As expected, tickets for the 2010 Comic-Con International set for San Diego, CA on July 22 to 25 have sold out both in their four-day pass form and for single day passes across the weekend. And while, as con organizers have said in the past, additional passes may work their way onto eBay or other sales outlets in an official capacity between now and the show, the easy way for fans to get an in at the nation’s largest pop culture convention is now closed.
For a look at what this means for the jam-packed annual event, whether a sell out earlier than last year’s show has any impact on talk of moving Comic-Con to either Anaheim or Los Angeles and some word on how the convention views the new hotel room sales system, CBR News went to Comic-Con Director or Marketing and Public Relations David Glanzer, who is busy preparing for this weekend’s WonderCon show in San Francisco which is boasting a heavy Hollywood lineup including the stars of “Kick-Ass” and “Prince of Persia” as well as comic celebs like Geoff Johns, Darwyn Cooke and Adam Kubert.
CBR News: So the con has sold out, as expected. How much earlier is this than last year’s sell out?
David Glanzer: I think last year we sold out about two months beforehand. So this is certainly earlier than that.
Was that unexpected, or have you been pacing things out to know when you’d run out of tickets?
That’s a good question. I don’t know if you can say whether we expected it or not. When four-days sold out in September, I think that took everybody by surprise. We certainly didn’t expect that. That gave us the impression that something would happen with the single days, so we were trying to prepare for any eventuality. To say we’re surprised? Yes, we’re surprised, but we’re not really that surprised.
Has there been a lot of pre-planning at this stage in the con’s life to prepare people for the fact that the show will probably sell out this early?
The convention center is going to hold X amount of people, and that’s dependent on a variety of variables -Â the biggest being how the rooms and the floor is configured. For example, a theater-style meeting room -Â meaning chairs just lining up in rows -Â will fit so many people while a classroom-style -Â meaning chairs and tables -Â will obviously take up less people. The same thing happens with the convention floor. If you’ve got smaller booths or booths with a certain configuration, you can have more people comfortably, and that changes from year to year. But yes, we are always going to have 125 to 126,000 people. We’ll always fit within that number. And we try to let people know as early as we can that you should be sure to get your passes early. One of the things we did last year was to inform locals from San Diego particularly that passes were going fast. That was something that we didn’t have much of an opportunity this year because there’s been so many people.
The other thing that’s been different about planning for this year’s show was the so-called “lottery” for booking hotel rooms through Travel Planners. What’s been the response to that change in the expected system of Comic-Con build up?
Well, it was not supposed to be a lottery in terms of people getting through. It was first come, first served. If there was a lottery component, it would be having to pick 12 hotels and then have them try and pair you up. What I can say about the hotel process this year was that we were sorely disappointed with the way things turned out. We were informed of a new plan that Travel Planners had only a couple of weeks prior to its implementation, and we really didn’t feel that that was enough time for us to vet it or have any input. We are still in the process of digesting all of that information, and in addition to everything else we have going on, from WonderCon to reviewing proposals about possibly moving out of San Diego, this is another issue that’s taking a great deal of our time. Quite frankly, I think a lot of people felt screwed, and ultimately that lands on our desk as something we’re going to have to address.
This is going to be the #1 question everyone asks you all summer long, but how are things going on the front of the show’s future and its location? Will you even be getting into a decision-making phase while you’re still preparing to put on the next two shows for 2010?
We’re able to do a couple of things at the same time, but to be honest our focus has been almost entirely on WonderCon. At 34,000 people, granted, it’s not as large as Comic-Con, but it’s still a very huge show. You’ve seen the guest list, and there’s a great deal of programming stuff, so that’s taking up a large portion of our time. That being said, we are still pouring over the proposals we have between Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego, and hopefully we’re going to have a decision soon. But “soon” is entirely relative right now. The bottom line is, regardless of whether Comic-Con stays in San Diego or moves, we’re going to have our work cut out for us. There are going to be drawbacks to whatever decision that we make. What we have to do is make the most informed decision, the decision that will benefit our attendees and exhibitors the best and the decision that will help Comic-Con continue the way it is now. It’s not an easy task.
WonderCon hits this weekend. Last time we talked, you explained how the Easter weekend date wasn’t 100% ideal, but now that you’ve got programming together, how are things shaping up compared to previous years?
I think all of us were pleasantly surprised that it came together as well as it did. The date certainly wasn’t our first choice, but considering the guest list we have in terms of comic exhibitors and people on the floor, gaming companies and involvement from Hollywood, I am amazing pleased. This is going to be a pretty fantastic show. WonderCon has the ability to do something Comic-Con hasn’t -Â attract people that might never go to Comic-Con but are willing to go to a show in San Francisco. As we stand right now, it should be an impressive show.
Do you expect the city in general to be more subdued? Will the show attendees have their run of the city with locals and families being away on Spring Break and the like?
One of the things we’re discovering is that a lot of people end up staying in town for the holiday and Spring Break. Obviously, that’s not the case with me because I have a job to do that weekend. But even from schools that have Spring Break, it looks like a lot of people are staying close to home. Ticket sales have been good. There’s a lot of nighttime activities as well. One thing about San Francisco is that there’s an amazing amount of things to do, and apparently that’s true on Easter weekend as well.
And one of the things about San Francisco is that it’s amazing diverse culturally as well. There’s a Catholic church about a block away from the convention center that I think some staff members are going to try and sneak away to. There are other churches and temples around since this week is also Passover. So we’ll see what happens, but so far it’s shaping up okay.
The WonderCon programming is different from Comic-Con in terms of whose showing up and why. Does that help give the show its own feel?
It does. In terms of Hollywood, they’ll say, “This is a great summer venue to tease what’s just about to come out.” At Comic-Con, we hear a lot about stuff that’s almost or over a year out, and I think our attendees love that stuff because they like to hear about things early. But with WonderCon, their teasing stuff for this summer like this year we’ve got an advanced screening of the new “Doctor Who” which debuts here in a few weeks. We’ve got cast coming in from a variety of different films. And I think people realize that WonderCon is produced by Comic-Con. We have a 40-year history of doing things a certain way. We have a reputation for delivering audiences by putting on the kinds of shows we’d like to attend, and I think whether it be Hollywood or television, a comic publisher or a gaming company, I think they understand that, and that’s why they choose WonderCon to show their wares.
Check back to CBR accross this weekend for a full slate of news, interviews and reports from WonderCon.