It’s Loaded with Fame: Conventions and Celebrities

People go to conventions to connect with other fans, to participate in activities not readily available in daily lives and to escape reality.  Another very significant reason that people go to conventions is for the celebrities.  Many conventions, most conventions, have celebrity or “special” guests.  Some conventions might have just one or two special guests and others have many.  Typically, these celebrities interact with the fans in a variety of ways, including participating in panels or question and answer sessions in which fans can ask questions, holding autographs sessions in which fans can get an autograph and/or holding a photo opps session in which fans can get pictures with the celebrity(s) of choice.

In my experience, people do seem to like going to conventions to meet and see celebrities.  At the Wizard World convention I went to in Chicago, in August, a lot of people I talk with came to meet one or two of the celebrity guests.  Some people came back year after year to see the same celebrity.  Sometimes, the bigger name celebrities had very long lines to get autographs and pictures.  The lesser known celebrities still had people who were interested in getting pictures or even just an opportunity to exchange a few words.  Yet, it did seem that anyone interested in a particular celebrity could get to that celebrity eventually, especially if the fan had the time and the money for one of these extras.  Of course, many of these celebrity focused activities have specific times.  For example, if you wanted a picture of person X, you had to get it done between 1 and 2 pm.  Thus, people scheduled their convention activities even around the celebrities.

I wonder how important these celebrity appearances are to the fans attending a convention.  Do they get people in the door?  Do they get people to pay the money for a ticket?  Would people go if there is just one celebrity or one celebrity who people really cared about?  Is it the fact that there might be many celebrities at a convention that you like?  Does it matter which type of fan activity is possible–meaning that getting an autograph might be more important to some than a question and answer session or vice versa?  In many cases, autographs and photos are extras.  They do not come with the ticket.  You pay for each autograph and each picture.  In some cases, you might pay to attend a panel.  Would those additional costs matter?  Would it matter how MUCH those extras were?

Seriously, I would love to know.  Would you be more likely to go to a convention if there was a celebrity you liked?  What about many celebrities?  Would you want panels/Q&A sessions, autograph sessions and/or photo sessions with the celebrities?  Would you be willing to pay extra for those sessions?  How much for a celebrity you love, love, love (like a member of Duran Duran!)?  How much for a celebrity you like a lot?  Would you go to a convention if there weren’t celebrities there?

-A

7 thoughts on “It’s Loaded with Fame: Conventions and Celebrities”

  1. I always thought Fans Conventions were just events for fans and with fans, for I'd go there only to meet other fans.
    … but are you organizing something we don't know? 'Coz in that case, I'd pay more to be there.

  2. I actually have a recent personal story about this. I generally go to the Gallifrey One (Doctor Who) convention in L.A. every year. I planned not to go this year. But then, Billie Piper was announced as a guest. This is her first North American convention appearance. The next thing I know, I'm buying a ticket (as the con sold out) from someone and planning a trip to L.A. So the answer is yes, sometimes that does get me to go to a convention. However, I arranged to go to Geek Girl Con in Seattle last year, with no knowledge of guests beforehand, so that was an entirely different experience (but I still got to meet Denise Crosby from Star Trek: The Next Generation and interviewed my favorite TV writer, Jane Espensen.)

    I now get press passes to many cons, so guests are definitely the draw where that's concerned, although I also do write about panels (particularly science panels for DVICE.com stories), so it's a mix. But Wizard World cons, as far as I've seen, are definitely ALL about the guests and are the huge draw of those particular conventions. Most conventions offer the whole package: celebrities, great panels, great opportunities to meet other fans, cosplay, etc., though, so sometimes it is the whole of the con that draws me in.

  3. I've never been to a convention outside of Duran Duran…or outside of ones I've actually been a part in planning, oddly enough as I stop to think about it… but anyway, I think that I'd be most likely to go to one that had the full mix. Of course I'd like to meet a celebrity or musician I'd admired – but I'd also like to go to panels that interest me as well as have the opportunity to meet up with friends. I want it all, basically. (Is that really a surprise???) -R

  4. where to start…
    1. i paid top dollar for the Duran VIP package back in 2003 which was not a fan convention but clearly i bought my time with the band. i also did that with INXS and have considered it for Sting. i don't regret a penny that was spent though i don't think i'd buy that type of package for Duran again.

    2. we're going to Wizard World Minneapolis in May and so far, there are no celebrities attending that i would pay extra to meet. However, if we were getting Captain Picard instead of Captain Kirk, i'd consider paying for an autograph and/or picture. those who know me know that i'd consider a 2nd mortgage on my house for a meet & greet with Tom Hiddleston, so….

    3. i will pay for access to celebrities, TV/movie or music if i love them and i can find the money. but i'll attend fun events like fan conventions even if there aren't celebrities i love in attendance.

  5. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Robin. I suspect that many people are like you in that, sometimes, a guest might push someone into attending and, other times, it is just about the entire package.

    -A

  6. Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your thoughts. You match Robin's ideas in that, at times, you would pay to meet someone and, at other times, you would still go for the experience.

    -A

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