Comic-Con and Video Piracy: Enter at Your Own Risk

Fans and Hollywood converged on the San Diego waterfront for another weekend of pop culture revelry as the event’s 46th edition came to a satisfying, if slightly controversial, end on Sunday.

Mega film and TV franchises like “Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones” and “Batman v Superman” electrified fanboys and fangirls with new footage, star-studded Q&As and even a few memorable selfies. But some of Hall H’s never-before-seen, exclusive clips quickly leaked online to the frustration of studios, despite the event’s strict “no filming” policy.

On the surface, millions of fan impressions might seems like a good thing, but the materials in question often feature temporary VFX, while some of the featured panelists haven’t even wrapped filming.

Warner Bros. chief of marketing Sue Kroll rebuked the cellphone violators over the weekend, calling the “Suicide Squad” leaks “damaging” in a statement and said the content was solely intended for the 6,500 people in Hall H.

“Our presentation yesterday was designed to be experienced in that room, on those big screens,” she explained.

The “Suicide Squad” teaser was ultimately posted to YouTube on Monday “with regret.” Kroll justified the reversal by saying, “We cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation.”

It’s easier for certain projects that are farther along — Warner Bros. released the new “Batman v Superman” trailer shortly after Saturday’s Hall H panel. The clip has already reached 17 million views. Last year, WB faced a similar piracy conflict when bootleggers recorded the “Batman v Superman” footage at Comic-Con while the film was still in post-production.

The question is whether studios will dial back the exclusive footage next year.

“No, it doesn’t hurt,” one exec said of the Comic-Con leaks. “The downside would be if it wasn’t good.”

Ryan Reynolds, whose new film “Deadpool” received some of the biggest buzz this year, in addition to WB’s “Suicide Squad,” told Variety backstage that it was actually a pirated “Deadpool” test video that helped get the movie made.

“It was never meant for anyone’s eyes except studio executives,” he said of the footage, which fans overwhelming endorsed online. “Somehow (it) made its way on to the Internet and that’s the gift from God for us.”

A few weeks later, 20th Century Fox announced the X-Man spinoff movie and set a Feb. 12, 2016, release date.

A  Fox insider told Variety that “Deadpool’s” Comic-Con footage, along with that of “X-Men: Apocalypse” would not be made available online, while conceding that the views for the pirated clips were “extraordinary.”

Reynolds wrote on Twitter that an official “Deadpool” trailer would be coming in three weeks, when additional VFX work has been completed.

While other studios acknowledged the problem of the leaks (“It will have an effect, absolutely,” noted one exec), the consensus was that modern technology poses a risk for everyone.

“I would suspect that a studio would not bring anything down that they wouldn’t be prepared to have leaked,” one observer said of Periscope and other mobile threats facing the industry.

Started in 1970, Comic-Con has become crucial promotion event for Hollywood in recent years, with stars and talent traveling from around the world to promote their films and TV shows. According to organizers, this year’s convention drew an estimated 136,000 attendees and generated an estimated $136 million in revenue.

Last week, Comic-Con renewed its deal to stay at the San Diego Convention Center through 2018.

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  1. PS says:

    BS. What effect will it have?? If someone really wants to see that movie, he will go see that movie, regardless of a leak. If someone doesn’t want to see that movie, it doesn’t matter anyway. If someone wasn’t interested, sees the leak and thinks, this might be good, then the studio wins. Unless of course they all know it’s total crap and are afraid that leaks might scare off undecided people, but then that serves them well for producing crap. Then they should rather worry about making better movies than leaks of their crappy movies.

  2. James says:

    It’s not piracy. I’m sorry it’s not. Fine, they didn’t want people to see the footage outside the hall, but people aren’t profiting from it (beyond of course maybe news outlets posting the leaked footage of course)…and NO ONE is hurt by the footage being leaked. And, let’s be honest, it’s every studios own fault when it comes to these high profile projects. They’re the ones who get people rabid by teasing photos of cast on social media even before shooting sometimes commences. They can’t say we want the attention, but we also want the people in the audience to be mindless automatons without their own agendas, feelings….and camera phones to record whenever they feel like it.

  3. Comicbookfan says:

    It doesn’t matter what the events say or what people say. The films will only win over audiences if they are made faithfully to the comic book material, the characters and the fans. We will find out March and August 2016!

  4. Alex says:

    WE HAVE FOOTAGE!! WE SHOWED TO THE NERDS AT COMIC-CON!! But you can’t see it yet…so there. *razzberrys*

  5. werd says:

    Piracy ? It was free shit, allright ?!

  6. Al Swearengen says:

    It’s time for the Comic Con footage to start being released to the general public. And honestly it’s time for the panels to start being streamed.

    Free of course, don’t dare try and slap price tags on streams ffs.

    • This is everything. It’s just a tool to generate internet word of mouth. The studios don’t do it for 6500 people, they do it for the word of mouth that crowd will spread to millions on reddit and youtube. There’s an obvious marketing art to it, as in the impressions those 6500 give to others is always more hyped and showered with adulation than the content deserves – and more than it would’ve garnered just being released on a Tuesday on YouTube.

      Do they want to offer an experience to everyone? Or just local or rich geeks who can afford time off work AND plane tickets. It’s surely a successful hype machine, but it’s stagnated – and we’re onto you – time to grow.

    • Anonymous says:

      Disagree. Comic Con is about dressing up and going to see it live. Since the 1970s Comic Con has been a live dress up share your passion for comics event, bringing it to cable companies, the internet will only mean more ads, more commercials between live panels and rob us of the authentic real live experience comic book creators have with comic book fans.

      • Jedi77 says:

        I get where you’re comming from, but some of us can’t get to San Diego (live in Europe, work, have a wife) – and it would be great to be able to experience it just once – even online.
        And the 136,000 attendees would still show, don’t you worry!

      • Al Swearengen says:

        You only need to look at E3 to know why that’s not true. Streaming and showing footage isn’t going to stop people from dressing up and going to the convention.

  7. Bill says:

    This isn’t difficult to combat if the studios wanted to.

    At preview screenings I’ve attended, they wand you and confiscate cell phones as a condition of entry; I don’t see why they couldn’t do that at Comic-Con presentations as well.

    Since they don’t take concrete actions to prevent it or to go after those who do (did they issue take down notices?) I think it’s a case of protesting loudly but secretly liking the exposure.

  8. Lisa says:

    “Oh nooos! people are seeing poor quality versions of commercials!!!!” – WB idiots

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just post the stuff online at the same time. Once the hardest of the hardcore nerds have seen it, who cares what anyone else thinks.

    The studios are ascribing way too much power to the fanboys anyway – remember how excited they were for Scott Pilgrim, and how well it did at the box office?

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