In August, I’m headed to the Outlander Con in New Jersey. It’s my first con as a devoted fan and I’m super excited! Three days of über fans congregating amidst the divine aura of the actors in the middle of the Holy Land of Secaucus New Jersey. Alright I think I’ve made my point clear that for fans like me this can be an almost religious experience. But as I prepare myself emotionally and fashionably I can’t help but wonder about the cost of attending the event: Is it worth the mounting cost and does the price reflect upon my devotion as a self-described “Super Outlander Fan”?
First, the price just to walk into the con and attend for three days is outrageous. Creation Entertainment, the event producer, organizes many other respected fan events and they have a tiered pricing system. I understand that the prices for Outlander are probably nowhere near Star Trek or Star Wars level conventions but I’m not here for pointy ears or light sabers. I’m here for Scottish accents, the love of the show’s actors, and Diana Gabaldon’s books!
When the con was first announced, tickets were available starting at the “Gold” level which rang in at a shiny $999 that included front row seating. As mind blowing as that price was to me, those tickets sold out in weeks. Weeks! If you could afford that admission tag then by all means slap down the plastic but, for the time being, I was keeping mine secured in my wallet. For next year I’m working on a sugar daddy six figure income to pay for that tier but even so that price makes my bank account cry soggy dollar bills.
Eventually the subsequent tiers were released – silver and copper – then daily passes. Each level of admission has its own perks and privileges but they only allow admittance—if you want autographs and/or photos then pony up more coin! Do you want photos with the Holy Trinity aka Sam, Caitriona, and Tobias? Do you only want to take a picture with Sam or just get Caitriona’s autograph? How about making yourself like ham and Tobias and Sam are bread to make a delicious hot HAM-some sandwich (I just made that one up. You’re welcome.)? The point is that depending on your level of devotion, it comes with a price tag of at least hundreds of dollars.
All of this makes my head spin and though I’ve already purchased admission for three days (obviously not on the Gold level. I still want both of my kidneys.), I haven’t brought myself to purchase a photo opp yet and I don’t find autographs particularly appealing. I dream about taking one with the Holy Trinity but if I want to make it a reality I have to shovel out an additional $399. Is the cost of my adoration worth that much?
“It’s an experience!” encourages a friend of mine. That’s an expensive thirty second experience. I have such a hard time rationalizing that amount of money for such a short interaction with them. For that much money, I want drinks and dinner for at least an hour with all three of my favorite actors. Of course the chances of that happening are slim since we don’t have the same friends and an ocean separates our would-be friendship. But it’s just a few friends and an ocean, right?
The Hollywood Reporter wrote an article about how much actors are paid to attend these fan conventions and some of the deals might surprise you. Now I’m never going to disparage an actor for making money (think of all those years ramen was on their main menu) but some of these rates are really eye-opening. Pure speculation but I’m thinking that the top three Outlander star are each pocketing an up-front $50,000 guarantee to start and probably doubling that in a weekend with cuts from autographs and pictures. Again, let them make their money even if it’s coming from fans’ wallets. Nobody is forcing us to hand over our credit cards but when all is said and done…Wow.
Also, this is one convention. So many Outlander Cons have popped up over the past few years in Europe and the U.S. I plan to go to the New York Comic Con in October to see the Outlander panel (and god-willing or Ron-Moore-willing the Season 4 premiere episode) but so far it’s not nearly as expensive since it’s one day. But the point is that these cons are in spades and expensive.
Which brings me back to what is the price of my adoration? With admission already in-hand, is an additional $400 photo worth it? Like Men in Black will I forget the pain of paying my credit card bills when the white of the camera flashes in my eyes as I pose with Sam, Caitriona, and Tobias? Should I just forget that and, as my friend suggests, enjoy the experience?