Another live-event casualty due to the pandemic, San Diego Comic Con announced that it was cancelling its in-person event and will hold another online event, instead. What does this mean for the future of conventions in 2021? Will we all be able to gather again?
Since the pandemic began, one of the industries that have taken the biggest hit is the events industry. We’re putting the spotlight on the convention industry who saw its biggest annual event, San Diego Comic Con, cancel its 2021 convention today. See the announcement below:
— San Diego Comic-Con (@Comic_Con) March 1, 2021
Citing that too many people won’t be vaccinated, Comic Con will return in 2022 (we hope) with an in-person event. SDCC is by far the largest annual fan convention in the world, at time boasting 140,000 attendees. With the event being cancelled again, we have seen several major players conduct their own at-home conventions, with attendees participating online. Even before the pandemic cancelled SDCC, Disney and Marvel were not placing their biggest announcements at SDCC. Instead, they were putting their biggest surprises at Disney’s own event, D23. As well, fewer studios were sending its biggest stars.
As SDCC hopes to return in 2022, is that even possible and will there be any in-person conventions for 2021? A check of the schedule does see several large conventions still on the books, including FanX Salt Lake and Atlanta’s Dragon Con. However, it would be foolish to believe that these events are set in stone. Right now, these dates are merely placeholders while the world watches to see if COVID rates decline significantly to where its safe to gather in such small numbers.
On the other hand, smaller conventions appear to be moving forward, where daily attendance is much smaller, such as Spooky in Orlando and other events on a similar scale.
But even if the attendees return at a reasonable rate, will the stars return? Will vendors return?
Before the pandemic, conventions were often made fun of because of the lack of hygiene of its attendees. People standing in line, all day, unclean and on-top of each other. Stars were mostly reluctant to have significant contact with fans and, most of the time, interaction was across a table. Even if the stars do return, contact will be at a minimum and the days of endless hugs and handshakes are probably gone.
The biggest factor that will see the return of attendees and actors is the dollar. If the economics of the events work, they both will return. If attendees can return with minimum barriers to return to the show, with reasonable gate prices, travel expenditures, and talent prices, they’ll come back. On the other hand, if actors were living off of conventions or using them to supplement their income, they’ll also return.
We may not see the A-list actors return to in-person shows, such as the ACE events. But it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities to see the B & C level talent return and to return in force.
As a fan of conventions, I certainly hope they come back and come back with a fresh, new and exciting approach. They say tough times breed innovation, here’s to looking forward to some new ideas and events in the future!
What do you think of the future of conventions? Let us know in the comments below!