Movie studios often times release a movie that for one reason or another is not a commercial success. Perhaps the subject matter is too limited or the particular genre doesn't match expectations perfectly, but on occasion movies lose money. The opposite of course, is also true. As an example, The Mummy Returns took in 116.5 Million dollars in just 10 days now, beating even Episode I's record for the biggest opening weekend ever.
But just because a movie isn't a commercial success doesn't mean it didn't succeed. And just because the studio lost a lot of money doesn't mean they quit making movies altogether. They simply make adjustments for the next release. Think of the seeming failure of the early DreamWorks releases, compared to the virtual powerhouse distributor they are becoming today.
But we're not here to discuss movies, the application of this analogy is AlphaCon, a large fan convention based in Omaha, Nebraska. Just days after the AlphaCon convention was finished the plug was pulled. The parent company, Midlands Marketing, unsatisfied with the return on their investment for putting on the convention dismissed the coordinator Dan Lundquist from the company and said in essence they wouldn't be doing this again.
What happened was the financial backers of AlphaCon were a bit short sighted and despite a great first time attendance of almost 2,000 they lost enough money to pull the plug. What is sad is that it was a great convention, and one the Midwest really needs. They were filling a gap in fandom and setting new standards for numbers of guests and how the celebrities were treated.
In short, as a business Midlands Marketing has to be shown the money. This could be THE sci-fi convention of the year if time, talent and money are left in pace and invested for future gain. Unfortunately, the company appears to be blind to the potential. It's the same thing with the movie industry: a lot of the studio heads want $200 million blockbusters. They aren't seeing the *quality* ofthe product, just the quantity.
So for every winner like Gladiator, we've got to sit through a dozen less than stellar offerings.
One can't blame Midland Marketing solely on the basis of money, what they do is a business and business operations aren't about losing money (which they undoubtedly did), but you can blame them for their short term perspective and lack of patience. They should look at the overwhelming positive aspects of the con, from both guests and attendees, and use that as insight for the eventual success that AlpahCon 2002 could have been.
Yes, the first year is going to have shortcomings. There were some scheduling problems, like the downtime between presenters that encouraged people to leave their seats before the next scheduled lecture. Perhaps if needed, fanfilms can be run between presenters, in order to keep the schedule in place. Maybe since it was a first-time convention in the area it shouldn't have had two presentations at the same time. People want to see it all, since it was mostly first-time con-goers who attended. But 100% of the time Dan and his staff treated us with a stunning amount of professionalism and were very generous. Nicole, Jeff, the TFN Digital crew and myself all attended and were completely impressed with the convention from top to bottom.
But success is measured not by gain in the first year, but attendance the following year and repeat guests. When trying something new in a unique location you have to expect some problems. Possibly even some failures. There have been failures before with these things. Take for example ImagineCon 2000, where they expected between 2,000 and 5,000 and got 400. And it didn't help that one of their major guests (Ray Park) pulled out within weeks of the event.
So what does the future hold for AlphaCon? For sure, Midlands Marketing will not be hosting AlphaCon 2002. And all VIP ticket holders will still receive their CD "AlphaCon 2001" in review done by TFN Digital. Within three to four weeks (and possibly a small fee?) someone other than Dan should be making it available to the VIP guests and possibly for sale elsewhere. In defense of Midlands Marketing to some degree I understand, because the coordinators undoubtedly spent more money than they should have on the convention, and estimates simply couldn't be met for fan attendance to come close enough to breaking even. Perhaps for the first one they really overshot, but doesn't it deserve a second chance?
No one has let the fans down. In fact, AlphaCon 2002 has great promise and potential, with the first attracting fans from 29 states. That alone says something about the work invested in the production and the potential for future endeavors. Not to mention literally a dozen Star Wars actors, the treatment of celebrities and the extras like the VIP receptions, great booths and very personal lectures by the actors themselves.
Either way, AlphaCon is no more. I believe this have been the convention to land the original Luke Skywalker for a weekend, or perhaps another large number of other celebrity guests. It was poised to become the new standard for conventions, and it was a great show. Let's just hope that with some changes in expectations and improvements from the outset on both ends that convention returns like The Mummy did, with a vengeance.
Can OmegaCon be far behind?
May 14th, 2001
Also, if you would like to contact Dan Lundquist (former event coordinator at AlphaCon), write him here and if you would like to post reaction or comments about the editorial and convention, click here for the official AlphaCon 2001 thread in the Jedicouncil.
04/08/03 - Christopher Knight - Oscars Give Short Shrift to Fantasy
03/17/03 - Joshua Griffin - Put the REAL Classics on DVD
01/29/03 - Joshua Griffin - Imagine a Star Wars HALO Videogame
01/14/03 - Michael Potts - Clone Wars: Expanded Universe Editorial
09/03/02 - Joshua Griffin - Digital Pirates Sink Ships
05/17/02 - Chris Knight - Digital Projection: The Audience Is Watching... And Waiting
04/11/02 - TFN Staff - Thumbs Up, Tumbs Down for SW2 Marketing
03/08/02 - TFN Staff - Clone War Trailer Reaction
01/13/02 - TFN Staff - TFN Reaction to SNL N'Sync Skit
01/03/02 - TFN Staff - Boy Band Jedi Reactions
12/12/01 - Chris Knight - Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
12/07/01 - Jeff Yankey - All I Want for Christmas
11/17/01 - Guest Editorial - Ritual and Romance of Episode II
10/04/01 - Guest Editorial - Why Episode I is Brilliant
10/02/01 - Guest Editorial - Episode I is Star Wars
09/30/01 - Guest Editorial - Why I Loved Episode I
09/25/01 - Joshua Griffin - Episode II: Make It or Break It Time
08/21/01 - Chris Knight - SW2: Attack On The Soul?
07/13/01 - Joshua Griffin - Special Time for SW Fans
05/14/01 - Joshua Griffin - AlphaCon is Finished
05/09/01 - Chris Knight - In The Beginning... Star Wars Comes To A Wired World
04/17/01 - Joshua Griffin - Global TFN - International Outlook on Star Wars
03/14/01 - Chris Knight - Palpatine vs. Hitler: Prequel Speculation Runs Amok!
02/13/01 - Chris Knight - "The Force" of Love: A Valentine's Day Editorial
01/17/01 - Chris Knight - Star Wars Could Continue... As Television Anthology
01/11/01 - Guest Editorial - A Review of A New Hope After the Prequels
01/07/01 - Guest Editorial - No - We Want the DVDs Now!
01/04/01 - Chris Knight - New Digital Disciple Says "Lets Wait On Star Wars DVDs"
12/21/00 - Joshua Griffin - Is George Lucas Really a Genius?
11/18/00 - Joshua Griffin - To Spoil or Not to Spoil
11/06/00 - Joshua Griffin - The Power of the Election
11/01/00 - Chris Knight - Why Isn't There A Star Wars Postage Stamp?
08/17/00 - Jason McCabe Calacanis - The SW2 Fan Trailer (guest editorial)
07/14/00 - Joshua Griffin/Scott Chitwood - TFN's Spoiler Policy
06/20/00 - Chris Knight - Star Wars and the Saga of Life
05/13/00 - TFN Staff - TheForce.net Wish List
04/08/00 - Special Guest Editorial by Skybaugh - Worth the Wait
03/30/00 - Joshua Griffin - What Star Wars Has Won
03/19/00 - Joshua Griffin - The Next Denver Celebration
03/14/00 - Joshua Griffin - Fair Weather Fans
03/07/00 - Joshua Griffin - Predicting the Academy Award Winners
02/22/00 - Joshua Griffin - Who should profit from Star Wars?
02/16/00 - Joshua Griffin - Episode I and the Academy
01/27/00 - TFN Staff - Flaming TFN over DVD
01/25/00 - Chris Knight - Motivations of the Sith
01/20/00 - TFN Staff - Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin?
01/10/00 - Joshua Griffin - World-Wide Star Wars
01/03/00 - Joshua Griffin - Mass Merchandising Menace
12/13/99 - Joshua Griffin - Questioning Star Wars
11/22/99 - Joshua Griffin - Trusting Internet Rumors
11/11/99 - Paul Davidson - Rise of the Empire: China and TPM
10/28/99 - Scott Chitwood - Signs There Probably Won't Be a Sequel Trilogy
10/18/99 - Joshua Griffin - Why not Episode I DVD?
10/15/99 - Joshua Griffin - What Makes SW Fans Special
10/01/99 - Joshua Griffin - The PG Rating of TPM
09/07/99 - Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens - Comic and Book Wishlist
08/18/99 - TF.N Team - Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down on Episode I Everything
07/11/99 - Joshua Griffin - Parody Site isn't that funny
07/10/99 - Brian Linder - The Jar Jar Factor
06/08/99 - Joshua Griffin & Chris Knight - Why is Jar Jar in Episode I?
05/06/99 - Darin Smith - Return of the Child
03/09/99 - Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens - A Chat with LFL
02/07/99 - Amy Pronovost - Convention Romances, Can they Work?
01/23/99 - Scott Chitwood - What's up with Prowse?
01/01/99 - Scott Chitwood - Uncle George and Episode 1
11/23/98 - Scott Chitwood - What Lucasfilm is doing right
11/05/98 - Scott Chitwood - Prequel Spoilers
09/28/98 - David Coates - First thoughts on the the Episode 1 Title
06/19/98 - Scott Chitwood - How Godzilla affected Episode I
04/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - The Art of the Space Battle
04/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - DIVX SUX
02/26/98 - Scott Chitwood - X-WING TV Series Should Fly
02/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - Xerox Sites
02/03/98 - Scott Chitwood - Canon Issue, Part 2
01/07/98 - Terrence Daniels - Canon = Personal Preference
12/17/97 - Darin Smith - Everything I need to know...
11/15/97 - Chris Kivlehan - Six Episodes or Nine Episodes?
11/07/97 - Scott Chitwood - How do you solve a problem like Ewan?
11/03/97 - Scott Chitwood - How we get our Prequel 'Spy' info
10/22/97 - Paul Davidson - Trek vs. Wars