton, a three-day affair known as “Star Trek Lives!” Guests included Roddenberry and legendary sci-fi author Isaac Asimov. Organizers anticipated about 500 attendees, but more than 3,000 fans showed up. The 1973 event had nearly 10,000 fans register to attend, and up to 14,000 in 1974.
Currently, the largest and most notable “Star Trek” conventions are staged in Las Vegas by Creation Entertainment. The first Creation “Star Trek” convention took place in 2001, and the annual events regularly draw about 15,000 fans.
The show that evolved into what’s now known as San Diego Comic-Con International has its roots in a one-day event known as San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon, held March 21, 1970, in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel. About 100 people attended the event, which was organized by a comic book fan group that included Shel Dorf and bookstore owner Ken Kreuger, who was part of the earlier sci-fi fandom. The organizers used the exhibition to raise funds for a three-day event they were planning for later in the year. The first of what was then called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con took place Aug. 1-3, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel basement and drew about 300 people to what was primarily a show for comic book and sci-fi/fantasy fans. The second show a year later at the UCSD campus in La Jolla drew 800 attendees, and the third show in 1972 drew more than 900 people to the El Cortez Hotel.
The show changed its name to San Diego Comic-Con for its fourth show in August 1973 at the Harbor Island Sheraton Hotel, which drew more than 1,000 attendees.
In 1974 San Diego Comic-Con returned to the El Cortez, where it stayed for the next five years and again in 1981, as attendance steadily grew, peaking at 5,000 in 1978. The 1974 show featured a film room and hosted a screening of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.
But it wasn’t until 1976 that the seeds were planted for Comic-Con as a promotional vehicle for major Hollywood productions. That show, held July 21-25 at the El Cortez with an attendance of more than 3,000 fans, featured an early preview of Star Wars nearly a year before the landmark sci-fi film’s May 1977 release. PR guru Charles Lippincott, fresh off an appearance at Westercon in L.A. July 2, showed photos from Star Wars to a crowd of a couple hundred people, promoted the forthcoming comic book adaptation and novelization, and set up a booth to answer fan questions and sell movie posters for $1.75 each (copies of the poster today can be found on eBay listed for more than $7,000). Lippincott’s appearance at Comic-Con and other fan gatherings, such as Worldcon, was part of a concerted effort to build buzz and recognition among the fan community for the then-unknown sci-fi property, which paid off when Star Wars became the highest-grossing film of all time up to that point.
Lippincott’s efforts to promote the original Star Wars touched off a long collaboration between the franchise and San Diego Comic-Con, as previews for The Empire Strikes Back at the 1979 Comic-Con and Return of the Jedi in 1982 would draw huge crowds as well, and the model for building brand awareness at fan conventions would eventually be used to create the Star Wars Celebrations.
For its 10th show in 1979, San Diego Comic-Con moved to a new home at the Convention and Performing Arts Center (CPAC), and attendance would grow from 6,000 to 13,000 by 1990.
The 22nd show in 1991 saw Comic-Con move to its current home at the then-new San Diego Convention Center, attracting 15,000 guests. With the new venue, attendance would quickly grow, hitting 40,000 in 1997.
In 1995, the 26th show became Comic-Con International: San Diego and unveiled the “eye” logo that is still in use today.
The 1990s would see Hollywood expanding its presence at Comic-Con. The 1994 convention hosted screenings for Natural Born Killers and The Mask. The 1996 show featured a celebration of the 30th anniversary of “Star Trek.”
Promotional efforts would increasingly include celebrity appearances at the convention. The 1997 show featured director Paul Verhoeven and Starship Troopers, and Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo promoting the live-action Spawn movie. One of the most popular attractions of the 1998 Comic-Con was the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” panel and signing featuring creator Joss Whedon and most of the cast.
Over the next few years, films such as The Blair Witch Project, The Iron Giant, Terminator 3, Hellboy, Daredevil, the “Lord of the Rings” movies, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man would take to the stage.
The 2001 convention drew 53,000 attendees, and by 2003, Comic-Con was drawing unprecedented coverage from mainstream press outlets.
As the San Diego Convention Center expanded, Comic-Con expanded with it, moving programming into new exhibit halls and even nearby venues in downtown San Diego. In 2000, Comic-Con added an Anime Showcase programming track, and devoted Sunday to children’s and family entertainment. Major panels were moved to the 4,800-seat Ballroom 20 in 2002, and the 6,500-seat Hall H in 2004.
The 2006 Comic-Con featured the first panel for Marvel Studios, which had just entered an agreement to finance its own films. The panel led by producer Kevin Feige included director Jon Favreau to discuss the upcoming Iron Man, which would be released in 2008. Marvel’s announced slate also included The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Ant-Man (eventually released in 2015). Future movies announced for what would eventually be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe included Captain America (2011), Thor (2011) and a Nick Fury standalone movie that thus far has yet to happen. Feige also teased the possibility of an “Avengers” movie should the early films perform well enough. In the 13 years since that first panel, Marvel Studios has produced 23 films (including four “Avengers” movies) with a combined worldwide box office of $22 billion.
By 2010, fans would be required to wait in long lines to see the major presentations in Hall H, Ballroom 20 and even some of the mid-size meeting rooms. Fans would even take to camping out in the long Hall H lines the night before major presentations.
Attendance grew from 95,000 in 2004 to 130,000 by 2010, peaking at 167,000 in 2015. Capacity limits have since brought attendance back into the 130,000 range.
The Bay Area of California would get its own annual convention in 1987, the Wonderful World of Comics Convention, now known as WonderCon. The show, typically held a few months prior to Comic-Con, was held at the Oakland Convention Center until 2002, before moving to San Francisco’s Moscone Center in 2003.
In 2001, the Comic-Con International group took control of WonderCon, opening it up to a wider audience and giving it greater exposure to Hollywood studios. With the Moscone Center under renovation in 2012, WonderCon moved to the Anaheim Convention Center, where it has been held every year since, with the exception of the 2016 show taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
With its Southern California presence, WonderCon has taken on the flavor of a “Comic-Con lite,” drawing about 60,000 fans each year.
As scheduling conflicts hampered WonderCon’s return to the Bay Area, the void was filled by the Silicon Valley Comic Con, which began in 2016, co-founded by Apple’s Steve Wozniak.
Amid the newfound massive media attention heaped on Comic-Con, Reed Exhibitions in 2006 staged the first New York Comic Con at the Javits Convention Center. Initially held in February, the annual event moved to October in 2010. The New York event quickly became as important a venue as Comic-Con for promoting movies, TV shows and video games. In 2018, NYCC surpassed San Diego Comic-Con as the largest comic book convention in North America, with attendance passing 250,000.
In 1999, the hype surrounding the release of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace helped inspire Lucasfilm to organize its own fan event dedicated to “Star Wars.” The first Star Wars Celebration took place from April 30 to May 2, 1999, in Denver, Colo., home of the official “Star Wars” fan club. The second and third Celebration events were held in Indianapolis in 2002, timed for the release of Episode II — Attack of the Clones, and in 2005, to promote Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Subsequent Celebrations would be held semi-regularly to promote major “Star Wars” anniversaries and new films, in locations such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Orlando and Anaheim, and internationally in Japan, Germany and England. With Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, Star Wars Celebration joined the D23 Expo as one of the studio’s key promotional tools for fan outreach.
The Walt Disney Co. in 2009 started staging its own proprietary fan convention, the D23 Expo, held every two years at the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from Disneyland. D23 is the official fan club of The Walt Disney Co., founded in March 2009. D23 had its own booth at Comic-Con that year in advance of the first D23 Expo Sept. 10-13. Organized like a typical fan convention, the expo included panels promoting new Disney projects, retrospectives of Disney company history and classic films, an exhibit floor featuring merchandise, and prop displays. Subsequent to Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, “Star Wars” was added to the roster of promoted brands in 2013. The 2015 Expo featured a major presence from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney Studios. By 2017 the D23 Expo was rivaling Comic-Con in terms of attendance, drawing an estimated 100,000 fans.
In 2015, Cinedigm partnered with Wizard World, an organizer of several annual regional conventions, to launch streaming service ConTV (www.ConTV.com), which provides behind-the-scenes access to Wizard World Comic Cons, along with classic films, television series and comics.