San Diego Comic-Con will not run in 2020, the first time event has been canceled in its 51-year history. Comic-Con International announced today that it has canceled this year’s event in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and that it will return in July 2021.
The move is arguably the highest-profile popular culture cancelation in light of the COVID-19 outbreak that’s swept the world. The announcement comes weeks after the organization initially postponed its sister event, WonderCon, which was to be held this past weekend. The organization also announced that that convention would also not run in 2020: it will return in March 2021.
Convention organizers said that they “had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer. Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.” However, the outbreak has continued, and California authorities have said that large-scale events will likely not take place until next year.
Con-goers and exhibitors who purchased badges this year will have the option to receive a refund, or to transfer their badges to the 2021 event. Hotels will also be canceling reservations.
While some conventions, such as the World Science Fiction Convention (which would have been held in New Zealand), or SFWA’s Nebula Awards Conference have transformed into virtual events, Comic-Con’s organizers haven’t announced any sort of digital component to take place this year. Normally, the convention is a springboard for high-profile film trailers, panels, and announcements. Without a convention this year, studios will be forced to find alternative ways to drum up attention for the next wave of genre blockbusters, television shows, comic books, and games.