Back then, very few guests charged for autographs, and they never charged to take table photos with them. Over the years, things started to change, especially with the Internet and the advent of sites like Ebay. Dealers figured out they could make money, and would show up at cons with stacks of 8x10s and other memorabilia for the guests to sign. Eventually, the guests caught on, and figure that if someone was going to make money on their likeness and signature, it might as well be them.
Well, lo and behold, suddenly "agents" and "managers" came along, and they learned that they could make a cut on this (mostly) cash business, and the dawn of the "convention as big business" era was upon us.
Now, mind you, there had been "big" shows, like Fangoria Weekend of Horrors and the Creation Entertainment shows that were out there for a while, but these were not the norm. These were the bigger shows that had the bigger stars, and everyone knew that these conventions would be pricier, and we had no problem with that. There were enough other conventions out there to keep those of us who did not want to shell out big ticket prices happy.
This brings us to where we are today. Fan conventions truly are big business, with guests charging ever higher prices for autographs and photo ops at their tables, and the latest travesty to hit over the last few years, the "professional photo op" where, for a significant price of course, you can have your photo taken with your favorite star, by a professional photographer! Yay! They will even print out the photo for you the same day, and sometimes even within minutes! You line up ahead of time with hundreds of other people, get ushered into the photo room, stand next to your favorite guest for about 2.7 seconds, just enough time for the flash to go off, and they you're ushered out the opposite door. Sometimes they'll even throw in a cool background or something like that. ALL of this, for (from what I have seen) an average price of about $80, sometimes a lot more if it's a group or cast photo.
Finally, we get to my favorite.....the VIP ticket! Convention promoters figured out that there are a lot of fans that are willing to pay top dollar for preferential treatment. They are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the right to get to the front of an autograph line, or front row seats at a panel. Oh, they do get some cool goodies like a t-shirt and, the best of all, a special lanyard to go around their next, advertising their VIP status for all to see!
Now, I do not have a problem with this. I really don't. People can spend their hard earned money any way they see fit. Here'my my thing though. We are now at a point where a certain convention promotion has top VIP package prices of $700 and $1,400! WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL IS THAT ALL ABOUT???? For $1,400, I don't just want to meet a cast member from Doctor Who, I want a role on an upcoming episode! Are people really paying this??
Here's what I hate about this. People don't seem to realize they are being bamboozled. There are a lot of convention "newbies" out there, who think that high ticket prices, and high autograph/photo op prices are the norm. These are people who had never been to a fan convention before, who are watching popular shows like "The Walking Dead", "Sons of Anarchy" and "Doctor Who" and want to meet their favorite stars from these shows, and they are willing to shell out a lot of money. However, in my opinion, they are being fleeced.
The convention promoters know how popular these shows and these characters are. They will see you a "regular" ticket, and tell you that, if you get there early, and are willing to wait in long lines, you "might" be able to meet your favorite star, but there's no guarantee. However, if you are willing to shell out top money for a VIP ticket, we will guarantee you a spot in the front of the line! Well, isn't that nice of them? All of this for the price of either $700, or for extra special PLATINUM status, you can pay $1,400.
Now, to be fair, the $1,400 price gets you some other perks, like a 'personal guide' and line jumps to the front of all the guest lines (once per guest), but it's FOURTEEN HUNDRED FREAKING DOLLARS!
Where does this madness end? I get that the top stars have high guarantees, and the convention promoters need to make money, but this is getting ridiculous, yet the fans keep paying. They seem to be willing to shell out just about any amount of money to meet the stars of their favorite shows. At what point are the fans going to just walk away? Personally, I don't see it happening any time soon. There are too many people showing up to these cons and willing to shell out this kind of money. I personally have no problem telling a guest, or their handler, "Sorry, but that's too much," and just walking away. The sun will rise just fine the next day without that autograph. Like anything, it's supply and demand, and when the fans stop paying, maybe these prices will come down to earth. I remain hopeful....
The Horror Nerd