Three Days in Hall H: Day One

Hall HPreviously: your intrepid host announced he was covering three days worth of panels in Comic-Con International: San Diego’s infamous 6,500-seat temple to all media, Hall H. What follows is a smattering of impressions and experiences from the line and the room as Erik spent Three Days in Hall H. Now, read on …

In the line, I met a woman named Deidre, excited for the Dreamworks animation panel — but not the appearance of actor Benedict Cumberbatch. “I think most of the people are here for that,” she said dryly. She comes to Comic-Con for the film panels. Her Friday schedule included Big Robot Six presentation elsewhere in the convention center.

We chatted a bit about Sherlock and Doctor Who when the bullhorn of the Christian group across the street deafened us with their pleas to accept the Lord. Eventually, the witnessing was drowned out by the cheers of the crowd in the “Chute Tent.” Borrowing from Disney’s line management style, the tent closest to Hall H does not snake around itself. Instead, each lane pointed toward the hall entrance. Once the hall opened, each chute could be opened one at a time and refilled as needed from the snaking tents behind it.

I’m a former theme park ride operator, so I actually get a thrill from well managed lines. It’s sad, I know.

A view of Hall H's chute tent.

A view of Hall H’s chute tent.

Event staff offered us updates and revealed the Hall would open around ten. Eventually, those at the front of the line began entering maybe twenty minutes later than that estimate, apparently at the behest of the fire marshal inspecting the hall and the status of the line. Once we made our way into one of the chutes and into the hall lobby area, Deidre and I were welcomed with cheers from the security staff. We wondered if they’ll be so cheerful tomorrow when the line balloons around the convention center complex.

Deciding she wanted a closer seat than I needed, we parted ways, wishing each other a “good con.” I chose to sit near the back with a good view of one the larger screens. While some like to get close to the talent, it’s not really advantageous to me and my coverage of panels.

Once seated, I met a local couple who make the yearly pilgrimage to Hall H via the San Diego trolley. We traded stories of shut-outs in years past, including an infamous day The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones were all scheduled in a row. The line reached the marina that year. Today, however, they were able to walk in — a special privilege.

The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones were scheduled against each other on Saturday and part of my assignments for the year.

Every so often, seat management crews updated the status of their zones. When one volunteer came to chat with the person watching my area, he mentioned they were trying to get the closest sections completely filled. A rare problem in Hall H.

Nearing the start of the first panel, the room was not yet at capacity, but fairly full. A smattering of the cosplayer on scene included a little girl as Elsa posing with an adult Anna, at least one member of the Carol Corp, an Ash from Pokemon and several of those jackets from Attack on Titan.

Eddie Ibrahim, director of programing received thunderous applause when he appeared on stage. “So it’s finally back!” he says to get the crowd going. He then offers the usual warnings about cellphones and the like. One legitimate worry for the convention organizers is the leaking of footage studios bring to Hall H. As the weekend would prove, it’s just too easy for material to get out of the hall and into the internet.

Though, as the Dreamworks Panel would prove, today was not a day for leaks, but for John Malkovich to be more charming than Cumberbatch during their presentation for The Penguins of Madagascar.


Malkovich and Cumberbatch confront Hall H.

Between the Dreamworks panel and one for The Giver, the couple and I traded off watching each other’s stuff. They needed food and I needed water. Though Hall H is a world of its own, with restrooms and food service, the edible offerings leave a lot to be desired. Previous years taught me to come with a protein bar and some mixed nuts. Years ago, Culligan had a contract with the convention center and all the meeting rooms had wonderful coolers and cups ready to rehydrate the weary convention-goer. Sadly, that is no longer true and Hall H’s only free water option is a fountain by the restroom. Thankfully, staff let me bypass the sizable restroom line to fill my water bottle.

After The Giver, the couple in front of me wished me a good con and left. All that remained for my day one was the Paramount presentation, it was a live blogging event for me, the results of which can be found on CBR.

I imagine those who camp out all day walk out of the hall with the same feeling of hunger and mild sleep deprivation I experienced on my way back to the Hotel. Crossing the service road toward the Hilton Bayfront, I saw the line already forming for Friday. It was only 5pm.

To be continued …

About Erik

Erik Amaya is the host of Tread Perilously and the former Head Film/TV writer at Bleeding Cool. He has also contributed to sites like CBR, Comics Alliance and Fanbase Press. He is also the voice of Puppet Tommy on "The Room Responds."
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