Movie Con 2015 took place at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on Sunday 8th November, here’s what I thought! Movie Con is a one day event that emphasised on the website that it is not a Comic Book Convention but a Movie Convention.
I had stayed the night before in the Premier Inn just over the road. (I mention this as I’d like to give them a shout out for being a great budget hotel, good price, super friendly staff and tasty (although expensive) breakfast) Stay there if you are ever attending something at the Macron! The morning of Movie Con I headed over the road to the Macron, this is when I encountered my first challenge. There weren’t any signs pointing the way to where exactly the convention was so I just walked around the outside till I found the entrance, it turns out I had walked the longest route round nearly the whole stadium exterior, lol.
I handed over my early bird tickets, had my hand stamped and headed in. The hall/venue certainly looked great. The convention had a nice sized main hall with five rows of vendors and a stage at the front. Either side of the main stage were large speakers playing fun pop music which added a cheery vibe. There was a balcony above that ran three sides of the hall. Along the longest side of the balcony hung loads of big film posters. Opposite this hung huge black curtains perforated with lights like stars, it looked great (I think covered a giant window). The ceiling lighting hung above and looked like great big moons adding to the atmosphere, a good start.
First I checked out the different vendors, greeted by a handful independent comic book artists, then lots of memorabilia dealers and a great selection of geeky craft stalls. I loved the selection of dealers, a really good mix of wares. The only notable omission was anime products, there was a tiny smattering of anime products, if this was your main interest you’d be disappointed. I did think the most glaring exclusion was the lack of a dedicated DVD stall. A couple of stands offered some films but I was hoping there would be a specialist movie stall, with rare and unusual movies.
Next I ventured upstairs, it could have done with better signage to show where the stairs were but it wasn’t to hard to find. On the balcony was a selection of Terminator props, a small gaming area( 2 X Boxes), photo shoot space, Bolton University stand and Ian Mcelhinney and Forbes KB. A useful addition to the top floor balcony would have been some additional seating. There was a lot of spare space up there, it would have been good to be able to sit down while waiting for things to come on the stage. There was seating downstairs by the (very expensive) canteen but this was out the way of the stage so while sat down you couldn’t tell what was going on in the convention.
The top floor provided a good view of the main stage. The video screen at the back of the stage advertised a Frozen Show at 11am so I hung around waiting for this. After a delay the show started and Elsa and Anna came out on stage (minus the advertised Olaf). The show was a simple background of a snowy forest with a smoke machine. Elsa and Anna did a great job of entertaining the crowd, (mostly children) they sung most of (maybe all of, I’ve only seen Frozen once) the songs from the film. They sang really well and it was pretty fun, all the kids seemed to enjoy it!
I headed down to find out if there was actually a program rather than just staring at the stage waiting for things to happen. Fortunately there was, unfortunately they weren’t sticking to it. I’m not sure why, events seemed to just happen randomly through out the day. I looked around the stalls until the next event was advertised on the screen.
Next up they had the Celebrity Q&A at 1pm so I queued up at the stage to get a good spot. While waiting entertainment was provided by three zombies that had been roaming the hall (I think hired by the convention). They had been creeping up on people and making them jump. One of my favourite moments of the day was when they scared a lady nearby who ran to the other side of the stage to hide then let out another loud yelp as another zombie snuck up (I doubt this was her best time ever). After a half hour delay the celebrities took to the stage with the host. Ian Mcelhinney, Forbes KB and John Challis presented an odd line up but proved to be very entertaining. The host could do with working on speaking into the microphone as she was very hard to hear, the three Celebes on the other hand could be heard loud and clear. This panel was really enjoyable, good questions and lots of funny answers. They maybe could have done with more microphones or a even longer mic lead so the guests didn’t have to hold it for one another.
When the Q&A finished the host announced that the Back to the Future show would be coming up on the hour. Again the show was a little delayed but it proved to be one of the highlights of the day. Two actors came onto the stage one a scientist stationed at a podium and the second taking the role of Doctor Emmet Brown. The scientist put different questions to Dr Brown, then opened up the questioning to the audience to quiz the Doctor. Doctor Brown absolutely nailed the voice and character, a fantastic performance. It was very brave inviting the audience to join in especially with something like BTTFs time travel logistics, excellent. There were a lot of super difficult questions to do with time travel. (As mentioned earlier shame they couldn’t have lined up the correct music although it added to the humour)After this I left to have some lunch as there didn’t seem to be any of the other advertised events happening (Cosplay parade, superman show). When I returned (about 3:30) the vendors had began to pack up. I did a final lap of the hall to make some purchases, an Aliens clock and a blank Transformers Key. Finishing at the stage to see if there was any sign of any more events for the day. The screen didn’t have anything advertised so I decided to head home. I later learnt that they did have the final show of the day the Star Wars event shortly after I left which I was disappointed to have missed.
Movie Con was an enjoyable half day, not bad for a first attempt at an event although it definitely had it problems. They really need to improve the standard of communication, sign posts, programs, schedule and announcements. The other area that needs development is what’s actually happening, there just needs to be more on to sustain a whole days interest. Although advertised as a Movie Convention there was very little to distinguish it from any other “Comic Book Convention”, so a stronger focus on Movies rather than general geek interests could help it stand out. Maybe rather than a Cosplay photo area they could have a green screen to allow Cosplayers to film themselves in exciting locations or more stands that specialise in movie memorabilia and DVDs.
I’ve moaned about a bunch of things but for such a low price (£6 early entry) I think I got good value for money. Although in future I would be prepared to pay a little more if it improved the day. For all the things I have highlighted that could do with developing further Movie Con did lots of things well. The venue (food prices aside) was great, I loved the layout and the big space themed curtain, they played music throughout the day which I though added a nice fun atmosphere, the zombies were great fun, good mix of vendors and the handful of shows were a good idea, something different. I hope Movie Con addresses the issues and look forward to see what they do next.