LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) — Stuck in third place at the box office this year, Warner Bros. will be at this week’s Comic-Con International convention for a publicity push for what could be a record 2016 on the back of DC Comics superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The Time Warner (TWX – Get Report)-owned studio, which has yet to have a runaway hit at the box office so far this summer, will also use the annual fan gathering in San Diego to squeeze out some extra juice from its upcoming slate after comedy sequel Magic Mike XXL underwhelmed during the July 4th holiday weekend.
“An event like Comic-Con is so very crucial because every little bit of early publicity you generate means so much more than it used to,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “You can have a movie live or die based on a sneak peek or an initial trailer.”
The studio’s top promotional panel at Comic-Con on Saturday will include the Batman v. Superman cast, including stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, and director Zack Snyder.
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Comic-Con, which was originally a convention for comic books and popular culture, has become a key date on the film calendar with the rise of superhero movies and social media.
“Comic-Con provides us a fantastic opportunity to interact with the fans, and this year, as with every year, our aim is to surpass their expectations,” Sue Kroll, Warner Bros.’ president of marketing and international distribution, said in a statement ahead of the convention, which is scheduled to take place Thursday through Sunday.
Studios like to use Comic-Con as a way to test future films with surprise clips.
Warner Bros. is poised to finish third for a second consecutive year at the domestic box office, where studios are able to collect higher margins on ticket sales. Any chance to make up ground against Comcast’s (CMCSA) Universal Studios and Disney (DIS) took a blow this past weekend when R-rated Magic Mike XXL struggled with an estimated $27 million in box-office receipts since its release last Wednesday, which would be below the $45 million to $48 million box-office watchers had expected the movie to gross.
But 2015, pegged by many to be a record box office year, has not been a free fall for Warner Bros. The studio still has taken in more than $1 billion domestically halfway through the year, according to Boxofficemojo.com, and Clint Eastwood’s mid-budget juggernaut American Sniper grossed almost all of its $350 million North American ticket sales since Jan. 1.
Warner Bros., which was last the top-grossing Hollywood studio in 2013’s record year, is in the midst of restocking its slate, Contrino said.
“When you analyze the strength of specific studios, some studios have really great years when their most valuable properties cycle through and then they have an off year,” the analyst said. “Warner Bros. is in something of a slower year.”