If you’ll indulge me, I have a suggestion to Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Legendary Pictures, BBC America, ABC, NBC, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and indeed any companies planning on coming out to Comic-Con next year (and it’s a suggestion that I suspect Lucasfilm knows already, after their efforts this summer).
The concern of most film and TV companies bringing exclusive content to events such as San Diego Comic-Con is that, after all their efforts to contain it, some sneaky bugger is going to leak it on t’interwebs. Indeed, Warner Bros. Pictures got themselves all in a tizzy after someone leaked the Suicide Squad trailer shortly after the panel.
Indeed, Comic-Con International themselves have said that live streaming of panels at the event will probably never happen on any service they launch because they feel that the convention experience will be ‘diluted’.
Well, here’s the thing: there have been leaks for as long as the internets have been around and yet we nerds still keep coming. Hell, just attending the show has become a serious task because of the sheer excitement ramped up by these leaks.
(There’s also the argument to say that the increased interest in comic cons in general isn’t because of the footage at all but because people are learning from their friends about these magical places where they can meet like-minded others, that it’s the other attendees that people show up in their droves for. But I think that’s a whole other post.)
Something that became apparent at all of the Lucasfilm presentations at Star Wars Celebration, SDCC and D23 is: these studios can leak all the footage they like, hell, they can even release it online simultaneously to the actual panel, but if they make the panel a truly unique experience for the people that are actually there – either by having a very cool piece of swag given out (that truly awesome Drew Struzan poster) or taking the entire audience out to a special concert – those attendees are going to feel treated and special, they’re going to feel ‘un-diluted’ and they’re going to love you for it. The Game Of Thrones Swag bag was possibly the last really good thing handed out at a SDCC panel; one observation was that the Fulfilment Room (retitled, bizarrely, as The Programming Premiums Room) was quite the barren space this year. And there was only so many Legendary Google Cardboard boxes you could give away.
My suggestion to companies coming to Comic-Con, then, of how to keep the SDCC experience special for us loyal nerds: do your thing, bring the celebs, show us what you’ve got and then get around the whole frustration around exclusive content by not making it so exclusive. Dump the footage online yourselves, just as the panel starts. And then it’s time to get creative – and, for heavens sake, give back some special swag at your panels! Look, you don’t have to go the extent of holding a concert every night… but you’re clever chaps, I’m sure you can come up with something.