This year’s San Diego Comic-Con has been canceled, organizers announced April 17. The 51st installment of the annual gathering, which typically attracts over 135,000 people, was set to take place in San Diego July 23-26. It will not occur again until the edition already scheduled for next year, July 22-25, 2021.
The fact that Comic-Con is still three months away offered hope that that outbreak-related precautions would spare events like this one, even as organizers called off WonderCon Anaheim, which was scheduled for April 10-12. But Comic-Con’s cancellation this far ahead of time highlights the uncertainty around how long extreme measures to curb spread of the virus will last.
A statement posted on San Diego Comic-Con’s official website read: “For the first time in its 50-year history San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), the organizers behind the annual pop culture celebration, announced today with deep regret that there will be no Comic-Con in 2020. The event will instead return to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22-25, 2021.
Recognizing that countless attendees save and plan for its conventions each year, and how many exhibitors and stakeholders rely upon its events for a major portion of their livelihood, they had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer. Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.”
In a typical year, the industry would be hurt deeply by a canceled Comic-Con. The gathering gives creators and studios a chance to connect with their most dedicated fanbase and serves as a platform to attract press coverage from the scores of journalists in attendance.
The 2019 event saw Marvel lay out plans for Phase 4 of the MCU, including “Black Widow” this year and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in 2021. But now the lost publicity from a canceled Comic-Con seems like the least of Disney’s worries.
The studio on Tuesday announced it was pushing back the release of “Black Widow” from May 1 to an unspecified future date as all three major American theater chains closed the doors on all of their locations. AMC said its closures could last three months, a scenario that, if mirrored worldwide, could easily see Disney’s year-to-year box-office receipts down billions.
Meantime, studios including Disney have largely shut down production of film and TV, including pausing the Australian first-unit production of “Shang-Chi” after director Destin Daniel Cretton went into isolation after possible coronavirus exposure (he ended up testing negative).