Later this week the entertainment press and countless fans will descend upon the San Diego Convention Center for this year’s installment of San Diego Comic-Con. Yesterday we looked at which movies went on to success or failure after using Comic-Con as a big promotional platform, so today we’re going to finish revisiting the decade by analyzing 2012 through 2016.
2012 – No One Wins, No One Loses
Hard to pick in either category for this year since most of the notable movies appearing this year went on to decent box-office and various levels of positive critical reception. Wreck-It Ralph was quickly hailed as a modern classic. Man of Steel did well – and started the new DC Cinematic Universe – but wasn’t loved by critics. Looper wasn’t a big success but did keep Rian Johnson making interesting movies. Pacific Rim is loved by many but barely cracked $1m in ticket sales. This is the most mixed bag of the last 10 years.
2013 – The Winner
If you have to pick one winner here it seems like it should be The LEGO Movie, which surprised everyone with its emotional story and quirky sense of humor. San Diego was where audiences got their first look at the future animated hit and started a cycle of buzz that resulted in it becoming such a hit the LEGO series is now a franchise of its own.
2013 – The Disappointment
Safe to put Kick-Ass 2 in this bucket. While the 2010 original was fresh and funny with its shocking realistic violence, it couldn’t continue that momentum three years later. Everything that was original in the first movie felt forced and warmed over in the sequel.
2014 – The Winner
I’ll admit to having been among the skeptical regarding Mad Max: Fury Road. Not because the story was going to be focusing on a woman but because was this franchise still relevant at all. As always, I was wrong and the movie was one of the biggest successes of 2015, both with critics and fans. That was at least in part due to the look given to those in San Diego, a look that won them over with incredible visuals and a unique take on the idea.
2014 – The Disappointment
Similar to other points made above, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For may have seemed like it was perfect for the Comic-Con crowd to go on to champion. That didn’t happen, though, as the clunky story dragged down the comic-inspired visuals despite the attachment of creator Frank Miller.
2015 – The Winner
Let’s go ahead and disqualify Star Wars: The Force Awakens from consideration, shall we? It was always going to be a massive hit and succeeded in not turning off audiences, so mission accomplished. With that off to the side, let’s award the prize to Suicide Squad, which got everyone’s attention with an incredible sizzle reel/teaser trailer that had everyone talking. While critics hated the movie with a passion, it went on to do over $325m at the U.S. box office, so it clearly qualifies as a hit. All of that buzz started in San Diego.
2015 – The Disappointment
Again, there’s a caveat to the movie appearing here, Warcraft. While San Diego promotion didn’t do anything to help it at theaters – it grossed less than $50m in the U.S. – it’s done massive business overseas. So it worked, just not exactly like Universal may have had in mind.
2016 – The Winner
The winner is Wonder Woman. The winner is always Wonder Woman. The first look at Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess came in 2014 as part of the early promotion for Batman v Superman. It was in 2016, though, that the marketing for her solo movie really kicked into gear. It’s now the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman, the second-highest grossing DCCU movie and is just generally awesome. Another clear indicator that it’s not just adolescent (physically, mentally or both) males that pay attention to SDCC buzz.
2016 – The Disappointment
Prior to San Diego Comic-Con last year, horror fans seemed to be moderately interested in The Woods, a new movie from director Adam Wingard. Just before a scheduled screening of the movie it was revealed it was actually a sequel to The Blair Witch Project. That was meant to make the movie a must-see among not just horror aficionados but also the general public. While its eventual box-office take of $45m is nothing to sneeze at, it’s nowhere near what had to be expected based on the secrecy and big reveal.