Part of this doubt is fueled by the reveal that there will be no DC or Warner Bros booth on the show floor this year
, something that genuinely would have been unthinkable in previous years*** – but WB/DC is far from the only publisher that will have a significantly reduced presence on the exhibition floor this year, from what I’ve been able to gather so far. (There’s at least one other publisher that has regularly exhibited in the past that won’t have a booth this year that I know of.)
Similarly, much of the planning for the show that I’ve been privy to – from press registration to putting panels together – has been delayed from where and when it usually is, with some things still coming together just now.
As of writing, Warner Bros Discovery is one of the few companies to have announced its SDCC plans, but I wonder if the reduced number of DC comics panels at this year’s show – just five were listed on Monday’s announcement, compared with more than double that in 2019 – is indicative of a WBD attitude, or a wider approach to more limited convention. From multiple conversations, there’s a sense that everything is being put together by people simultaneously out of practice with this whole mega-convention thing, and just a little uncertain what it’s all actually going to turn out like on the day.
It’s been long enough ago – and more than enough has happened in the world since then, let’s be honest – but I remember that the 2019 show felt like one where SDCC was already in some form of flux, lacking both significantly big movie news, outside of some Marvel announcements, and big comic news. At the time, it felt as if studios and publishers alike were worried about the signal to noise ratio of the event. Will this year see a continuation of this trend, exacerbated by a post-lockdown conservatism born of uncertainty? Will someone break with this line of thinking and go big enough to make enough of a splash to renew SDCC’s pop culture dominance once again?
I genuinely can’t tell right now, but I’m (cautiously) excited to find out.