Fan conventions, where stars can take home hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a few hours of time, once were the domain of has-beens and sci-fi novelties. But the business has become so lucrative — think $500,000 for Captain America’s Chris Evans or The Walking Dead favorite Norman Reedus to appear — that current TV and film stars are popping up at events like Salt Lake City Comic-Con and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. The demand has become so overwhelming that agencies including WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, Paradigm and Gersh have in the past three years added “personal appearance” agents to sift through the hundreds of annual events, book talent and (of course) score their 10 percent commission.
Here’s how it works: Actors typically ask for a price guarantee — often paid up front — to show up, sign autographs, pose for photos and sometimes take part in a panel discussion or two. Most conventions charge an entry fee, collect $5 for every autograph and $10 per photo (with a photographer taking another $10). The stars — who receive luxury travel and accommodations — pocket the rest. Anything over the guarantee is icing on the cake.
The most sought-after stars include Reedus (one convention owner says he easily could command a $200,000 guarantee and pocket $500,000 per weekend), Andrew Lincoln (who donates his proceeds to charity), Star Wars great Mark Hamill and anyone who played Doctor Who. Sources say ex-Doctor Matt Smith collected $250,000 per weekend at a string of recent events, with any former Doctor said to easily score six figures. Smith’s tally recently was doubled by Marvel film heroes, with the stars netting more than $500,000 each in one Atlanta weekend thanks to an overwhelming demand and rare convention appearances.
The most sought-after stars include Reedus (one convention owner says he easily could command a $200,000 guarantee and pocket $500,000 per weekend), Andrew Lincoln (who donates his proceeds to charity), Star Wars great Mark Hamill and anyone who played Doctor Who.
…there’s a point where it stops being rational and it becomes “Just throw that shit in a box/garbage bag/etc. I’ll sort it out when we get settled.” That point was reached at about 10:30 last night.
I’m very grateful for that unexpected extension we received about the closing. And for the fact we are moving within the same city. I expect I’ll be driving back and forth between houses taking vanloads for the next two days.
“If somebody wanted to do a convention every weekend, they could make more on the convention circuit than their episodic fee,” says Arrow star Stephen Amell, who became so enamored of the festival business that he started his own talent agency, WFA Entertainment, to help other actors navigate the space (and score a buck for himself). The actor, who is said to have irked traditional agents by competing with them, says he “wanted to control the whole front- and backend of my operation. I didn’t see a need for representation.” One source deeply involved in the convention circuit estimates that Amell walks away with $250,000 a weekend — more than he makes per episode for Arrow — though he denies that figure.
“There are plenty of people who can command six figures — plenty can make seven figures any given year,” says one agency insider. Amell has a profit participation stake in the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest, which has six events in different cities scheduled through October 2017. HVFF is not profitable yet, but in success the actor will receive a cut of the gate as well as photo and autograph revenue from those involved — without even having to be there (and more if he booked the talent).
That decision, however, can prove shortsighted. Multiple producers say
if guest or recurring actors turn them down in favor of conventions,
they likely won’t get called again. In some cases, genre shows have
started putting their superhero boot down on talent who ask for time off
to do a fan event. But some producers use the second revenue stream to
lure talent to genre shows. “In a world where residuals don’t mean as
much, conventions are like residuals,” says Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow
executive producer Marc Guggenheim. Adds Staite, “My actor friends are
always saying how much they’re dying for a genre show just to break into
the convention world.”
Still, for networks and studios, fan conventions also can be a boon
for free publicity, though some — like AMC — have toyed with creating
their own events to get in on the cash grab for lucrative brands like Walking Dead. Ultimately, say sources, many back down to maintain talent relationships. Walking Dead
creator Robert Kirkman is said to have strongly opposed the idea,
prompting AMC to retreat from the space. “Not everything has to be
monetized,” says TWD exec producer Dave Alpert, who supports
Walker Stalker. “What’s important is that the community feels vibrant
and engaged. As long as that happens … we should all be able to make a
living and the money will come.” Other studios, like Warner Bros.
Television, frown at talent accepting payment for appearing at events.
(Sources say WBTV pulled out of New York Comic-Con after organizers
wanted to pay a handful of their stars.)
With stars like Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston joining such talent as Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and the cast of Buffy
on the circuit, the stigma of a convention paycheck has all but
vanished. A-listers can judiciously attend paid fan events without
damaging their brand or impacting their ability to command a seven- or
eight-figure payday. It’s all considered marketing — paid marketing.
“The way people used to think about conventions — and some still do —
was that it was someplace actors who had fame early on went as almost a
last resort,” says Amell. “And that’s just not true anymore.”
Now we know why KC does it even though she’s not really on the shows anymore… she’s gotta make money somehow.
I know stars like SAA and DR actually appreciate fans and like meeting them while happening to get some money out of it, but KC looks miserable and/or faking it in tons of photo ops and panels she’s done.
Compare her to SAA, who has a huge grin on in every photo for his fans. We also know how atrocious KC’s behavior is at every con. Plus, she cancelled the only con that DIDN’T give her money (that filming excuse was bullshit). So yeah, this is most definitely the only reason she does it.