20th Century Fox’s decision to withdraw a high-profile panel presentation out of Comic-Con (Wednesday, 7.25 to Sunday, 7.29) only a week before the San Diego convention begins seems more than just “sudden.” Suddenness always smacks of sturn und drang, and given recent Fox decisions concerning the online journo community it’s hard not to at least consider the implications.
Coming on the heels of (a) that Radar report about the Fox vs. CFCA confrontation, (b) the decision to keep onliners and other media types from seeing The Simpsons Movie until 7.26 (i.e., a day before the nationwide opening), and (c) a certain Fox publicist deciding to blast me off the Fox screening list yesterday for that mild little piece I wrote two days ago, Fox pulling out of Comic Con seems like another indication of a guarded, bordering-on-frosty attitude by Fox towards online journos and the film-geek community.
A major distributor with almost nothing but supermall popcorn geek movies to promote (Hitman with Timothy Olyphant, Doug Liman‘s forthcoming Jumper, an Aliens vs. Predator followup, a Vin Diesel actioner called Babylon A.D.) yanks a personal-appearance panel out of the biggest movie-geek convention on the planet seven days before it opens? This is business as usual? Do the math.
L.A. Times reporter Sheigh Crabtree wrote yesterday that Fox had “previously announced plans to promote its movies with a star-and filmmaker-studded panel next Friday in the main hall.” This is what has been cancelled — that much is clear. Comic-Con p./r. guy David Glanzer told me this morning that he was informed of the pull-out yesterday morning around 11 am.
There’s some confusion, though. Glanzer also told me that he expects Fox to still deliver a product reel presentation, and yet Fox national publicity vp Sean Dudas told Crabtree that the studio’s “material wasn’t ready and we only want to go out when we can put our best foot forward.” When Dudas says “material” I presume he’s not referring to talent but audio-visual elements…no? Crabtree reported that “the studio was reconsidering its position” and that execs are “still hoping to have some kind of ‘surprise’ for fans at the convention.”
She also wrote that given that “Paramount and DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., New Line, Lionsgate and others have announced star-filled panels, screenings, sneak peeks and major promotional events,” Fox’s “last-minute cancellation is something of an upset. An estimated 123,000 will be attending the convention.”
If Fox publicity was open to communicating and keeping the doors open, I would have naturally gotten in touch with them in order to include a possible comment. But they’re not picking up so I just ran it as is. If they want to add anything, it’s their call.