Disney Studios to sit out 2011 San Diego Comic Con with D23 Expo on the horizon

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Movies

Over the many years the San Diego Comic Con has been around, it’s become a tradition for major movie studios to bring out the stars to unveil sneak peeks of their latest films. But according to the New York Times, this strategy of presenting to Comic Con attendees/fanboys hasn’t paid off well in recent years, essentially marketing to those who would be seeing those films anyway.

As such, Walt Disney Studios, along with Warner Bros. and DreamWorks, plan to stay out of the 2011 San Diego Comic Con. In recent years, Disney spent millions of dollars promoting Tron: Legacy, a film that essentially got its green light for production after a tremendously positive fan response to a test preview shown a few years back. Ultimately, however, while the film was popular amongst the SDCC fanboys, it didn’t meet studio expectations at the box office.

UPDATE (7/1/11): Disney’s movie unit won’t be showing off its major motion pictures at SDCC, but Disney Channel and Disney XD will be there in a big way.

Moreover, Disney has its own convention coming up in August, the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, down the block from the Disneyland Resort. It’s already been announced that Walt Disney Studios will hold a major presentation at the 2011 D23 Expo, much as they did first Expo in 2009. It was there that Miley Cyrus sang a live song promoting her film The Last Song, a riverboat full of Muppets announced a new movie was on the way, and Johnny Depp appeared on stage as Captain Jack Sparrow to reveal the title of the fourth “Pirates” film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. And that was just one presentation at the 2009 D23 Expo.

There was certainly no shortage of spectacle, excitement, or press coverage coming out of Disney’s first D23 convention and they’re sure to expect the same, if not more, out of the second in August. Given there is less than a month separating the 2011 San Diego Comic Con and the 2011 D23 Expo, Disney has every reason to hang onto every announcement and surprise for their own convention full of Disney fans, rather than offer them to the general “comic book guy” crowd at SDCC.

And despite the emphasis on comic books at the San Diego Comic Con, it’s also being reported that Marvel, now owned by Disney, will have little to no presence at the event this year as well.

UPDATE (7/1/11): Marvel may not have a Hall H panel to tout a new movie this year, but they have assured fans that their comics and characters will have a strong presence at the show.

But some studios still believe presenting at San Diego Comic Con is worthwhile. Cowboys and Aliens will be hyped in a big way from Universal Studios, with its release date just days after SDCC ends. Likewise Paramount, Lionsgate, and Summit Entertainment will host their own panels, the latter focused on the latest installment of the uber-popular Twilight series. There won’t be a shortage of celebrities or surprises at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con, but don’t expect them to come from Disney this year. Save those expectations for August.

We’ll be covering both the San Diego Comic Con in July and the D23 Expo in August, so come back to Inside the Magic for an inside look at all the fun, Disney or otherwise!

(Top photo: David Maung/European Pressphoto Agency)


  1. That was so cool that Johnny Depp was there last year as Captain Jack Awesome picture..

  2. Flagg

    Samuel L. Jackson recently said that he would not be attending SDCC, which raised some eyebrows. He didn’t say much more than that, but could it be because Disney/Marvel is saving their big AVENGERS presentation for D23. I really really hope so!!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Great observation. It would definitely be a great surprise to see Samuel L Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner show up to premiere a first clip from The Avengers. And I wouldn’t put it past Walt Disney Studios to do just that.

      At the first D23 Expo, the Studios brought out Tim Burton, John Travolta, Johnny Depp, the Muppets, Miley Cyrus, Nicolas Cage, and others. Quite the star-studded presentation.

  3. Aaron

    “this strategy of presenting to Comic Con attendees/fanboys hasn’t paid off well in recent years, essentially marketing to those who would be seeing those films anyway.”

    So aren’t people going to a Disney convention going to see Disney movies anyway?

    1. Since1976

      “So aren’t people going to a Disney convention going to see Disney movies anyway?”

      This is true, but unlike at SDCC, Disney has complete control over their presentation and venue at their own Expo, footage of which gets broadcast to the masses instantly.

      (By the by, Marvel has recently chimed in that they *will* be at SDCC. How much of their upcoming movies they will feature there — particularly the first Disney feature THE AVENGERS — is unknown)

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