In a Facebook post this afternoon, Steve Sansweet pegs the attendee numbers of Celebration V at 28,000 – the lowest since Celebration I in 1999. Celebration IV in 2007, which also had no movie to boost awareness and attendance (but did have the advantage of being in movie-loving Los Angeles) weighed in at 35,000.
It’s no shock that the numbers are lower for this round – in addition to the economy, the late announcement and a less-than-inspiring locale, August is smack dab in the middle of convention season – most notably in that CV was bracketed by the biggest cons of all: San Diego Comic-Con in July and Atlanta’s Dragon*Con coming up on Labor Day weekend. Both are huge draws for much of the same audience, and we even had a Jader or two choose D*C over CV.
Really, between all that, 28,000 doesn’t look all that shabby!
Wherever Celebration VI may be (and I am not asking for suggestions) I hope they return to a late-spring date – if nothing else, because that would make almost any location fairly palatable. (And a note to our delicate warm-weather flowers: Orlando’s life-sapping humidity has more than paid back the midwest’s debt for CIII’s ridiculously light snow, okay? We’re even.)
UPDATE: Steve in the comments of his FB post:
For those of you questioning the attendance number at Celebration V, there are several things to remember. Lucasfilm and Reed are thrilled with the final total; I had been predicting a max of 25,000. We are still in the worst economic times… since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We had less than 8 months to promote the show, and many European fans—who have to make August vacation plans a year in advance—could not change those plans. And we had 8,000 more attendees than the last event, Celebration Japan. The Orange County Convention Center was a perfect location: its layout, total cooperation from all the great people who work there, and because Orlando is the ideal family vacation spot.