Comic con season is in full-swing, with various events having already taken place this year and many more still to come. The biggest convention for UK residents is London Film and Comic Con (LFCC), which takes place between the 27th & 29th July.
LFCC has a HUGE amount of guests this year, including some top names that many have been requesting to see for years, including X-Files actor, David Duchovny; former Doctor Who star, Christopher Eccleston; and Smallville‘s Tom Welling. Other big name guests include Megan Fox, Jason Momoa, Val Kilmer, Peter Capaldi, Steven Seagal and even Meatloaf.
If you’re a genre fan and you want to meet the biggest stars from some of your favourite movies and TV shows, LFCC is easily a must-attend show this year. But is it all getting a bit too expensive?
Before I get into a discussion on conventions and prices, let me first say that this isn’t a conversation solely aimed at LFCC – this is a discussion about all conventions in general. The costs associated with conventions seems to be increasing and it’s not going unnoticed.
Are convention prices going up?
I’ve been a convention-goer for the past 20 years and have attended events in Birmingham, Manchester and Milton Keynes to name a few. Over the years I’ve watched conventions grow and develop and on the whole I’ve always found convention-going to be a great experience.
In recent years I’ve attended less events – partly because of other commitments, but partly due to costs. The last big convention I attended was last summer’s Collectormania 24 in Birmingham, where I had the pleasure of meeting former Superman actor, Dean Cain.
This year I did weigh-up attending LFCC, in order to meet one or two of the many guests, but I’ve decided against it simply because it is just too expensive. As much fun as it is just being at the event, the real draw are the celebrity guests but the cost to get an autograph or take part in a photo session is just too pricey and this has put me off.
As an example, if I wanted a photo with David Duchovny at LFCC it would set me back £70. An autograph would be an eye-watering £85.
Now let’s take Christopher Eccelston. For a photo with the former Doctor Who star it would be £85, while an autograph would cost £95. If I wanted a photo of Eccleston outside of a replica TARDIS then that’s £95.
Now I appreciate that no one forces anyone to attend the events and these are examples of guests from the high-end bracket of pricing (the costs for some of the other guests are much cheaper), but even so, that’s a lot of money. And should I have a spare £95 lying around for one guest (which I don’t), ponying up for another guest is just out of the question – even if it is a more conservatively priced guest.
Are convention prices reflective of other events?
Sticking with Eccleston, earlier in the year (as mentioned on this very blog) myself and one of my friends attended an event, In Conversation with Christopher Eccleston. The event was great, Eccleston was fantastic (a truly nice guy) and we loved the whole experience.
The cost of a ticket for said event was a little under £15 for a 90-minute talk (which included a 30-minute Q&A). At the end of the event, my friend, who is a big fan of Doctor Who, went up to the front of the stage where Eccleston kindly signed his Doctor Who book for no extra charge.
So, that was a 90-minute talk, plus an autograph, all for less than £15. Sure, the autograph wasn’t guaranteed, it was purely down to Eccleston being a nice chap, but even so, that’s what he paid and that’s what he got.
Now, weigh this up with the cost of a £95 autograph at LFCC – an event attended by thousands of people, where queuing will be a major factor of the day and where there’s no 90-minute talk. It doesn’t seem quite so good, does it?
The additional costs
The £95 I’ve mentioned above is if you just want to get an autograph and are willing to queue. There is an option to skip the queue and get a pass that gives you an autograph and a photo, but this will set you back £235.
Once again, no one is forcing this option on anyone, but that’s still a heck of a lot of money.
Let’s not forget, unless you live locally in addition to the autograph or photoshoot (or both) and the general admission price for the event, you may also need to pay for travel, accommodation and food. Sure, you can budget for food but that’s not always possible with travel or accommodation where prices are pretty much set in stone.
My point is, at what stage is the cost too much? At what point are people priced out of attending events?
Are costs now too high?
Back when I started going to conventions, the cost for an autograph was between £10 and £25, depending on the star status of the guest. OK, so some of the conventions I’ve been to over the years haven’t always attracted huge names, but having met Adam West, Kevin Conroy, Brandon Routh, Brian Blessed and various Buffy & Angel cast members amongst others, I know that great guests do attend these events and without a huge price tag.
Things change, I know that. I also know that organisers foot the bill when it comes to a guests’ travel costs & accommodation, so there has to be a big cost in order to make the event worthwhile, but are we at a tipping point?
As mentioned at the start of this post, this isn’t just an issue effecting LFCC – this is something which is evident at pretty much all major conventions. The last convention I went to – the one with Dean Cain – was a great event, but once I’d paid for the photo, plus travel and accommodation, I couldn’t afford anything else – no additional purchases from traders, no extra signings from other guests, nothing.
By the way, Dean Cain’s photoshoot was a lot more in my price range (it was around £40 if I recall) – but my point still stands, this was about my limit for a guest. If Cain had been much more expensive then I may have had to have second thoughts about going in the first place.
Of course, not all guests have high price points and you can still meet many guests for more wallet-friendly prices. But for me, I think there seems to be a huge jump between the lower end and the higher end of the pricing scale.
I don’t know – what do you think?
Are conventions becoming too pricey? Has the desire to get big named guests resulted in a price tag that’s just too expensive for many fans? What is the right price to pay for an autograph? Is there a right price?
Genuinely interested in your thoughts on all this. Please sound off in the comments section below to give me your opinions.