How Everyone Can Learn From the Genius of D23

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I don’t know if you paid any attention to the entertainment news over the weekend, but it was pretty much dominated by Disney and its biennial D23 conference. Over the course of a couple days, Disney got everyone who might care into something of a lather about its upcoming slate, including new looks at its entire Pixar line, Lucasfilm stuff, the Mary Poppins sequel with Emily Blunt that comes out at Christmas, and, perhaps biggest of all, some footage from next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which was apparently mind blowing.

Don’t worry, you’ll see it soon enough, but for now, only those in attendance got to take a gander, which makes them special. It also means that, for the time being, Disney completely owns the conversation, which is the whole point.

Someone asked me yesterday why Disney moved its conference to the weekend before San Diego Comic-Con, and I answered with a soliloquy about the Mouse House’s genius and why Disney is now so big and so smart that no one can touch them, and that it goes beyond owning the holy trinity of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm.

The weekend before Comic-Con is perfect for several reasons, but the biggest is because now it’s all everyone will be talking about all week in San Diego. “Did you see the new Avengers stuff?” “Did you hear what Rian Johnson said about The Last Jedi?” “Did you see the footage from Incredibles 2?” Try walking through the Main Hall this week without hearing like questions being asked by every fan boy or girl in attendance.

This also points to how much less Comic-Con matters now than it did even a couple years ago. There was a time when the only people who went to San Diego were professionals in the comic book world, buyers or sellers of comic books, and … well, that was it. Because the comic book crowd was made up of geeks and nerds who were not worth anyone’s time.

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Of course, now that the success of Hollywood’s entire structure is based on appealing to those same, previously ignored and dismissed geeks and nerds, things have changed, but I think it’s pretty clear that the appeal of San Diego has at least plateaued, if not fallen off completely. Anything that comes out of it is going to pale in comparison to what just lit up the internet, even if Disney shows up with the Black Panther footage it didn’t show this weekend.

In fact, that’s probably why it didn’t show the footage, because it knows that, once it does, it will carry the second weekend in a row, no matter how much of Justice League Warner Bros. decides to show during its presentation.

There are a couple times a year when studios can reach out to the public. The Las Vegas CinemaCon every April, and this week in San Diego. The former is nice, but each studio only has an hour or two to show a bunch of stuff before it’s time to check out the next batch of cinematic majesty headed our way in the coming months. There’s no opportunity to own the space, the same way there isn’t that chance in San Diego to own the space. Sure, if you have an especially great presentation, it’ll carry forward for a spell, but you’re still in the mix with everyone else who showed up and had their time in the fabled Hall H.

Which is why, one more time, what Disney does is so darn smart. It shares the time and space with no one. While everyone else who might have something fancy to show is holding off until they head a hundred or so miles south, Disney is looking over all it has and holding out maybe one thing to tantalize the comic book crowd. Hence, no Black Panther this past weekend, and almost assuredly plenty of it this coming one.

There’s also the fact that, to some, Comic-Con is a bit of a pain in the neck, and they don’t necessarily take anything there. The realization has hit that, while it’s nice to build some momentum by showing stuff to the roughly six thousand people in attendance at a given event, there is just as much attention gained by a major trailer drop online, where several million people will immediately mainline it and talk about it all over the interwebs, while websites like this very one start to deconstruct every image and every frame to parse out what it all means and what we can expect when the finished product finally makes its long awaited debut.


So, the question begins to be asked in the various executive suites around town, who needs San Diego, anyway?

Increasingly, no one, and that’s the issue.

But that doesn’t mean the various studios shouldn’t be taking a particular weekend to do what Disney is doing, and show the world all the great stuff it’s got coming our way. Disney might have more shiny toys than anyone else, but each and every other studio in town has at least enough trinkets of its own to own a single day, if not a whole weekend.

And so that begs another question: why don’t they have D23’s of their own?

You’re going to tell me that Warner Bros. — with its DC superheros, Potterverse, Godzillas and Kongs, LEGO movies, Tomb Raiders, and various other tent poles — couldn’t fill a weekend with all of its stuff? Or Fox — now with a whole X-verse, various animated fare, et cetera? Even poor, lonely, sad little Paramount could scrape together something for a fun Saturday, including lunch and snacks, what with its Transformers and Impossible Missions and, yes, even its Star Treks, should they continue.

Point is, everyone in town has the opportunity and the wherewithal to put something like this together, regardless that it won’t be nearly as flashy and eye-grabbing as the one Disney does in Anaheim. And, by doing so, they won’t have to share the entertainment news cycle with anyone else, because, of course, no one else would dare, for fear of someone doing it to them.

Near as I can figure, there’s nothing about this that doesn’t make sense. I’ve been here before, with other such notions, wondering why everyone in town isn’t doing this or modeling themselves after that, or whatever, but this one actually feels like a no brainer to me, that everyone should absolutely and totally do this very thing. And it leads me to repeat that rather obvious question:

Why don’t they?

Neil Turitz 2 is a filmmaker and journalist who has spent close to two decades working in and writing about Hollywood. Feel free to send him a tweet at @neilturitz. He’ll more than likely respond.

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