Thursday, July 22, 2010

COMIC-CON HOUR ONE! Mega Mind Panel!

Photos: Jeff H./POParitaville

The film industry has always been a business filled with marketing savvy.  There is no limit to the amount of tricks and allure that a studio can create in order to entice the paying citizen dying for escapism.  As far back as the silent film era, studios were known to create interest by scheming to create hype.  Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios wanted to bring attention to his new studio in Southern California by promising that a battleship was going to float into the LA River as part of the opening day ceremony. 

Things have certainly changed.  And no matter how elaborate the marketing mayhem may be, nothing in this era matches the extravagance of the San Diego Comic-Con which has officially kicked off today in Southern California.  Upon arriving, one might be bombarded by free bags to carry swag loaded with images of new straight to DVD titles.  Pens, shirts, buttons, are handed out like candy.  Hilton Hotels was handing out pillows and blankets for attendees to sleep with between panels.  And when entering the exhibition floor, one can expect a moshpit of Vegas like signage attempting to dominate all of your peripherals.  In the case of this year, something for everybody including a huge gold throne from Thor at the Marvel booth and an Alien Pod to sample bits of the new Alien trilogy DVD that you literally are trapped inside of while you watch.

In an effort to pull awareness towards this November’s release of Dreamworks MegaMind, actor Will Ferrel who voices the title character came to the Hall H panel dressed in full villain garb painted blue from head to toe clearly to the satisfaction of the over 6,500 attendees in the auditorium.  To which he eventually stated, ”By the way, my face is on fire…feeling a little nauseous from all the blue paint I inhaled in the bathroom putting this together.  If you are going to do this at home please do it right, go to a hobby or make up place.”  And it is this kind of bravura that the fans will then tweet, facebook or advertises to their friends, which in turn will certainly assist in the overall marketing scheme of the Dreamworks team in getting buzz to surround the film. 

You wouldn’t see this kind of thing at Cannes.  Nor Sundance.  But at Comic-Con it is a normal day at the office. 

MegaMind stars Tina Fey and Jonah Hill also joined the panel along with a cardboard Brad Pitt who panel host Drew McWeeny said could not attend due to obligations watching his children.  Tina Fey was happy to please the crowd in saying her favorite acting moment was working with Carrie Fisher on 30 Rock and getting her to say a penultimate line from Star Wars, ”Help me Liz Lemon, you are my only hope.” 

And again pandering to the excited crowd, Jonah Hill screamed, ”I have a special announcement everyone, this is official-I will be playing the Hulk in The Avengers movie!” 

Upon entering Hall H for the MegaMind, all attendees were handed a full size bag and inside one could find a working watch and comic book promoting the film.  And in passing, many could hear the murmurs of Comic Con veterans proclaiming the item would be an eBay hit.  So in a way, I suppose the circle is complete.  Fans get a watch, studio heads get the word out on their new flick, and the watch gets sold so the fanboys can make some money off the process. 

The marketing machine works well at Comic-Con and the gears spin ever so smoothly towards the eventual box office tally that will send money towards the studios that now respect Comic Con as a holy place to get the hype rolling. 

With all this being said, the normal attendee at Comic-Con is not even in Hall H to see clips from MegaMind or watch Will Ferrel speak.  The crowd lined up as early as the night before for the panel that FOLLOWS MegaMind which is in this case TRON LEGACY

A crowd stirs; the adrenaline of 6,500 begins to rise…all of the room tense and waiting for just a brief look at what is to come from the new TRON film.  And the marketing train steams forward…

JeffroGee out.

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