Beyond the Con
Your weekly breakdown of the latest news and happenings in the cosplay and popculture world. Kicking off with a look at some of the happenings in the Marvel world and a couple of hiccups in some recent conventions in Sydney.
1. Press Play
New events for Adelaide and Perth to make up for the loss of the OZ Comic Cons in both cities, at least now there is a reason to turn up other than just the cosplay competition, they will have DJ’s, a trivia quiz and other geek related fun. Perth is having theirs on Saturday the 12th of May and Adelaide is stuck with Thursday the 10th of May. Thats right..a Thursday night.
Hopefully work the next day doesnt stop a lot of people from showing up who otherwise would have been all over it but either way the numbers will be limited due to the size of the venues and the more targeted nature of the event. Lets hope they squeeze as much fun as possible out of the nights and we get to see some groundbreaking cosplay, they may only have the Supanova conventions now but at least theres one other cosplay themed event to pad out the year!
2. MCU celebrates ten years of glorious Marvel cinema awesomeness!
Marvel Studios is taking a victory lap to celebrate its 10-year-anniversary, kicking things off with a “class photo” that includes more than 80 actors and filmmakers who have participated in the MCU. Naturally, Robert Downey Jr. and Feige are sitting front-and-center as well they should be. Although The Dark Knight is considered the “best” superhero movie, Iron Man, which came out the same year, is the one that had a larger impact, and this video is proof.
They are celebrating by offering a paid for set visit to ‘Captain Marvel’ but of course its only open to residents of the US so us Aussie punters will have to just look on in jealousy as some lucky fan gets to hang out with the actors and crew for a day. We still get to watch all their amazing movies of course, lets all cross our fingers and toes and hope we get at least ten more years.
Stan Lee is hoping for even more going by this tweet…
““Congratulations @marvelstudios on your 10 year anniversary! I’ve been in the business for 77 years – only 67 more to go and you’ll catch up to me!””
3. The Black Panther movie is so hot right now!!
Speaking of Marvel, they just dropped their latest in a long line of movies that blow our tiny little minds. Now they go and top themselves again! According to critics, pre-sales buzz and now the exploding box office of this film its going to be one of the biggest ever.
Sure it may not be the ‘first’ black superhero film ever, however much some media outlets like to forget the handful that have come before it but none have carried this much buzz and expectation heading into the opening weekend.
Already ‘Certified Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes with a ridiculously high score of 98% it seems to have far exceeded those expectations. This is one movie I can’t wait to see, in fact I’m going to see it tomorrow so stay tuned for a Beyond Cosplay review very soon!
1. RTX Photographer issues
While everyone we know who made the trip into town for RTX this year had a great time there were a few who came away a little chafed by their interactions with the venue’s reportedly over zealous security guards. I can’t personally report any problems with them as one even suggested I take a photo of one of the remote control Transformers being demonstrated inside the venue. In fact the only awkward brush with authority I had was when a ‘Guardian’/ RTX volunteer asked me if I had permission to take photos of the organiser, Barbara Dunkelman when I tried to grab a few shots of her posing with fans.
I happily stopped shooting when I found out that wasn’t cool and carried on enjoying the con, apparently the guys in suits upstairs in the lobby area where a lot of photographers congregated (more space and better light conditions) weren’t so polite though. Numerous guys were told to pack up their kit and leave the premises or the police would be called.
When some made their way outside the building and into the main park area of Darling Harbour they were given similar warnings by rangers who enforce a strict no fancy camera rule unless you go through a complicated procedure and apply for a permit. At this point the photographers just gave up and went home.
Most wont bother returning next year to try and snap pictures of the best cosplay on display at RTX, that probably won’t bother the team behind the event as cosplay is a relatively small aspect of the con compared to larger events like OZCC and SMASH. The problem is that both of those events are ALSO at the International Convention Centre. Oops.
Given the number of photographers that turn up and shoot all day capturing awesome cosplay by some of Australias most skilled creators this could be a slight problem. Now hopefully it was just a bad weekend as OZCC and RTX were held at the same site last year with hardly any drama. Given some luck and perseverance by the people behind both cons they will come to some arrangement with security so they back off slightly for the next two large events.
Sure, you don’t want Joe Blow setting up half a photography studio right in the middle of a walkway and at least one guy on Saturday turned up with a large box of flash stands and other equipment inside the main hall. A line in the sand needs to be drawn somewhere for the safety and smooth running of a convention of that size.
However in this instance photographers were being sent home merely for having a large lense or ‘appearing too professional’. These aren’t sneaky bootleggers trying to film a rock concert and smuggle out the footage onto youtube..these are genuine fans who are working for free and without them the community would suffer. Apparently during one incident RTX staff tried to intervene and calm down the security guards but this only made them dig their heels in harder.
Again, lets hope some work is done behind the scenes to make sure heavy handed tactics like this become a thing of the past. If something isn’t done and the photographers melt away then a large proportion of cosplayers will miss out on having their hard work immortalised for the screen. The outcry will be loud and potentially dampen enthusiasm for events that so many fans love and adore.
2. Walker Stalker convention Drama
It certainly was an interesting time for both the attendees and the organisers of the first ‘Walker Stalker’ convention in Australia. Having been run in the US for a few years now you would think it would have been a bit smoother on debut in Australia. Au contraire my friend.
Even before the event had opened in Sydney there had been mountains of drama around the fact that so many of the big stars were pulling out one by one. It was like the actual Walking Dead writers had a hand in crafting the steadily mounting list of actors who couldn’t make it. In all it was five of the cast who got pulled away, some at the last minute. Instead of succumbing to the living dead though they fell victim to more mundane calamities, like clashing schedules or family emergencies.
This is perfectly normal in the scheme of things, it happens to all conventions that have a lot of guests who rely on work that can require them to drop everything at short notice and head to a set. In show business it doesn’t pay to turn down lucrative gigs no matter how many fans they may disappoint in the short term.
In the end they are always going to put their hand up when a chance at actual screen time comes up and that’s perfectly understandable. The only issue is that when conventions like Walker Stalker look like they might be holding back announcements about their cancellation and leaving the big name guests in promotional material.
Norman Reedus slips to a fan that he won’t be coming to Walker Stalker a good 24 hours before anything is announced on the con website.
An odd reaction from Norman Reedus that was later deleted.
This makes it seem like they are trying to get as many ticket sales as possible before people realise the stars they are paying to see aren’t going to be there and change their minds about going. Unfortunately there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and plenty of screenshots showing that fans had to find out from sources other than the convention that certain stars weren’t going to make it to Sydney or Melbourne.
This would be disappointing but somewhat bearable if people who had bought tickets specifically to see those stars had an easy time of getting a refund on their remarkably expensive tickets..if only this was the case.
Most requests for refunds seem to be flat out refused and purchasers are directed to fine print that says if a guest cancels they are not entitled to any kind of reimbursement. Thankfully in Australia unreasonable conditions like this don’t usually wash with the Australian Consumer Law Act and with persistence most will eventually get their refunds.
So all in all a murky situation indeed, we can’t say for sure that Walker Stalker took the cynical approach and delayed as long as possible before announcing cancellations or they are just kinda bad at their jobs and have communications issues with their guests. Either way they should be returning disappointed attendees money without making them jump through hoops for it.
Also it doesn’t help that a quick google finds similar accusations for previous conventions internationally, you would think that when this is becoming a frequent problem they would do their best to stay on top of it by the time it made its way down under.
Whats worse is that according to friends of crew members Norman Reedus wasn’t even filming ‘Ride’ during the time he would have been at the convention so if his pointed response on twitter indicates some kind of rift between him and con management it might be the last time they get to put his name on their banners for a while.
The other niggling issue that makes the team at Walker Stalker zeroes this year was their announcement that the winner of the Cosplay Competition would receive a ‘Platinum Pass’ for the next day, this excited a lot of the cosplayers as the pass was worth nearly two thousand dollars!
The cosplayer who won the main prize for an excellent Negan outfit, bat and all. He turned up the next morning bright eyed and bushy tailed only to be told that it was no longer a VIP Platinum pass but merely a Platinum ‘badge’ that got him to the front of queues, when I asked Walker Stalker about the confusion they gave me this response.
Which would be fair enough except that I talked to multiple people who attended the cosplay event both as spectators and entrants and not one could remember the host saying anything other than it being a VIP Platinum pass on offer. When other commenters tried to ask similar questions on their facebook page or instagram they were quickly blocked and all comments deleted.
Now, I know a lot of people had an amazing time at the event, including apparently a few ponies that were ridden into the Melbourne event by some of the guests but there does seem to be some less than savoury business practices happening behind the scenes.
Lets hope that if they come back next year they have better luck with star turnout, speed of getting the announcements out and clarity when it comes to even the details like yes, the prize for the cosplay competitions.
3.Hamada swoops in to save the day?
Uncertainty in DC universe continues after ‘Justice League’ didn’t turn out to be the slam dunk they hoped. This meant a lot of heads rolled early this year and a new one was crowned with Walter Hamada christened the new Head of film production at Warner Bros.
Geoff John will still have input into the various franchises but will no longer be the overseer that he has been up till now, whether this bold new move is going to be enough to steer the ship into calmer waters remains to be seen. Hamada manaded to reignite the horror market for New Line cinema with ‘The Conjuring’, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘IT’ all doing well at the box office and surpassing expectations critically. A combination that has only really happened once in the DCEU with ‘Wonder Woman’.
Lets hope giving creative control to a non comics guy (Johns has been working in the superhero business since the eighties) doesn’t send their biggest cash cow spinning further out of control. He is close mates with James Wan (the director of ‘Aquaman’) so hopefully he allowed him the latitude necessary to make that movie as good as it could be. As easy on the eye as Jason Momoa is, his role in the ‘Justice League’ didn’t really give him a lot more to do than ham it up as a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Dudebro.
Lets hope Hamada can give cinematic DC the injection of calm confidence it needed and raise it up into the ‘Heroes’ column where it should be!
The lighter side of…Real Estate!
This agent really leant hard into the current trend of turning anything vaguely fantasy related into a ‘Game of Thrones’ reference. Sure its a small castle but really? No, seriously I love it and hope they find the right tenants for this unique dwelling. Preferably not a brother and sister or anyone who likes to stay up late torturing captive pizza delivery boys!
Well thats it for this week people. Stay tuned for more muckracking and celebrations of all things geek by this time next week!