Several studios and networks have upped their investment in the event, which has become key to marketing to tweens and teens.
What did Comic-Con look like in its early days before 130,000-plus fans began to swarm San Diego each July? Perhaps a lot like VidCon, the annual online video confab expected to draw more than 25,000 people to Anaheim from June 23 to 25. Teeming with tweens and teens who scream at the mere mention of YouTube stars like Tyler Oakley, VidCon is becoming Hollywood's answer to the question of how to market to that elusive kid who is immune to advertising and doesn't know what time her favorite show airs on TV. Several studios and networks have upped their investment in the event, with screenings of teen-friendly flicks like Lionsgate's Nerve and secretive plans for titles like Warner Bros.' Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. "Media companies want to tell these consumers that they've got great movies and TV shows," says Brent Weinstein, a partner at UTA, which handles VidCon business development, "and VidCon is a great place to do that." THR compiled what some of the companies have planned.
The network is back for the third straight year with a section of the American Ninja Warrior course that YouTubers like DeStorm Power and others are expected to attempt. "We've always gone pretty big at VidCon," says NBC executive vp digital media Rob Hayes, recalling 2014's Lip Sync Battle booth promoting Jimmy Fallon's elevation to host of The Tonight Show. "It's a very targeted audience we can reach."
Drawing on the YouTube community's message of inclusiveness, the studio behind Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (pictured left; set for release Sept. 30) will take over VidCon's registration hall, reminding attendees to "Stay Peculiar." Exclusive footage also will be shown. Meanwhile, an unofficial screening of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8) will take place nearby.
An early screening of animated flick The Secret Life of Pets (left; July 8) is just the beginning for the studio. Doug Neil, Universal's executive vp digital marketing, calls VidCon attendees "a key demographic for our films" and notes the studio also will sponsor a lounge for creators and operate a booth promoting Pets and the animated musical comedy Sing (Dec. 21) with giveaways, customized pet-themed emoji and animated singing GIFs.
YouTube's own Colleen Ballinger, who made the jump to Netflix for upcoming series Haters Back Off, will star in a VidCon variety show and participate in a Q&A. A Netflix-sponsored fan lounge, which will feature backdrops from Fuller House, Gilmore Girls (right) and others, will offer a GIF booth, giveaways and nail art inspired by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.