Warner Bros. Skipping Hall H Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

San Diego Comic-Con 2019 is quickly approaching - but this year fans will have to do without one of the biggest attractions at the convention. That's because Warner Bros. will be skipping its big panel in Hall H - including those highly-anticipated DC Films movies that are coming to theaters.

It's been confirmed that WB is indeed skipping SDCC this year, though no real reason or logic for the decision has yet been revealed. It seems like an odd year to take off, considering that the DC Films division alone has some big projects coming later this year / early next year.

First of all, the studio has just cast a new Batman in Robert Pattinson, with the first details of Matt Reeves' upcoming The Batman solo film (first in a planned trilogy) starting to drop. In addition to that, there's the Joker origin film from Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix arriving in the fall; the Batman spinoff Birds of Prey in the first quarter of 2020; and the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 sequel in early June 2020, before the next SDCC kicks off.

Beyond DC movies, Warner Bros. has some other big genre films that one would think were well-suited for Comic-Con, such as the Godzilla vs. Kong crossover film, and the latest remake of Dune from Blade Runner 2049 director, Denis Villeneuve. Finally, there would be opportunity to also give fans first looks at some projects that are further down the pipeline, like Taika Waititi's Akira adaptation, and the next installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

That's a pretty hefty potential lineup when you step back and look at it, so why skip the opportunity to put these films on one of the biggest launchpads around?

Well, the explanation may lie in the patterns of history. Warner Bros. (and especially its DC division) have held massive Hall H panels in past years, promoting things like Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League - and we all know what happened when those films left the safe testing grounds of SDCC and tried to make their respective marks on the mainstream moviegoing audience. Since those controversial missteps, DC/WB has been exploring much more controlled methods of marketing and promoting their movies, primarily by promoting engagement between filmmakers and their audience. DC's biggest success (Wonder Woman and Aquaman) were all largely director-driven marketing and promotional campaigns, despite getting some featured exposure at Comic-Con.

Perhaps the best cast study is the most recent one: Warner Bros.' Comic-Con 2018 Hall H panel featured the likes of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Godzilla: The King of Monsters, Shazam, The Lego Movie 2, Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman. Out of that entire lineup, only Aquaman was a smash success (Wonder Woman 2 has yet to be measured); every other film mentioned above ended getting lukewarm if not disappointing box office returns. Considering the high cost of a Hall H panel, may it's no wonder that WB doesn't want to invest in something that won't bring the proper returns. Although, with two big female-driven superhero films on the docket (Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey), the decision to sit out Hall H this year is already riling up some fans.

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In fact, with both Marvel and DC choosing to skip SDCC in recent years, it's starting to look like the famed convention isn't going to be the major studio draw that it was throughout the 2010s. However, there is one small caveat: Warner Bros. will bring IT: Chapter Two to "ScareDiego", the convention's horror-focused branch.

Shazam is now in theaters, Joker hits theaters on October 4th, Birds of Preyon February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, and The Batman on June 25, 2021.