HBO has decided to let two of its biggest shows skip Comic-Con International in San Diego this year, meaning that Game of Thrones and Westworld, which had significant presences at the pop culture festival in 2017, will be absent next month.
The absence is said to be production-related, and not because HBO has decided -- as some other studios and networks have -- to reduce their overall visibility at SDCC .
"Due to production schedules and air dates for Game of Thrones and Westworld, these series will not be presented at San Diego Comic-Con this summer," the network said in a statement. "HBO has a longstanding relationship with SDCC, and we are very grateful for the fans’ enthusiastic response over the years. We look forward to returning in the future."
HBO also confirmed for ComicBook.com that they will not attend Comic-Con on behalf of Watchmen, from Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse. That is a different situation, though; Watchmen is still just a pilot at this point and was not likely to have been presented at San Diego regardless of the network's other plans.
Back in April, Marvel Studios announced that they would not present at Comic-Con's Hall H this year, ostensibly to give fans time to digest Avengers: Infinity War. With Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel coming in the next year as well, Disney has been attending various other industry events and festivals, making sure to get the word out even without the captive, enthusiastic audience San Diego provides.
Studios have been flustered trying to strike a balance in their Comic-Con presence over the last few years. As the event has grown more unwieldy and expensive, there have been concerns about the signal-to-noise ratio, with smaller exhibitors beginning to either move presentations offsite to local venues where they can command more attention, or withdrawing entirely. Larger exhibitors have been slow to adopt this strategy, although some studios and networks have been more selective about what, or how much, they bring to Comic-Con.
Nevertheless, audience sizes keep growing, meaning that those exhibiting in Hall H are generally doing so to a packed house, and Comic-Con panels often pay for themselves in free publicity, generating dozens of news stories and in some cases being included as bonus features on home video releases.