Days before Comic-Con officially kicks off tomorrow in San Diego, attendees saw a familiar sight: a long line of women lined up outside the city’s convention center to get into Summit Entertainment’s “Twilight” panel.
The franchise changed the face of Comic-Con in 2008 when the cast made its first appearance at the fanfest. Even then, months before it opened in theaters, the film attracted a throng of teen girls and their moms, and all age groups in between, creating such a frenzy the term Twihards was born and stuck.
What’s resulted since, is a boon for Comic-Con’s organizers who have long welcomed women to a show typically attended by fanboys but whose programming schedule heavy on sci-fi, fantasy and horror fare didn’t always appeal to them.
“Twilight” instantly changed that, increasing the estrogen level to around 40%, organizers have said. This year’s show sold more than 130,000 tickets.
And that’s opened the doors for Hollywood to start bringing other more femme-friendly fare to San Diego.
This year’s lineup includes panels for such sudsy TV shows as “The Vampire Diaries,” “Teen Wolf,” “Supernatural” and “666 Park Avenue,” while stars from “The Hunger Games” also will be present. Series like “The Walking Dead,” “Dexter” and “Doctor Who” also are popular with women.
Author Stephenie Meyer is expected to preview material from pic adaptation of her novel “The Host” during the “Twilight” panel.
On the same day that “Twilight” bids fangirls adieu, “Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James will make her first showing at Comic-Con to sign autographs — as the first West Coast stop of her book tour.
Still ” ‘Twilight’ was the movie that changed Comic-Con forever,” said Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of worldwide marketing at Summit Entertainment. “Everybody thinks of Comic-Con as an event for geek boys. What it’s evolved into is a pop culture convention.”
Summit initially made the trek to Comic-Con to figure out a way to speak to fans of the “Twilight” books in one place.
“We wanted to find a good meeting space where they could be together and we could introduce them to the cast that was embodying these characters,” Kirkpatrick said.
Since then, Kirkpatrick has often run into some of the same women from Orlando, Chicago and as far away as Australia and Singapore who attended the first Comic-Con panel at other “Twilight” events.
This year, Summit will use its panel for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” which bows Nov. 16, to say goodbye to the franchise’s loyal fanbase that helped the previous films earn $2.5 billion worldwide.
Summit and Lionsgate also will use their booths on the show floor to promote not just “Twilight” but introduce women to the studios’ other properties.
Hollywood is taking that audience seriously.
Over the years, Summit has attracted 36 million fans on Facebook and a strong following on Twitter who are eager to spread the word about another project they may be interested. Just look at “The Hunger Games” worldwide grosses of $678 million.
In the past, many of the women who came to Comic-Con left the show shortly after the “Twilight” panel ended. But over the years, they’ve been increasingly sticking around to check out the artists, toymakers and other exhibitors on the show floor, as well as panels.
Studios like Disney, Warner Bros., Legendary, and Sony naturally hope to attract that audience to pics like “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Superman reboot “Man of Steel,” giant robot actioner “Pacific Rim” and remake “Total Recall.”
“Those girls are being exposed to science-ficition and action properties that are more traditional Comic-Con fare,” Kirkpatrick said. And there’s an upside for the typical Comic-Con attendee: “All of those boys there are being exposed to actual girls.”