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So you work in Hollywood and waiting in lines for hours to hear someone speak on a dais is not your thing? Shocker.
Good news: Cocktails and socializing sprawl across San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter as widely as Comic-Con’s own content has creeped from comic books to TV series, social networks, apps, and MGMT.
Also read: Comic-Con 2014: The Movie Schedule (So Far)
This year, however, there is a contraction in VIP celebrity-driven events.
“The number of VIP events is down by 40 percent,” Christopher Ryan, creator of the unofficial Comic-Con and Sundance party lists tells TheWrap. His list goes to his choice of the top fifty talent publicists and news outlets.
Also read: Comic-Con 2014: The TV Schedule (Updated)
According to Ryan, local venues’ appetite to make a cash grab and non-entertainment consumer brands’ belated appreciation for the platform as something other than a comic book convention have shrunk the scene.
“I scouted a Gaslamp venue three years ago at $5000. The same venue now wanted $45,000 during Comic-Con,” Ryan said. “What (non-entertainment) brands fail to realize is that Comic-Con has more celebrities than Coachella and the Sundance Film Festival combined.”
According to press lists Ryan has access to, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival had 614 media outlets officially accredited, while Comic-Con has 2,429 credentialed media. “It’s the world’s biggest press junket.”
Fewer celebrity-driven events with more Hollywood studios and shows trekking south means a few things. First, more sold out seats on the business class trains heading towards San Diego. Once there, expect more demand for the few marquee red carpet scenes and many smaller unofficial parties on the second tier clouding the picture.
Here are the invites you should be chasing and looking for in your inbox:
All the regular caveats apply: This list is not a comprehensive party guide. For the cream of the crop, keep reading.
1. *Top Invite* Entertainment Weekly
Float at the Hard Rock Hotel (Rooftop)
This is still “the one,” the Vanity Fair analog to Comic Con. (No surprise as Slate PR handles both.) As talent, if you are not on this list, then you do not matter yet or do not matter anymore. If you are a guest, then you are doing something right. The space is not huge and capacity issues are for real.
Sample Names: Emma Roberts, Seth Meyers, Katey Sagal, Ian Somerhalder, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kathy Bates, Kat Graham, Paul Wesley, the surprisingly still under-appreciated Tatiana Masley, and the throne from “Game of Thrones”. There is a heavy HBO presence overall and Michelle Pesce travels down from Los Angeles to spin.
2. *Day Play* WIRED Café
Omni Hotel Terrace
Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Just what you need, right where you need it: a hospitality lounge within spitting distance of the Convention Center.
“Music, cocktails, wifi – what more could a celebrity, director, or overworked studio PR department head want?” Wired VP and publisher Howard Mittman asks. Um, maybe some fantasy beer?
3 New Things Wired Will Teach You/Serve You: “Game of Thrones” beer will be unveiled, Stephen Moyer has a social app, and MakerBot (which is not Maker Studios) shows off their massive 3D printer that just hit the market days ago. Because one of MakerBot’s key constituencies is props and special effects artists, their precise targeting and timing is the rare coherent activation in the entertainment marketing playground.
Faces Expected: Orlando Bloom, Elle Fanning, Hugh Jackman, Mikey Tyson, and “Expendables 3″ ass-kickers Dolph Lundgren, Kellan Lutz, Wesley Snipes, with run-of-the-mill ass-kickers known as overworked studio PR department heads.
3. Kings of Con
Coyote Ugly Saloon
What about Thursday? Well, this.
Vetted Media smartly backs this perennial favorite Thursday night, and it’s the only party that runs late. It has more of an NYC vibe, which means you have to know someone at the door. That’s the aforementioned Chris Ryan, who warns he’s only staying out front wrangling celebrities until 11 p.m. After that, the line will snake.
4. Playboy and A&E’s “Bates Motel”
Seventh Avenue between Island and Market
Friday, 8 p.m. – midnight
Both brands are known for iconic real estate.
One, a mansion in Holmby Hills. The other, a foreboding inn. This is a big one: 40,000 square feet outdoors, which is about 10 times the size of an NBA court. The Patron flowing throughout will exponentially complicate one intriguing sounding activity, the so-called “marijuana” maze. Also, organizers promise both Playboy Playmates and a taxidermy lounge, so start workshopping your best “bunny stuffing” joke now.
Faces expected: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, and Nestor Carbonell.
Fanboy Targets: Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin
5. *OMG/Cool* Buzzfeed and CW’s “Flash Bash”
Altitude Sky Lounge, Marriott Gaslamp
Friday 5 – 8 p.m.
Buzzfeed is the buzzsaw of the moment – hiring like crazy, mushrooming their video studio into two L.A. offices, and drawing 130 million uniques a month to their platforms, 75 percent via social channels.
Those numbers dwarf their party partner CW’s normal TV viewership numbers. Buzzfeed counter programs Hollywood’s elitist invasion with beer pong and happy hour, a time for over-serving that is always underserved at festivals.
Buzzfeed parties are young and cliquey/clicky — like the site — and are a generation younger than EW and even Nerd HQ. You’ll all work for them one day.
Faces: Cast members from “The Flash,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Teen Wolf” are expected. “The Flash” hits the CW in October.
6. Crave Conquers the Con (a.k.a. MGMT on the USS Midway)
Friday night, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
Aircraft carriers are the new black.
When Bud Light wanted to flex its muscle at the NYC Super Bowl, they docked a cruise ship next to the USS Intrepid and used the aircraft carrier for smaller events-within-the-event. Now, CraveOnline invades the USS Midway “to distance ourselves from the usual distractions surrounding Comic-Con,” says Evolve Media VP John Keefer.
TNT’s “The Last Ship” partners with the male lifestyle publisher that run stories varying from “Ballpark Survival Guy’ds” to news about Microsoft’s recent layoffs. Grimes (Claire Boucher) opens for MGMT.
100 consumer passes are up for grabs through Crave’s site.
Hitfix and Lucasfilm are teasing a “force-filled evening” to kick things off on Wednesday night, but do not expect “Star Wars” set leaks. The party promotes Lucasfilm’s animated series “Star Wars Rebels” which hits Disney XD this fall. Warner Brothers celebrates 75 years of Batman with the “Cape/Cowl/Create” costume art exhibit at the same time that “Sin City 2″ celebrates on Thursday night, both at the Hard Rock. Also, Tumblr hosts a “casual lunch” on Saturday.
Do not try to dress up like female Thor and waltz through every rope. Hollywood ground rules remain in effect: All events are by invitation and confirmation only, or else you risk a night of jockeying a bar stool at Dick’s Last Resort.