San Diego Comic-Con kicks off virtually with a smaller event

Entertainment

Cosplayers make their way to the Convention Center during Comic Con in San Diego, California on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (NewsNation Now) — The cosplayers and celebrities stayed home for another year, with San Diego Comic-Con opting for a weekend of virtual events again in lieu of the traditional in-person extravaganza.

Comic-Con@Home kicked off Friday with virtual panels, merch stores and fan activities. The virtual convention will last three days, July 23-25, instead of the usual five.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 21: Cosplayers attend 2018 Comic-Con International on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images)

Some of the more highly anticipated panels include those promoting new Star Trek, The Walking Dead and Dexter shows.

Comic-Con attracts more than 135,000 people — often elaborately costumed — to the Gaslamp District every year for the comic book convention. The event is estimated to generate $147 million for San Diego’s economy every year.

The event is well-known for its industry panels with new exclusive footage from highly anticipated movies and TV shows. Marvel and DC Comics both made headlines for their star-studded panels in Hall H.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 20: Anthony Mackie of Marvel Studios’ ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Thousands of fans usually gather to see the panels, but for the second time, stars instead recorded their appearances over webcams.

Online vender halls and merch stores also are selling exclusive material for fans participating in the virtual event. They also will hold the annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, which are the highest award given to comic book creators and retailers.

Comic-Con went virtual for the first time last year due to coronavirus-related cautions around large gatherings. The event was the usual five days with some star-studded virtual panels but did not see significant fan attendance for which the event is known.

Later this year, Comic-Con will hold a smaller in-person event called “Comic-Con Special Edition” during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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