Comic-Con International acknowledges that the pandemic is not done with us yet.
Less than 20 days after belatedly announcing that WonderCon 2021 would be a virtual event, Comic-Con International, Inc (CCI) announced that this year’s announced that, for the second year in a row, the annual San Diego event would be virtual.
Last year’s cancellation by CCI was the first time in 50 years that the pop-culture festival would not be held in-person. Like last year, the pandemic was cited as the reason for the cancellation. As they did last year, CCI announced that the much-sought-after tickets to the event would be rolled over to next year if attendees desired. Additionally, they also announced plans for an online virtual Comic-Con@home experience which follows on the heels of their largely successful foray last July. However, the loss of their flagship event and it’s smaller Anaheim-based sister event, WonderCon, has led to a shortened virtual event this summer:
“…While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.”Comic-Con International
To their credit, last year CCI announced that, “due to the continuing uncertainty of public gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be no badge sales for Comic–Con 2021” so they would have been able to hold an event with reduced attendance had the pandemic run a different course since this past fall and winter.
In addition to the pandemic putting CCI’s finances under strain, the various artists, vendors, performers and support crews who have a large part of their incomes based around the convention are also suffering. The event companies which build the booths and set up the event areas in and around the Convention Center furloughed their employees late last spring, telling them to not expect a return to events until some time in 2021, which has since been updated to late this summer.
Other pop-culture events in limbo
Still, it’s not as if CCI had any choice in the matter. Last year, the San Diego Convention Center was being used to house the local homeless in order to reduce the infection rate. This year, between the delayed production schedules, ongoing concerns about crowds and putting talent at risk the studios would be doubtful for attendance.
However, the delayed production schedules experienced by the major studios is a bit of bad news/good news. It’s bad, of course, because there would be very little to preview this summer, but the good news is that with production just now resuming under controlled environments, there will be much to celebrate later this year and into 2022. Filming has already resumed in places overseas as well as in Atlanta. And, the third season of The Mandalorian is scheduled to begin production in Los Angeles on April 5 of this year according to industry website The Production List.
With vaccinations against Covid-19 expecting to be widespread by June of this year – barring plot complications – it is anticipated that late summer or fall events can be held safely. The annual table-top gaming convention, GenCon is still on schedule for its August 3-5 show in Indianapolis, for example. Atlanta’s DragonCon Sept. 2-6 and New York City’s Comic Con’s (no relation to CCI) date of October 7-10, 2021 could reasonably be expected to take place as scheduled.
On the other hand, the D23 Expo, which celebrates all things Disney, announced last fall that it’s biennial event would skip 2021 and return in 2022. That will put it mere weeks behind Star Wars Celebration which usually runs alternating years. Last June, Lucasfilm announced that it was moving its event – also held at the Anaheim Convention Center to August 18-21, 2022. With a planned September 9-11 run date hot on the heels of the mid-August event, Anaheim will be the center of the pop-culture galaxy for a month.
As with anything involving the uncertainly of a once-in-a-century event such as a pandemic, the the future is still being written.