Last weekend's opening box office performance of Pacific Rim is a timely reminder that movie-geek excitement does not always translate into mainstream curiosity. Sure, a number of last year's Comic-Con movie-panel favorites, including Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Oz the Great and Powerful, wound up doing huge business this year, but they each would have likely placed in the top 10 of moneymakers of 2013 without a presence at SDCC in 2012.
Meanwhile, there are always a few titles that hype in San Diego can't help whatsoever. It's kind of incredible that the event is still even looked at by Hollywood as a major buzz-generating marketing tool. It's been nearly a decade since another movie involving giant robots wowed fanboys in attendance even after being delayed a number of months. Yet Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow didn't wind up a huge sensation either, and fresh filmmaker Kerry Conran wasn't welcomed as the next Spielberg or Lucas, as predicted.
Perhaps there's an issue with giant robots, actually. Sucker Punch has them, and that's another movie that underperformed in relation to its favor at Comic-Con. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World did not have one, but it was supposed to, and its corresponding video game had one, and that's another infamous Comic-Con hit turned box office disappointment. The Iron Giant didn't hit up Comic-Con in 1999, but it would have been popular there, yet still unpopular in cinemas. Of course, the Transformers movies throw off my theory.
Okay, so it's not always predictable or classifiable what will carry Comic-Con hype all the way to the bank. For instance, why did Eragon fail so miserably to generate a Harry Potter-size franchise when it was another humongous YA book series adaptation? What kept Watchmen from doing better outside the Convention Center? How did such cult favorites as Serenity, The Fountain and Shoot 'Em Up, which had Hall H in stitches a few years back, not also become general audience favorites? Seriously, though, why do so many movies that look awesome and play well in short clips and trailers just not follow through as satisfying wholes?
Interestingly, I don't believe there's ever been a movie that got bad buzz at Comic-Con that ended up being a massive mass success. Films like The Spirit and The Green Hornet were received rather poorly in San Diego and later in the rest of the country, too.
What movie most failed to live up to its Comic-Con hype?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join in the next discussion: