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Comic-Con Registration Re-Opens Saturday

Never before have thousands of comic book and movie fans wished so fervently that the third time will be the charm.

After two failed, site-crashing registration openings and one successful test run, Comic-Con badges go on sale again Feb. 5 for the pop culture event, which runs July 21-24.

Comic-Con International, partnered with Event Planning International Corporation (EPIC), opened registration for the event twice in November but shut down sales when thousands of would-be pass-holders overwhelmed EPIC's unprepared servers.

Taking lessons from a December test run, the con will open registration again on Saturday, this time collaborating with EPIC and online ticket sales company TicketLeap.

During the failed Nov. 1 and Nov. 22 registration dates, Comic-Con's website got about 250 hits per second, three times more than when registration opened last year, according to David Glanzer, Comic-Con director of marketing and public relations.

For a Dec. 15 test run that partnered EPIC with TicketLeap, the site got as many as 1,000 hits per second. As planned, 1,000 orders were processed during the test -- most in a few minutes -- though the site still experienced a few glitches before all 1,000 badges were sold after 45 minutes.

TicketLeap runs on Amazon Web Services and can increase the amount of servers in use if needed on Saturday.

Comic Book Resources founder and executive producer Jonah Weiland gave registration a try on Nov. 22 and Dec. 15, even though he and other editors of the website receive press passes, “just so we could be part of the process,” he told THR.

“It was pretty clear to me that [EPIC] had not properly prepared for the amount of people who were going to register,” Weiland said. “I don't think they quite understood that what Comic-Con has is a rather unique situation.”

Frustrations ran high on registration days, inevitably leading to the popular label “EPIC fail” for the whole incident.

“If you call your company EPIC, you better be epic -- which they failed to prove that day,” Weiland said.

Frustration was also abundant among Comic-Con organizers.

“Our level of frustration -- which was incredibly high -- probably paled in comparison to those people who wanted to buy the passes,” said Glanzer. “It's a hard thing to fathom that you want to buy a ticket to an event, you want to give someone your money, and you can't.”

Glanzer attributed the growing interest in the convention in part to newer technology effectively publicizing the event, as podcasting and blogging on-site has become common for attendees.

“It's a lot more in the public eye now than it ever has been before,” Glanzer said.

With Comic-Con capping attendance for the past three or four years and reaching 126,000 attendees, there's been serious talk about moving it to another city, perhaps Los Angeles or Anaheim. But in October, the San Diego Convention Center committed to keeping the event through 2015.

This year, hotels will offer discounted hotel rates that they recently negotiated with Comic-Con, which will also expand into hotel ballrooms for the convention.

The pressure is on for tomorrow.

“I would be surprised if it wasn't pulled off successfully. Heads will roll this weekend if it does not run successfully,” said Weiland.

Said Glanzer, “We have our fingers crossed that everything goes well [on Saturday].”

Registration opens at 9 a.m. PT.