[This continues our coverage of New York Comic-Con 2013.]
I love Comic-Con, but one part of the event that I just cannot relate to is paying money for a celebrity’s autograph and a few seconds of interaction. I mean, I understand the desire to meet a larger-than-life figure, but to me, putting a price tag on the interaction and making people queue up for hours sucks all of the emotional connection out of the experience. (In a way, I find it not dissimilar to paying a stripper for a lap dance and a conversation. In a way.)
Anyway, about those price tags. I’m kind of fascinated by the idea of distilling a celebrity’s popularity among the Comic-Con crowd into a single number. It’s an object lesson in all sorts of economic principles:
- Supply and demand. A celebrity can sign (supply) a finite number of autographs. Demand among the Comic-Con crowd can range from crushingly intense to “meh.”
- Opportunity Cost. A celebrity can make a lot of money selling autographs, but could s/he make even more money by doing something else with that time? What’s the trade-off?
- Signaling. Perhaps an older celebrity who hasn’t been in anything notable for a while wants to signal to the public an “A-list” image by setting a high price for an autograph.
And many others. I mean, it’s literally a marketplace for celebrity autographs. So with Economics 101 in mind, let’s play a little game: can you match the celebrity with the price that s/he was commanding for an autograph?
First, here’s the list of celebs:
- Joel Grey (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Warehouse 13)
- Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood, Red Faction – Origins)
- Kristin Bauer (True Blood)
- Veronica Taylor (Pokémon)
- Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, Weekend at Bernie’s)
- Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural, Eureka)
- David Duchovny (X-Files)
- Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street, Soldier Soldier)
- Hulk Hogan (Wrestling Legend)
- Sigourney Weaver
- Jason David Frank (Power Rangers)
- Gillian Anderson (X-Files)
- William Shatner (Star Trek, T.J. Hooker)
- Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
- Chloe Moretz
- Lauren Bowles (True Blood)
- Sylvester Stallone
- John Barrowman (Torchwood, Arrow, Doctor Who)
- Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time, Mass Effect, Star Trek: Voyager)
- Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, X-Men)
Second here’s the list of price points:
The answers are below, but before I reveal them, I wanted to speculate on how these prices are actually set. Ideally, celebs’ agents would have data from other similar events to get both a historical sense of performance as well as peer comparisons. Maybe someone out there has a complex statistical model that factors in the box office gross of the celeb’s last movie, how long ago that movie was, the volume of Google search results in the months leading up to the event, lifetime box office earnings, and a host of other readily available data points. If such a thing doesn’t exist, well…Overthinking It should get into the lucrative celebrity autograph price-setting consulting business.
Now, here are the answers:
|David Duchovny (X-Files)||$80|
|Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, X-Men)||$75|
|William Shatner (Star Trek, T.J. Hooker)||$75|
|Gillian Anderson (X-Files)||$60|
|Hulk Hogan (Wrestling Legend)||$60|
|Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)||$50|
|Joel Grey (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Warehouse 13)||$40|
|John Barrowman (Torchwood, Arrow, Doctor Who)||$40|
|Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, Weekend at Bernie’s)||$40|
|Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time, Mass Effect, Star Trek: Voyager)||$30|
|Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street, Soldier Soldier)||$30|
|Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood, Red Faction – Origins)||$30|
|Kristin Bauer (True Blood)||$30|
|Lauren Bowles (True Blood)||$30|
|Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural, Eureka)||$25|
|Jason David Frank (Power Rangers)||$20|
|Veronica Taylor (Pokémon)||$10|
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Sylvester Stallone is asking for a whopping $395 for his autograph. That’s over twice as much as his nearest competitor, Sigourney Weaver. Other notable take-aways:
- Patrick Stewart and William Shatner are asking for the same price. I assume Starfleet set this price to avoid any conflict within the ranks.
- At the tender age of 16, Chloe Moretz is tied with Stewart and Shatner and beating out old stalwarts like Hulk Hogan.
- Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame were on hand, but Duchovny was commanding $15 more per autograph than Anderson. Another example of women getting paid less than men to do the same job?
Any other surprises? If you could set your price for any of these autographs, would it be higher or lower than what’s listed here? Let us know in the comments!