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The Two Huge Movie Studios Skipping 2021's San Diego Comic-Con@Home

For the second year in a row, San Diego Comic-Con will take place as an online, live-streamed event rather than an in-person convention. Understandably, as was the case for countless other planned events, San Diego Comic-Con 2020 switched from its usual live format to a virtual one as a safety precaution in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 2021, a not-insignificant portion of the U.S. population is vaccinated (via Mayo Clinic), but San Diego Comic-Con 2021, aka Comic-Con@Home 2021, will still remain online in order to continue to ensure fans' safety. 

This decision comes in the wake of the County Department of Public Health in Los Angeles, nearby to Comic-Con's San Diego location, advising even vaccinated residents to wear masks indoors in order to curb the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 (via the Los Angeles Times).

One advantage provided by the online format of this year's Comic-Con is that the number of fans that can "attend" each panel is virtually limitless, as opposed to constrained by long lines and venue capacities. On the other hand, however, data gathered during last year's virtual event suggests that online Comic-Con is simply not as popular as the usual in-person event. A July 2020 article published by Variety, which called the event a "bust" in its headline, cited data that social media mentions of the official Comic-Con Twitter account were down 95% compared to 2019. The outlet also noted that tweets about popular panels were down more than 90%. View counts for panels on YouTube were middling at best, and may have been a result of the lack of fan interaction opportunities available.

Given that this data proves an online convention may be less fruitful of a business opportunity than usual, it might come as less of a surprise that two major movie studios have announced their intent to forgo SDCC 2021 altogether.

Marvel and DC superheroes are staying home

According to Deadline, both Marvel Studios and DC Films are opting not to virtually exhibit during San Diego Comic-Con 2021. This means, of course, that the studios behind the two major superhero film franchises — the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe — will be absent this year's Comic-Con event.

This will mark the third year in a row that DC Films has made the decision to skip San Diego Comic-Con, meaning that its extended absence also includes the in-person 2019 event. As an alternative, DC now plans a significant number of announcements for its proprietary DC FanDome event. Warner Bros. TV division, however, will participate in Comic-Con 2021, in order to showcase the DC TV series "Legends of Tomorrow."

Marvel Studios, meanwhile, will be skipping Comic-Con for just the second year in a row. In 2020, some upcoming Marvel Studios projects were announced or detailed during Disney's 2020 Investor Day presentation (via Vulture), so this may serve as an alternative this year as well.

This year's Comic-Con@Home will take place from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, July 25 and can be live-streamed for free on the Comic-Con International YouTube channel.