Summer Movie Season always means big blockbusters and popcorn movies. But every July, Hollywood packs up and heads south for the beautiful and energetic San Diego, greeted by thousands of fans, the ones who fill the seats at those blockbusters and who the studios hope will help generate some buzz for their slate of upcoming movies.
Director Jon Favreau largely credits the 2007 Comic-Con crowd for boosting “Iron Man” – which hit theaters some nine months later – to an enormously huge reception and an eventual box office haul of more than $318 million.
Attendance at the convention has been on the rise ever since comic book characters started becoming more of a fixture on the big screen. Filmmakers and studios are eager to please die-hard fans, and Comic-Con has established itself as a necessary proving-ground and springboard.
With that in mind, we now present you with some fun facts about the convention and a first-time Hollywood attendee.
The Seven Sees of Comic-Con 2011
1. The first Comic-Con, then called the Golden State Comic-Con, was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel in August 1970, drawing 300 people. Before moving to its current home at the San Diego Convention Center in 1991, other locations in the convention’s early years included the El Cortez Hotel, the University of California, San Diego, and Golden Hall.
2. Currently, Comic-Con is the biggest convention of any type in the United States and the fourth largest of its kind in the world. Only the Comiket in Japan, the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France and the Lucca Comics and Games in Italy are bigger.
3. In 2004, because of increasing attendance at the event, Comic-Con expanded into Hall H (home of the marquee events and large presentations of movie studio, TV networks and more), occupying the entire space of the San Diego Convention Center, drawing a then-record 95,000 people.
4. Last year’s event broke the convention’s attendance record, drawing more than 130,000 fans. This year’s convention could be bigger yet. Passes for 2011 sold out in record time, just eight hours after going on sale in February.
5. Comic-Con has cemented itself in pop culture, starring as the setting for Mark Hamill’s “Comic Book: The Movie,” was featured in the movie “Paul” (starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen) as well as television shows “Entourage,” “The O.C.,” “Weeds,” “Punk’d” “Numb3rs.”
6. It may be hard to believe, given his history of sci-fi and action-adventure movies, but this year will mark the first appearance at Comic-Con for Steven Spielberg. The legendary director will be here to promote “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” based on the series of classic comic books. He is also Executive Producer of “Cowboys & Aliens,” based on the 2006 graphic novel, which is holding its World Premiere at Comic-Con a week before it opens in theaters.
7. San Diego recently renewed its contract with Comic-Con International, a non-profit organization, keeping the annual convention in the city through 2015. Among the reported cities vying to be its new home were Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Before you go quiz the nerd in your life about the above facts, check out our trip to the main floor of the convention center for this preview of Comic-Con 2011: