Fans generally think of pop culture conventions as being tied to a specific city: San Diego, Chicago, New York, etc. But those conventions are usually run by larger companies — and now, after its latest acquisition, one company in particular has become the biggest of all. Fan Expo, which already runs almost a dozen events across North America, has just acquired the rights to six Wizard World conventions: Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Portland, Cleveland, and St. Louis.
According to Newsarama, that makes it “the largest comic convention organisation” across the globe. “Fan Expo HQ is devoted to creating unmissable, exceptional fan experiences. We’re beyond thrilled to be able to offer that to fans in six new locations, and pleased that Wizard World recognised our ability to elevate guest experience to the next level,” Fan Expo HQ president Aman Gupta said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to getting to know each of these individual communities, learn what they’re looking for, and raise the bar!”
It’s certainly a huge shift in the convention scene as the Wizard World brand — technically now Wizard Entertainment Inc. — has been around for what feels like ages. It was originally established way back in 1991 as Wizard Press and was the publisher of the famous Wizard magazine. It was basically the source to find out about comic book and other nerdy news before the internet took over, and later went on to establish fan conventions and more. But, as the Beat points out, things weren’t always smooth for the company.
The changes are already live on the Fan Expo website for the un-dated 2022 conventions in those cities. One last Wizard World, taking place in Chicago in October, will still occur. However, after that, Wizard World will no longer have any stake in the convention circuit. The company will continue to run a collectibles business and have space at the conventions.
For fans, it’s safe to assume this deal doesn’t change much for them. Most comic conventions are pretty much the same: lots of people, lots of booths, lots of Funko Pops. Only now the name on all the banners, and your badge, is different, with the money you pay to get in going to another company.
Like so many other businesses, the entertainment convention industry as a whole took a huge dent during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Even the biggest comic convention in the world, San Diego Comic-Con — which is run by a non-profit organisation that also runs WonderCon — admitted the lack of live events during 2020 put a huge burden on the company’s finances. You’d imagine that’s the case with most companies who rely on live events. So maybe a sale like this isn’t so much a surprise. The surprise would be if it’s the last one.